When buying new bakeware, cooks and kitchen casuals alike have a series of important demands: It needs to be reliable and long-lasting – no one wants their bakeware to crack or chip because it got too hot or you set it down a little too hard. It needs to be as affordable as possible, because budgets exist and cooking equipment isn’t always a priority. It needs to be the right dimensions for common recipes with no unusual shapes. And, of course, it needs to be easy to clean after cooking, or at least dishwasher-friendly if possible.
Any other features – colors, handles, grips, etc. – are nice but not as important. Taken altogether, that’s a lot to look for in a bakeware set! In the past, the common options were glass and metal, usually created with various coatings or production techniques to make them as kitchen friendly as possible.
Today, there’s a newer option on the market that’s popular, meets every important cook requirement, and goes beyond with a number of unique features that make it more bake-friendly: Silicone. But what is silicone bakeware exactly, and how does it work? Is it safe using a substance like that in cooking? What silicone sets are worth getting? If you have a lot of questions like these, we have a lot of answers. Here’s everything you need to know about silicone bakeware!
What is Silicone Bakeware?
Silicone bakeware is any type of bakeware made out of silicone, a material that’s been around for a while but has only recently been applied to cooking materials. Silicone bakeware is very durable, easy to produce, and has a particularly unique feature: It can be flexible! Some versions of silicone bakeware bend and twist.
You can usually spot silicone baking options because they tend to be more colorful than other bakeware products, and they have a rubber, out-of-the-mold appearance. They are available in most cooking section at the supermarket, and, of course, online!
What is Silicone Bakeware Made of?
Silicone bakeware is made of, well, silicone! But what does that mean? Silicone is a man-made material that’s a combination of the element silicon, and alternating atoms of oxygen. This creates an interesting and incredibly versatile material that can be a part of fluids, resins, solids, and more. Silicone bakeware in particular is made from a solid form of silicone that is typically poured into a mold and cured to become firm. It’s not quite a rubber, not quite a plastic, but something all its own.
Make sure not to get this confused with silicon, the element itself without the added “e.” Silicon is famously used to product things like computer chips, and the closest we get to its natural form is the rock quartz – not exactly something you would want to make a baking sheet out of!
What are the Benefits of Using Silicone Bakeware?
Silicone bakeware has become popular due to a number of benefits, including:
- Lightweight: Silicone is lighter than alternative bakeware, making it easier to move, store, and use for the whole family.
- Even heating: Heat spreads through silicone very easily, which means fewer burnt spots and more even heating – and no more need to adjust cooking times based on what material you are using.
- Unbreakable: While silicone can be damaged, you don’t have to worry about dropping it on the floor, etc. It doesn’t break, crack, shatter or chip.
- Heat and cold resistant: Silicone can easily handle high and low temperatures. This makes it suitable for baking, as well as other tasks (like ice cube trays).
- Easy to handle: Silicone’s innate flexibility and production process tend to make it very easy to handle. This bakeware comes with plenty of edges for easy gripping. The flexibility also makes it easy to up-end and remove baked goods compared to the alternatives.
- Many different forms: Silicon can come in almost any form. That means it can be traditional bakeware like pie pans, cookie sheets, and muffin pans, but also more unique bakeware to help with a variety of tasks.
- Easy to clean: Baked food particles don’t usually bond with silicone the way they can with glass or metal. Silicone is typically easy to clean and doesn’t require scraping or soaking to get rid of everything. If necessary, it is dishwasher safe, but this usually isn’t required (although it can always help save time when you are busy).
How Do You Use Silicone Bakeware?
You use silicone bakeware exactly like any other type of bakeware! It’s designed to handle all the same tasks. However, because individual silicone bakeware products can vary, you should always check out the temperature rating for the product you are buying. Sometimes you may find a particular silicone product isn’t rated for as high a temperature as you were planning to use for your favorite dishes, in which case you may want to look for a different product. Silicone will be very hot to touch when cooking, but cool down very quickly when finished.
