Sourdough English muffins are a great way to have fresh bread in the house without having to bake! With a very simple method, this recipe is well worth making at home. It doesn't take much more effort than making homemade pancakes, and as a bonus, this recipe makes plenty to freeze for later. Keep in mind that these are overnight English muffins, meaning the dough requires a rise of 12 hours.
English muffins are very popular for breakfast in Canada, and in the US and Australia too. They're called English muffins to differentiate them from sweet muffins with tall tops like these banana Nutella muffins or these buttermilk muffins with raspberries. Homemade English muffins are excellent toasted with lots of butter, or sandwiched with a fried egg and crispy bacon. They're also great for making mini pizzas as a quick weeknight dinner!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Flour: we use all-purpose flour for this recipe. You can substitute up to 50% of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat to make whole wheat English muffins. We haven't tested this recipe with 100% whole wheat.
- Milk: whole milk works best for making sourdough English muffins as the higher fat content helps keep them moist inside.
- Honey: use any honey you like or have on hand. Honey and sugar can be used interchangeably. Maple syrup or another sweetener would also be fine.
- Butter: full fat salted dairy butter. Use vegan butter or olive oil and non-dairy milk to make dairy-free sourdough English muffins.
- Starter: active starter is needed for this recipe. You can also make a levain from inactive starter the night before you begin the recipe.
Step 1: add the starter, melted butter, milk, and honey to a mixing bowl.
Step 2: whisk until fully combined.
Step 3: mix in the dry ingredients, then do three rounds of stretches and folds.
Step 4: cover the dough and let it rise until doubled in size.
Step 5: press the dough into an oval, then cut rounds with a cookie or biscuit cutter.
Step 6: cover and set aside to rise for two hours.
Step 7: cook the muffins in a preheated pan with no oil.
Step 8: flip and cook the second side, then cool before serving.
- Don't worry if the muffins become a little misshapen: either use a spatula to gently push them back into shape in the pan, or leave as is. A slightly oblong muffin tastes the same as a round one!
- If the muffins aren't rising in the pan: the frying pan probably isn't hot enough. Much like pancakes, if the pan isn't pre-heated for long enough, the first couple will flop.
- Don't use cold ingredients: using cold ingredients can cause a much slower rise for sourdough!
Adding the milk to the pan of melted butter before adding to the starter heats it up just slightly. Warmer ingredients rise faster so don't skip this step.
If you like cornmeal on your English muffins, sprinkle some on the parchment paper before placing the cut out muffins on then sprinkle more on the muffin tops before the second rise.
We keep the dough in a cool (but not refrigerated) place for the bulk ferment. If leaving the dough out is a concern just refrigerate it instead. Note it will require a longer proofing time to double in size.
How to Store
Storage: because sourdough English muffins are most often served toasted, they're good stored on the counter at room temperature for up to three days. Keep them in a large zipper-top bag or sealed in an airtight container.
Freezing: we recommend splitting (slicing) the muffins in half before freezing for easier access once frozen. Cool the muffins completely, slice them in half, then store them in a zipper-top freezer bag in the freezer for up to one month. Simply pop the halves in the toaster to thaw!
What makes English muffins different from bread?
The main difference between the two is the cooking method. Where traditional bread is baked in an oven, English muffins are cooked in a hot dry pan until golden on each side.
How do you split an English muffin?
You can slice an English muffins, horizontally across the middle, with a small sharp knife. To ensure more nooks and crannies, your best bet is a fork! Simply poke the tines of the fork all the way around the edge of the muffin then gently pull the two halves apart.
Why are my English muffins flat?
The simple answer is that your pan isn't hot enough. Either preheat for longer, or increase the heat.
If you make these Sourdough English Muffins or any other sourdough recipes on the Baked Collective, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more baking, follow along on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
Sourdough English Muffins
- Small saucepan
- Mixing bowl
- Tea towel
- Measuring cups and spoons or a digital kitchen scale
- Rubber spatula
- Cookie cutter or glass
- Parchment paper
- Frying pan
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ cup active starter
- 1 tablespoon honey or sugar
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the milk and honey to the pot and remove from the heat.
- Place the starter into a large mixing bowl, and add the milk mixture. Stir to combine.
- Add the flour and salt to the bowl and mix into a shaggy dough. Set aside for 20 minutes.
- Once the dough has rested, do three rounds of stretches and folds, once every 20 minutes over the course of an hour.
- Once the folds are completed, cover the dough with a plate or damp tea towel. Set the bowl in a cool place (or refrigerate if preferred) overnight, or for about 12 hours.
- After 12 hours, the dough should be doubled in size. Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough onto it.
- Gently press the dough into a rough oval, about 2cm (¾ inch) thick.
- Use a cookie cutter or glass to cut the dough into rounds. Pictured are 8cm (3 inches) in diameter, but slightly larger or smaller are fine.
- Place the rounds onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Press the remaining dough scraps together and repeat until all of the dough has been used.
- Cover the rounds with a damp tea towel and set aside to rise again at room temperature for about 2 hours. After this time, the muffins should have risen slightly but not doubled in size.
- Once the muffins have proved, heat a frying pan over medium heat.
- Once the pan is hot, carefully remove an English muffin from the tray and place it into the dry pan. Don't add oil. Don't worry if it deflates slightly when moved, it'll puff up again.
- Cook for 4-5 minutes on one side, then flip and cook another 2-3 minutes on the second side. The muffins should about double in height and are ready when both sides are golden brown. Repeat until all of the muffins are cooked.
- Cool fully before slicing and toasting. The English muffins freeze well for up to a month in an airtight container, and keep at room temperature for about 5 days.