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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 I do use some whole wheat flour when making homemade English muffins— another breakfast staple!

Homemade cinnamon raisin bagel

Bagels with cream cheese

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

See Your Homemade Bagels!

Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂

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 1x
  • 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

Scale
  • 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

Keywords: Homemade Bagels Recipe

Reader Questions and Reviews

    1. Hi Tammy! We’re happy to help troubleshoot. How did you measure your flour? Be sure to spoon and level (or weight measure) to ensure the right amount — too much can make the bagels overly dry and hard. Over kneading the dough can overdevelop the gluten and cause tough bagels. Finally, if the bagels are slightly over baked, that can also make them a bit hard. Hope these tips help for next time!

      1. I always add flour just until the dough doesn’t stick to my fingers and can be made into a ball. I always end up adding more flour than the recipe asks for but I blame that on grinding my own flour.

  1. Hi there. I’ve been using this recipe for about a month. The bagels taste delicious but I can’t seem to get a good shape. They end up with so many seams and the dough isn’t workable enough to remove them. What am I doing wrong? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Stephanie, We are so happy that you enjoyed this recipe so much! You can watch the video above to see exactly how we shape the bagels (starting right around the 1:30 mark). They certainly are not perfect – but more of a rustic shape/look!

    2. Tear off a piece that is enough for one bagel. Took it into a ball. Stick you finger in the center to make the hole and then gently pull it a little open and even out the the dough so it’s more or less even thickness all around. I’ve made these bagels lots of time and they come out great. Good luck!

  2. Fantastic!! I am a novice bread baker and have only been making “no knead “ bread so far. This morning I thought I’d give this a try. I was going to adjust the water based on other comments but decided to stick strictly to the recipe. These turned out perfectly. My husband wants me to make them every day ! I’m going to try to make some with cranberry and walnut next time. Thank you Sally!

  3. I love this recipe because it always works and the bagels are very uniform one time to the next. I grind my own flour, so it’s always done with whole wheat or half and half and yet it still rises and gives a very nice texture. I’d have given it six stars if that was possible

  4. I don’t usually leave comments but just had to this time. I have always wanted to try homemade bagels and am so glad I did! My kids all loved them and my husband and a few of my kids even made the comment “these are the best bagels I have ever eaten!” I made a plain batch and they were so tasty I immediately made a cinnamon batch. Both are delicious! Thanks for a fantastic recipe, can’t wait to try some others I see on your site!

    1. Thank you so much for reporting back, Jenny — we’re thrilled the bagels were such a hit with your family!

  5. I have now made this recipe 4 times in the last 2 weeks. I’ve done Everything, Cinnamon Crunch, Plain and now am going to try Chocolate Chip and Asiago. My hubbies coworkers DEMANDED I make more after they tried them.

    One question though- can the bagels be frozen once they are baked? And how long do you approximate they would keep in the freezer?

    Loooooooove your website. I’ve done the garlic knots, cinnamon rolls and have eyeballed a few more to try soon

    1. Hi Annie, so glad to hear you’re loving these bagels! 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. Thank you for making and trusting our recipes!

  6. Hi Sally, can’t wait to try this recipe! Is there a way to make bread flour ? As in how u make your cake flour by adding in corn flour etc.. as we don’t get bread flour here.. thanks is advance!
    P.S love love love all your recipes.. they are my go to for all things baked

    1. Hi Divya, we haven’t tried any DIY bread flour substitutes. If you do find one that works well, we’d love to know how it goes! (You can use all purpose flour here in a pinch, the bagels just will be a bit flimsy and not as chewy).

  7. Tried lot’s of bagel recipes, your lean dough recipe gave the best results I have had.

  8. Amazing! They came out perfectly first time. My husband loves bagels but often hates supermarket-bought ones that aren’t “right” – but these were definitely approved! I was so surprised at how easy they were – super clear instructions and not scary at all 🙂
    This is my third bread bake from your website and they’ve all been brilliant – am just working my way through them all now! Thank you!

  9. Love these bagels. Recipe is simple and they always taste delicious. One problem I keep having is that although my bagels are puffy when they come out of the water bath, they deflate when baking and are rather flat. I do out toppings on them, is it possible I’m leaving them out too long before baking after coming out of the water?

    1. Hi Susan, Yeast recipes/breads will deflate if the dough has risen/proofed too long. Hope that helps for next time!

  10. First time making bagels, I didn’t have bread flour so I used regular TOTALLY fine, delicious actually! thick and bready. I adjusted cook time to about 18-19 minutes because I watched the browning and they came out perfectly hard on top but so soft on the inside! Perfect! I want to try cinnamon raisin next. Honestly once you go homemade. I don’t know if I can do store bought now

  11. I have tried 3 bagel recipes. This by far is my favorite. It took my a couple tries to get it just right. Baking and cooking is like learning how to ride a bike. I just love my bagel. Thank you so much!

  12. I have a KitchenAid stand mixer which handled mixing the dough with no issues. I finished by hand per the directions; however, I wondered if I could have finished with mixer. Mine was not straining at all. Any issue keeping it in the mixer?

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

  13. I love this bagel recipe! It is so much better than the other couple I have tried. Could you please tell me how to make these into blueberry bagels? Is it as simple as adding blueberries? But how much and would I use fresh or dried or frozen?

    1. Hi Emily, we’re so glad you love these bagels! For blueberry bagels, you can add dried blueberries in when we add the raisins in our Cinnamon Raisin Bagels.

  14. Most recipes call for baking soda in the boil I thought..am I remembering correctly lol?

    1. Hi Lisa, the sugar from the honey or barley malt adds extra caramelization and crisp to give them that signature bagel coating. You could use baking soda if desired, but the coating would be more like a soft pretzel.

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