Muffins aren't the only thing you can make with a muffin tin. These healthy recipes are easy to make, portion controlled, and convenient to grab on the go.

A Convenient Approach

“Time remains one of the largest barriers to getting a healthy meal on the table for many busy families,” says Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, CSSD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

“Time-saving tools such as rice cookers, slow cookers, Panini grills, and even various forms of baking pans like muffin tins, paired with time spent in meal planning, can save precious time and inspire new meal ideas,” she explains.

In fact, cooking with muffin tin pans is a growing trend, because it’s easy, fast, and inexpensive. You can find muffin tins at most kitchen supply stores and discount houses starting at about $5 or $6.

Cooking with muffin tins “saves time by cutting down on cooking time with smaller portions, assists with portion control, offers up food in a grab-and-go form, and inspires more creativity in cooking,” McDaniel says. “Kids are also more likely to embrace a food they can easily feed themselves and that is pleasing to the eye. A manageable muffin size of lasagna vs. the more traditional plated portion might be more likely to be eaten.”

Recipes for Easy-to-Pack Meals and Snacks

If you’re interested in exploring muffin tin cooking yourself, McDaniel suggests starting with the following recipes, which “build on current family favorites, yet offer a fresh twist to include a new nutritious food.” Some of these come from her own website, and others from websites she frequents for ideas of things to feed her own family. She points out that what she likes about these recipes is that they are straightforward; spotlight produce, whole grains, and lean proteins; and can be easy to pack for lunches or dinner on the run. They also freeze easily and can be reheated in minutes, making them a convenient way to help your family eat well.

Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf Muffins

Makes 12, from McDaniel’s own website at


  • 1 pound ground turkey (you could substitute ground beef or ground bison)
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (cook quinoa in vegetable broth for a richer flavor)

Food processor ingredients:

  • 1 slice of whole-wheat bread, toasted
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon dried fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Glaze ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Combine "food processor" ingredients in food processor or blender. Pulse ingredients until you reach a moist breadcrumb consistency.
  3. In a large bowl, combine food processor ingredients with ground meat and cooked quinoa until well mixed.
  4. Coat a 12-slot muffin tin with cooking spray. Spoon meatloaf mixture into all 12 molds. Place in oven to cook for 20 minutes. Rotate muffin tin halfway through cooking.
  5. While cupcakes cook, mix glaze ingredients together in a small bowl.
  6. After 20 minutes, pull out cupcakes and spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of glaze on top of each.
  7. Return to oven and cook an additional 5 minutes.
  8. Break one cupcake in half to ensure the meat is cooked through.

Baked Egg and Kale Cups

Plan 1-3 egg cups per serving, from McDaniel’s own website at


  • Olive or canola oil, for greasing pan
  • Kale (about 1 large leaf per serving)
  • Eggs (1 per “cup”)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a muffin tin, place on a baking sheet, and set aside. Wash and trim kale; steam until bright green and just tender. (This can be done ahead of time.)
  2. Line cups of prepped muffin tin with leaves of steamed kale making sure to cover as much of the muffin well as possible. Leave a little bit of kale sticking up above the surface of the muffin tin. You’ll need about 1 large leaf per cup; it’s okay to layer smaller leaves in one cup.
  3. Crack one egg into each well of the muffin tin over the kale. Sprinkle eggs with Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Bake for 17-25 minutes, until the egg yolk is set as you want it.
  4. Remove muffin tray from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before carefully popping out the egg cups. Serve warm.

Homemade Larabar Recipe

Makes 18, courtesy of Susan Schuman of


  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup raw almonds (or 1/2 cup almonds and 1/2 cup other nut)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder


  1. Place nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Add dates and pulse until well combined with the nuts.
  3. Add in cocoa powder and pulse a few times to distribute evenly.
  4. Press mixture firmly into mini muffin cups.
  5. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, then gently loosen each cup with a knife.
  6. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Double Chocolate Breakfast Brownies

From Kayli Dice of Plant Eaters’ Manifesto.


  • 1 flax egg (combine 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons water. Let sit until thick, about 5 minutes)
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or canola oil + more for oiling muffin tin
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375F and lightly oil muffin tin (or use muffin cup liners).
  2. Prepare flax egg.
  3. Combine flour, oats, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add maple syrup, oil, applesauce, and prepared flax egg.
  5. Stir until just combined (be careful not to over-stir!).
  6. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  7. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each about ⅔ full.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes.
  9. Remove muffins from the oven and let cool in muffin tin for about 5 minutes before removing.
  10. Once completely cool, store in an air-tight container for up to a week.

A Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Splurge

If you or a family member are on a gluten-free or dairy-free diet and are looking for a once-in-a-while muffin tin treat, you might like this option contributed by blogger Susan Schuman of, who makes this recipe or her own children as a healthier alternative to traditional corn dogs.

Corn Dog Muffins (Gluten-free and Dairy-free!)

Makes 12, from Susan Schuman’s website at


  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon high quality canola oil
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup gluten-free baking mix OR all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 4 hot dogs, nitrate/nitrite free


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Brush the inside of a muffin pan with the canola oil and set aside.
  3. Mix together corn meal, GF baking mix (or flour if using), brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl mix the egg, milk and 1 teaspoon of the canola oil together.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined, being sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl well.
  6. Fill muffin cups about 1/2 – 3/4 full.
  7. Cut hot dogs into thirds. Place a piece of hot dog into the center of each cup.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 22 minutes, or until the muffin portion is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center of the muffin comes out clean.
  9. Let cool for about 5 minutes then run a knife around the edges of each one to loosen before removing from pan.

Eat Up!

With all of these family-friendly recipes, McDaniel says your results will really hinge on careful menu planning. “I teach my clients to meal plan in bite-size steps—e.g., on Thursday create your grocery list, Friday hit up the grocery store, on Saturday prep all produce, and Sunday assemble one or two meals for the week.” She says that by integrating your cooking into your regular schedule in this way, it becomes something you can sustain. “A healthy lifestyle is build on habits, and once you find your meal-planning rhythm, habits become your healthy ‘norm,’” she adds.

Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, CSSD, Spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, reviewed this article.


McDaniel, Jennifer, MS, RDN, CSSD. Spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Email interview, Oct. 8, 2015.

Schuman, Susan. Blogger, Email interview, Oct. 13, 2015.