To continue this week’s (not intentional but oh-so-embraceable) theme of tasty childhood foods you may have forgotten you adore: English Muffin Pizzas!
Whole wheat English muffins are split, spread with the pizza sauce of your choice (tomato? pesto? alfredo? It’s all fair game here), then smothered in cheese and any of your favorite pizza toppings, English Muffin ‘Za is an easy, healthy, and highly personalizable dinner.
Whether you are in need of sure-to-please meals for picky eaters, fast and healthy dinners for back-to-school nights, or are a grown up looking to cook yourself something a) presentable and b) exceptionally low-maintenance, you have a reason to make English Muffin Pizzas.
Or, maybe you just have very fond memories of the jingle from the Pizza Bagels commercials and want to take a moment to relive your childhood (umm…me!). These English Muffin Pizzas hit the spot for me there too.
Also, pizza. Pizza night = happy night. It’s mathematical law.
Let’s make these English Muffin Pizzas for toddlers, for the busy parents who cook for them, for my fellow children of the ‘90s (did anyone else grow up with these??), and for all who crave an extra grin when they take a bite of their dinner tonight. These English Muffin Pizzas will make you smile.
About English Muffin Pizzas
For those of you who didn’t spend as much time in the freezer section of the grocery store in the ‘90s as I did, these English Muffin Pizzas are inspired by the infamous pizza bagels that I used to beg my mom to put into her shopping cart for us (apologies if that song is in your head now). Today’s English Muffin Pizzas are a modern, wholesome spin on that widely adored snack.
From a history standpoint, English muffins are a spin themselves! They began as a riff of on an English crumpet and have been marketed in America in some form since the 1850s (they were called toaster crumpets then). Pizza bagels didn’t come on the scene for about 100 more years, and there are actually dueling claims as to who invented them. The earliest claimed version was a pizza cooked on a halved bagel that was baked without a hole…which is kind of like an English muffin. Could this be the earliest iteration of the English Muffin Pizza?
Wherever it started, these English Muffin Pizzas satisfy the need for easy, snackable, kid-friendly, gratifyingly cheesy goodness!
You can make these English Muffin Pizzas in advance and warm them up in a variety of ways. See below for make ahead English Muffin Pizza directions, as well as tips to cook them in the oven, the toaster oven, the grill, the air fryer, and (in a pinch) the microwave.
How to Make English Muffin Pizzas
Whether you cook these English Muffins in the oven (or the toaster oven!) now, or freeze them for later, the recipe begins the same way.
The ingredients for this recipe mirror that of classic pizza. Take inspiration from your favorite pizzas, be they classic or crazy, and use this recipe as a starting point for any combination of sauce, cheese, and toppings you like.
- English Muffins. Our stand-in for the pizza crust. Because these homemade English Muffin Pizzas are healthy, I recommend using whole grain English muffins with as few processed ingredients and added sugars as possible.
Often the least processed English Muffins are sold in the freezer section because they do not contain preservatives to keep them shelf-stable, so be sure to check there too.
- Sauce. Any kind of pizza sauce you like!
We made our English Muffins with tomato sauce. This summer, English Muffin Pizzas with pesto sauce would be light and seasonal. For a more indulgent twist, try English Muffin Pizzas with alfredo (this creamy pumpkin pasta sauce is a healthy spin on the alfredo option). You can also go wild and make English Muffin Pizzas with BBQ sauce (this homemade barbecue sauce is particularly excellent).
- Cheese. For the most classic approach, make English Muffin Pizzas with fresh mozzarella, but that is certainly not your only option. This recipe is versatile and a great way to play around with different cheeses or use up extra cheeses you have in your refrigerator from other recipes.
Try English Muffin Pizzas with cheddar cheese for an all-American twist (great with BBQ sauce!), English Muffin Pizzas with ricotta for a more Italian version (dreamy with pesto), or do a combination.
- Toppings. Anything goes here! We still had mini-pepperonis leftover from my Zucchini Pizza Boats, so that’s what we used.
For a meat-lovers’ version, try English Muffin Pizzas with sausage (or sausage and pepperoni). Craving something fun? Go Hawaiian and make English Muffin Pizzas with pineapple and ham (this version would be yummy with homemade barbecue sauce too).
One of my favorite things about this English Muffin Pizza recipe is how versatile it is. Each member of your family can customize to his or her taste. Because the recipe is easy, it’s a fun way to involve your kids in the kitchen—especially helpful if you are making English Muffin Pizza for toddlers and hoping they’ll take a bite.
The Key to Avoiding Soggy English Muffin Pizzas
The biggest issue with English Muffin Pizzas (other than narrowing down all of the delicious topping possibilities) is making sure that they don’t turn out soggy.
The key to making English Muffin Pizzas not soggy is toasting the English muffins before you add the sauce or toppings.
You don’t need to toast the English muffins fully. A few minutes in the oven will create a lightly toasty surface barrier that allows some, but not all of the sauce to absorb. This is trick to ensuring your final English Muffin Pizzas are pleasantly crisp without being dry or cracker-like, just like the frozen pizza snack that inspired them (except your homemade English Muffin Pizzas are going to taste WAY better and be better for you too!).
Final Recipe Steps
Once you’ve toasted your English muffins, you are ready to top and bake. For ease, I pre-toast the English muffins, add the toppings, and then fully bake them all on the same baking sheet. This is one-pan cooking at its finest.
