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

A new month, a new year, a truckload of carbs.

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 loaves of bread and recipes like focaccia, pizza dough, and no knead bread. Sweet bread, such as cinnamon rolls, include fat for richness and flavor.

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

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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 (480g) bread flour, 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, allowing 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.
  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

207 Comments

  1. thanks so much for sharing! I made these yesterday for me and a couple friends, and they turned out PERFECT. Beautiful on the outside, perfectly chewy yet fluffy texture, and perfect flavour.

  2. I struggled with this recipe a little. I followed the directions, and they came out tasting great, but they weren’t pretty. My bagels didn’t have that nice smooth look, they were kind-of lumpy. The hardest thing was picking up the raw shaped bagels to put in the water bath. Every time it would stretch them out and make them deformed. Again, the finished bagel was delicious, mine just didn’t look nice.

    1. I was having trouble transferring the bagels to the hot water bath as well, but after the first two , I dipped my metal spatula into the hot water, and slid an un-boiled bagel on to the spatula and it just slipped off into the water! So 6 of them look great and 2 of them are stretched but oh well.

    2. YUM! I did try the half whole wheat version and didn’t have bread flour, so I did 2 cups whole wheat and 2 cups all purpose flour – worked out great! Texture was still firm and I did one variety dipped in cinnamon sugar and another dipped in the Trader Joe’s everything but the bagel blend. Such an easy recipe to follow and despite the bagels not looking super uniform, they tasted great!

      1. I’m so glad half whole wheat and half all-purpose flour worked well for you! Your two kinds of bagels sound delish!! Thanks for your positive feedback, Claire!

  3. I can only say: thank you! In Spain it’s impossible to buy bugels. Only once in a year in Lidl or Aldi. If I travel abroad I always carry bagels to home! It’s a crazy addiction. Today I’ve tried your recepy and…OMG!! THEY ARE AMAZING!! The texture is incredible and the taste… I’ve used maple syrup and honey to the water, and also a little sunflower oil, just a little to the dough…and as I said before: than you from Spain!!

    1. I made these for the second time today. I cut the dough into 12 smaller pieces. I also experimented with rolling them into a cylinder-like shape and then shaping into a circle, and those ones turned out a lot prettier that the one where I poked a hole in the middle- just took a little bit more time. All your recipes are so good!

  4. These are delicious and EASY! I let the dough sit in the fridge overnight so I could finish them in the morning for breakfast. I have another bagel recipe, but it is way more time intensive and the results aren’t nearly as good. I’m definitely keeping your recipe!

    1. Did you put the dough in the fridge for a full 24 hours ? Or 12 hours? I don’t have time for a full 24, but I wasn’t sure if it would make a big difference if I just do 12-18 hours in the fridge.

  5. Amazingly delicious! Shaping was a little rough but after they were in my belly I forgot they weren’t shaped professionally! I made over night and shortened the cooking time a little. I also almost lost the entire batch due to a parchment paper snafu but regained control by removing it half way through. I will never store buy bagels again! Thank You!

  6. I’m a bit confused about the two trays thing. Do you bake them 4 at a time or on two racks one above the other ? or do they puff up that much? I don’t have 2 trays. Can I use one big cookie sheet? Does it make any difference?

    1. Hi Chris! I recommend 2 baking sheets since the 8 bagels need room to puff up. You can bake them all at once on different racks or bake in batches if you have a smaller oven or only have 1 baking sheet.

      1. Ok I get it now these things are about the size of Goodyear monster truck tires! Look and taste good, nice texture. But somehow they arc-welded themselves to the parchment. And got mostly destroyed trying to remove it. Any suggestions for next time ?

  7. Hi Chris, I just made these today for the first time! I didn’t have parchment paper so I used foil and they came right off beautifully. I was worried about the stickiness so made sure I egg washed all over and that seemed to form an easy peel barrier!

  8. I just made these and they were so good and easy! I put too much everything seasoning on so I will correct that next batch. Yours looked fluffier than mine. Any suggestions on what I may have done? My family loved them!

    1. I’m glad your family enjoyed them! Did they taste too dense on the inside? If not, you didn’t do anything wrong and it could just be the way the photo was taken!

