How to Make Cupcakes Without Liners

Learning how to make cupcakes without liners isn’t hard. Using everyday pantry items, you can easily ensure your cupcakes and muffins pop right out of the pan, making the need for liners essentially nonexistent.

So, if you’re in the mood for cupcakes but don’t have any liners on hand, read on. We’ll explain everything you need to know about baking cupcakes without their traditional coverings.

Why People Use Cupcake Liners

Before we discuss making cupcakes without liners, it’s helpful to understand what the point of a cupcake liner is. Cupcake or muffin tin liners are papers or foil wraps that bakers use to contain the batter inside muffin tins.

They can help keep baked goods from sticking to the sides of the pan and are often decorative. They usually have ridges and may have patterns or bright colors, though these fade significantly in the oven.

Because they contain the cupcake batter, liners cut out the need to grease the pan, which many fat-conscious cooks appreciate. They also make for more hygienic treats because neither the baker nor the eater needs to touch the actual cupcake.

Lastly, cupcake liners can reduce wear and tear on your baking pans, so many avid bakers insist on them. Still, to say they’re a requirement is an overstatement. There are many reasons to skip cupcake liners, and you can certainly do so without ruining your baked treats.

Reasons To Skip The Liner

Despite what your recipe says, you don’t need a liner to make cupcakes or muffins in a tin, which is a very good thing when you have a sudden need for cupcakes but no liners on hand.

Even if you have plenty of liners, there are several reasons why you might choose to skip using them. For one thing, muffin tins come in various sizes, and so do their liners. It’s not uncommon to buy a pack of liners only to find they don’t fit.

They can be too tall, too wide, or too narrow for your tin, and trying to force them in can quickly create a mess. Adding batter to poor fitting tin liners is asking for an oven disaster, with batter pooling in all the wrong places!

On top of that, liners may be cheap, but they aren’t entirely free. If you’re baking in bulk, the cost of cupcake liners can add up quickly. As a result, it’s often cheaper to use an alternative like we’ll discuss below.

Finally, some bakers prefer the rustic look of a cupcake without a paper liner. When you do it right, a cupcake or muffin without a covering looks clean and unpretentious.

There won’t be any ridges like a paper liner creates. Instead, you’ll be better able to see and appreciate the cake’s texture.

How to Make Cupcakes Without Liners

Of course, baking cupcakes or muffins without liners can be risky. After all, no one wants their cupcakes to stick, which is probably the main reason liners remain so prevalent.

Luckily, there are several foolproof ways to ensure your baked goods come out great without a paper or foil wrapping. All of them include greasing your pan thoroughly, but the techniques and ingredients differ.

There are also several ways to create makeshift liners with products you probably have in your pantry. So, whether you want to bake with no liners at all or feel more comfortable with something covering the pan, the techniques below can help.

Use Baking Spray

The easiest way to learn how to make cupcakes without liners is with the help of a baking spray. Cooking or baking spray is usually a mix of oil, emulsifiers, and propellants, such as food-grade alcohol.

Because it comes in a spray can, it’s easy to coat the inside of each cupcake cup. Just pull back on the spray nozzle and fan the can across the pan in a slow, controlled way. It will evenly coat the inside of a cupcake tin and prevent your baked goods from sticking.

If you’re going to use a baking spray, be careful of which one you pick. There are sprays specifically for baking, and then there are those meant for savory cooking options.

Avoid sprays that use olive oil, which may add a strange flavor to baked treats. Also, keep away from sprays labeled “high-heat” as they may contain ingredients that work well for cooking but not necessarily for baking cupcakes.

When spraying your tin, be sure to keep your arm moving so that you coat the pan evenly. If you see pools of baking spray on the bottom of your tin or dripping down the sides, you used too much.

Too much baking spray, or grease of any type, can cause unwanted changes in the flavor of your cupcake. It can also cause the edges of your cakes to fry, creating a deep brown ring.

Try Butter

Butter is a favorite for greasing cupcake pans because it tastes fantastic! However, it takes a little effort to use.

There are three techniques for coating a cupcake pan in butter:


  • Use cold butter straight out of the fridge. Slice off one tablespoon and hold it in between your fingers. Use it to coat each muffin cup, making sure to get into the corners and up the sides.


  • Use melted butter with a paper towel. Melt a tablespoon of butter in the microwave, then dip a paper towel into it. Use the towel to coat each cup in your cupcake tin.


  • Use a butter wrapper. Many seasoned bakers know to save their butter wrappers. The foil or paper that covers your butter in the fridge has plenty of excess fat, which you can use to coat a muffin tin. Just wipe the wrapper around each cup, making sure to get the sides and corners.  


Use Oils

If butter or baking spray isn’t an option for how to make cupcakes without liners, you can also use a neutral-flavored oil. Canola oil and vegetable oils are great choices. Neither will add any flavor to your cupcakes.

Some bakers prefer to use coconut oil, which is a good option for some cupcake types. It definitely adds a tropical flavor, so it’s not always the right choice. With banana, pineapple, or chocolate cupcakes, though, it’s a favorite.

