The Muffin Tin – A Versatile Kitchen Tool

I recently challenged myself to de-clutter my life and started by going through at least one drawer, closet, cupboard or shelf  each week, getting rid of what we don’t use.

For the past two weeks,  this project had me immersed in over 200 food and wine oriented magazines saved from 1998 to present.  I’d kept them arranged by season for seemingly easy access to seasonal ideas; but haven’t used them in a while, so thought it time to do a purge.  I went through each, pulling out recipes, tips, or stories I wanted to keep…there were several…I am making good progress, am almost done.

What has been most interesting was seeing if the predictions these journals made 5 – 10 years ago came true.  There were many forecasts about up and coming hot chefs in America, identification of  food trends, and restaurant and wine critiques.

Several of these chefs are now seen on various food shows.  As far as food trends, a couple key ones stand out as “building momentum” over the past ten years. They include the “small plate – small bites” movement; and use of molecular gastronomy in developing interesting, powerful flavor experiences.  I think both these trends can directly apply to the development of creative dishes for thoughtful,  appealing, satisfying (yet non-filling),  contemporary afternoon tea menus.  Funny how new ideas and methods can revitalize old traditions.

While flipping through a 2004 Gourmet Magazine, the below recipe caught my attention.  An individual frittata.  I love using muffin tins (molds) for two reasons…portion control and ability to individualize each – developing small plates of foods.    It  struck me how this simple tool, available in most homes, continues to offer versatility in creating unique savory and sweet individual items.  While I love this recipe, I was a bit amazed when it said to use a nonstick muffin pan with 6 (1 cup) muffin cups – that is a giant muffin size.  My tins are smaller,  either holding 1/3 cup or less…over the years guess I’ve been downsizing my tin sizes.  I made this flavorful recipe for a quick, light dinner.

Eggs baked in muffin cups

Petite egg fritatas baked in muffin cups


Recipe from an old Gourmet magazine

Recipe from an old Gourmet magazine

Gourmet Magazine 2004 – the recipe calls for one cup muffin cups – quite large… i made this with regular sized muffin cups – they hold 1/3 cup so I got to eat three frittatas as one serving.

I was inspired to make these individual frittatas…

I adapted Gourmet’s recipe a bit, using mostly egg whites in my prosciutto encrusted frittata.

Here is the Gourmet recipe: Special equipment: a nonstick muffin pan with 6 (1 cup) muffin cups (I used a pan with 12 (1/3 cup muffin cups)…a great size.

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

3 medium zucchini (1 lb. total) – halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/8 inch slices

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup fresh minced chives

1 1/2 ounce grated Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano

10 large eggs, slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat oil in a 12 inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat, then saute zucchini with salt and pepper, occasionally stirring, until just tender (about 4 minutes). Let this cool a bit.  Whisk chives, zucchini and 1/2 the cheese into the eggs. Divide mixture among oiled muffin cups and bake until puffed and set.  About 14 minutes for the large cup tins.  Remove from oven, sprinkle with rest of the grated cheese and place under a broiler until browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

Below are a few of my favorite muffin tins…the square mold in interesting and one I use for savory and sweet cakes.

My favorite square muffin tin

My favorite square muffin tin

Then there is the mini muffin tin…I use this a lot!  It is useful for creating small flavorful bites that won’t fill guests up or have them feeling guilty either.IMG_1424

mini quiche using the square tin

mini quiche using the square tin

Going through these magazines inspired me, I have a list of several recipes I plan to use in the near term…most trending towards small plate sizes.  Will be using my various molds and muffin tins for many.  Try it.  Things cook quicker in individual sizes, so watch your timing.

The magazines I rifled through included: Bon Appetit, Gourmet ( you should see mine from 1976 -78, I am not getting rid of those), Wine Spectator, Food and Wine, Martha Stewart Living.  Will share some of my “finds” in future posts.


  1. OH MY!!!! I am truly inspired!!!! Saw a mini-loaf pan today and thought…”hmmmm”! Must now go back and buy it!!! Thanks Lin!

    • Yes, some people collect shoes, others, handbags….my thing has become tins and molds 🙂 I love them…go get that mini pan and have fun with it 🙂

  2. Well done with your decluttering! I love your idea of using these tins for smaller portions, and little bite-size items looks so appetising. The frittatas look amazing, as do your egg tarts, in fact everything looks utterly scrumptious. I haven’t seen square muffin tins like yours but I really like the idea of them. This post is, as Simone say, truly inspiring! Thank you. 🙂

    • Glad that you noticed the square tin…it is my favorite. Just love the way things come of it…a unique shape and truly non-stick too. I found it in a close-out type shop. Happy to bring a little inspiration your way 🙂