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Last Updated on September 27, 2023
Making homemade Sourdough English Muffins is incredibly rewarding. Not only are they easy to make, but the flavor is so much better than store-bought English muffins.
This recipe makes the best English muffins I’ve ever had. It comes from adding a bit of honey and whole wheat to the dough, whole milk for a soft and fluffy texture, and of course using sourdough for incredible flavor.
Toasted with some butter and fruit jam or used for the perfect egg sandwich, these easy sourdough English muffins are a staple in my home and hopefully in yours once you make them!
What are English Muffins?
In the United States, American muffins are typically sweet, quick cakes that are not yeasted.
English muffins are quite different in that they are more like a yeasted flatbread and more akin to a crumpet. They’re round, typically eaten for breakfast, split with a fork so you get the trademark “nooks and crannies” interior texture, and often toasted.
The result is a light and airy yeasted bread that is chewy and serves as an excellent medium for jams, butter, egg sandwiches, and the brunch classic Eggs Benedict.
The muffins are lightly sweetened with honey, griddled, and made with whole wheat flour for extra flavor. It’s all balanced with the slight acidity of sourdough from a long fermentation.
How are these Sourdough English Muffins so soft?
The trick to making soft English muffins is scalding the milk before adding it!
While you can bake these English muffins without scalding the milk, it is this technique that helps to make these the softest and fluffiest sourdough English muffins I’ve ever had. I learned this scalded milk trick from Claire Saffitz’ Dessert Person cookbook and her excellent English muffin recipe.
Why Scald the Milk?
Scalding milk is somewhat a vestige of the past when it was necessary to heat milk in order to kill any bacteria in dairy. With pasteurization, this largely became unnecessary, although you might see the extra step in some older recipes. But scalding milk serves another purpose for yeasted bread and baked goods.
A large amount of milk in a recipe can inhibit yeast or sourdough development because of the whey proteins and enzymes present in milk. Scalding the milk ensures that the sourdough yeasts multiply without being hindered.
Furthermore, scalded milk assists gluten development during mixing which can be impeded by whey proteins.
The slightly sweet flavor and soft texture of whole milk are unmatched in English muffins and this extra milk scalding step will help them be even better so you get fluffy and tall English muffins!
Click on the toggles below for more information, recommendations, and possible substitutes.
I always list ingredients by weight in grams because it is the most accurate way to measure baking ingredients. Use a scale and your baking will immediately be better!
I love my Escali baking scale and use it every day. The batteries last a long time, it’s accurate, and it comes in many different colors.
Cast Iron Skillet or Non-stick Pan
A well taken care of cast iron skillet will last generations and give you the best exterior color for these English muffins. The muffins are griddled in the skillet on both sides before being baked for a short period of time.
Use an electric griddle or non-stick pan if you don’t have a cast iron pan.
Stand Mixer (recommended)
It’s best to use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment for this recipe. English muffin dough is quite sticky and a stand mixer will incorporate the ingredients and develop gluten without a countertop mess.
I’ve had my Kitchen Aid mixer for years and it’s one of the best kitchen investments I’ve made.
Click on the toggles below for more information, recommendations, and possible substitutes.
All Purpose Flour
I use King Arthur all-purpose flour for this recipe but any all-purpose flour would work well here.
Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour gives a little more body and flavor to these English muffins. This little amount goes a long way. Feel free to substitute with another whole wheat like spelt.
I like the slight sweetness from honey in this English muffin recipe. Granulated sugar, agave, or maple syrup would also work here though.
For the best flavor, use whole milk in this recipe. If you only have 2% or skim milk, you can use that too but the muffins might not be as rich.
You could also substitute with unsweetened, plain soy, nut, or oat milk in this recipe as well. Just skip the scalding step.
Semolina or Fine Corn Meal
I prefer dusting the baking sheet with coarse semolina flour to prevent the English muffins from sticking to the parchment. You can also use fine corn meal.
- Unsalted butter
- Sea Salt
How to Make Sourdough English Muffins:
Follow along with this visual and detailed guide to help you make this recipe.
