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!

overhead image of a variety of bagels

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!

bagels cut in half in a stack

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.

2 images of bag of bread flour and bagel bread dough in a glass bowl

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!

2 images of bagel dough cut into pieces and bagels in a 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!

2 images of homemade bagels on a baking sheet before baking and bagels after baking

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.
  8. Cinnamon Crunch Bagels: Add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the dough recipe below when you add the salt. Double the cinnamon crunch topping from cinnamon crunch bread. After brushing the bagels with the egg wash in step 9 below, spoon cinnamon crunch topping on each.

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

Bagels with cream cheese

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

Print
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overhead image of a variety of bagels

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 (520g) bread flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for work surface and hands*
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar or packed light or dark brown sugar (or barley malt syrup)*
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • coating the bowl: nonstick spray or 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • egg wash: 1 egg white beaten with 1 Tablespoon water

For Boiling

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/4 cup (60ghoney (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 instead of at room temperature for 60-90 minutes. 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! All-purpose flour can be used in a pinch, but the bagels will taste flimsy and won’t be nearly as chewy.
  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!
  10. Halve or Double: You can halve this dough recipe by simply halving all of the dough ingredients (do not halve the water or honey for the boiling step). No changes to the recipe instructions. For best taste and texture and to not overwhelm your mixer with excess heavy dough, I do not recommend doubling this dough recipe. Instead, make separate batches of dough.

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

711 Comments

  1. Also, if I were to use All purpose flour (as I cant source bread flour where I live), what extra ingredients should I add to make it into the bread flour that you have recommended

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Preethi, you can use all-purpose flour in a pinch, but they won’t have that signature bagel taste. Some readers have recommended all-purpose flour + gluten as a substitute for bread flour, but we haven’t personally tried it and are unsure of amounts. Let us know if you test anything.

  2. I made these 2 times (haven’t had time to make them again) and those times they came out delicious and beautiful, first I open them in half and then I toast them and they’re so delicious, you should definitely try this recipe !

  3. What is the name of the song in the video? It’s so catchy and danceable!

  4. Pamela Barber says:

    Hi can I reduce the salt in these for a delicious tasting bagel or will it be bland?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Pamela, the salt adds flavor, so we don’t recommend omitting it completely. You can try slightly reducing it, but keep in mind that it will change the final taste depending on how much you choose to omit. Hope you enjoy the bagels!

  5. I had been using another bagel recipe, but this one sounded better. I tried it, but the texture was too dense. Maybe letting the dough rise at room temperature left too much to chance, since room temperature can vary depending on the season. I noticed that the dough was a bit too firm. Should I try proofing the dough in a “warm place” instead of room temp?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sally! Rising time can vary by room temperature – always let your dough rise until just about doubled in size. If your dough doesn’t seem to be rising quick enough, you can always try a warmer spot. This should help for next time. Our baking with yeast guide is a great resource as well. Happy baking!

  6. Hiya,

    My dough was really sticky which made it hard to shape as they kept sticking to my hands.
    I always worry about adding more flour as the video showed yours being so much drier with the recipe amount?
    Any ideas or should I just go with more flour?
    Thanks!!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rebecca! There are a lot of variables that go into the consistency of dough, even down to the weather and humidity in the air. There’s nothing wrong with adding just a little more flour to bring the dough into a less sticky and knead-able consistency.

    2. You can use a heating pad on the lowest setting to help your dough rise. Remember yo keep an eye on it

  7. Some help please. We followed the recipe to the tee except we did let our dough rounds proof for 20 minutes before putting in the boiling water with honey………like many other recipes. They looked great and were nice and poofy after coming out of the water……..maybe 2″ high. But when they came out of the oven, they were only about 1″ high. Difficult to even cut though they do taste great. Any suggestions? Possibly over proofed, rose and collapsed in oven?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alan! Yes, that sounds exactly correct. Over-proofed dough will collapse when baked. Try a slightly shorter rise time next time, or rising in a slightly cooler environment. Thank you so much for giving these a try!

  8. Hi, I just got an air fryer and have been trying to use this to alleviate heating up the whole house with the oven. Have you tried baking these in an air fryer instead of the oven, and would you recommend it?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Serena, we’ve never tried it but let us know if you do!

