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. 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

904 Comments

  1. So good and straight forward. The only thing that has happened twice to me it I cannot roll them evenly. The dough is almost too dense so it doesn’t amalgamate properly? What am
    I doing wrong?

    1. Hi Daniela, thank you so much for trying this recipe. Try reducing the flour to produce a slightly lighter dough. Even 2-3 fewer Tablespoons could make the dough a little more manageable for you.

  2. Hi!
    I was wondering if I could use bread machine yeast? If I can would I need to let it sit for 5 minutes ?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Halli, bread machine yeast will work without any changes to this recipe.

  3. I used my trusty bread machine to mix and knead the bagel dough. Beautiful! I do need practice in shaping the dough balls, which need to be smooth or the finished bagel will show any folds and cracks when baked. Other than aesthetics, the finished bagels are crisp on the outside and chewy inside just as they should be. A fun challenge to make them myself and far more enjoyable still than paying $2 each at the bagel shop.
    Thanks, Sally for another wonderful recipe!

  4. Hi! I used a hand mixer and my dough was falling apart, it wasn’t sticking together. What do I do?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Victoria, you can use a wooden spoon or your hands to bring the dough together. Happy baking!

  5. Love this!!!! The barley malt makes for really amazing results! I never made bagels before, but I’ve been craving them and am quarantining due to the pandemic. So glad I made these… better than the bagel shop!!

  6. When using a bread machine and you say let it finish its cycle.. do you mean to let it go through the entire dough cycle of an hour and 15 mins or so…or just the first part of kneading? I can’t wait to try these!

  7. Really excited to try this recipe, I don’t have any honey in the house am I able to use maple syrup instead?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Paul! We haven’t tested this recipe using maple syrup but other readers have reported success with that substitution. Let us know how it goes!

      1. I use maple syrup as that’s what I have. They come out great. I don’t have bread flour but I have an excellent flour that worked well in bread so I used it. Nice delicious chewy wonderfulness.

  8. CB in Columbus says:

    I’m sorry if someone else has asked this question, but there’s no search function and I don’t have the time to go through almost 900 comments. I’ve used another recipe that has the baked baking soda. Whether it was that or something else, putting in the water made them soggy – that didn’t help when baked. Suggestions?

    Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hello! As long as you carefully follow the recipe as written, your bagels shouldn’t come out soggy. Make sure to use a slotted spoon or spatula to remove the bagels from the water bath to keep excess water from the baking sheet. We would love to hear how these bagels go for you!

  9. Hi Sally! I wanted to use your recipe to make Jalapeño Cheese bagels. Would I just replace some of the cheese in the dough with chopped jalapeno?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      That should work perfectly – Pickled jalapeños may be a good option as well. Let us know how it goes!

  10. Hello, thanks for this recipe! I don’t have a mixer like yours, so I was going by hand. From the moment I mixed it, my dough seemed much wetter than yours. I did the overnight in the fridge rising and it didn’t seem to really rise. The bagels sunk in the water bath until they’d been in for a minute or so. The flavor is fine, but it is clear that it isn’t fully cooked/risen inside in some places. Do you have an idea of where I went wrong/what I can do to improve? I am very new to attempting to bake, haha. Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kelly! A very wet dough is likely the culprit. 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. Let us know if you give these another try!

  11. I made cheese bagels. They turned out unbelievably professional looking and tasting. Easy to follow. This sight is becoming my go to for recipes. Never failed. Thanks

  12. I’ve made these 3 times now following your recipe precisely. After the water bath they are plump and beautiful but come out of the oven smaller and flatter. Any clue.? I’m in Arizona, perhaps altitude? Thanks.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Terry! Some readers have found this chart helpful for high altitude baking: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html Also make sure to not over-proof your dough as that can lead to deflated yeasted baked goods – you could try reducing the rising time next time as well. Hope this helps!

  13. I just used this recipe to make my first ever homemade bagels. They were a hit! I plan to work this in to my weekends more often. Thanks for all the notes (yeast, hand mix, overnight, etc) it made it easy to feel comfortable without having to do multiple searches on what would be best to do.

  14. Hi Sally, thank you so much for your recipes! I live in the Czech Republic and usually bake American recipes. My friend and a teacher of baking classes recommended me your website. I have to admit that your bagel recipe is the one who works best for me and I did not have to wait overnight as many bagel recipes require. Thank you once again! Your bagels are really top and number one!

  15. Hi from Spain!
    I`m so excited to prepare this recipe. Mi question is…what can I do to keep the bagels fresh? How many days can I keep them? I’m not sure if i’m making the full amount or halving it. Thank you

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Andrea, when covered tightly (in a bag or even individually wrapped), these bagels will be good at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. For even longer storage, see recipe notes for freezing details. Let us know if you give them a try!

  16. Hi, I made this recipe using the make ahead instructions (left the dough in the fridge overnight). They were delicious but pretty flat. Any idea what may have been the problem? I want to make them again and still want to prepare the dough the night before (won’t have time in the morning).

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rachel, Was the dough particularly sticky? A little more flour will help for next time – a firmer dough should create puffier bagels. Did they puff up during the boiling step?
      Another tip is to not let your dough rise too long (you want it to double in size). Yeast recipes/breads will deflate if the dough has risen/proofed too long. Hope this helps!

  17. Made the dough last night and finished making this morning for some warm bagels for breakfast. OMG! So good. HEB sells an “Everything but the bagel” topping which makes…yes, an everything bagel when used as a topping. We tried it and it was perfect. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  18. Annette Hansen says:

    Hands down the best and easiest bagel recipe I’ve ever tried. Always use the overnight method. I use 2/3 bread flour and 1/3 whole-wheat. Thank you for posting it.

  19. I made these not thinking they would turn out great especially in a house of bagel critics. But they loved the bagels begging for more! I am so excited to make them again.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      So glad they were a hit, Genesis!

  20. I tried this recipe and loved it! Was wondering if you knew roughly how many calories are in each bagel?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alexa! 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

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