The CIPS/Markit purchasing managers' index (PMI) survey for November was 58.4, up on October's upwardly revised 56.5 and the highest since February 2011.
November saw a strong level of exports to Asia, the US, the Middle East and parts of Europe although the domestic market remains the strongest "pillar of growth".
The data said both production and new orders are at near 19-year highs with the recovery in the industry broad-based across all sizes of firms and sub-sectors.
Employment rose for the seventh month in a row at the fastest pace in two-and-a-half years.
David Noble, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, said: "The sector's solid growth was primarily underpinned by a strong domestic market, boosting new business in the UK and giving manufacturers the confidence to look ahead to the future. This was coupled with new export orders from key overseas markets accelerating at one of the fastest rates since the financial crisis."
Economists said it means about 5000 manufacturing jobs a month are being created. It is likely to dampen fears the UK recovery is based around consumer spending and a burgeoning housing market.
Samuel Tombs, UK economist at Capital Economics, said: "The improvement in the UK CIPS manufacturing survey in November should help to ease concerns that the recovery is entirely founded on an unsustainable housing market boom."