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.

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!

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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


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.


  • 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)*


  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.


  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


  1. These look so good!!! I’ve never made bagels before, so I can’t wait to make these for the Jan baking challenge….thank you Sally!

    1. I hope you have fun making these!! 🙂

  2. Yum I am so excited for this challenge! For blueberry bagels would you recommend any spices or extra sugar? I plan to use dried blueberries. I can’t wait to make these!

    1. Hi Kendra! I love blueberries and cinnamon, so maybe work 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 Tbsp sugar, and dried blueberries into the dough. Though you can leave out the cinnamon if needed– I’d still add an extra Tbsp of sugar though.

  3. I love making bagels at home – it’s definitely more delicious than store-bought. Yours look so delicious!

    1. Thanks Natalie! SO MUCH better than store-bought 🙂

      1. Sarah Cherrix says:

        That is an understatement! My son just ate three and I’m cutting him off! Its going to be hard to ever go back to store bought! Thanks for the recipe!!!

  4. Charlotte Moore says:

    You make it look soooo simple. I have read many bagel recipes but was intimidated by the boiling water part. Yours is the first I have seen without baking soda in the water. Thank you Sally for all your videos and recipes.

    1. I am so happy to read this! Thanks Charlotte 🙂 Happy bagel making!

  5. Sally, can you give ml and g measurements for us non U.S. readers please x

    1. Hi Michelle! I can’t believe I missed that. They’ve been added. Thank you so much!

      1. Thank you xx

  6. Sheila Calnan says:

    Reading the recipe(s) for bagels, all of them read…..store at room temp for a few minutes. Is this correct? Asked the group, and so far, had two responses that it was probably a typo.
    Also, I was wondering, could I make these as mini bagels? I had in mind, “x” many plain, “x” many cinnamon raisin and maybe a couple with a few blueberries in them.

    1. Oh goodness! That should read a few days. 😉 Thanks for catching that, my fingers type faster than my head can process something I suppose!!

      Mini bagels would definitely work. I recommend dividing the dough into 16 equal pieces. Boil for only 30 seconds on each side and the bake time will likely be around 20 minutes. Let me know how it goes!

      1. Sheila A. Calnan says:

        Thanks. Now I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

  7. Hi Sally! I’m going to try these. One question–have you ever made these with AP flour plus some added gluten? Then you wouldn’t need to have two kinds of flour in your pantry. (Well, most of us have many kinds of flour on hand, but this would at least eliminate one kind.) I’ve just gone online to see what amount of gluten to add and the advice is all over the place. The largest amount is 1 tablespoon per cup of flour, so I might go with that. Anyway, we love bagels! So adding these to my repertoire is a good idea.

    1. Excited for you to try the homemade bagels! I haven’t attempted them with AP flour + added gluten. I don’t see any issues preparing the dough that way though. Please let me know what you try!

      1. Thank you! I’m actually planning to do the baking challenge this month, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

  8. Perfect timing for the bagels I planned to make for New Years breakfast/brunch!

    1. Yay! Hope you have fun making these!

  9. Yes, please start showing weight and liter measurements for your recipes. I like the accuracy and once I started it became much faster and with less dirty utensils. This will also make your recipes easy for those in other countries!

    1. I can’t believe I missed that. They’ve been added. Thank you so much!

  10. Great challenge for the new year! I don’t see the link for the video though. Am I missing something? Also, how would I make an asiago flavored bagel?

    1. Hi Kristine! The video should begin playing after you hit the play button– it’s embedded directly in this blog post. Let me know if you’re still having trouble. I haven’t tried an asiago bagel yet, but you can work some shredded cheese directly into the dough and sprinkle some on top before baking. Let me know what you try.

      1. Be sure your AdBlocker is turned off, or you won’t see the video.

  11. Cynthia Tucker says:

    They used to make onion bagels around here but quit. How would you recommend making an onion bagel? Would I chop and cook one somehow to make the little topping?

    1. Hi Cynthia! I would avoid fresh onion. Add dried onion flakes (found in the spice aisle) for the topping and directly in the dough.

  12. I made these and they are amazing! I’ve always had store bought bagels, but now, I’m sticking with homemade!

    1. I’m so happy you tried these! Thanks for the positive feedback 🙂

  13. You have so nailed my fear. I’m going to try and make these, this week. I don’t have bread flour can you use unbleached flour? Can you add something to make it bread flour?

    1. Excited for you to try these homemade bagels! One reader suggested using gluten + all-purpose flour, but I strongly recommend bread flour. You can buy small bags of it– it’s right next to the AP flour in the baking aisle. 🙂 Here are more recipes that use bread flour.

  14. Cynthia Tucker says:

    Thank you. I am going to try that.

  15. My husband was making homemade bagels when I saw this on IG. I can’t wait for him to try your recipe! HNY!

    1. Perfect timing! Hope you both enjoy these 🙂

  16. Decided I’m going to do this challenge because although I make yeast rolls regularly I’ve never done bagels. I thing the water bath intimidates me. I have visions of them falling apart in the water. Seeing your video really helped!
    I have mini cinnamon chips that dissolve during baking which I think will be really good along with raisins.
    Maybe tell us about the different types of yeast —I never sure if what I have on hand will work when I read new recipes.

