Beijing Survival Guide: English Muffins


Living in Beijing means good food, and lots of it. But sometimes there are things that you just can’t get without trading in your first-born child. A good bagel with lox and cream cheese for example. Italian sausage. A quality ricotta cheese. A…perfectly toasted english muffin with butter and raspberry jam.

What to do in such a situation? Well, you make it yourself. While spending last year in Beijing, I learned how to MAKE Italian sausage, ricotta cheese, bagels, and ENGLISH. MUFFINS. Okay. I have NO idea why more people aren’t making these from scratch. They’re super easy to make…and they don’t even require an oven. You cook them. In a pan. On the stove. And they’re amazing. WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THIS? (Update: We’ve also done an amazing multigrain version of this recipe, which you can check out here!)

I’ve never been a huge fan of English muffins…the ones that come in the plastic bag and taste like they’ve been sitting in that bag for way too long. But one day I had a hankering, made them, and it was like frolicking through a field of flowers whilst hearing a hallelujah chorus.

And, this is the best English muffin recipe I know of.

So yeah.  Make ‘em.

The ingredients list is super simple:

  • 3 2/3 cups flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (or instant yeast)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt
  • semolina or fine cornmeal, for sprinkling
  • oil

Semolina flour can be found at most grocery stores these days. It’s what gives the english muffins those sandy bottoms. You can also use finely ground cornmeal.


In a large bowl, add the flour and the yeast…


The salt…


And sugar. Whisk it all together.


Add water and yogurt.


And mix into a soft dough. This dough is one of the most easy-to-work-with doughs that I’ve ever encountered. It doesn’t fight you like a bad pizza dough or disappoint you like baguette dough does when you do get up the courage to try that whole agonizing process. No, this dough is perfectly complacent, cooperative, and cordial.


Knead the dough for 10 minutes, until smooth, adding more flour if it gets a little sticky. Let the dough rest and relax for 5 minutes.

I’m sure it’s been a stressful day for it, having just come into existence and all.

I need to stop personifying food.


Spread some semolina (or cornmeal) onto a couple of sheet pans.


And take the dough out onto a clean surface.


Roll dough out to a thickness of about ¾ inch.


Cut out 12-15 circles with a 3-inch round cutter. I just use a glass. Easy peasy.


Take the excess dough and re-roll it to cut out more circles (I never understand people who just throw the excess dough into the garbage. It drives me crazy. That’s food, people. What’s wrong with you?!). Well you’re not going to do that, and because you’re a good person, you should be able to get 12-16 muffins out of it.


Place the muffins onto the baking sheets and slide them around in the semolina.


Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for an hour.


Heat a flat griddle pan until hot and brush with oil.


Add the muffins and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 12 minutes, six minutes on each side…


…Until firm and golden brown.Turn them only once! Seriously, it’s like magic. Glinda the Good Witch must be involved in this miraculous feat of puffy-up-i-ness.


Keep cooking them in batches until they’re all done.


Grab some butter, jam, Canadian bacon, poached eggs, hollandaise, or whatever else you prefer on your English muffins, and get on in that meadow and start frolicking.



Do you hear the hallelujah chorus yet? 


Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: 16



3 2/3 cups flour, plus more for kneading
1 envelope active dry yeast (or instant yeast)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
2/3 cup plain yogurt
semolina, for sprinkling

Whisk together flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add water and yogurt, and mix into a soft dough. Knead the dough for 10 minutes, until smooth, adding more flour if it gets sticky. Let dough rest for 5 minutes.

Roll dough out to a thickness of about ¾ inch. Cut out 12 circles with a 3 inch round cutter. Sprinkle a baking sheet with semolina, and cover each side of muffins with it. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, until almost doubled in size.

Heat a flat griddle pan until hot and brush with oil. Add the muffins and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 12 minutes, six minutes on each side, until firm and golden brown. Turn only once. Serve with butter and jam.



  1. Meredith says

    These are awesome!!! Could not stop eating them, and are so good with butter and honey. I did like some of the others and used sour cream instead, because that was what I had on hand. Also made with 2 c. all purpose flour and 1 2/3 c. white whole wheat. These were so simple to make. I plan to make several batches and freeze them. I may never be able to eat store bought english muffins again.

  2. Jill says

    These are wonderful! Thanks for a terrific recipe; your blog is one of my favorites–great recipes, photos, writing, and humor. I saw that someone asked if these could be made with Greek yogurt and I wanted to chime in that Greek yogurt works just fine; that’s what I used this morning with good results.

  3. Caitlin says

    hi! We love these English muffins! I make a batch every Sunday for the week! Just wondering though, my dough is so sticky in the beginning, I think I miss out on a whole muffin! Does anyone else experience this, or do I need to correct something that I am doing? Thanks!!

    • says

      Hi Caitlin, it could have to do with the climate in your kitchen. Are you in a relatively humid environment? GenerAlly, the dough might be a little sticky but it should ultimately be pretty smooth and easy to work with. Feel free to knead in a bit more flour.

    • says

      I KNOW. Perhaps I’ve just been traumatized by too much Food Network slapdash/wasteful cooking. It’s like…SCRAPE THE BOWL PEOPLE. USE THE LEFTOVER DOUGH!

  4. Lauren says

    I love the “puffy-uppiness” comment – that’d send your local neighbors into a translating tizzy!
    Germany has more bread types than any other nation, and they take it VERY seriously, but I can only buy these babies in a plastic bag with a big US flag on it. Pinning for later, needless to say.
    Nourished Kitchen has a crumpet recipe in her book; you could check her site.

