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!

Bagel varieties

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!

Homemade bagels

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.

Bagel bread dough

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!

Bagel 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!

Homemade bagels

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.

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

Bagel with cream cheese

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

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Bagels image

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 (500g) 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

608 Comments

  1. Susan Degges says:

    My bagels turned out great! I will say that I only used the one packet of yeast without adding the extra amount called for – it worked just fine and they rose up nicely. I used the full amount of honey in my water but forgot the egg wash & bagels were still golden brown.

  2. Amazing bagels! Made them the first time near the end of April 2020 during Covid lockdown and was very pleasantly surprised at how they turned out. Can’t find good bagels where I live so out of necessity I made these. They are the best we’ve ever had! Not hard to make and I keep a batch in the freezer to always have them around.

  3. I made the cinnamon raisin bagels my husband loved them. I did the overnight method then baked them fresh in morning for breakfast. Going to make some today and see if they are the same as letting them proof overnight. Great easy recipe!

  4. Hubby wants blueberry bagels. Anyone try adding blueberries to the recipe?

    1. Hi Kirsten, You can use fresh or dried blueberries. You can add them in when I add the raisins in my Cinnamon Raisin Bagels. Follow those instructions. A caution, though, fresh blueberries will make this dough very wet. I prefer dried berries.

      1. When I make blueberry muffins, I coat the fresh berries in flour and then add to the dough mixture and the berries do not bleed. Would that not work the same with Bagels

        I am shipping chocolate chips bagels (next Day) to his family. In the day, the bagel shop would add choc chips and they lined the streests for it. I actually saw my cousin on line, and we lived in different areas.
        BTW,, Kive and appreciate your site.

  5. We LOVE these bagels. So simple to make. Did the overnight in fridge batch and I liked them so much better. The puffed up so nicely. Highly recommend this recipe! 3rd day in a row of making these bagels – my teen boys can’t get enough of them!

  6. 5th time making them now… great recipe! I’ve made everything, blueberry, sesame, and now I’m making cheese. Highly recommend. I am 13 and made these very easily.

  7. I’ve now used 3 different seasoning blends, and they all got burnt in the oven when baking the bagels: Trader Joe’s “Everything Bagel” seasoning mix, and then two random ones I had in my cabinet. Is there a trick to getting these toppings to stick and get some cook to them, but then not burning? The Sesame seeds do great when put on right at the start of baking, but it seem slike anything i’ve used with garlic, minced onion, etc just burns.

    I’ve also discovered that *finely* grated cheese also dries out and gets burnt/crusty on the top. The first time, i used Tillamook’s really wide/coursely shredded cheese, and it worked beautifully, as it just got toasted on the edges, but the rest of the cheese stayed tender.

    These bagels turned out AMAZINGLY when I made them, texture and flavor wise, but for some reason, when my girlfriend made them this weekend, they were flat-ish, and super dense. I’m thinking she overworked the dough when mixing. We both noticed that the amount of flour in the recipe was much too light, and we had to keep adding more and more, mixing and mixing more. i think she must not have been as agressive in adding the dough as i was, and it took longer for hers to get to where it needed to be, over-working it in the process.

    1. You may have made them too floury but continuing to add flour. The dough will be slightly sticky, you don’t want it completely dry when kneading. Kneading helps the process so knead away!

  8. 4th time making this recipe and finally got some barley malt syrup which I think makes the difference between very good bagels and AMAZING bagels. They add that specific subtle round “bagel” flavor, and do a better job of achieving the caramelized exterior. Love this recipe. I’m truly addicted!

    1. I agree Tonya. My batches with the barley malt syrup were significantly better.
      I have attempted to add chopped jalapenos. Even though I have blotted them as dry as possible on paper towels, They still add enough liquid that it keeps the interior too doughy, while the exterior is getting overdone. Suggestions would be appreciated.

  9. I can’t wait to make this recipe! I don’t have barley malt syrup, but do have diastatic barley malt powder. How much do I use of the powder, is it the same measurement that you would use of the syrup in the flour mix and the water bath?

    1. I wasn’t able to find malt syrup so I’ve been using 2 tsp. diastatic malt powder in place of 1 tbsp. malt syrup. So far it’s worked well.

      1. Thanks, Cathy. I will give it a try

  10. I’ve made so many recipes from your website and they’ve all been delicious, including these bagels!! I have a couple of questions though about adjustments I might need to make. I live in Denver so how should I adjust for elevation? Also, fresh out of the oven they were great. I stored them the way you suggested but the next day they were a little dry and rubbery. Is it possible I need to let the dough rise longer or I overworked it? Thanks in advance for any advice!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shaina, We wish we could help, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. Some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html Regarding the texture on the next day, elevation may play into that or the dough could have over-proofed or over-worked. You could also try shortening the boiling step to 30 seconds on each side. That could help, too!

  11. Thank you so much Sally for this wonderful recipe and explanation of the process. I made them for the first time this morning and they turned out delicious. Happy 4th of July!

  12. First bagel I ever made. Thank you the detailed walk.

  13. Is the egg wash necessary? My grandson has egg allergies and I would love if he could eat these. Haven’t made them yet, but am excited to ry them

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dyan, A light brush of milk or melted butter works too!

  14. Thank you! butter it is! I will let you know how they turn out, my hubby is excited

  15. Very tasty but the dough is so highly hydrated that it is basically slime. I found it impossible to shape the bagels.

    I used bread/pizza flour, weighed out ingredients, mixed with a bread machine and slow-risen overnight in the fridge.

    The amoeba-shaped bagels really are tasty, and their cooked texture is good, but I must be doing something wrong!

    1. Michelle Anderson says:

      Your dough should be stiff after kneading for 10 minutes, enough to when you push a knuckle into the dough it springs back. I form mine in a ball then use my thumbs to form a hole and roll it around my thumbs to stretch the hole. let them sit for a few minutes before adding them to the boiling water.

  16. Michelle Anderson says:

    Has anyone tried to make egg bagels with this recipe?
    My family refused to eat store bought bagels anymore after I tried this recipe!

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