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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.

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. These are excellent as the base for breakfast casserole.
  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!

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. I made these for the first time and they turned out perfect. Such a great and easy recipe, my family said they looked professional. 🙂

    1. Hi Sally! Greetings from Malaysia. I am baking this bagels right now. I mixed and knead using TM6 but followed the rest of your recipe. Can’t wait to see the results..

    2. I don’t think bread flour can expire… it’s a matter of whether the flour has gotten wet or has pantry moths in it. If your flour has pantry moths, I would recommend sitting it before you use it. Otherwise it should be fine!

  2. I forced myself to meticulously follow the instructions and was rewarded by a perfect batch of everything bagels. Only one bagel recipe is need on Planet Earth — this one by Sally!

  3. Hi! I’m going to try these next week for company, but I have a question. If I wanted to make blueberry bagels would it simply be a matter of adding fresh or frozen blueberries to the dough or would other ingredients need to be altered to accommodate the extra moisture from the blueberries?

      1. I never even thought of using dried blueberries. Thank you so much for your reply. I can’t wait to make them. =)

  4. Great simple recipe! I used my mixer throughout the entire process and it did fine. I do have a big KA though…. Also, I didn’t have enough honey for the boiling water so I added a bit of maple syrup. I’ll definitely make these again and again! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I love this recipe. If you’re doubling it, do you wait to boil additional batches until right before you’re ready to put them in the oven?

    1. Hi Jacob, great question. Yes, it’s best to wait to boil additional batches until right before baking.

  6. Simply amazing! I’ve made homemade soft pretzels before and it made me want to try bagels as the process is very similar. I finally settled on this recipe to give it a whirl and I’m so glad I did. As is my nature, I went overboard and made four different kinds….plain, cinnamon crunch….then my own concoctions of jalapeno three cheese, and sun-dried tomato herb and cheese. Every single one of them tastes simply amazing. Seriously the best bagel I’ve ever had….maybe because they were super fresh but still. The texture and flavor is top notch. I am obsessed and will probably make these at least once a month from here on out….probably more. I look forward to trying more flavor variations as well.

  7. I don’t know why I even bother with recipes not from SBA.
    As usual, amazing. I am a total bread novice and bagels in particular intimidate me…. No longer. Easy, fun to make, and even the weird shaped ones were delicious. Only issue is that I ate three already. Oops.

  8. Bagels differ quite a lot from what is presented here. The recipe offered here makes a sort of bread doughnut, which may look a bit like a bagel, but is not. You’ll need flour that is more like 14% protein. The dough needs to be far drier than what is presented here (52-53% hydration, which would be 275g of water for the amount of flour used here). The dough needs to be very intensively kneaded before forming into sticks which are wrapped into the traditional shape. The bagels are cold risen overnight in a refrigerator. Malt syrup in the dough is far preferred to any sort of sugar, but better still is nondiastatic malt powder. You may bolt them in straight water (that’s what they do in NYC), but please no honey. Use a bit of malt syrup in the water, if you must.

  9. Hi. I love this bagel recipe! I’ve made blueberry and cinnamon crunch variations and they’ve turned out wonderful. Question, if I were to make these pumpkin flavored, how much puree should I add to the dough, and should I then increase/decrease the flour or water amounts? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Ellie! Thank you so much and we’re so glad you enjoy these homemade bagels! I wish we could help, but we’ve never tried making pumpkin bagels. You’d likely need to *slightly* adjust the liquid and add more flour. Let us know if you test anything!

  10. Now I, too, can have fresh bagels whenever I want. The only thing I did different was to put some baking soda in the boiling water and topped with course salt for a pretzel-like finish. Thanks so much

  11. I came hoping to find a bagel schmear recipe. Do you have any? I know it’s not baking but your recipes are so good I wish there were some for bagel toppings made with cream cheese. I just made one variation using freeze dried strawberries. So far so yummy. Another recipe for pumpkin spice schmear turned out way too soft (should have patted it with paper towels) like in your pumpkin chocolate chip recipe! Next version (or two) will be veggie and then honey walnut. But it’s risky using recipes from random sites so I’m nervous. Lmk if you’ll be able to shed some light on a good bagel schmear recipe soon!

    1. Hi Suzanne, we do not have any bagel schmear recipes, but your creations sound delicious!

      1. Great recipe my family loves! I like how you make everything seem simple and manageable even for a not too experienced baker. They are delicious!