  9. For the overnight instructions, is it OK to leave the bagels in the fridge for 12 hours…Is that enough time? Or is it better to do a full 24 hours in the fridge?

    Thanks

  10. Perfect, thanks for the recipe! They looked and tasted great, and were simple to make. I used soy milk instead of egg wash so my vegan friend could have some too and it worked fine. My only complaint is that they disappeared too quickly! I might make extra and freeze some next time.

  11. Hi, the bagels come out great. The only thing is they become hard at the bottom after baking. Can you help me with this, what am I doing wrong?Thanks

    1. Hi Maria! If they’re too hard on the bottoms, try lowering the oven temperature or even flipping them over halfway through baking (if you’re making plain bagels).

  12. I find that homemade bagels (including this recipe) are literally good for only one day–the day they were cooked. Stored in plastic, they sweat and in paper they harden. I don’t know of any homemade bagel that is edible after one week in the fridge. So, my question is, is there really a good method for preserving homemade bagels? Is there some ingredient that would actually give it longevity.

    1. Hi Brooke! Not to my knowledge. I agree that bagels taste best when fresh. The best way to store them for optimum taste and texture is to freeze them, then thaw them, then warm them up.

    2. I wrap each bagel in a small sheet of paper towel, and the. Put them in plastic. It absorbs the moisture, but still keeps them fresh. Once you toast them , they taste as good as the first day.

    3. Hi Brooke,

      I wrap each bagel in a small sheet of paper towel, and the. Put them in plastic. It absorbs the moisture, but still keeps them fresh. Once you toast them , they taste as good as the first day.

  13. I love this recipe, today was my third time baking these bagels and I tried a few different things. First I let the dough rise over night and then let it sit for 45min this morning before baking, I warmed my oven to 60c and then turned it off and placed the dough inside. Instead of making 8 bagels, I portioned the dough for 6 bagels, I found the end results to be larger, and more chewy. For a twist I sprinkled onion soup mix on 2 of the bagels after applying the egg wash. These had a delicious onion bagel flavor but watch out that the seasoning doesn’t get too dark.
    I had a few cinnamon raisin bagels in the freezer from the last batch which I thawed overnight and then toasted. The frozen bagels still tasted fresh and delicious after toasting.

    I also used bagels molds with this round, while they made the bagel shape consistent and helped to evenly apply seasoning – hand shaping is still just as good.

    1. Hi Erin! Thank you so much for taking the time to share and I’m so so so glad you enjoy these bagels! Love hearing/reading about how you prepare them.

  14. After moving to a new state I haven’t been able to find a really good bagel place that makes my favorite garlic bagels. Do you have any tips for how to make them? Can I just put minced garlic from a jar on it or will it burn?

    1. Hi Erica! I recommend dried garlic flakes– you can find them in the seasonings aisle. You can add some to the dough itself and then use them as the topping.

  15. Hi Sally,
    I live in Germany where we despite the infinite kinds of different flours we don‘t have bread flour. I read before that you can create it by adding gluten, but now I have read it also has malt? Do you know How I can make my own? Thanks!

    1. Hi Laura! For the bread flour substitute, you’ll just need all-purpose flour and vital wheat gluten. Use 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of flour. That mixture can take the place of bread flour in this bagel recipe.

  16. I’ve made these bagels two or three times and they always taste great. However, my dough is never remotely stiff. I watched the video again. When I compare my dough, right out the mixer, to yours mine is only somewhat thicker than Nickelodeon green slime. I incorporate quite a bit more flour as I knead but it is still a much softer, sticky dough.

    Is 480g the correct measurement? Is Lily White Bread Flour just much softer than King Arthur? I have clue what I’m doing wrong. I had a similar issue with the pizza dough recipe and ended up incorporating too much flour in the kneading process. HELP!

    1. Hi Sabrina! It could be the brands of flours. King Arthur Flour typically has more protein in it than other flours and that could be the difference. Try reducing the water in the dough next time. That should help.

  17. I’d no idea it could be so easy to make bagels that come out like you’re in New York City! Thanks Sally! I followed the reader’s suggestion who rolled the dough pieces into a cylinder and then pinched the ends together, and I found that to be easier than poking a hole in the middle and trying to stretch it, and the bagels were smoother that way. After boiling, I took them out with a slotted spoon to drain for a few seconds on a wire rack. It was easier to brush them with egg wash and dunk them in the topping one at a time. I made the everything bagels from your other recipe and my only comment is that there was too much salt for my taste, next time I’ll only use 1/2 tablespoon. And there definitely WILL be a next time!

