Out of love with silicon for baking

_[Note: Since writing this back in 2007, I've gone back to using some silicone baking wares again. I believe the quality of silicone baking containers and sheets has improved. Still, you do get what you pay for.]__

Some years ago, when silicon baking wares came out, I jumped on them with glee. No more scraping off baked on crud from the baking sheets! Muffins that popped right up with no greasing of the cups required! Easy washing up!

But these days I've definitely fallen out of love with silicon sheets and silicon muffin pans and the like.

About those muffin pans first: while muffins do brown on the outsides, they don't get as crispy-brown as I'd like. They also seem to rise a bit less than I'd like.

Also, they are totallly useless for popovers and Yorkshire puddings. You can't really heat them up, so you can't make them piping hot and pour in hot batter. The alternative method for making popovers 'pop' is to start them in a cold oven, but that doesn't work either. So I end up with flat, boring muffins of a sort, rather than high and airy pockets of trapped air and eggy, moist insides. Yes, I know I could just get separate pans for the popover and Yorkshire puddings, but I don't have that much storage space in my not-too-large kitchen, and I like to avoid 'single-use' type equipment as much as possible.

As for silicon baking sheets, used to line heavy baking sheets, they do okay on the browning front. But what I dislike about them is that, after a few uses they take on an unpleasantly 'greasy' feel to them. No amount of washing or soaking in soapy water seems to cure that. I don't know if I'm over-sensitive to this, but it drives me nuts. So I end up throwing them out over maybe 3 uses. This doesn't seem too economicalor environmentally friendly to me. (Do those things disintegrate at all in landfills?)

So, I'm back to good old metal baking tins and lining my baking sheets with kitchen parchment paper. My old metal muffin pans tend to stick a bit on the bottoms, so for delicate cupcakes and such I just use paper cupcake liners. (Which means of course I avoid those individual silicon cupcake cups.) Paper, at least, does disintegrate after a while.

How do you feel about those silicon baking products? Do you love them or hate them?

Filed under:  equipment baking ethics

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hullo maki!

i agree with your assessment of silicon muffin pans. unlike the metal ones, you can't make popovers or yorkshire puddings, but they're not bad at all for muffins or cupcakes.

with regards to the silicon sheets, i also have encountered its greasy feel after i wash it once. however, it usually goes away after i wash it with soap and water for a second time. i have used my silicon sheet many times and i think it's very useful to keep baked goods from sticking. i have made cookies and pretzels on it and it works very well. my silicon sheet is from silpat. do you think the one you bought might have been defective?

I've only used the cake tins and muffin pans, but so far I haven't been overly impressed. I miss the crispy bottoms and they're just not that much easier to clean. I'd rather spend 2 minutes greasing the pan or use paper pans.

Maria, I've used Silipat, and several other brand/no brand sheets, and that greasy feeling gets worse for me with repeat use...so I ended up just using them about 3-4 time max, then dumping them. Which didn't seem to be too economical. Maybe I am too sensitive to the 'greasy' feeling somehow...

anon I agree with you - it's not such a big deal in any case to do a little greasing of the pans (and it's not like it's a huge amount of grease anyway...besides it's baking something that already has plenty of fat in it, usually)

you can run those silicone mats through the dishwasher...no need to toss 'em!

We actually don't own a dishwasher... (except for the human kind... :o ... we have this ongoing mild debate at how ecological they are or something)

(Not that we are overly green I don't think ... though we don't have a clothes dryer either... and we use geothermal energy to heat the house.. hmm... well all this is not that uncommon in Switzerland )

We've tried soaking them in very hot soapy water ... probably a dishwasher would do a better job....

I just bought a snowman cake pan and it had no directions at all! I wondered if I'm supposed to grease and oil the pan like a regular cake pan. I tried it out for the first time last night. The cake was a little brown and crispy on the bottom, but it looked cool because the face details (carrot nose and pieces of coal for eyes and mouth) really stood out.

You shouldn't have to grease and oil a silicon pan...you can of course if you want to be extra safe. (I'm talking about a floppy, all-silicon pan vs. a silicon-coated metal pan. Those I do grease a bit for ensure things won't stick.)

I've made my first cupcakes with silicon muffin tins but most of the cup cake stayed in the tin. It was impossible to get the whole cupcake out in one piece. Isn't it supposed to be non stick? Am I doing something wrong?

