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

604 Comments

  1. David Angers says:

    Hi Sally, I’ve just made your pretzel recipe (much to my American wife’s delight) and am going for double brownie-points with bagels. I have one quick question: In the UK most dried yeast packets I come across recommend 1 tsp per 500g flour; would you go with this or stick with the 2 1/4 tsp per above. I used your ratio for the pretzels and while absolutely delicious, were rather large :}
    Many thanks, David

  2. Adele Puccio says:

    These came out great! My daughter was so happy, she’s been craving good bagels. I thought it would be difficult but I followed the directions and they are delicious! Golden brown outside, fluffy inside, and the taste is great. So glad I took the plunge and made this recipe.

  3. This is one fantastic recipe – guaranteed results EVERY time!! I love this recipe, and it never fails. Thank you Sally! I made just a few small changes: 1. Instead of bread flour, I use all purpose flour but add a few teaspoons of vital wheat gluten and whole wheat flour – seems to be enough to do the trick; 2. I do the full 5 minutes kneading in my Kitchenaid – no hand-kneading required; 3. For boiling, I use 6 c water, 1 tsp salt, and 1 Tbsp molasses – give them a nice brownish colour. For the topping, I mix 1.5 Tbsp each of sesame seeds, flax seeds, and poppy seeds, and press the upside down bagels into into the seeds. On the mornings when I make bagels, the whole house fills with a delicious aroma and by the time they are ready to eat, our mouths are watering and we can’t wait to chow down. Thanks for restoring my confidence in bagel-making!

  4. These were PERFECT.

    It was my first time trying to make bagels. There are a lot of recipes out there, but I’m so glad I chose this one. I wish I could post a picture. They were chewy, perfectly cooked, and delicious! Even my dad, who’s normally not a bagel lover, said they were fantastic.

    I didn’t have the barley malt syrup so I used brown sugar/honey route as recommended.

  5. My local bagel shop closed, and I didn’t have much luck with other recipes. Then I tried this recipe and they turned out perfectly! We were out of bread flour, but all purpose worked for me. I seasoned them with the everything mix from Trader Joe’s. The whole family loved them!

  6. Paula Rulin says:

    I absolutely love this recipe. I have been baking bread for a while. Never made bagels. During this quarantine , I forgot to buy them so I figured I’d give it a try! I made the dough the night before and shaped & baked the next morning. My husband said they were better than the bakery and store’s bagels. Thank you. ps they freeze beautifully.

  7. Hi Sally,
    First, thank you for your work and your recipes. I have tried a few bagel recipes and have had the most success (taste and technically) with yours. I have been searching the internet for a recipe for French Toast bagels – found one and it wasn’t at all what I was looking for. As a NYC resident, I can be a bagel snob, and here the French Toast bagels are like a cross between an egg bagel and a cinnamon swirl bagel, and are usually topped with a nice dusting of powdered sugar. I am not sure if you’ve ever had one or not, but they are a great treat and I was wondering if you had any knowledge or thoughts on how to create one? Thank you again for your time and your recipes 🙂

    1. Hi Wendy, I don’t have a recipe for an egg bagel yet but my Cinnamon Raisin Bagels might be a good start to experiment with. Let me know if you try anything – sounds delicious!

  8. My bagels were very sticky and did not retain their shape as I removed them from the parchment paper. They had a very weird shape and did not resemble bagels. What is the trick?

    1. Me too…. I think I had too much oil in the bowl.

    2. Hi Sally! So I tried this recipe today and it was halfway there for me. I think I made a mistake by using a lower rack in the oven because the bottoms were too hard/crispy while the tops were still kind of white. But it did taste good. What I’m more worried about is that my bagels came out looking EXTREMELY deformed and were super sticky after I set them aside while preparing the water bath. When I tried to take them off the parchment sheet to drop them in the water bath, they completely lost their shape and it was a real mess putting them back in shape. They also stuck to the parchment sheet and it was a battle to get them off for the water bath. Not sure where I went wrong.

  9. Megan Smith says:

    Had great success with these – didn’t have bread flour but used half all purpose white and half whole wheat, and they worked great – nice and chewy!

  10. I made a mistake! I put my dough in the fridge to sit overnight, but didn’t let it rise first. Will it still rise enough as it comes to room temperature?

  11. These are SO good! I’ve wanted to try making bagels for a long time. If being home because of a pandemic isn’t when to try I don’t know when is! I only had all purpose flour and they still came out great. Making a triple batch today. Hoping to get some in the freezer before the kids gobble them up!

