How to Make English Muffins

I’ve had a weakness for English muffins all my life. The pity is, I’ve bought almost all of them from the grocery store. To think, all the while I could have been making a far superior — and far cheaper — English muffins myself! They’re not the slightest bit difficult to make…about like pancakes. The only specialized equipment you need are muffin rings, which are both inexpensive and easy to find. The recipe goes like this:

1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) shortening
10.75 ounces (1 1/3 cups) hot milk
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
10 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour

English muffin batter is a fairly straightforward affair, the only odd feature is that it requires that a small amount of fat be melted into the liquid. Other than that it works pretty much like a wet bread dough. Begin by combining the shortening, milk, sugar and salt in a bowl and stir until all the solids are dissolved. Let the mixture cool. In a separate bowl combine the yeast and flour with a whisk. Add the cooled milk mixture and stir everything together gently:

Allow your batter to sit for an hour or so until it at least doubles in size, at which point it’s ready to use. Just scoop up a spoonful of your batter…

…and plop it right into your mold:

Hey! How did I suddenly manage to switch spoons? Oh, I remember, the batter is very gooey and hard to pick up, so I switched from wood to metal. You’ll want roughly 1/3 cup of batter in each ring.

Let them cook on a 300-degree griddle for about five minutes, then get out your spatula…

…and flip those puppies over.

Cook for another five minutes until golden. That’s it! A more flavorful and softer muffin you shall not find at the grocery store (in fact the word “muffin” comes from the Old French word moufflet which means “soft”, did I mention that?). Can you use a skillet instead of a griddle if you want? Yes. However low heat is the trick to a well-made muffin. Being as thick as they are, they need time to “bake” all the way through before the outsides get too well done (remember you’re going to toast these things later). As long as you keep the flame low, you’ll do just fine.

As a final note, recipe writers (including Mr. Brown) love to advise that in place of buying rings for various culinary applications, you can simply “cut the bottoms off empty tuna cans”. That trick hasn’t worked since the 80′s, since modern tuna cans have lipless, rounded bottoms. These make the cans easy to stack on store shelves, but render them impossible to cut with a conventional opener. So don’t risk opening up an artery messing with jagged metal. If you don’t want to bother with ordering rings, just plop the batter right on the griddle. The muffins won’t be quite as round or tall, but they’ll be every bit as good.

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36 Responses to How to Make English Muffins

  1. Johanna says:

    Hey Joe, These look fantastic! I was wondering if it is possible to use a different type of fat, for example butter.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I just made these and they are FANTASTIC. I will never buy them from the store again.

    • joepastry says:

      Glad to hear it! English muffins are one of those things that once you make them, you never go back! Tanks for the email.

      - Joe

  3. Bev says:

    I made these a couple of days ago and they turned out great, the best ones I have ever made :-) Thank you for the recipe.

  4. Lee G says:

    These were delicious! The best english muffin recipe I’ve tried so far. I made them this morning for Sunday brunch and we made homemade egg mcmuffins, using the rings for the eggs on the griddle, nice bacon, and tillamook cheddar. I got an unsolicited hug from my 10 year old son, who ate 2! ; )

    Have you ever tried an overnight proof in the fridge for the batter? Curious as it would be nice to have a jump start for breakfast the next morning.

    Also, any advice for whole wheat version? I’ve tried before and they were so so, and the KAF recipe calls for corn fiber stuff, which doesn’t appeal to me.

    Really enjoyed browsing through and reading your recipes. I will try many more. Found you from the Smitten Kitchen link. I truly appreciate anyone who uses weight measurements in their recipes. Love love love that!

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Lee!

      You certainly can do an overnight rise if you like. Just let the batter ferment for half the time, then chill it. It should be all ready for you in the morning.

      For a whole wheat version, I’d think you’d have no trouble swapping out half the white flour for whole wheat. Much beyond that and the bran will start undermining the gluten development.

      But I’m so glad you’re finding things here that appeal to you. Please let me know if you have any more questions! Cheers and thanks!

      - Joe

  5. Jen says:

    An interesting variation that was always popular in my house growing up was to bake the batter in a greased and cornmealed loaf pan instead of making individual muffins. Depending on the humidity levels at the time, we would use about 2 to 2 1/2 times more flour than you call for and would get 2 standard loaves.
    It has the same texture as the muffins but in slice form and makes the most incredible toast.

  6. Stephanie says:

    Joe,

    If I were do do the overnight rise, would it be necessary to allow the batter to come to room temp before cooking? Or would I just haul it out of the fridge and start plopping?

    Stephanie

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Stephanie!

      Yes, you have to let that sucker warm up to room temperature first, so it ferments a little more. Let me know how they go!

      - Joe

  7. Stephanie says:

    They went OK – definitely a work in progress. I put too much batter in, which caused an issue or two. You’d think that it might have dawned on me that a yeast dough might rise a bit, but, alas, it didn’t.

    Also, I think in the future I will bake them the night before and allow them to cool completely before slicing and toasting.

    And, should I have greased the rings first?

    • joepastry says:

      You generally don’t need to grease the rings if there isn’t too much batter in there. But a very light coating of oil might help regardless.

      Keep me informed of the progress!