  12. Hi,
    Your recipe sounds delicious and I can’t wait to try it! I don’t have any bread flour in the house at the moment. Can I substitute AP flour?

    1. Hi Jeannine! See recipe notes: All-purpose flour can be used in a pinch, but the bagels will taste flimsy and won’t be nearly as chewy.

  13. Hi Sally, I was a little disappointed by this recipe. I put the cinnamon sugar topping on and then baked, and everything melted into a mess on the baking sheet leaving very little left on the bagels. Is this to be expected? I can see how the recipe would work with other toppings, but the cinnamon sugar topping from your crunch bread didn’t work. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Heather, that sound like a bit messier than it should have been. If you want to try the recipe again, see if adding a little more flour to the crunch topping helps, such as double the amount. (So, 4 teaspoons.)

  14. I made these using 2 cups of Bob’s Red Mill flour whole wheat flower. They turned out great! Dense and chewy. Sprinkled with sesame seeds.

  15. I’ve loved all of Sally’s recipes but not sure what happened with this one. I’ve made bagels from scratch in the past and they’ve been good but for some reason the dough on this was super dry. Followed this recipe step by step and could barely shape the dough it was so dry. Not sure what happened but hopefully they still come out good. Next time I’ll use less flour

  16. I’m in the process of making these, all is well so far. I was wondering if you have a substitute for the egg white wash? My daughter is allergic to eggs and I was just going to skip it. Thanks!

  17. I get tired of the same old bagels I get at the local stores so much that I went looking for a recipe I could enjoy using and would be fairly straight forward to make.
    I tried this recipe last night and finished it this morning with a cheese option and “WOW” is all I could say. Very impresssed and yes I did follow the overnight in fridge option.
    The only thing I will disagree with is if you have a high quality mixer (I have an ankarsum with a bread attachment) and it will easily do your kneading I used it for 8-10 mins and finished it off with olive oil in a SS Bowl and into the fridge over night. Very pleased with the results and froze the rest for breakfasts to come 🙂 Nice to think if I have the time I won’t be stuck with Grocery Store bagels very often 🙂
    Thank you for your research and homework, well done.

  18. One of the best recipes I ever tried! But my bagels didn’t fluf that much? What could be the reason because I followed the whole recipe.

    1. Hi Didem, we’re so glad you enjoyed this recipe! 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!

  19. This is not only the first time I tried this recipe, it is the first time I tried making bagels. I didn’t have bread flour so I used my all purpose flour. They turned out great! My Kitchenaid didn’t have a problem with the dough at all. I can’t wait to make these again when I get some bread flour! But as stated… I had no problem eating these! The only possible change I would make is to cut the salt down, but I’m sensitive to salt over anyone that I know so I’m sure the salt is fine for most people.

    1. I’m replying to my own post because I made them again with bread flour and they were awesome! I made them exactly as the recipe dictated and they were not too salty as in the first time when I used all purpose flour, (I wouldn’t think there was much difference but there was!) I liked them much more with the bread flour (of course). I will keep this recipe around, I plan on making a couple batches at a time and freezing them.

  20. These bagels are amazing fresh out of the oven with butter! I never want to eat store bought bagels again.

  21. I just made this recipe and it came out perfect! My husband loves them and is on his second bagel as I type this.

  22. I made these yesterday and they turned out great! I love how quick and simple the recipe is, so will definitely be making these again. Thank you!

  23. I have a preformed mini-doughnut baking sheet from Pampered Chef. I was thinking of making mini-bagels in it. Can I skip the boiling step and just put the dough in the molds?

    1. Hi Julie, the boiling step helps give the bagels their signature chewy coating and shine. We don’t recommend skipping that step. But we have plenty of donut recipes that would be great for your mold!

  24. I followed the dough recipe (yeast was active and used bread flour), however this dough was nearly impossible to knead. The dough ball had cracks all over it and would not form properly. Should I try putting in 1/4 cup less flour? Any suggestions for next time?

    1. Hi Sophie! Sounds like there’s too much flour in your dough. How did you measure the flour? Make sure to spoon and level (instead of scooping) to avoid packing in too much flour into your measuring cups – or use a kitchen scale. You can read more about properly measuring baking ingredients in this post.

      1. Thank you, I will try spooning instead of scooping for next time. I hope this will help it work out better 🙂 I may have missed it, but adding that spooning the flour is critical in the intro piece to avoid adding too much could be helpful for beginners like me. Thank you!

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