- Spread the English Muffins with your sauce of choice.
- Sprinkle on any and all desired toppings.
- Bake the English Muffin Pizzas at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the English muffins are lightly golden at the edges.
Make-Ahead English Muffin Pizzas – How to Prep Now, Store, and Eat Later
While these easy English Muffin Pizzas are great for fast dinners, you can also make them in advance and speed up dinner even more! Freezing them will yield the best results.
Make Ahead and Reheating Directions – Oven Method
- To Freeze: This is the best method for making your English Muffin Pizzas ahead. Toast your English muffin halves as directed and top as desired. Lay the English Muffin Pizzas topping side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Once completely frozen, place the pizzas in a freezer-safe container, separating layers of English Muffin Pizzas with parchment paper.
- Reheat from Frozen: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Lay your frozen English Muffin Pizzas on a baking sheet topping side up and place in the oven. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until heated through.
- To Refrigerate: In a single layer, place your English Muffin Pizzas in the refrigerator in an airtight container topping side up for up to 1 week, separating layers with parchment paper.
Alternative Cooking Methods
- Toaster Oven. Perfect for making a smaller batch of English Muffin Pizzas! To make English Muffin Pizzas in a toaster oven, heat your toaster oven to 400 degrees F and follow recipe instructions for preparing English muffin halves with olive oil. Place your English muffin halves in the toaster oven for 2 to 3 minutes. Then, top with ingredients of your choice and place the English Muffin Pizzas back into the toaster oven. Cook for 13 to 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and edges of the muffin are lightly golden. To reheat English Muffin Pizzas in the toaster oven, heat your toaster oven to 400 degrees F and place your English Muffin Pizzas in the toaster oven for 4 to 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
- Microwave. I do not recommend cooking English Muffin Pizzas in the microwave fully, as they will become soggy. In a pinch, if you don’t have access to an oven when you want to warm them back up (say you are reheating them at the office for lunch), you can reheat them in a microwave. Line a microwave safe-plate with a paper towel (this will absorb some of the moisture and deter the English Muffin Pizzas from becoming soggy). Warm on moderate heat, just until the cheese is melted.
- Grill. To make your English Muffin Pizzas on the grill, turn your grill to low heat and place the English muffin halves on the grill rack. Watching closely, toast halves gently until slightly crispy and toasted. Immediately remove from grill and top with the sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice. Spray a sheet of aluminum foil (large enough for your English Muffin Pizza halves) with nonstick cooking spray and lay it onto the grill. Place your English Muffin Pizza halves on the foil, topping side up. Close the grill and let your pizzas cook for 3 to 4 minutes, checking them frequently. Once your cheese is melted, remove the pizzas from the grill and serve immediately.
- Air Fryer. While I haven’t personally tried the English Muffin Pizza air fryer approach, I know this appliance has become quite popular! From what I have read, you can cook the English Muffin Pizzas in an air fryer. Set the air fryer to 400 degrees F. Once preheated, place your English muffins halves inside for 1 minute. Remove after 1 minute and cover each half with desired toppings. When ready, place your halves back into the air fryer for an additional 4 minutes. To reheat the English Muffin Pizzas in the air fryer, preheat it to 320 degrees F. Once heated to temperature, place your English Muffin Pizzas inside for 3 to 4 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
Of all the English Muffin Pizzas we made, my favorite was the sautéed mushrooms and spinach with pepperoni version. It’s ‘90s picky-eater Erin (lover of pepperoni pizza…and little else) meets grown-up Erin (lover of vegetables…and mini pepperonis).
Grown-up Erin certainly isn’t too mature to eat English Muffin Pizzas for dinner and love every bite (and, I hope I never will be!).
English Muffin Pizzas
- 4whole wheat English muffins— split
- 1/2tablespoonextra virgin olive oil
- 3/4cupprepared pizza sauce— tomato, pesto, or alfredo; whichever your family likes! (We use tomato)
- Tiny Pinchkosher salt
- Pinchblack pepper
- 1cupshredded part-skim mozzarella cheese— or cheddar cheese, provolone, or any cheese you like
- 1/2teaspoonItalian seasoning
- Toppings of choice— such as mini pepperonis (or regular pepperonis, quartered), or sautéed veggies, such as spinach or mushrooms
- Thinly sliced fresh basil— optional for serving
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Arrange the English muffin halves cut side up onto a baking sheet. Lightly drizzle with olive oil. Place in the oven and toast until barely golden, about 4 minutes.
Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons pizza sauce over each one, using the back of a spoon to spread it evenly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with mozzarella cheese and Italian seasoning. Add any desired toppings.
Bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the muffins are browned on the edges. Top with fresh basil. Enjoy hot.
- TO REFRIGERATE: In a single layer, place your English Muffin Pizzas in an airtight container topping side up for up to one week.
- TO FREEZE/MAKE AHEAD: Toast you English muffin halves as directed and top as desired. Lay the English Muffin Pizzas topping side up on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for at least two hours. Once completely frozen, place each pizza in a freezer-safe container, separating layers of English Muffin Pizzas with parchment paper.
- REHEAT FROM FROZEN: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Lay your frozen English Muffin Pizzas on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until heated through.
Amount per serving (1 pizza) — Calories: 107, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 9mg, Sodium: 311mg, Potassium: 148mg, Carbohydrates: 13g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Protein: 6g, Vitamin A: 167%, Vitamin C: 2%, Calcium: 190%, Iron: 1%
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