  12. I’ve made both this recipe and the everything bagel recipe and the first day it’s amazing but my problem is that they always seem to turn out flat and after a few days they get hard. Maybe it’s the way I’m shaping the bagels? Do you have any tips on keeping their shape and also how to prevent the bagels from getting hard? Just wanted to note that I’ve been using AP flour because I can’t find bread flour anywhere so. Not sure if that makes a difference. I love this recipe because it’s easy to make but I just want to make it right, so I’ll keep trying.

    1. Hi Janise, like bakery bagels, these will turn pretty dense and lose softness after a few days. I always reheat in the microwave to soften them back up and then toast (if you like your bagels toasted). So they hold their shape better, make sure you aren’t over-working the dough or adding too much flour at any point in the process.

  13. Yummy!!!!!
    Made these for the first time today using the overnight rise. They are great, will be making again!

  14. Hi!! I love your recipes!! Question- I have instant yeast. Do I still do the first step adding the yeast to the water? It’s confusing because when I google the difference it says instant yeast doesn’t require water do activate. I’ve never used anything but active yeast but the stores are sold out!

    1. Hi, thank you! Yes, if using instant yeast, still follow the exact same directions.

  15. Here’s the deal these are ok tasting. We have made them a few times, but in no way do they taste like a NY bagel. To make a real NY bagel it takes more time and you need to boil the bagel to get the correct texture. This is a gimmick that is just OK not great at all.

    1. Thank you for your feedback and trying the recipe!

  16. These were amazing. I was worried because my dough was quite wet, not dry at all as stated in the recipe, but they turned out so well and they were delicious! Thank you for sharing, as a northern transplant to the south, homemade bagels are a game changer!

  17. I’ve made these 4 times now. The first 3 times were….delicious but the dough was finiky to work with. I live in a very dry very warm climate and I’ve found it works a lot better if I cut out half a cup of flour but keep everything else ! I love all your recipes and always check you first if there’s something I want to try !

  18. Sheila Patel says:

    Hello Sally,
    Made the Bagels for first time and they turned out really good. My husband loved them a lot. Could not believe that I would be so successful the very first time. Was wondering if you have any suggestions on what changes would be required in the recipe, if I used whole wheat flour?
    Thanks

  19. Hi Sally! This is my second time making this bagel recipe and it is delicious! However the second time I made the recipe the bagels did not float in the boiling water. I followed the recipe exactly.

  20. Hi Sally! I love your recipes. I am not sure what I did wrong with the bagels except I did use all purpose, there is no bread flour anywhere. My bagels did not come out puffed up and smooth.
    Thank you!

  21. I made these today for the first time and they were awesome!!! I had one cup of whole wheat flour that I used with the other three. I added sesame seeds.
    Also, after taking them out of the water bath I did let them sit on a tea towel for about 30 seconds before putting them on my silicone mat. No problem with them sticking after cooking. I will definitely make these again! Five stars for sure!

  22. Patryk Staniszewski says:

    I cut the recipe in half and my dough turned out way too dry. I’m not too sure why, since other people were saying theirs were even too wet, but I followed all the measurements to a tee, and it turned out almost like sand

  23. I made a half recipe of this with 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup AP flour. I also used the mixer the knead the dough for the full 5 minutes. The bagels were really tasty, but a little dense (probably from the whole wheat flour). Next time I’ll probably let the bagels rise a little longer before boiling them!

  24. Bagels turned out well and nice and chewy. We made the dough overnight and then cooked next morning. Just a lot of work!

  25. These are AMAZING bagels! The instructions are written perfectly and are easy to follow. I have made these about 6 or 7 times in quarantine – plain, everything, Asiago and cranberry-orange! SO GOOD! I now have many friends and family members begging for more each week haha! Thank you for my new favorite recipe!

  26. Hi Sally,

    I made this recipe before using white bread flour (and they were DELICIOUS), all I have on hand is wheat bread flour at the moment… Will using wheat bread flour make a difference?

    Thank you, Gwen

    1. Hi Gwen, I would recommend replacing only half of the bread flour with whole wheat bread flour, if desired.

  27. Delicious 10/10 recommend

  28. I have made so many recipes from Sallysbakingaddiction! This is another yummy recipe! Due to the covid-19 crisis I am unable to find bread flour so I used all purpose! It was great! Not as much as In fullness but delicious! Rich in flavor! Great texture! A little butter and it was tasty and chewy with a little crunch! I’m making them for a second time in 3 weeks! Yum!!!

  29. Hi Sally! I’m 32 weeks pregnant and recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Wondering if there would be any way to make these bagels using whole wheat flour only? I tried making them today but they baked pretty dense and hard. TIA!

    1. Hi Sabryna, I would 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 me know how they turn out for you!

  30. 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 jyst fine and they rose up nicely.

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