  18. Omg Sally! Thank you so much, Poppy seed bagels aren’t sold much around here in Houston. So I found your recipe and made them all organic too, they came out like a dream come true!! Thank you so much, you have no idea how grateful I am!!

  19. Hi! I have a quick question! I know that the dough will be too thick to knead, but I was wondering if I can mix the whole thing by hand? Or is it best to use a stand mixer for that initial mix?
    Thanks!
    – Nat

    1. Hi Nat! You can do it either way, but initially mixing with the mixer certainly makes things easier– and quicker!

  20. These were the best bagels I’ve ever had!! (And I’ve spent a fair amount of time testing in NYC…) Thank you SO much for the recipe.

  21. These turned out great, (for a first time bagel maker)! I did skip the egg wash, but that didnt seem to matter at all.
    I did sprinkle cornmeal on parchment, and had no sticking problem.

    Thanks, Sally, for the inspiration.

  22. Completely addicted never buying store-bought again the only change I did is I put 2 tablespoons of molasses and a teaspoon of baking soda in the water bath two minutes one side one minute other side. I could barely make the 20 minutes let them cool before we started eating them

  23. I worked in a bagel store for 8 months back in 2000 in MN, and i worked the entire process of baking and serving the bagels at front line. I can tell you that Einsteins Bagels use a machine to defrost bagels, which are provided frozen in bags, Frozen Bagels are defrost in this machine at a certain humidity and temperature for 25 mins. Then they look as ready for oven, the baker puts some breading mix on the bottom side and some topping on the top side (cheese for asiago cheese, spices for the everything, salt or garlic bagel, and that’s it. There is no boiling step,
    Back in my city, there has never been bagels, so I ended realizing to never taste them again in a regular basis, until I discovered your recipe this year, thank you. It seems you posted at the beginning of 2019. However, I had all the ingredients, so i made them, 3 times already, and it’s incredible how easy is to make them, that I should have researched for this a few years before. I don´t think the boilind step is needed, ’cause I made them both with and without this step and without this step they grow a little bit more. Even when the taste is the same, specially the asiago cheese, the only problem I have is the raising, they don’t expand as much as I remember. I already tried leaving the dough to rise for 5-6 hours but it grows to 1 1/2 of its original size, not double, I probably need to add more yeast, i noticed that if I use more water, they grow a little bit more, but the dough becomes sticky then, a little hard to manage. So I remember the machine to defrost, but I think there must be something in the dough process which is necessary to make bigger (inflated) bagels. Any suggestions are appreciated.

    1. I also would like to say that there’s already a bagel store in my city, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, but they sell each bagel alone in 2 dlls, 4 dlls with regular cream cheese, very expensive even for USA. The bagel process at Einsteins is defrost the frozen bagels for 25 mins. in this defrosting machine. After defrost they put breading mix on the bottom, some egg white on top and the desired topping on the top (asiago cheese, everything, salt, or garlic), cinammon raisin, cranberry, banana, bagels don’t need any topping. Does anybody know how to imitate the cream cheese flavors, I am trying to make a chocolate and honey almond at least. Jalapeño would be nice too.

    2. Hi Paulo– thanks for sharing! You could simply need a bit more yeast if you find the dough isn’t doubling. It should only take a couple hours. Are you using warm enough water?

  24. Hi, is it possible to make a homemade version of bread flour? Maybe by adding gluten powder to all purpose flour? If so what are the proportions? It’s difficult to source bread flour in India…any help would be appreciated…I’m missing out on so many of your bread recipes

    1. Hi Suma! I’m sure there is, but I’m positive about the process. I’m sure you can find a helpful source online since I can’t help here. Let me know what you discover or try!

  25. Sally!! These are divine…I can’t believe how simple they were to make because I’ve been very intimidated to try making homemade bagels. Since i absolutely love all of your recipes, I thought I’d give it a shot & now I’ll never buy bagels again! Thank you so much- I love everything you do!!❤️❤️

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