Another thing worth noting is that silicone’s flexibility will change some of your baking habits, especially when it comes to dislodging breads and muffins, etc. This may take a little practice to get used to, but overall most cooks find the change to be a welcome one with less awkward shaking and banging!
Finally, an important note: Some silicone bakeware, especially thinner versions, can be damaged if cut with a particularly sharp or rough-edged knife. If it’s absolutely necessary that you cut baked goods while they are will in the bakeware, remember to go slow and be very cautious to avoid damage.
When Should You Use Silicone Bakeware?
You can use silicone bakeware for pretty much any task that calls for bakeware. If you can put it in the oven to cook up a dinner or dessert, there’s probably a silicone option that you can use. If you have leftovers you don’t want to dump into other containers, silicone is safe to wrap up and store in the fridge or freezer if you need to. Some bakeware sets also include ice trays and other things that you can use as well.
Are There Any Silicone Bakeware Dangers? Is it safe?
This is a very common question that people ask before buying silicone baking equipment – no one wants a material that’s going to leech toxic ingredients into the air or food! Many of these fears rise, understandably, from how silicone resembles plastics that you certainly wouldn’t want to heat up in an oven. When it comes to these products and safety, there are two important things that you should know.
First, the silicone rubber that this bakeware is made out of is inert. It doesn’t create fumes, it doesn’t leech anything into food, doesn’t do anything, no matter how much your oven heats it. That means it doesn’t have any health risks, and is safe to use.
Second: Quality is very important. Cheaper silicone bakeware may contain fillers or coatings. These extra components are not guaranteed to be inert, and could pose issues – including an unpleasant smell! Make sure you get high-quality silicone products that don’t contain fillers or any added materials. Look for products that are made of 100% “food-grade” silicone, FDA approved, and BPA free.
Five Examples of Silicone Bakeware Sets
1. Riki’s Kingdom Silicone Muffin Set
This set of cupcake/muffin silicone equipment is a great beginner option for those who are ready to try silicone bakeware, but don’t want to invest too heavily in it quite yet. You can use these tools for cookies and other simple baking projects to see how they work, how easy they are to clean, etc. It’s a very affordable way to dip your toes in without replacing all your baking products in one go!
The set includes a pan with 12 larger cup sizes and a pan with 24 smaller cup sizes, as well as a number of single silicone cups to experiment with, and a decorating supplies kit – basically, everything you could want in a cupcake-making set!
2. Boxiki Kitchen 3-Piece Silicone Bakeware
For beginners who are looking for something a bit more versatile, this three-piece set is a great place to start. It includes a no-nonsense round cake mold, square cake mold, and bread loaf pan. These all have generous steel handles for lifting and greater control, an excellent addition to help ease people into full silicone bakeware while giving them some extra stability while they get used to the new material. The pans are rated at up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep in mind these won’t be quite as flexible or clean-friendly as full silicone versions, but they do offer many of the silicone benefits with a somewhat sturdier design, which may be the perfect option for some cooks!
3. To Encounter’s 40-Piece Silicone Bakeware Set
40 pieces may sound like a lot, but in this case most of those pieces are individual muffin cups/cupcake liners in a variety of forms. You also get a round cake model and a loaf pan, as well as two silicone spatulas to try. This is a great set for dessert fans who are ready to take a longer step into the silicone bakeware world. The products are rated up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Classic Cuisine 18-Piece Silicone Bakeware Set
This set is an excellent option for those who are ready to replace some of their most commonly-used bakeware with silicone alternatives (several bright colors available). A muffin pan, bread pan, cookie sheet, cake pans, Bundt pan, and individual muffin cups are all part of this complete set, giving you plenty of options to work with. The silicone is rated at up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. However, keep in mind that a set this size means a serious transition over to silicone equipment, so make sure that you are ready for it and that these are the materials you want before you buy.
