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

966 Comments

  1. I’ve tried making these bagels twice and for whatever reason I can’t get the bagels to float when it’s time to boil. I’m also noticing that the dough isn’t doubling in size when I proof it even though I follow the recipe exactly.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Camille, Do the finished bagels taste ok? There may not be enough boiling water in the bath step if they aren’t floating. (Or the water isn’t hot enough.) I’d also double check the expiration date on your yeast if it doesn’t seem to be rising. Also be sure that when activating the yeast, that the warm water isn’t too warm to the point where it kills the yeast.

  2. Soooo good! I was surprised how easy this was to make. I used half whole wheat and half AP flour (that’s all I had), and I used melted ghee rather than the egg wash, then sprinkled the Everything seasoning on some, and cheese on some others. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Great bagels, this is my go-to recipe for bagels now that I’ve made them a few times. I do skip the egg wash before baking because I didn’t have it on hand once and I didn’t miss it.

  4. Wonderful recipe, turned out nicely and very simple to follow! Will definitely be making again 🙂

  5. jime vivas says:

    I tried this recipe of bagels and they’re soooo good. An advice is that before boiling them shape them nice and pretty because after you boil them you won’t be able to shape their imperfections. You should definitly try to make these, you won’t regret it.

  6. I actually have loads of barley malt syrup! Do you use the same amount as listed for sugar, i.e. 1TBsp ? Thank you!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, same amount — enjoy, Rona!

  7. I made these this afternoon, and they turned out so good! I wish I could attach a pic of them. This is a great recipe!!!

  8. Hi! I excited to try this recipe. Any suggestions on how to make these into egg bagels? I grew up with egg bagels but where I live in Memphis I can’t find them anywhere. Been wanting to try them from scratch. Thanks!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Carol, we haven’t tried egg bagels yet, but let us know if you test anything!

  9. I have tried several bagel recipes and failed. This recipe is not only easy it is amazing. I have made it several times and I have never had a failure. Thank you so much for this recipe.

  10. do you let the bagels rise a bit after shaping them, before boiling them?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Danae! Just loosely cover the shaped bagels with kitchen towel and rest for a few minutes as you prepare the water bath, no need for another rise.

  11. Made Bagels. First time. They are awesome !
    Had one problem & need help.
    Boiled bagels.
    DRAINED & put wet bagels on parchment lined cookie sheet.
    They baked fast to the parchment paper. What did I do wrong?
    Cut off bottom & bagels were delicious!
    How di I prevent that in future?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi GwynAnn, if the bottoms of your bagels are burning, try lowering the oven temperature a bit or even flipping them over halfway through baking (if you’re making plain bagels). Also, wait for the bagels to somewhat dry before baking. It could be the water from the boiling step that is burning on the bottoms. Thanks so much for giving these a try!

  12. I love this recipe, and I make it often!!

    Question for you though … after a day, the ones with toppings (which are our fav) get kind of weird. Like, the tops of the bagels get a little dimpled and tough. I know bagels are best the day of, but we can’t eat that many bagels in one day. Okay, okay, we CAN, but we shouldn’t 🙂

    Is there any way I can prevent that from happening? Is there a way to store them to fix this? Any ideas would be very appreciated!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amanda! We’re so happy you love these bagels. Best way to store them is to tightly cover and store at room temperature – make sure to completely cool them before sealing. They will get a little moisture on them but always toast up perfectly! You could try leaving the container open just a crack to prevent the sticky tops. Hope this helps!

  13. Hello this recipe seems perfect! But if I wanted to make blueberry bagels at what point would I incorporate those? First time making bagels thank you !

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Priscilla, We are so glad you enjoy this recipe! For blueberry bagels, you can add dried blueberries in when we add the raisins in our Cinnamon Raisin Bagels. Follow those instructions for assembly and baking.