      - Jim

  8. Stephanie says:

    I plan on trying them again tonight or tomorrow.

    But now I’m confused. Are you Joe or Jim…?

  9. em says:

    Hi Joe
    Thanks for all the Super greAt recipes. LOVED them.
    I made rings outta aluminum foil.English Muffin s turned out great
    Best regards
    EM

  10. Mary Lou Cook says:

    These English muffins are glorious. I made them just according to your instructions, except I left them rise for 30 minutes on the cold griddle before I turned it on. Actually, I was distracted and forgot to turn on the heat.

    Also, I made my own “tuna rings” out of folded strips of aluminum foil, which worked just great.

    Although I made these for my husband, they may be gone before he returns this evening. They are so easy, I can just make them again.

    Thank you so much for all your information and recipes.

    • joepastry says:

      Great news, Mary Lou!

      Thanks so much for dropping me a line. Home made English muffins are so good and so easy, I don’t understand why people don’t make them more often!

      I need to make some this weekend!

      - Joe

  11. linda says:

    Joe – I’ve made this recipe twice and had the same problem both times. They just simply would not cook in the middle. The first time I thought I had a heavy hand with the flour and the batter was too thick (they did not spread at all on the griddle), so the second time I carefully weighed everything. I also cooked the second batch much longer and slightly higher temp but gave up after 30 minutes when a skewer came out with wet batter still clinging to it. I thought toasting them would take care of the interior, but they were just not done enough. I’m not at all sure what went wrong. This is the first ever recipe from you that did not turn out perfect the first time. The taste was awesome and I really want to make these again. Do I just use more milk or less flour to make a thinner batter?

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Linda!

      I think you may be using too much batter in the molds. I’m not sure how well I specified the amount, but that would explain the difficulty. Do you think that’s possible?

      - Joe

      • linda says:

        That makes sense. You suggested about 1/3 cup per muffin but that amount almost overflowed the muffin rings (I have the real ones, not tuna cans, so the finished size should be correct) and I only get 8 muffins from the recipe. I’ll use less and see how it goes. Thanks – I would never have thought of that, so very glad I wrote to ask!

        • joepastry says:

          I’m glad you asked too, Linda. English muffins are some of my favorite things to make. I’d hate to think of you missing out!

          - Joe

  12. N says:

    Hi,

    I just made these muffins. They really are better than shop bought and so much easier than all the other recipes I’ve seen for English muffins.

    Thought it might be helpful for linda to know that I too am using ‘real’ rings and I got 8 perfect sized muffins from this recipe.

    I was quite worried about the muffins not being cooked in the middle so I cooked mine for a lot longer than Joe says and at the lowest temperature my gas burning stove will go. I started them on a room temperature pan and they took almost 30mins: 15mins on the first side then about 12mins after the flip. I also covered the pan for the first 5 mins. They were perfectly browned and perfectly cooked all the way through. Between batches when I am re-greasing the rings I turned off the stove so the pan could not get too hot.

    This method takes longer but I was really happy with the results and I can be confident that they are fully cooked. Hope this helps,

    N

    • joepastry says:

      Nice adaptation, Nadia! I appreciate the tips. So glad these are working so well for you.

      Cheers,

      - Joe

  13. Laura says:

    Just finished a batch, they turned out beautifully. The rings I used were larger, so contained more of the batter and had to be cooked for 12-15 per side on super low heat. I have a crap apartment electric stove and used a thick pizza pan as my “griddle” but they still managed to be great. Thanks for the recipe!

  14. Filjr says:

    Hello Mr. Pastry:

    In the comments of your Basic Starter article, you mention the possibility of making English muffins with starter. You say reduce the recipe by 1/3 and replace the rest with starter. I’m not sure I understand what that means. Can you give more detailed instructions?

    Thanks!

    • joepastry says:

      Hello, Filjr!

      Sorry for any confusion. Any recipe that calls for “straight dough”, which is to say a dough leavened by packaged yeast alone, can be converted to a starter method by replacing up to 1/3 of the dough with starter during the mixing stage. So the thing to do is reduce all the ingredients by 1/3…take away a teaspoon of shortening, 3.5 ounces of water, a teaspoon of water, 1/3 teaspoon of salt and so on…then replace all that with about 7 ounces of active starter. Proceed as usual!

      - Joe

  15. John says:

    Actually,I wasted money on tuna for that trick myself.However…after looking at the bottoms of comparable sized cans in the grocery store that don’t have rounded bottoms. Pineapple. Store brand canned pineapple dice(the small cans)can be used as pastry rings instead of tuna cans.

    • joepastry says:

      Ooh! Nice! Pineapple cans still have lips on them…good to know.

      Thanks, John!

      - Joe

  16. Sialia says:

    Delicious! Starting my third batter tonight, since there’s only 2 left of the last batch. It’s taken a little practice to get them to come out pretty–sprinkling a little cornmeal in the rings seems to help, and greasing the rings, and not overfilling them. And keeping the heat low and slow, and using the lid on the 12 inch cast iron skillet I’ve been using. Thank you for the recipe and technique!

    • joepastry says:

      You’ve given me some great tips, Sialia! Thanks so much and I’m glad you’re enjoying them!

      - Joe

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