To grease your tin with oil, use the paper towel method we mentioned above. Dip the paper towel in oil and use it to coat each cup of your cupcake tin. You can also use a pastry brush if you happen to have one on hand.

Make Liners With Parchment Paper Or Foil

If you prefer to use some sort of liner with your pans, you can make your own using common household items like parchment paper or foil.

To do this, cut either material into 5 or 6-inch squares. Ideally, the squares will be about 1 inch longer than the cups in your pan.

Then, take a jar or glass that fits inside the muffin cups in your pan. Use the bottom of the jar or glass to mold the foil or parchment into cups. Place your homemade liners in the cups, fill with batter, and bake!

If you choose to use foil, you may still want to grease the insides. Foil, despite its non-stick claims, still holds tight to certain foods in the oven. This is especially true if you’re working with a high sugar batter. Sugar always makes things stickier!

Here is our detailed article on how to make cupcake liners at home.

Baking Cupcakes Without A Liner

Whether you choose to grease your pans or create your own cupcake liners, the baking process stays the same. Make sure your oven is at the correct temperature, typically around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then place your cupcakes on the center rack and bake according to your recipe’s given time.

Tips and Tricks For Removing Cupcakes

Baking your cupcakes is exactly the same with or without a liner in place, but removing cupcakes from the pan can be tricky if you skip the foil or paper coverings. That’s not to say it’s impossible, though. You just need to be extra careful.

Make Sure They’re Done

To start, you want to ensure your cupcakes are cooked through. If they’re underdone, they’ll fall apart when you try to remove them.

You can tell cupcakes are done when they shrink back slightly from the sides of the cups. They should also bounce back if you touch their tops, and a toothpick stuck in the center should come out clean or with a few crumbs.

Let Them Cool, But Not Too Long

After you’re sure that your cakes are cooked, leave them on the counter to cool in the pan for about ten minutes. If you don’t give them long enough to cool, they may crumble when you go to remove them.

Conversely, if you let them cool completely in the pan, the grease that kept them from sticking will harden and turn into an edible glue. If this happens to you, stick the pan back in a hot oven for thirty seconds. The cupcakes should be ready for removal afterward.

Use A Butter Knife For Careful Removal

When you go to remove the cupcakes, use a butter knife or small offset spatula. Loosen around the edges, then hold the knife at an angle to pop the cupcake out.

If you notice the cake begins to crack or break when you angle the knife or spatula, you may need a different technique.

Try loosening each cupcake by running the knife around the edges, then flip the entire pan over, making sure you’re working on a clean surface. The cupcakes should fall out of the pan.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cupcake Liners

Learning how to make cupcakes without liners isn’t all that difficult, though it may take a little more time and effort. Still, you might have some questions about baking without a liner.

Can I Use Coffee Filters To Create Cupcake Liners?

No, you can’t use coffee filters to create cupcake liners. Coffee filters feel a bit like paper cupcake liners, so the question makes sense. However, coffee filters are filters, which means they let water through.

If you try to use them for baking cupcakes, you’ll end up with the liquid from your batter pooled in the bottom of your pan, which is never a good thing!

Can I Turn Wax Paper Into Cupcake Liners?

No, you can’t turn wax paper into cupcake liners. Wax paper feels similar to parchment paper, but wax paper melts when you expose it to heat. So, unless you want wax-flavored cupcakes, we suggest sticking to parchment.

Can I Bake Cupcakes Without A Cupcake Pan?

Yes, you can bake cupcakes without a cupcake pan, but in that case, you will need liners of some sort. Foil ones are best for standing up on their own. Place them on a sheet pan in the oven and fill with batter carefully.

You can also use the paper type. Just be sure to double line each cupcake for extra stability.

Is Aluminum Foil Better Than Parchment Paper For Cupcake Liners?

Both aluminum foil and parchment paper work well as cupcake liners. However, some bakers have a preference for foil. That’s because the paper liners may absorb some of the oil in your cupcakes, which could affect the final texture a bit.

Do I Need To Adjust The Baking Time For Cupcakes Without A Liner?

No, you don’t need to adjust the baking time when making cupcakes without a liner. Follow the recipe just like you would with liners in place.

Final Thoughts

Cookbooks, bakers, and online recipes often make it seem like you can’t bake cupcakes without a liner, but that’s not true. You can learn how to bake a cupcake without a liner and produce professional-level results in the process.

Taking the time to prepare your pan with spray, oil, or butter is one way to ensure your cupcakes come out, even without the paper or foil wrapper. You could also make your own liners using parchment or foil squares.

So, the next time you’re making cupcakes but find you don’t have liners on hand, don’t fret! Use our tips, and they’ll still come out fabulous!



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Ava Gardner
Ava Gardner

Hi! My name is Ava and I love baking. I love the process of creating something from nothing, and the satisfaction of taking a bite of something I made myself. I love trying new recipes and experimenting with different flavors. Baking is my form of self-care; it's how I relax and unwind after a long day. That's why I founded!

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