  5. says

    I love that you put yogurt in your English muffins! I never thought of that. I am on a gluten free diet and a going to try to convert this to GF today! I’ve made a few batches in the past but they were missing something, I bet the yogurt is exactly what I’ve been looking for! Thanks a million!

    • says

      Hey Sarah, they’ll be fine on the counter for a couple days, but if you’re going to have them longer than that, I would recommend refrigerating them!

  6. LX says

    Hey there, this recipe looks fantastic! Am gonna be making them soon. :) May I know what is the type of flour you used for the 3 2/3 cups flour?

  7. Heather says

    I really like this recipe! Just made my first batch and finished eating one. Mine turned out a little doughy when I cut them- any tips? Keep them on for longer? Turn up the heat?

    • says

      Hey Heather, that just means they need to cook a little longer, or perhaps the heat was too low. If the muffins were really light in color on the outside, it’s likely the heat was too low.

  8. Angie says

    Made these twice in a week. It’s super easy n taste really good! My partner comments that it was better than the store bought muffin. Thank you!!!

  9. says

    I just tried this recipe and it’s perfect! The English muffins were so easy and they came out delicious. I even used organic spelt flour – couldn’t believe how easy it was. Now all my hankerings for Thomas’ English muffins will not involve me packing a suitcase full of them on my way home to Dublin from NY!! Thank you!!

    • says

      Yeah, living the expat life can be challenging haha. but I hope you had a lot of awesome Korean food while you were there. Jealous about that. Much of the Korean food in China had a really “Chinese-y” taste to it…it wasn’t quite the same as what I’ve had in KTowns in the US.

  10. Will says

    loved your description of the perfectly complacent and cooperative dough. I know exactly what you mean. And your reference to Glinda’s involvement is likely.

  11. tina mojica says

    Hi just to ask incase i don’t have yougurt on hand can i use buttermilk instead? I have most ingredients ready only the yougurt is missing. ;)

    • says

      Hi Tina, I really feel that yogurt is a necessary ingredient here. Buttermilk may be too wet. But you can give it a try (just reduce the amount a bit so the dough isn’t too moist), and let us know how it goes!

  12. SSK says

    I LOVE english muffins, but I never feel like it’s very economical for me to buy them often. This recipe tastes just like the store-bought kind, maybe even better. I spread some cream cheese and preserves on it and I was in love. I am DEFINITELY making these again for sure!

  13. Michele says

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!! I’ve already ate 2 of these and I’m not even done cooking the rest! Seriously delicious with some grape jelly! I used organic ingredients and coconut oil for the pan. IF there are any leftover, I will be cutting them in half and freezing for breakfast sandwiches. I have been searching for “clean” english muffins for a while, but these fit the bill. YUM and thanks again for a AWESOME recipe!

  14. Amanda says

    Oh yum as anything! I used 2 cups white and rest wheat and they are delicious. My husband and I just devoured one each while still warm. You are right, dough is very forgiving. It was lovely not to have to turn on oven when it’s so hot in Atlanta today. I, too, am English and can’t think why I have never made these before. Do you have a recipe for English crumpets? So glad I have found your site.

    • says

      Great to hear Amanda, as I was reading your experience, I was thinking, sounds like me – devouring a couple of warm ones as they come off the pan onto the plate! We don;t have a recipe on the blog for English Crumpets but I’m sure we’ll get a craving this fall when it gets cooler. We’ll put it on our to-cook list!

  15. says

    I’m English and am now hanging my head in shame that I have never even thought to try making these. This weekend – it’s happening! (just need to pop out for some plain yoghurt)

  16. says

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I enjoyed making them just as much as I liked eating them… It’s been over two years since I last ate English muffins. I had been craving them and couldn’t find them anywhere in Mauritius. Thanks!

    • says

      Hey Steffany, never tried that. They usually don’t last long enough for me to freeze them. But in my experience, most bread, if frozen and then thawed and toasted, is still pretty good.

    • says

      Hey Christina, I’ve never tried freezing them before baking before, but if I were to go for it, I would put them on a baking sheet right after cutting them into circles and freeze until solid. Then I would transfer them to a ziploc bag until ready to use.

      When ready to cook them, let them sit out in a warm room on a baking sheet (a couple inches apart) under a clean kitchen towel until completely defrosted. Let them continue to proof until they’ve increased in size. Then cook them, and pray to the make-in-advance Gods that they’ll turn out right! Let us know how it goes. You’re blazing the trail for all of us. : )

    • says

      Hey Kris, I think you could use greek yogurt, but I’m not sure what the higher protein content might do to them. The yogurt we use is what we can get in China–it’s pretty thin, but rich in fat. But I’ve used a bunch of different kinds and it usually works. Let us know how it turns out!

    • says

      Let us know how they turn out! I was skeptical at first, but they really are easy and so so much better than anything store-bought.

  17. says

    I like that you used semolina flour-brilliant! My English muffins began with a batter, but I like the idea of rolling and cutting the dough as the muffins look more authentic. Lovely post!

    • Sarah says

      Thanks so much! These English muffins truly are amazingly good. The batter idea is very interesting, though! Probably easier than rolling and cutting. : )

    • Sarah says

      Sorry about that! In hindsight, we were probably too busy stuffing our faces to take another picture. Oh, the shame! We’ll do better next time. : )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *