Homemade Bagels Recipe

This easy homemade bagels recipe proves that you can make deliciously chewy bagels in your own kitchen with only a few basic ingredients and baking tools!

Bagel varieties

Today I’m teaching you how to make homemade bagels with only a few basic ingredients and kitchen tools. Today you’re going to tackle any fears of yeast and bread baking– and I’m right here to guide you along!

Homemade bagels

Bagels, crème brûlée, soft pretzels, and hot ham & cheese pockets. What do these foods have in common? Each seem really complicated to make at home, but secretly couldn’t be easier. Homemade bagels taste fresher, are cheaper, and you’ll earn the bragging rights for from-scratch baking. (PS: Each of those recipes has a video tutorial!)

Video: How to Make Homemade Bagels

Here’s a video to guide you along the process.

Bagels Require a Lean Dough

The 1st step is to make the bagel dough. This is the same dough you use for everything bagels, a recipe already published on my blog. There’s only 5 ingredients.

  • Warm Water: Liquid for the dough.
  • Yeast: Allows the dough to rise. I recommend an instant or active dry yeast.
  • Bread Flour: A high protein flour is necessary for bagels. We want a dense and chewy texture, not soft and airy like cinnamon rolls. Bread flour is the only solution!
  • Brown Sugar: Bakeries use barley malt syrup to sweeten the bagel dough– it can be a little difficult to find, but brown sugar is a fine substitute.
  • Salt: Flavor.

Notice how there is no fat? This is called a lean dough. Lean dough is ideal for recipes like focaccia, pizza dough, artisan bread, and no knead bread. Sweet bread, such as cinnamon rolls, include fat for richness and flavor.

Baking with Yeast Guide

Reference this Baking with Yeast Guide whenever you work with baker’s yeast. I include practical answers to all of your common yeast questions.

Bagel bread dough

You can prepare the dough with a mixer or by hand. Kneading the dough by hand is imperative. Bagel dough is very heavy and dense, which could rattle your mixer too much. You’ll only knead for a few minutes and you can watch me do it in the video above. After the dough is kneaded, let it rise for 60-90 minutes. Punch it down, then divide into 8 sections and shape into bagels.

How to Shape Bagels

Shaping bagels is easier than it looks. Poke your finger through the center of the ball of dough, then use 2 fingers to widen the hole to about 1.5 – 2 inches. That’s it! I don’t really do anything fancy and the bagels don’t need to be perfect. Mine never are!

Bagel water bath

Bagel Water Bath

Bagels must cook for 1 minute on each side in a pot of boiling water. This is actually the most important step in the whole recipe. Why?

  1. Boiling the bagels gives the bagel its beautiful shine. But looks aren’t everything– this shine is actually a result of the dough’s starches gelatinizing which creates a crisp, shiny coating. I learned this from Cooks Illustrated.
  2. Boiling bagels cooks the outer layer of dough, which guarantees they’ll hold their shape in the oven.

Add honey or barley malt syrup to the water bath. Why? The sugar adds extra caramelization and crisp. Brushing the boiled bagels with egg wash does the same. Don’t skip either!

Homemade bagels

Homemade Bagel Varieties

  1. Plain Bagels: Follow the recipe below.
  2. Cinnamon Raisin Bagels: Follow my cinnamon raisin bagels recipe.
  3. Everything Bagels: Follow my everything bagels recipe.
  4. Sesame Seed Bagels: Use 1/3 cup sesame seeds. After brushing with egg wash in step 9, top with or dunk each bagel into topping. Use more as needed.
  5. Poppy Seed Bagels: Use 1/3 cup poppy seeds. After brushing with egg wash in step 9, top with or dunk each bagel into topping. Use more as needed.
  6. Salt Bagels: Use 1/3 cup coarse salt. After brushing with egg wash in step 9, top with or dunk each bagel into topping. These are pretty salty, so feel free to go lighter on the salt.
  7. Cheese Bagels (Asiago, Cheddar, etc): Add 1/2 cup of shredded cheese to the dough when you add the flour. After brushing with egg wash in step 9, sprinkle with extra cheese.

Some readers have used this bagel recipe to make whole wheat bagels by replacing half of the bread flour with whole wheat flour. I haven’t tried it, but let me know if you do!

Homemade cinnamon raisin bagel

Bagel with cream cheese

Another staple? A loaf of sandwich bread. There’s nothing on earth like homemade bread!

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Bagels image

Homemade Bagels Recipe

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 8 bagels
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Make fresh bagels right at home with this tested dough recipe. Don’t skip the water bath and egg wash– both provide an extra chewy and golden brown crust.