Indeed, silicon is very non-stick... are you talking about the silicon-coated metal muffin tins perhaps? The coating can wear off them sometimes. It's safer to grease them lightly I think. (I was talking about all-silicon sort of rubbery muffin molds actually in this post.)

I am finding that the silicone bakeware seems to always get hotter and cook faster than the regular times in metal cookware -- and I'm baking everything on a lower temperature to begin with -- I find I have to really watch things closely or they burn.

I didn't like them from the very beginning. They burnt my earl grey tea muffin because things cook faster in them (I didn't know what to expect), not to mention that some bits of muffin got stuck in the grooves and are impossible to remove. They are okay as little side dish dividers in lunch box.

I haven't used silicon yet. I have a six-cup muffin tray that someone gave me but I don't know what the benefits (and pitfalls) of using silicon are. I'm thinking of sticking to my usual tins, unless I can be convinced otherwise. Apart from possibly allowing more even heating, and non-sticking, what are the other perceived benefits?

I couldn't agree more. Silicon muffin cups produce drier muffins without a nice crust, and are a pain to clean; and I much prefer parchment to silpat sheets. The baking sheet liners do seem to get incurably greasy. (Add that to two large, long-haired dogs, and ... well, you get the picture.) BUT -- I'm not dumping my silicone yet, because it is GREAT for some other things.

1. I use my silicone muffin cups as dividers in my bento lunches. Perfect.

2. The smooth-sided muffin cups are wonderful portable, unbreakable individual custard cups for my older son's yearly pumpkin custard birthday treats (his birthday is right around American Thanksgiving, and for some reason he has always preferred to have custard in class instead of the usual cupcakes).

3. Muffin cups great as prep dishes when I'm cooking Indian or Chinese (or anything else that requires mise-en-place).

4. The baking sheet liners, cut down to fit in cake pans, make a super-easy alternative to parchment when baking multi-layer cakes.

We purchased silicon cupcake cups that have the little pleats like the paper and metal ones. They are impossible to clean AND if not throughly cleaned go rancid. Can't cook anything in them because of the smell.We didn't butter them, it was the oils in the muffin mix.I was on here hoping someone had devised a way to clean the oils out. Scrubbing with dishsoap hasn't worked and is, in general, annoying.
However, we do enjoy our Silpat

It seems that some silicon bakeware gives off a very strong odor, somewhat smelling like soap, perfume or something of the like. I have a silicone muffin pan; I use cupcake liners whenever baking cupcakes and my cupcakes come out tasting with that odor! Anyone knows the reason for this?

Silpats are great. Used them in a professional kitchen for about 4 1/2 years, they do get a greasy feeling to it, and with time, they do not smell very good after each use.

I was given a set of 6 silicon cakeware (round, square, loaf, 2x6 Muffin, quiche). And my intial excitement soon faded. The instructions said that I didn't need to grease them, but my brownies stuck to the bottom, just like if I hadn't greased a metal tin. Then no matter how much I washed them, they all developed this white stuff. The set cost over $250, so it is a pretty good brand. Down with silicon. I'm back to my aluminium tins with their nice even cooking.

I have had a Silpat mat for a few years and use it 3-4 times a week. It hasn't got a greasy feel to it. And I would be lost with out it. Maybe you could try http://www.magiccookingsheet.com.au. I know a few people who use this and love it.

It's funny, but I got a silicone muffin pan once which had directions that if you spray it with nonstick spray, then the pan will be nonstick. But that just sounds useless, because isn't any bakeware nonstick once it gets sprayed? Just found it funny.


my baking world

Maybe someone can help me? I have used my silicon cookie sheets twice and every time I use them my smoke detector goes off and I am not burning any thing in my gas oven. My gas oven is clean to begin with.. My cookies come out ok and aren't burned either. My husband thinks the silicon sheets smoke and give off an odor. I have removed the sheets from the oven and cooled the cookies, but the smell is still in the house causing the alarms to keep going off. Perhaps these sheets should not be used in a gas oven. Please help!!!!!

Solution for the grease coating: using elbow grease, rub a clean paper towel on the silpat. This transfers the coating from the silpat to the paper.

My experience: Have regularly used silpat muffin "tin" for my blueberry muffins. First try with no oil--they stuck. The cups simply must be oiled to cleanly remove a muffin. The berries have permanently stained the cup insides, and batter spill has baked this yucky brown crud on the "tin" surface. I came here looking for a solution for the baked-on crud. On a positive note--the muffins are good. Muffin crispiness is enhanced by oiling the cups or leaving the muffins in the "tin" awhile before removal. The recipe called for 25 minutes at 400 degrees but the muffin edges are overly crunchy--30 minutes at 375 degrees works well.

