Are silicone baking molds better than metal baking pans?

By Jon Strungis / April 13, 2015
silicone baking molds

As time and technology progress, so do the options available to the modern kitchen. No longer are you bound to the same old Pyrex and metal pans that you’re used to. One new option that has been the subject of much debate is silicone.

While silicone baking molds offer some distinct advantages and tradeoffs over their antique alternatives, the question remains: are they worth all the hype? It’s time to see where the rubber meets the oven rack with these newfangled silicone baking products.

WHAT IS SILICONE?

Silicone is a durable rubber product that is heated, treated, colored, and shaped into countless different forms. At first glance this may worry some that chemical byproducts might leech into their food; however, this concern is generally unfounded. While manufacturers do make silicone for all sorts of different uses, most all silicone molds you can buy are FDA approved and safe for food use (just check the label if you’re not sure – they’re generally all clearly labeled). The fact that it’s a manufactured rubber is part of what makes silicone baking products both relatively inexpensive and incredibly lightweight and easy to pack or store. You can usually get a good quality pan for about $10-25 depending on the shape and size you're looking for.

The fact that it’s so easy to make and manipulate also means that there are hundreds of different shapes, sizes, and colors. You can break from the boring norm with fun and festive molds like this green shamrock. Even with those tricky corners, you don’t need luck to get perfect cakes out of molds like this.

How it handles the heat in the kitchen

One of the biggest advantages of using silicone is how it reacts to temperature. Silicone bakeware is incredibly resistant to both hot and cold temperatures. Check the specs on any product you buy, but most silicone baking molds are rated from around -40 degrees up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. That said, even though silicone has a remarkably high heat tolerance, never directly on a burner or over an open flame (sorry, even though it’s lightweight and packable, silicone bakeware probably won’t make the best campfire brownies). It’s also generally recommended to keep your silicone bakeware on a cookie sheet or pan in the oven rather than placing them directly on the rack (this helps prevent spillage too).

Another special feature of silicone is that it’s a great insulator. This means that it both cooks evenly and also cools down quickly. While metal or Pyrex pans retain their heat, silicone baking pans are cool enough to handle within minutes after you take it out of the oven. Using silicone bakeware you can take your baked goods straight from oven to table, making your colorful baking molds double as stylish serving dishes too! Try serving up some quiche singles or panna cotta right out of these colorful muffin molds.

Non-stick means less oil and healthier treats!

While it’s all well and good that be cutting calories and eating healthier is all the rage, it’s tragic that desserts and baked goods get the brunt of the blame. Well by using silicone baking molds you can cut the calories without having to put your favorite recipes on a diet! Silicone is naturally non-stick. When prepping your pan or mold there’s no need to use grease or oil. That being said, a small spritz of cooking oil couldn’t hurt, especially with the more decorative molds with sharp corners or intricate designs like this awesome bunt cake pan.

Removing Perfect cakes is a Cinch!

You might be thinking: how is it possible to get a cake out of that thing without crumbling and broken edges?  Well getting your baked treats out is as simple as can be. Never again will you need to painstakingly slide a toothpick around the edge of the pan only to have the bottom stick and ruin it all. More complex molds can take a bit of finessing, but generally you can get your baked treats out in just two simple moves.

First gently push and flex the sides and bottom of the mold. It helps to also give a little twist and flex to the mold.

Next just peel away the sides and voila! Perfectly intact baked treats!

silicone muffin pan

And that's why I would put this silicone cupcake pan up against any metal equivalent any day of the week!


Care and Cleaning

In a silicone world, gone are the days of rusty metal and stubborn stains. Silicone kitchenware is much easier to care for and clean than either metal or Pyrex. Silicone is dishwasher safe, however it’s just as easy to simply rinse your mold off with some warm soapy water or even boil them clean (this is handy trick for cleaning those smaller cupcake molds). As with everything you buy, you’ll want to give your new silicone baking molds a good washing before use.

All this easy cleaning does come with a price though, as you should never use abrasive scrubbers. Also take care when cutting so you don’t leave your silicone bakeware battle scarred.

Beyond baking

While metal baking pans really only have the one function, silicone bake molds can do so much more than cakes and muffins. In addition to branching out into all sorts of non-food based arts and crafts (just make sure your silicone molds used for non-food uses don’t find their way back into the kitchen), silicone molds can be used for all sorts of deliciousness. You can try anything, from making gelatin to chocolates to chilled desserts or flavored ice. This brownie mold works great for making mini desserts like Jello singles or even prepping frozen seasoning to portion and preserve spices. The small pods make it incredibly easy to pop out each square as needed.

In general you can use silicone baking molds the same as their metal or pyrex counterparts – just easier. There are certainly a few care and cleaning concerns that you need to keep in mind, and they’re not quite as durable as metal, but if we are counting points here it’s clear that silicone has the edge over metal or Pyrex.


Conclusion:
The Pros and Cons

To sum up the core benefits, silicone is:

  • Easy to use and remove perfect baked goods
  • Doesn’t require you to use fatty oils or grease
  • Lightweight and easy to store
  • Ease to care for and clean – no rust or staining
  • Can be used with all your favorite recipes and baked goods and more.
  • Quick to cool down for easy handling
  • Perfect for using as colorful serving dishes

That said, there are a few downsides – or more really a few things to keep in mind:

  • Be careful not to use anything abrasive or sharp to clean, cut, or serve so as not to damage your molds.
  • Keep your molds off the burners and away from the fire (perfect for the RV, but not so good around the camp fire).
  • Silicone is not as sturdy
  • You’ll still want to use a cookie sheet underneath the silicone mold
About the author

Jon Strungis

Jon Strungis graduated from Metro State University, wrote briefly for YellowScene magazine, and is passionate about food and writing (in no particular order). He loves exploring new flavors, discovering recipes to transform, and sharing his adventures in colorful detail.

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