Make Your Own English Muffins

Learn how English muffins get all those butter-soaking nooks and crannies with this English muffin recipe that teaches the science behind cooking. 
For most people, English muffins are something you buy in a store. But before there were big factories making millions of muffins packed with billions of nooks and crannies, people always made English muffins at home. The reason is simple: they’re really easy to make—and, as breads go, they’re pretty fast, too.

Makes 8 muffins


  • 1 envelope (¼ teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 4 teaspoons sugar, and a pinch for the yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup hot water
  • ½ cup powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening, like Crisco
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Butter and jelly for slathering
  • Big bowl
  • Wooden mixing spoon
  • Clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap
  • Griddle
  • Four 3-inch muffin rings, or 4 clean tuna-fish cans with their tops, bottoms, and labels removed (look for cans that have a seamed edge on the bottom; some don’t and are hard to remove with a can opener)
  • Cookie sheet
  • Oven mitts
  • Spatula or kitchen tongs
  • Wire cooling rack
  • Fork



Activate the Yeast

  1. Mix the yeast, the warm water, and the pinch of sugar in the mixing bowl.
  2. Set aside until the yeast is slightly foamy and smells yeasty, about 5 minutes.

Make the Dough

  1. Add the hot water, the powdered milk, the 4 teaspoons sugar, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and the shortening.
  2. Stir until the shortening dissolves.
  3. Add the flour and beat with the wooden spoon for 100 strokes. (Are you tired yet?)
  4. Cover with the towel or plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes until bubbly and foamy.


  1. Stir in the remaining ½ teaspoon salt.
  2. Heat the griddle to medium heat, and then coat it with the cooking spray.
  3. Spray the insides of the metal rings and place them on the griddle.
  4. Fill each ring with a scant ½ cup (120 ml) of batter and cover them all with the cookie sheet.

    english muffin rings   

  5. Cook until the muffins are set on the bottom and browned, about 5 minutes.
  6. Using your oven mitts, remove the cookie sheet. Then flip each ring with the spatula, or turn them with your kitchen tongs. Cover again and cook for another 5 minutes, or until well browned on both sides.
  7. Using the oven mitts or tongs, transfer the muffins to the wire rack to cool. Carefully remove the rings (ASK AN ADULT TO HELP YOU DO THIS!). Then use the rings to make more English muffins with the remaining batter.


  1. Split the muffins with the fork.
  2. Toast and eat with butter and jelly.



Ever wonder how all those delicious, butter-soaking nooks and crannies got into your English muffins? It’s a combination of gluten (the really chewy elastic protein in bread) and yeast. Gluten forms when you add water to wheat flour. It’s a combination of two proteins in wheat that aren’t stretchy at all until they get moistened and mixed together.

Yeasts are microscopic fungi that feed off the sugars in dough. They take in oxygen and produce carbon dioxide, just like you do when you breathe. All you have to do to get nice, puffy, chewy English muffins is build up the gluten (that’s why you mix the dough 100 strokes) and take care of the yeast by providing a warm, moist, energy-rich dough to feed it and keep it growing.


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