      1. I tried the air fryer and it worked great, 400° for 4-6 min on the first side and 2-4 min on the second side. I have the 7-qt GoWISE USA and could fit 4 in each batch. I hear all air fryers cook differently though so I’d suggest keeping a close eye on them.

  9. Hi Sally,
    We all adore your bagel recipe. I’ve done it four times already and the bagels are perfect! …especially since my grandfather was a professional bagel and kaiser roll baker.
    I have a 6 quart Kitchen Aid stand mixer which is extremely sturdy. Do you think I should try kneading the dough in the bowl with the dough hook? For 2 minutes?
    Thank you in advance for your reply.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sue! We also use Kitchen Aid stand mixers but still find this dough to be a little too heavy. You can certainly give it a try if you would like – let us know how it goes!

  10. Hi Sally! These were amazing and so easy to make!! My family loooved them! Do you happen to have the nutrition facts for them? Calories….

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mindy, We are so happy you enjoyed these bagels! We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

  11. “Prepare the dough through step 4, but allow the dough to rise overnight in the refrigerator.”

    Can you clarify if you mean to complete step 4 (60-90 min rise), then CONTINUE to let them rise overnight, or do you mean, at step 4, don’t do it and put the dough in the fridge, skipping the 60-90 min rise?

    1. Hi Zack, happy to clarify. In step 4 you will let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator instead of for 60-90 minutes at room temperature.

  12. Hi, can i leave the dough for slow proofing in the refrigerator for more than 24 hrs? Or it is too long? tnks in adv! I love this recipe btw.

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mae, It’s best to stick to about 12 hours if possible! A little longer would be okay, but we wouldn’t recommend more than 24 hours.

  13. Hi Sally! I have 2 quick questions…

    1. Does the way you shape your bagels affect the texture at all? For example, if I roll each portion into ribbons and connect the ends to make a circle, will that change the final texture?

    2. Can I shape the bagels first and then let them rise?

    1. Hi Elise, I missed your question last week. I’m happy to help. You can shape the bagels really any way that is most comfortable to you. I’ve shaped them the exact way you describe and it works perfectly fine with this recipe. I recommend letting the dough rise and then shaping the bagels. You’ll want to boil them shortly after shaping.

  14. This may be a silly question but does it matter if I use a met bowl opposed to glass for the mixer?

      1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Either one will work just fine!

  15. Bagel in Malaysia is very expensive. I tried to make it using your recipe and it was successful and the texture is similar to the one that we buy in the cold storage. TQVM. My family love it so much.

  16. Hi Sally! The few times I’ve made these, after I slice in half, I notice the inside texture to be a bit too chewy and lumpy. Is this an issue while cooking or while preparing the dough? Thanks!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Bee, we’re happy to help troubleshoot. A few things that could help for next time…it’s your dough was over-proofed leading to the chewy texture. Try reducing the rise time next time. Also be careful kneading, as over-kneading can change the final texture. Bagels should be chewy, but if they seem almost wet on the inside, it’s possible they just needed some extra time in the oven to finish baking through. Hope this helps!

  17. Could this recipe use gluten free flour?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sharon, We haven’t tested these bagels with gluten free flour. Let us know if you try it!

  18. Hi, the first time I made these bagels they were perfect. I have made them twice since using bread flour and when I put the in the water they have sunk to the bottom and floated up to the top eventually. Any suggestions to what I have done wrong? Thanks

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kay, your yeast may be inactive or the dough isn’t rising long enough. There should be enough air in the shaped bagels that they float. Try again with new yeast and let the dough rise a little longer in step 4.

  19. Like most people, I really amped up my bread baking skills during the early days of the pandemic (March – June 2020). I finally got up the nerve to try to make my own bagels; after researching 10-12 recipes, yours had the easiest, most sensible instructions. I had great success with my first batch (4 everything & 4 sesame). I have tried a number of other recipes over the last year, but I keep coming back to THIS recipe because it is still the best one I have tried, and consistently delivers the correct bagel texture and taste. So, thank you!!

    The one thing I do differently: instead of using sugar, brown sugar, or barley malt syrup, I use malt powder (from King Arthur Flour) in both the bagel dough, and in the water used to boil the bagels. This truly gives them that NYC bagel flavor!!

  20. Melissa Beachy says:

    I was in a baking kind of mode and my husband asked me for some homemade bagels. I had never made them before so I thought I’d give it a try. I am so glad I found this recipe. I followed it exactly and they came out perfect. Thank you!

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