I was given a set of silicon muffin molds just recently, just in time to discover steaming mini mushipan in the rice cooker with.
Perfect! And they come out cleanly too.
Not sure how I'd feel about them in an oven, but for steaming they've been great!
I intend using them for freezing portions of baby food in the near future. They seem ideal for this.

I got some from my neighbour,she used them for cake but she had the problem that no ammount of dish washing liquid would make the greasy feeling go away and over time the silicon molds stained also.

So now i use them to make soap cakes, pretty gifts one can make with silicon molds.

But for food...no...i am even throwing out all the non-sticking pans and molds.

I do not want to use them anymore because if birds die when they have to breath kitchen air with these teflon foams you can not guarantee it will not affect humans too.

And i also hate it to buy new pans every couple of years.

The steel pans my mother and grandmother had are still good but the new teflon coated garbage...no way..no..never again

Silcone is not Teflon! silcone is a flexible durable product that unlike Teflon coat pans. Metals leach into your food, depending on the metal type, and make you foods taste different.

I too had the same issues with silcone (sad rawish tops(bottom of pan)Angel food cakes) but today I tried baking them in the microwave first and had good results, but today time with tell.

I baked them for 5min at 50% power then I baked them in the oven to brown them like 5-10 min.

the image shows the one on left was cooked in the microwave and the one on the left is still uncooked.

they look good and can't wait to see if they worked!!!!(they did and I gave some to friend with whip cream, figs and berries and she was like WOW!)

I tried the top and they are so fluffy, I also cooked one large one in a metal pan to see the difference in taste and texture. Mine were small bunt cakes, the flexible kind. I also made on in the traditional 2pc metal pan.(I have a one piece, why I can't remember, prob from my mom's kitchen)

I almost too gave up...unitl I remember making mini pancakes in the microwave and tossing them spice for my nephews. Who used to love them.

Now I did test first with a cheap store bought pre-mix cake(99cents) before trying it out on my home made Angel Food cake. While the cake was gross, it worked. But I would recommend finish baking it in the oven. The texture was more like sponge cake. I only make 2 types of cakes, Angel food cake and White Chocolate MUDD Cake....

After this I now will Make my Angel foods cakes this way. i Think Angel Food Cake, worked well because of the fluffy egg whites and low cooking temp. Maybe bread will be my next test.

I don't like Microwaves but if you know how to cook with them they can be convenient.

Now I keep my Silcone.

I also loved the idea of silicon for baking, but agree that they never seem to look particularly clean after being used a few times. I now tend to stick to parchment paper on baking trays and paper cups for muffins and so on.

That said, I do like the idea of using them for steaming, as Loretta suggests, and Julie's suggestion of using silicon muffin cups as dividers in bento. I won't get rid of them just yet...!

Still in love with silicon muffin cups - just not for baking! They are absolutely perfect for freezing extra, chicken stock, tomato sauce, apple sauce etc.

I just received a set of expensive silicone bakeware in a light green colour. I've encountered no problem in cooking with them but the staining is horrendous. I first baked 4 large stuffed mushrooms in my oven dish and when i took the dish out of the oven the entire thing had been stained a dark brown, except for four unharmed green circles where the mushrooms had sat. It was as if the dish had burned in places where it didn't have a watery food substance as a heat sink. Has anyone else found this? I cannot remove the stains after many hours of elbow grease and i dare not use bleach in there as some detergent seems to stick inside the silicone. Any Ideas?


When you cook traditionally on a aluminum pan that you have to grease to prevent sticking, you use butter or some oil right?

Well as the product cooks up, this "extra" butter on the bottom is going to help brown the muffins and cakes on the bottoms, giving them that toasty feel because that film is essentially frying the edges coming into contact with it.

I have never used a silicone pan, but this seemed obvious to me.

I'd love to be convinced that they are good, because they "should" be easy, shouldn't they? but my muffins go kinda rubbery in the silicon muffin pan - the texture is a bit odd - very smooth, even with bran muffins. They are smooth on the outside, and begin to overcook in the middle. What am I doing wrong? has anyone else had this problem?
any ideas welcome..thanks :)

That sounds very familiar! They do seem like such a good idea, but in practice they just don't produce very good results. I have reverted to proper metal muffin tins with paper cups. And, as a number of people have said, it does stain pretty badly. I don't think that affects its performance at all, but it is rather unsightly.