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) warm water (between 100-110°F, 38-43°C)
  • 2 and 3/4 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast*
  • 4 cups (500g) bread flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for work surface and hands*
  • 1 Tablespoon packed light or dark brown sugar (or barley malt syrup)*
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • coating the bowl: nonstick spray or 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • egg wash: 1 egg white beaten with 1 Tablespoon water

For Boiling

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/4 cup (60g) honey (or barley malt syrup)*

Instructions

  1. Prepare the dough: Whisk the warm water and yeast together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes. The dough is very stiff and will look somewhat dry.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands, knead the dough for 4-5 minutes. The dough is too heavy for the mixer to knead it!
  4. Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel.  Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 60-90 minutes or until double in size.
  5. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  6. Shape the bagels: When the dough is ready, punch it down to release any air bubbles. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. (Just eyeball it– doesn’t need to be perfect!) Shape each piece into a ball. Press your index finger through the center of each ball to make a hole about 1.5 – 2 inches in diameter. Watch video above for a visual. Loosely cover the shaped bagels with kitchen towel and rest for a few minutes as you prepare the water bath.
  7. Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C).
  8. Water bath: Fill a large, wide pot with 2 quarts of water. Whisk in the honey. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high. Drop bagels in, 2-4 at a time, making sure they have enough room to float around. Cook the bagels for 1 minute on each side.
  9. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash on top and around the sides of each bagel. Place 4 bagels onto each lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. You want the bagels to be a dark golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow bagels to cool on the baking sheets for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Slice, toast, top, whatever you want! Cover leftover bagels tightly and store at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Overnight Make Ahead Instructions: Prepare the dough through step 4, but allow the dough to rise overnight in the refrigerator. The slow rise gives the bagels wonderful flavor! In the morning, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let the dough rise for 45 minutes at room temperature. Continue with step 5. I don’t recommend shaping the bagels the night before as they may puff up too much overnight.
  2. Freezing Make Ahead Instructions: Baked bagels freeze wonderfully! Freeze them for up to 3 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature, then warm to your liking. You can also freeze the bagel dough. After punching down the dough in step 6, wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then punch the dough down again to release any air bubbles. Continue with the rest of step 6.
  3. Special Tools: stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, large baking sheets (I love these), big pot (I use my 5.5 quart dutch oven), pastry brush.
  4. Yeast: Use instant or active dry yeast. If using active dry yeast, the rise time may be up to 2 hours. 1 standard packet is about 2 and 1/4 teaspoons, so you will need a little more than 1 packet of yeast. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.
  5. Bread Flour: Bagels require a high protein flour. Bread flour is a must. Here are all my recipes using bread flour if you want more recipes to use it up!
  6. Barley Malt Syrup: This ingredient can be a little hard to find, but truly gives bagels that traditional malty flavor we all know and love. Most natural food stores carry it. I offer alternatives such as brown sugar in the dough and honey in the water bath; I’ve made bagels with these alternatives AND with barley malt syrup and honestly love both versions.
  7. Bread Machine: Place the dough ingredients into the pan of the machine. Program the machine to dough or manual, then start. After 9-10 minutes, the dough will be quite stiff. Allow the machine to complete its cycle, then continue with the recipe.
  8. By Hand: If you do not have a mixer, you can mix the dough together in a large bowl then knead by hand for 10-15 minutes.
  9. Bagel Varieties: See blog post above for various add-ins and toppings. Note that the toppings are added after the egg wash in step 9. Some readers have used this bagel recipe to make whole wheat bagels by replacing half of the bread flour with whole wheat flour. I haven’t tried it, but let me know if you do!

Adapted from a mix of recipes I’ve tried: King Arthur FlourCook’s Illustrated, and Complete Book of Breads

380 Comments

  1. Hi! I can’t wait to try making these bagels! I have one question. Can I use the whole egg for the egg wash, or does it have to be just the egg white?
    Thanks!

  2. Has anyone tried airfying the bagels instead of baking? I did mine in the air fryer (400 at 10 minutes, flipping halfway) they came out golden brown and look amazing, The issue i seem to be having is they always end up going flat. 🙁

  3. Can you use self-rising flour for these? I have a lot that needs to be used and don’t know what I can make with it.

    1. Hi Mafe, Some readers have used this bagel recipe to make whole wheat bagels by replacing half of the bread flour with whole wheat flour. I haven’t tried it, but let me know if you do!