  14. The recipe was EASY to follow however, I needed to add 1tsp of sugar to the water so that the yeast would rise. That is the only change I made! I made one batch of plain (AMAZINGLY CHEWY!) and one batch of cinnamon raisin crunch and took the advice of NOT doubling the batch, rather making two SEPARATE batches. As another baker commented, make sure you have the shape you want BEFORE putting the bagels into the honey bath since that is what you’ll get when you bake them! WONDERFUL recipe. My family LOVED them and I don’t think I’ll ever BUY bagels again!

  15. Alka Bhargava says:

    I used an air fryer instead of baking it. Came out great and cooked faster too!!!

  16. Hello,

    I was wondering – if brown sugar is an acceptable substitute for the barley malt, have you tried it with molasses?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sam! We haven’t tested it, but other bakers have reported success with molasses in the water bath.

  17. Why do you not add baking soda to the boiling water?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shaun, 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.

  18. Hi, May I ask if it’s possible to make a whole wheat bagel with this recipe?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Phoebe, we recommend replacing only half of the bread flour with whole wheat flour, if desired. Bagels require a high protein flour, so you will definitely want some bread flour in the recipe. Let us know how they turn out for you!

  19. Hi!
    These look so great! Just wanted to know, how could I make this into a choclate chip bagel? How much chocolate chips should I add?
    TIA

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi El, for chocolate chip bagels, you can chocolate chips in when we add the raisins in our Cinnamon Raisin Bagels. Same amount. Let us know if you give them a try!

  20. This recipe is fantastic and quite versatile! I’ve probably used it about a dozen times and it never fails. I just tried the overnight method last night and it totally develops the flavor, do yourself a favor and try it! You won’t regret it!

  21. Khairulbariah says:

    I made this and it turned out really well. I used half whole-wheat flour and the other half bread flour, the texture was perfect. And putting in honey instead of baking soda for the boiling, just the perfect solution for the horrible after taste that I usually get if it’s baking soda.
    Will definitely make this again. Oh and I halved the size , so got 16 bagels, perfect serving size for us Asians.

  22. Bagels turned out great. Reminded me of the bagels my dad would buy on Sunday mornings, hot from the bagel place. No need to toast them. Wish I could share a picture.

  23. Followed exactly the measurements for the dough, however my dough was very sticky and nothing as you described it in your method. It didn’t look dry or heavy.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rose, there are many factors that can impact yeasted dough, including humidity, temperature in your kitchen, etc. If you found the dough too sticky, feel free to add additional flour (about a tablespoon at a time) until the dough comes together. Also, generously flour your hands when handling the dough. Thanks so much for giving these bagels a try!

  24. Hi
    These bagels look awesome!!! I wanted to ask some questions.
    1. Can I make this into matcha and white choco bagel by adding matcha powder and white choco?

    2. Will the chocolate not melt while boiling if I add chocolate inside or will it be fine?

    3. If I add chocolate, is it OK to let it rise in the fridge over night?

    Thanm you so much!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi E, for chocolate chip bagels, you can chocolate chips in when we add the raisins in our Cinnamon Raisin Bagels. Same amount. You can still follow the overnight instructions. We haven’t tried adding matcha powder, but let us know if you try anything!

  25. I’ve only got 3 cups of bread flour, can I sub one cup with AP?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Zee, that will work in a pinch (keep in mind the bagels won’t be as chewy).

  26. If I reduce the flour to 3 cups,how much should I reduce the other ingredients?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi E, You’ll want to keep the ratio of ingredients the same. So if you are reducing the flour by 75% you will have to reduce the rest of the ingredients by 75% also. If you don’t want to do that math you can make the full recipe and freeze any leftovers (see recipe notes)!

      1. Is reducing 1 cup 75%? I don’t mean reducing 3 cups but reducing 1 cup so we have 3 cups left.

      2. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Yes, using 3 cups instead of 4 is 75% (or 3/4)

  27. I’m planning to make this bagel dough tonight and to let it rise in the fridge overnight, but I’m worried about overproofing it. Is there a maximum amount of time it can be left in the fridge to rise?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Audrey, It’s best to stick to about 12 hours if possible!

      1. Thank you! I left them in the fridge for 12 hours and they turned out great.

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