There are a few ideas above on what you can use the defunct silicon baking cups for...!

I'm somewhat disillusioned, too. It stains, and some of my cupcake moulds and both Victoria sponge silicone pans have taken on the smell of washing up liquid that I couldn't get out by rinsing. The next batch of baking tasted of ... you guessed it: washing up liquid. I think I may have cured the Victoria sponge moulds by putting them in the oven at 200 degrees, without batter, and burning the smell off, but I'll have to bake a sponge to test how successful that was. Also, the disgusting greasy feeling, and the way they always dry ugly with greasy water marks. I tried making Yorkshire puddings in silicone, because the manufacturer's leaflet said it was fine to do so. What a mistake. I ended up with Yorkshire disasters and a permanently ruined mould of 6 larger cupcakes. Those disgusting, sticky, smelly yellow patches of burnt oil have never gone out.

THANKYOU!! I have the problem of the baked goods sometimes tasting like soap too!I love the sheets for cookies but it seems like I have gotten a couple that taste like soap and the other one is ok...makes all your efforts completely useless.

I thought I was the only one! I just got a new set of mini-muffin silicone pans as a gift last year, after my old one took on the smell/taste of dishwasher soap. That smell permeated into any food I put in it without a liner. I tried to use them again tonight to test a cake recipe for my son's birthday, but the soap taste was so strong for me, it made me sick. Funny thing, though, my husband didn't notice the taste at all. =/

Anyway, I think I will try your method of "burning off" the smell in the oven with my other silicone pans in a similar state. I hope I'm successful. Did your sponge cake come out all right after using this method?

I got excited about getting some silicone baking sheets but after reading your article and these comments, I might try the parchment paper instead. I have been using non stick aluminum paper by Reynolds. I notice that the bottom of my flat bread is kind of shiny and never really bakes to a toasty crust, like the top does. Does anyone know if there are dangers using non stick aluminum? And if I did use the silicone baking sheet, doesn't that make the baking time even longer because now the bottom of the pan is even thicker? Any help is appreciated. : )

Don't know if you can help me, I have silicon letters, I used them to do my daughter a cake spelling out her name. I made my cake mix and filled up the letters with the left over mix, I made cupcake. The cupcakes where love,y but the letters dried out. I did read that you let them cool in the mold. Could this be why as I turned them out od mold to cool on rack?
I would love any advise you can give to get the cake letters to be as yummy as the cupcakes.
Thank you

I really don't know since I have not seen the molds, but if they were smaller or thinner than the cupcake molds, and you baked them for the same amount of time, they may have just gotten over-baked. Try taking them out a bit earlier the next time.

One thing I found that helps to get rid of the greasy feeling and the whitish coating that sometimes appears.. lysol wipes or some other grease fighting item. The wipes with the scrubbing side work the best. I then follow up with a good washing in soap and very hot water. Hope that helps anyone. I actually love my silicone muffin tin (I use the paper liner cups either way but I like how they come out in comparison to my metal tin) I also use a silicone strainer and I have to say... I absolutely LOVE it. I have yet to try the round and square cake pans I purchased recently.

The white stuff means that you are using poor quality silicone--white stuff is filler materials that react badly w/heat/

Well made silicone will not produce white stuff.

Products tasting like soap is a comment some relatives have told me about cookies etc, when I use Silpat mats. I have switched to the silicon paper which I bought a case at a food distribution place, same that is used by bakeries all over. 1000 sheets which I must cut in 1/2 for $40 so I have 2000 sheets ($.02 per sheet). I think I have enough for a longgggg time and give some to friends. It is a large flat box.

How do you get mold out of silicone dishes/bakeware?! I have various silicone pans, cupcake liners, etc and never had a problem with mold until we bought flip-top sport cups that have a silicone stopper in the top to keep it from leaking. A few times now a cup has gotten lost in the strangest places and weren't found until mold had formed in there. I've tried soaking the stopper in bleach water, peroxide, hot soapy water, run through the dishwasher, even boiling them to no avail! I just cant get the dark moldy spots off the tops! I even contacted the company(Nalgene) to see if I could just buy replacement stoppers and of course, they don't sell just the stoppers- I'd have to buy the whole cap and stopper assemblies. Can anyone help?!