5. To Encounter’s 41-Piece Silicone Bakeware Set
Here’s another very high-quality set that’s a good choice for those looking to transition a lot of their bakeware over to silicone all in one go. The bakeware, which includes handy delineated grip sections, includes a round cake pan, toast pan, Tiramisu pan, hole donuts pan, 12-cup muffin pan, and a number of muffin cups in different shapes. It’s one of the most versatile silicone sets around and can handle all sorts of different cooking tasks based on how you prefer to use them. The silicone is rated at 446 degrees Fahrenheit.
How Do You Clean Silicone Bakeware?
Silicone bakeware has a reputation for being particularly easy to clean compared to glass or metal. To clean, simply wash out the silicone like you would any dish. The flexibility makes it easy to reach all the recesses in a pan, and you shouldn’t need to soak the pans before cleaning them – although a little scrubbing may be in order! If necessary, you can put this bakeware through the dishwasher to clean multiple pans at once.
Do You Need to Spray or Grease Silicone Bakeware?
Technically, you don’t need to grease high-quality silicone bakeware thanks to the smooth silicone surface, which shouldn’t encounter any stickiness issues. However, some cooks prefer to spray a light layer of oil before they bake. You can try both spray and without spray to see which result you prefer the most, but it isn’t required.
What is the Maximum Temperature for Silicone Bakeware?
This can vary based on the quality of the product. In general – as you can see from looking at our bakeware set examples – many silicone sets are rated 440 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and often as high as 500 degrees.
However, it’s important to note that while silicone doesn’t burn, it can warp or melt when exposed to direct sources of very high heat. In other words, your oven might say that it’s 450 degrees, but if part of your silicone pan accidentally touches a heating element during cooking, it’s probably to melt and be ruined – so always be careful with placement!
Does Silicone Bakeware Retain the Odor of Food Made In It?
This is unusual when baking, but it can happen in some cases – foods like garlic, for example, can create penetrating odors that silicone may absorb. Over time, this can create lingering smells that cooks may notice. It will have no effect on cooking results, but that doesn’t make the smells tolerable.
If you noticed an odor, carefully wash your silicone dish and then slowly heat it – without any other ingredients – in your oven for 20 to 40 minutes. Then wash again when you are done. This gives the silicone an opportunity to “bake off” some of the lingering smells and can be quite effective. Soaking it in a white vinegar and water mixture may also work.
How Long Does Silicone Bakeware Last?
When treated well, silicone bakeware can last longer than alternative materials. Silicone doesn’t dry and crack over time like rubber and plastic. It doesn’t rust or stain. Over the years, you may find that silicone pans slowly lose their shape through multiple uses and will eventually need to be replaced. How many years this takes depends on the material and how often you use it!
Who Invented Silicone Bakeware?
As a material, silicone has been around since the 1940s, as long as many types of plastic. However, cooking applications took a little longer, as early versions of silicone weren’t really up to the task. In the 1960s, Guy DeMarle, a chef and chemist from France, merged glass fiber and silicone coatings to create a new type of non-slick bakeware.
Excited by the possibilities, DeMarle created his own company to sell the product and eventually brought them to market for everyday consumers. The story goes that bakers in France were starting to replace their old giant ovens with more number convection oven appliances, but found that convection cooking led to problems with baked breads to sticking to the pans – and using oils as a coating to prevent this was strictly prohibited by draconic French baking rules. When silicone coatings provided an alternative option, DeMarle’s work found swift demand. Competitor’s silicone products were soon developed afterward, and the full industry was born.
When Was Silicone Bakeware Invented?
The first versions were invented in the 1960s by DeMarle’s experimentation. However, they were not sold until 1982, when a consumer-friendly version was finally developed – and even then, the market was small, located primarily in France. It took years for the silicone baking market to spread across Europe, and even longer for it to reach America.
Today’s silicone bakeware bears little resemblance to those older products. In the 1980s and 1990s, more durable and dependable versions of pure silicone were invented, eventually leading to the full silicone pans we see today.
Where Can You Buy Silicone Bakeware?
You can find it just about anywhere! Most supermarkets will carry them, while home goods stores should have larger supplies. However, online stores will carry the greatest variety – just make sure to pay attention to quality before you buy!