1. Scald Milk
Pour 313 grams of whole milk into a saucepan. On medium-low heat, whisk the milk constantly to just under a boil to scald it for about a minute.
Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in 2 TBS (28g) unsalted butter and 2 TBS (43g) honey.
Set the scalded milk aside and let it cool until it’s warm, but not hot (about 100ºF or 38ºC is good). It’s also okay to let it cool completely. Do not use hot milk (or any liquid for that matter) or it will kill the sourdough yeasts.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the dry ingredients:
- 350 grams off all-purpose flour
- 65 grams of whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons of sea salt
Add 125 grams of active sourdough starter and pour in the slightly warm (not hot) scalded milk.
Mix the dough on medium speed for about 7 minutes with the dough hook attachment. Scrape down the sides of the bowl while mixing if needed.
At first, the dough will be very sticky and wet. After a few minutes, the dough will become cohesive around the dough hook, and not stick to the sides.
3. Bulk Fermentation (First Proof)
Slightly oil a medium-sized mixing bowl and place the somewhat sticky English muffin dough into the mixing bowl. Perform a few stretch & folds in the bowl so the dough stays together as a shaggy mound of dough.
Cover and place the dough in a warm location to bulk ferment or proof.
At 78ºF (26ºC), bulk fermentation should take about five hours. I keep my dough in this handy bread proofer at a constant temperature. If the dough is cooler, it may take longer to proof. If warmer, it may proof faster.
The dough is proofed when it has almost doubled in size and the dough is smoother.
4. Overnight Proof
Once the dough is proofed, place it in the refrigerator to proof overnight and for up to 2 days.
There are many benefits to proofing the dough overnight. First, it will slow down fermentation and result in more flavorful English muffins. It also allows you to bake the muffins at a later time. Lastly, the cold dough will make it easier to shape the muffins.
5. Shape and Final Proof
The next day, prepare a large baking sheet or two half-sheet pans with parchment and sprinkle about a half cup of semolina or fine cornmeal on top of the parchment paper.
Remove the cold English muffin dough from the refrigerator and turn out the dough onto a clean countertop.
Then, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces with a bench scraper or knife. Each one should weigh approximately 75 grams.
Use your hand to shape each piece of dough into a sphere. Employ the friction of the countertop to roll each piece into equal-sized rounds.
Space the English muffin rounds equally on the parchment-lined baking sheet for final proofing.
At 78ºF (26ºC), proof the English muffins for 4-5 hours until they are about doubled in size, spread out some on the sheet pan, and feel full of air.
6. Griddle & Bake
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC).
Warm up a dry cast iron skillet, non-stick pan, or electric griddle over medium heat until the skillet is hot.
Griddling English muffins is similar to making pancakes:
- Use a spatula (I like using metal fish spatulas for cast iron) to lift up one English muffin round at a time and gently place it into the cast iron skillet.
- Cook the English muffin on one side for about 2 minutes or until the bottom is slightly brown. Use the spatula to flip it and cook the other side for another minute.
- Place back onto the sheet pan and repeat with the remaining English muffins. Pay close attention so the muffins do not burn.
Once all of the muffins are griddled and back on their baking sheet(s), place them into the oven at 350ºF( 177ºC) and bake for 10 minutes. When done the interiors should read 200ºF (93ºC) on an instant-read thermometer.
Let them cool completely on a wire rack.
Why Griddle & Bake Sourdough English Muffins?
It is traditional to griddle English muffins so you get the conventional flat exteriors, but griddling English muffins can result in burned muffins.
To retain their fluffy and soft interiors without burning them, bake the muffins for 10 minutes in the oven so they fully cook.
How to Split & Serve Sourdough English Muffins:
For the best “nooks and crannies”, the accepted way to split open an English muffin is to use a fork.
Use the tines of the fork to make holes around the sides of the English muffins until the muffin opens.
You can use a serrated knife, but the result will be a smooth interior instead of the cracked, rough surface that many prefer for English muffins.
Toast the muffins and serve warm with butter and/or jam. English muffins are also excellent as alternative bread for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, avocado toasts, or with sliced bananas, a drizzle of honey, and toasted sesame seeds.
