Can't Find A Cooling Rack? Reach For Your Muffin Tin

If you've ever baked a delicious roast, a sheet cake, or even a family favorite casserole, only to remove it from the oven and frantically run around your kitchen trying to find a surface to put your hot dish on — you aren't the only one. While simply placing a cooling rack on your counter may prevent cooks from this crazed frenzy, sometimes all your cooling racks are already in use, in the dishwasher, or perhaps you don't even own a wire rack yet, and a plan B is necessary.


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A video posted on TikTok shows there's a simple life hack you can use for an instant cooling rack. Luckily if you don't have access to a wire rack, you can improvise by taking a muffin tin, flipping it upside down, and placing your hot dish right on top. If you're in a pinch, this quick improvisation can easily prevent a kitchen catastrophe and surely proves once again that TikTok hacks really can come to the rescue.

Why it's important to use a cooling rack

It's certainly worth mentioning that cooling racks aren't just for bakers. While chewy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and sugared mango muffins may come to mind, cooling racks are great everyday kitchen tools that protect your countertops from hot surfaces while also providing an insulated space to allow your dishes to cool quickly and evenly.  

There's nothing worse than that dreaded moment when you excitedly cut into a baked vegetable lasagna or an upscale tuna casserole just to find out the bottom is burnt or the insides are dry due to overcooking. This can result from residual, or carry-over cooking, which occurs after you remove your dish from a heat source yet the heat from the food itself still continues to cook your meal. 

It's not uncommon for a recipe to prompt you to take your cookware from the oven or stove top and place it straight onto a cooling rack. This cool-down period prevents your food from being overcooked, mushy, or even burnt. So by placing your hot dish onto a raised cooling surface, you are allowing air to circulate underneath your dish, halting the cooking process so you are one step closer to an evenly cooked meal.

Why muffin tins are an excellent alternative

If you can't seem to locate a wire cooling rack, or just don't have one, flipping over a muffin tin, or cupcake pan, is an excellent backup. The bottoms of the muffin cups allow a flat surface, sturdy enough to hold a heavy dish, and the space between the divots allows enough of an entrance for air to circulate under your goods to prevent overcooking.  

It's important to note that this kitchen hack is especially helpful when looking to cool foods in large pans, on baking sheets, and in cast iron skillets, to name a few. However, an inverted muffin tin would not be an ideal alternative for more delicate baked goods like cookies, croissants, or other small items that likely won't withstand the wide gaps.

Instead, choose something like an extra shelf from your oven, or the small slotted rack from your toaster oven, but be sure to thoroughly clean the surface before placing your freshly baked treats onto it. Additionally, chopsticks can create a makeshift cooling rack if you happen to have a bunch lying around the kitchen. You can improvise by lining them up to create a raised surface for your baked goods to cool, providing you with a unique cooling rack in a pinch.