The Secret to Preventing Cupcakes & Muffins From Sticking

Cupcake liners are a must-have tool in the kitchen if you like to bake. They make it easy to get cakes and muffins out of the pan with minimal cleanup. But while they come out of the pan easily, cupcake liners can sometimes stick to the cake inside them — which means you lose some cake goodness. If you’ve ever encountered this problem, here is the secret to preventing cupcakes and muffins from sticking.

How to Prevent Cupcake Wrappers from Sticking

Why do cupcake liners stick?

There are several things that can impact whether your wrappers might stick to the batter inside of them: the liner itself, the cake recipe or the temperature you’re unwrapping at.

The liner

Cupcake liners are made out of a variety of papers and foils. They aren’t usually well-labeled, but the least expensive papers tend to be the ones that stick the most. 

cupcakes in liners

The recipe

When it comes to the recipe, there are a couple of factors at play. Some batters are very high in sugar, which can caramelize against a paper wrapper (or a metal pan, for that matter) and stick, while others are simply very delicate in texture. Batters that are relatively low in fat also tend to stick more than higher fat recipes. 

Unwrapping temperature

Have your baked goods cooled completely before you try to remove them from the wrapper? Muffins often stick to the bottom of the wrapper because we’re more likely to try to eat them warm, while cupcakes are cooled entirely so we can frost them. Cakes and muffins shrink a bit as they cool, so they’ll actually loosen their grip on the wrapper slightly as they come to room temperature.

cupcakes taken out of liners

How to stop cupcake liners from sticking

There are a couple of ways to prevent sticking:

1. Grease your wrappers

Giving the wrappers a quick spritz of nonstick cooking spray before filling them works very well to prevent cakes from sticking — even if you’re making a delicate recipe or trying to unwrap the cupcakes when they’re still warm. 

cupcakes out of liners

2. Buy non-stick liners

While not all cupcake wrappers are well-labeled, many brands clearly label their liners as nonstick. These nonstick liners are made with grease-proof paper or parchment paper. This type of wrapper almost never sticks to the baked goods made in them. There are even some brands that are so non-stick that baked goods will practically fall out of them! You might think I’m exaggerating, but you will actually need to be careful when handling some of them if you want to keep the wrappers on before serving. 

I try to buy the nonstick liners because it saves me the additional time of greasing the wrappers. After all, the wrappers are supposed to save prep time and cleanup time in the first place. If you find a brand you like, make a note of it so that you can pick up the same ones in the future.  That said, you can always grease the wrappers in a pinch and get excellent results! 

Reply to thomas mcginnis
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15 Responses to “The Secret to Preventing Cupcakes & Muffins From Sticking”

  1. Guy Wind

    Have you tried the silicone cups? I’ve found a smooth sided – non-fluted version. My gluten free bread/muffins (not a lot of fats) stick to paper liners – sprayed or not. Non stick metal pans – sprayed or not – nightmare. My gluten free nightmare.

  2. Mary

    Thanks very much for the tips. Maybe a silly question but does the inside or outside of the paper liner get sprayed? And another if you have time…do silicone cups work? And, sorry, I have a silicone muffin tray – do I even need liners? Thank you.

    • Michele

      Hi, if you have silicone muffin trays, you won’t need liners. In most cases, you don’t even need to spray them. I don’t find anything stick to mine. I highly recommend. Also they are very easy to clean, unlike metal muffin trays. Hope this helps.

  3. Barry

    I tried the spraying didn’t work, will see about finding silicone liners, will try letting cool longer

  4. Earlyne

    Buy silicone muffin cups. They work great, no need to fuss over paper liners.

  5. Debbie

    For many years I have had this little problem with the liners and bec of lack of time, I did do some research on it until today. Now, I know. Liked very much the thorough and simple to understand phrases. Thank you.

  6. thomas mcginnis

    thank you. I did not know there was a difference. I took over cooking from my wife when I retired to help out and am still learning.

  7. Sammie

    What can you do if they are totally cooled and still sticking? Will I just forever loose the bottom goodness of my chocolate muffin?

    • Sherrie garner

      I filled my cupcake muffin liners and was gone for 2 hours and baked the zucchini muffins and they all stuck to liners. Even cold

  8. Mimi

    Thank you for the answer. I have to make cups tomorrow for Easter. I was wondering if it would be ok to spray the cupcake papers. I am going to try it tomorrow.

  9. Leslie

    My wife has been baking for years and every once and a while she runs into a sticking effect. She is not easy to overcome to advise but as the dish washer I want to help her.

    • Anthony Sowerby

      I think most of problem is now the cheap and nasty way manufacturing has now lowered it’s standards to save money. Baking products too so this is reason wy baking cups and greaseproof papers along with foils are useless. Even baking sprays are mixed crap palm oils and all sorts it’s not good and won’t improve. As for silicone I find it less than adequate