Perhaps the most popular dish made with English muffins is the brunch classic Eggs Benedict. Each muffin half is topped with ham or Canadian bacon, a poached egg, and hollandaise sauce.
English muffins also make great egg breakfast sandwiches!
How to Store Sourdough English Muffins:
Storing English muffins couldn’t be easier.
English muffins store well in dry containers for up to five days. I place them in these reusable deli quart containers and four fit perfectly in each!
The English muffins are also easily frozen. Freeze the cooked English muffins in resealable freezer-safe bags. You can slice the muffins in half before freezing and toast up straight from the freezer. Or you can freeze them whole and let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Sourdough English Muffins FAQs:
Can I double this recipe?
This recipe makes twelve sourdough English muffins. You’re welcome to double the recipe. Double all ingredients, follow the exact instructions, and divide the dough into 24 pieces instead of 12.
Can I make this recipe vegan?
Sure! Substitute the whole milk with a vegan milk (no need to scald), substitute the honey with agave or maple syrup, and use an equal amount of vegetable or coconut oil instead of unsalted butter in the recipe.
How do you get nooks and crannies?
The open structure associated with English muffins comes from using a sticky dough and using a fork to pry open the muffins.
Can I add whole wheat?
Replace all the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour and increase the hydration of the dough with more water. The muffins might be denser but will have great flavor.
Sourdough English Muffins
- Pour whole milk into a small sauce pan. On medium-low heat, whisk the milk constantly to just under a boil to scald it for about a minute.Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the unsalted butter and honey. Set aside to cool until it's warm (100ºF/38ºC or less). Using hot milk will kill the sourdough yeasts.313 grams Whole Milk, 43 grams Honey, 28 grams Unsalted Butter
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flours and salt.Add the active sourdough starter and pour in all of the slightly warm scalded milk mixture.Using the dough hook attachment, mix together the dough on medium speed for about 7 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed.At first, the dough will be sticky and wet. As it's mixed, it will become cohesive and not stick to the sides.350 grams All-purpose flour, 65 grams Whole Wheat Flour, 1 ½ tsp Sea Salt, 125 grams Sourdough Starter
- Slightly oil a medium bowl and place the dough into the bowl for bulk fermentation (first proof). Cover and proof in a warm location for about 5 hours or until the dough has doubled and is smooth.
- Place the proofed dough into the refrigerator for an overnight proof and up to 2 days.
- On baking day, prepare a large baking sheet or two half sheet pans with parchment paper and sprinkle about a half cup of semolina flour or fine corn meal all on top of the parchment paper to prevent sticking.Remove the English muffin dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto a clean countertop. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (about 75 grams each). Use your hands to shape each piece of dough into a ball. Use the friction of the countertop to roll the dough into rounds.Equally space the English muffin rounds onto the baking sheet(s). Proof the dough one last time in a warm location for 4-5 hours until they are about doubled in size, spread out some on the pan, and feel full of air.Semolina Flour
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC).Warm up a dry cast iron skillet, electric griddle, or non-stick pan over medium heat until the skillet is hot.Use a spatula to lift up the English muffins one at a time and place onto the hot skillet. Griddle the muffin for about 2 minutes on one side until slightly browned, flip, and griddle for another minute on the other side. Repeat until all of the muffins are griddled. Watch closely so the muffins do not burn. Place the griddled muffins back onto the sheet pan.Once all of the muffins are griddled, place the baking sheet(s) into the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. When done, the interiors should read 200ºF (93ºC) with an instant-read thermometer.Let cool completely on a wire rack, split open with the tines of a fork, and enjoy!
- Griddling and baking the English muffins will help you get the conventional flat exteriors without the muffins getting burned. Baking the muffins will also help the muffins retain their fluffy and soft interiors.
- Scalding the milk will denature the whey proteins in the milk which will help with gluten development, sourdough yeast rise, and help you get even more “nooks and crannies.”
- Store the muffins for up to 5 days at room temperature or split and freeze in a resealable bag.