      1. I just made them with 1 cup of whole wheat flour:3 cups white flour and they turned out great. My plan was to try to go to half (2 cups whole wheat:2 cups white) if these turned out but I think I’ll stop at 1 cup, I wouldn’t want them any denser.

  4. I LOVE this recipe! However, for some reason, my dough sinks to the bottom when I get to the water bath step. Should I worry or is this okay?

    1. Hi Christine! Do the finished bagels taste ok? I’m worried there isn’t enough boiling water in the bath step if they aren’t floating. (Or the water isn’t hot enough.)

  5. Sally, I greatly appreciate your home baking ideas during this time. I tried the bagels today and they looked perfect until they came out of the oven – they seemed to fall and look more like bialys than bagels. I think I may have let them rise a little too much – could that have done it? Thank you!

      1. I think that was it Sally! I have been doing some reading and I definitely let it rise too long. I found some good videos and this article that talks about the “ripe test” – I hope this is helpful to other readers: https://kneadrisebake.com/how-do-you-know-when-bread-dough-has-risen-enough/

        I also think I’m going to buy a dough proofing container so I can tell whether it’s really doubled – in retrospect I think I always let it proof too long! I want to thank you again for all of your wonderful recipes. I send everyone to your website. Every recipe is perfection!

  6. Sally. You have given my family a wonderful gift. Especially since CV is keeping us all at home. I made a batch of these and you would be amazed at the joy on the faces of these folks. Thank you so much. Delicious.

  7. These are AMAZING!! And, honestly, they are not hard to make. I made three dough in the afternoon, put it in the fridge overnight, and finished then in the morning. Will DEFINITELY make again!!

  8. Hi Sally!

    I only have all purpose flour and no bread flour. Would the recipe still work without the bread flour?

    Thanks! 🙂

  9. Sally, one thing I was wondering but didn’t see my answer in either the written recipe or your video tutorial. When you remove the bagels from the hot water bath, do you put them briefly on something like paper towel to soak up the excess water? I could be wrong, but wouldn’t there be a little excess water, and if so wouldn’t it make the bottoms soggy? Please let me know, I am wanting to make these ASAP. I love bagels, but with the threat of the , not only is a trip to the stores scary, but most of the shelves are empty anyway. Your meal planning and baking has been a lifesaver during this difficult time. Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Rayne! If you’re using a slotted spatula or spoon, there shouldn’t be too much excess water. I always put the boiled bagels directly on the baking sheet and bake. The water evaporates right up in the hot oven. Thank you for asking!

  10. I live in northern Sweden, where it is difficult to find bagels, and I have missed them SOO much. Tried this recipe and it is seriously the tastiest, most amazing bagels I have ever tried. And now I can get then whenever I want to. Thank you for making weekend breakfast great again

  11. These are the BEST bagels! My dad is from NYC and we have struggled finding bagels that meet his standards in CA. I’ve been getting more into bread baking lately so I decided to try bagels while we’re stuck home for at least a few weeks. These are IT! My dad said they’re the real deal! I made them two days in a row and I’m making more tomorrow. Highly recommend! I’m using active dry yeast and if I let it proof in the bowl with the warm water AND the brown sugar for five minutes it still only takes an hour for the rise time.

  12. I am home due to the chaos of the world and I don’t have a way of knowing the temperature of the water that I need to get(1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) warm water (between 100-110°F, 38-43°C) any suggestions?

  13. Would I run into problems if I doubled the recipe? Love your site and recipes! I know I will have success, if I use one of your recipes!

  14. Hi!
    If I don’t have honey or barley malt would that be a major problem? Could I just boil them in plain water?
    Thank you!

  15. The first time I made them they were fabulous! They were chewy and light… My New Yorker Born friend/family loved them, so they must be good. I have made them many more times and they are all right/good but seem very dense/heavy. My shaping skills are also lacking so they usually look kind of ugly! The last batch somehow looked like pinwheels. Not sure how I managed that…any suggestions???

  16. I would like to know if I can skip the egg wash at the end as I’m allergic to eggs. What kind of difference will there be?

  17. These were absolutely amazing! Thank you so much. I’ve been missing a nice fresh bagel since this virus has been going around. I had exactly 4 cups of bread flour left in my pantry, and these were perfect! On each of mine, I put coarse salt. I used some dried chopped onion on a few, and I think my key was using fresh minced garlic on them. It turned out great, and no burnt garlic like I usually get when I go to a bagel shop. I shared the recipe to my zero waste group on facebook!

  18. Bagels are in no way a common pastry here (Czech republic), but I was always curious about them. I tried your recipe today and it turned absolutely delicious. Thank you!

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