    1. I’m so happy you found the video helpful 🙂 Happy bagel making!

  17. Thanks for another amazing recipe, Sally! I have not had a great bagel in years since moving from Seattle. I am definitely going to try your recipe as my first time making them at home.

    1. I hope you love these!!

  18. Debbie Eckstein says:

    i can’t wait to make these *gasp*. but i cannot find a link or highlighted area for the video that you mention in the recipe above. can you provide a link??? Thank you! 🙂

    1. Hi Debbie! The video has a big play button in the center. It’s under the Header Video: How to Make Homemade Bagels. Let me know if you can’t find it.

  19. Thanks for the great recipe!! These are awesome. Just made them for lunch today yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    1. YAY! I’m so happy you enjoyed these! 🙂

  20. Hi Sally, I’m always looking for ways to use my sourdough starter discard, and sourdough bagels are really good! I’m going to try it out today…thanks for a fun idea!

    1. How fun! Let me know how it goes 🙂

      1. It worked wonderfully! I’ll post pictures

  21. Sally Herchel says:

    Hi Sally, Could you use malt vinegar maybe in the water bath to give them that extra flavour? My recently retired husband said he would like to help me make bagels and I like the idea of malt, but don’t want to go out today to get some.

    I made pretzels a few weeks ago so I am looking forward to bagels now. I have to admit I like the idea of trying without having to go shopping today.

    1. Hi Sally! I haven’t tried malt vinegar– just barley malt syrup. I recommend that over the malt vinegar.

  22. Hey sally, I followed the recipe exact but my bagels were really heavy that it didn’t float on top of the water .. what did I do wrong ?

    1. Hi Jessica! Did you follow the dough recipe closely? Anything you did differently? I can’t imagine why the dough wouldn’t float.

  23. Sandy Schulz says:

    Just finished making the bagels . Great recipe. So impressed. They turned out even better than I could have wished for.
    Read somewhere to increase the water bath time to 2 min each side to get a chewier bagel, which is what i did.
    Will be making these again. Thanks for the great recipe and helping me overcome my “fear” of making bagels.

  24. So excited to make these!!! Thank you for your continued efforts in providing us with easy to follow, less intimidating, versatile bread recipes!! Thinking of all the flavor combo possibilities! Cranberry orange, strawberry, blueberry, cinnamon swirl, onion….. mmmmmmm

  25. L Nielsen Agnew says:

    I have made these many times, and they are always delicious! And the recipe is pretty adaptable. When I can’t get barley malt syrup I substitute sorghum, and that has worked well. I’ve also tried using half whole wheat flour and half bread flour. The bagels are a little heavier, but still tasty. I’ve also made smaller bagels–so I get a dozen or so in a batch. It took some practice to get the shape to look good, but I love making these.

  26. Im in the process of making these. I thought I had honey in my cabinet. Is there a substitute? Molasses? Sugar?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Dylan! Sugar or brown sugar should be fine for the water bath.

  27. Sally this is such a great recipe! I am visiting New York in March and was wondering if I should try bagels – I’m now wondering if they will live up to this recipe! Bagels are not popular in Australia and other than store-bought I had never seen them anywhere. I used Saunders Malt Extract, which has the same ingredients as Barley Malt Syrup and it gave these bagels an amazing flavour. I topped mine with poppy seeds, sesame seeds and left some plain which we paired with homemade raspberry jam. These were such a hit! I did have to add about 1/4 cup more flour when the dough was in the mixer as it was a bit sticky but I had absolutely no issues at all with this recipe 🙂 Thanks so much for your detailed recipes and videos. 🙂

  28. These were delicious! We moved from Long Island to South Carolina 10 years ago and we really missed good bagels! This was my first attempt at making bagels at home. Everyone loved them! Thanks!

  29. Hi Sally, I just made the bagels this morning! They turned out really well – very tasty! and even look like bagels! However, I had a lot of trouble shaping them as the dough was soft and sticky. I followed your directions and used KAF unbleached bread flour (480g) and Red Star organic instant yeast, but my dough was never dry or heavy as you describe. More flour was added as I kneaded it, but it was still soft after proofing and did not hold well to shape. I oiled my hands lightly to shape, but was debating whether to use flour to stop the stickiness? Any advice would be appreciated!
    Also, do you have a quick tip for getting the correct water temperature for yeast – or does it just come down to practice and intuition?! Thank you!!

    1. Hi Janet! I’m so so glad that you tried and enjoy the homemade bagels! Thank you so much for reporting back. For the temperature of water in the dough– it can be warm, cool, or even cold. The colder the water, though, the slower the rise. Water can’t be too hot or it will kill the yeast– don’t go over around 130°F. The optimum temperature is between 100-110°F, 38-43°C.

  30. I made these today and Wow!!! They are delicious and so easy with your recipes and instructions. Thanks Sally!!

    1. You are welcome, Julie! I’m so happy you tried them!

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