Silicone muffin pans aren't rigid. Instead, they're made of flexible material that can withstand high heat. On the plus side, silicone doesn't get nearly as hot as metal, so it's cooler to the touch, even when right out of the oven. Silicone bakeware also promises easy cleaning and no sticking. However, based on the reviews we found, the jury is still out on whether silicone or metal is best for baking.
In a hands-on test conducted by Australia-based Choice magazine, editors find that silicone bakeware bakes as well as metal pans, and it cools to the touch more quickly. However, the editors also find that silicone pans can be expensive, and their floppiness makes them difficult to move when the cups are filled with batter. The review recommends several silicone muffin pans, but none are currently available in the United States. In other reviews, ConsumerReports.org editors aren't shy about their preference for conventional bakeware in an article titled "We Pan Silicone Bakeware," while Marian Burros' review of silicone bakeware reveals mixed results in an article for The New York Times.
Some manufacturers and websites claim that silicone is intrinsically nonstick, but consumer experience reveals a different story. Many user reviews note that to avoid sticking problems, they always use nonstick cooking spray on silicone pans. In a short overview video on CooksIllustrated.com, editors say that silicone muffin pans didn't offer any advantages over metal.
As for specific products, the Roshco Silicone 12-Cup Muffin Pan with Sled (*Est. $20) gets good marks from several users for releasing muffins easily and being easy to clean. Comments regarding nonstick performance are less uniform, with some users saying their pan sticks to food even when using cooking spray and some saying their muffins slip easily from the pan with no cooking spray used at all. Many users say the pan's frame, or "sled," addresses the problem of floppiness and makes the pan easier to move into and out of the oven. Some users, however, say the silicone emits an unpleasant odor during cooking.
The Silicone Solutions Standard 6-Cup Muffin Pan (*Est. $10), which comes in a several colors, gets a handful of reviews on Amazon.com. The pan's nonstick performance gets mixed reviews from users, with some saying that muffins easily pop out and others saying that food sticks even when the pan is greased. Users also say that the pan feels "flimsy," but they disagree as to whether or not this is a problem.
A small number of users post about muffin pans in specialty shapes, giving good reviews to silicone products. Users posting on Amazon.com say the Wilton Mini Star Silicone Mold (*Est. $10) and the Wilton Mini Flower Silicone Mold (*Est. $10) make well-shaped muffins, and the bendy nature of the silicone helps in removing odd-shaped muffins from the pan. These Wilton muffin pans come with a lifetime warranty. Some users advise against relying on recipe times for silicone pans, saying that optimum baking times can vary when using a silicone pan as opposed to a metal pan.
Overall, we didn't find enough evidence in favor of silicone muffin pans to include them in our Best Reviewed chart. It's clear from user reviews that some owners like them, but we found far better reviews overall for metal pans.