These whole wheat sourdough english muffins are surprisingly easy to make – and the taste is so far above store bought that it’s worth the effort. This recipe is one of our Best Bread Recipes–head over to the page to find more!
English muffins are one of those things that, up until a few years ago, it would have never crossed my mind to make (like so many other pantry basics I discovered were easy). I don’t know…when you don’t grow up around bread making and homemade stuff, it’s easy just to think it can’t be made at home. Which seems silly, because I knew it was possible to make bread, even if I didn’t know anyone who did.
Oh, but have I learned they can be made at home, AND they taste incredible (Promise! I’m not just saying that because I make them), AND they are really easy.
And when you add whole wheat and sourdough into the equation? L.o.v.e.
Making whole wheat sourdough English muffins is a great way to use up your sourdough starter in a way that will turn out some seriously delicious sourdough bread. (New to sourdough and want to get started? Check out my easy guide to all things sourdough.)
The only thing that’s hard about this recipe is to remember to start the night before. I’ve been known to make a big note and leave it on my bed to remind me I can’t climb in until I’ve mixed up the initial dough! Do what you need to do to make it happen, though – you won’t be sorry.
Here’s all the steps you need to follow to make your own fresh-off-the-griddle English muffins.
Whole Wheat Sourdough English Muffins
Take five minutes the night before to mix the sourdough starter with a bit of honey, flour, and milk. Water will work if you’re avoiding dairy, but they won’t be quite as tender.
In the morning, it will look like the photo above (or it may have risen higher, depending on your starter, the temperature, how active your starter is, etc.). Go with whatever yours looks like. I’ve found English muffins, thankfully, to pretty forgiving.
Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl if stirring by hand. Add baking soda, salt, and 1/4 cup flour to the dough and mix together.
Knead with the mixer (or by hand) for 3-4 minutes, adding another 1/4-1/3 cup of flour gradually (1-2 tablespoons at a time) during the kneading process.
When the 1/4 c. of flour has been added, the dough should be moist enough to stick to the bowl, but only be a bit tacky when touched with a finger. If a lot sticks to your finger that’s how you know to add more flour, but no more than 1/3 cup total, as stated in the recipe.
I’ve found that the enemy of any bread is too much flour– it’s best for the dough to need to be scraped out of a bowl, like shown above.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it into a round.
Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to about 1/2- inch thickness. Cut the dough into rounds using a 3-inch biscuit cutter…or anything that will produce uniform rounds. I like using biscuit cutters- there are recipes I saw that require you to shape each muffin with your hands- who has time for that?
It’s OK to gather the dough and re-roll to cut more muffins- I haven’t noticed any difference between the first roll and the second. I take the little scrap from the last bit and hand-shape it into a cute little muffin. No waste here.
Set the rounds on a lined baking sheet (parchment or silicone) that has been dusted with cornmeal or a bit of flour. Don’t let them touch as they will stick together, but an inch or two apart is fine. Dust the tops with a bit more cornmeal or flour. Cover with a towel and set in a warm place to rise for a couple of hours.
I’ve cooked these after letting them rise only one hour and they were fine, but the holes inside are bigger after the full 2 hour rise. The picture you see above is after a 2-hour rise and you can see that they actually don’t rise all that much- just puff a bit. They will rise more when cooked.
Heat a griddle to a medium-low setting (about 275 degrees) so the muffins have time to cook inside without burning on the outside.
Tip: The muffins do tend to stick to the lining even with a dusting of flour/cornmeal, so as you slide a spatula under to transfer to the griddle, pick up a bit of the flour/cornmeal as you’re lifting the muffin with the spatula. Then invert onto the heated griddle.
Cook on one side about 4 minutes, or until browned. You can see above how they puff during the initial cooking.
Turn and flatten slightly with the back of the spatula to get that characteristic English muffin shape.
Cook for about another 4 minutes, looking to make sure the muffin is browned on the bottom. Remove to a baking rack to cool. Keep for a day or two in a sealed container or freeze for longer storage.
Slice, toast, and butter like you would any English muffin. Just be prepared for a major taste difference!
And that’s it- one quick mix the night before, another stir in a mixer, a simple roll-and-cut, a rise and a super-quick eight minute cook. I think it might be 20-25 minutes total hands-on time.
Not too bad for a dozen great tasting fresh English muffins that cost about $1.00.
Oh, and our family’s favorite way to eat these is as a base for Eggs Benedict with super easy Hollandaise sauce – yum.
Easy Whole Wheat Sourdough English Muffins Recipe
- 1/2 cup sourdough starter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 cup milk (can use water, but milk makes them more tender)
- 2 cup whole wheat (white whole wheat, whole wheat pastry flour, or spelt have all worked well)
For the Muffins:
- 1½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour plus optional 1 tablespoon during kneading
- The night before: Mix the starter, honey, milk, and 2 cups whole wheat flour in an 8-cup measuring bowl or batter bowl the night before you want to make the muffins. Cover with a towel and leave at room temperature overnight.
- In the morning: transfer the sponge to the bowl of a mixer (can be made by hand) and add the soda, salt and 1/4 cup of the flour. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment to mix together, then switch to the dough hook and knead for 3-4 minutes, adding another 1/4 cup flour, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough is just tacky to the touch, clears the sides of the bowl, but still sticks to the bottom. If too much dough sticks to your finger when pressed, you can add another tablespoon to bring the total amount of flour to about 1/3 cup.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead a few times into a round shape. Use a rolling pin to roll about 1/2-inch thick. Cut into rounds with a 3-inch biscuit cutter.
- Place the muffin rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone and sprinkled with a dusting of cornmeal or flour. Leave about 2-inches between each muffin (they will stick together if they touch after rising), and dust the tops with a bit more flour or cornmeal.
- Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours. They will just slightly puff.
- Heat a griddle to a medium-low setting (about 275 degrees) in order to cook the inside of the muffin without burning the outside.
- Transfer the muffins, one at a time, to the heated griddle (dry- do not grease for even browning) and cook for about 4 minutes on one side. Flip the muffins, flatten slightly with the back of the spatula, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on the other side until both sides are nicely browned.*
- Cool on a rack. Store for a couple days in an airtight container or freeze for longer storage.
Other sourdough recipes you may like:
Note: this recipe was originally published in 2011 and has been updated with larger photos, clearer formatting and printable recipe. Enjoy!