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!

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 (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

708 Comments

  1. Just made this recipe. It was perfect! They were delicious. Thank you!

  2. Sarah Bittner says:

    These were so much easier than I thought. Thank you! I would love to make sundried tomato bagels-do you think I should use the ones in oil or just the dried tomatoes?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      That sounds delicious, Sarah! You can try using the dried tomatoes (not packed in oil). Let us know how they turn out!

    2. Tried this recipe the bagels came out great! I’m wondering how do I adjust this recipe to make pumpkin spice bagels?

  3. My family loves this. I make the dough Saturday night– let my kitchen aid do the kneading- leave it in the fridge overnight to rise and it’s all ready for shaping/boiling and baking Sunday morning. I’ve also experimented with multigrain flour, molasses for the sweetener…..all delicious and successful.

    1. Should you let the dough rise for 60-90 minutes before putting it in fridge if you are going to let it rise overnight?

      1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Tally, For the overnight instructions we are allowing the dough to rise overnight in the refrigerator instead of at room temperature (so skip the 60-90 minute room temperature rise in step #4). This slower rise gives the bagels wonderful flavor!

  4. My family loved the plain bagels, but now my teenage boys are begging for chocolate bagels and I don’t see that as a click on option above. How can I modify these to make chocolate? Thanks!!
    Marisol

    1. Hi Marisol, glad your family enjoys these homemade bagels. I’ve never made chocolate bagels before so I can’t offer any advice. You can, however, make chocolate chip bagels by adding about 1 cup of chocolate chips to the dough.

      1. Would it be possible to make chocolate bagels by melting chocolate and adding it to the dough after the first rise? I realize you haven’t tried it, I am just wondering what you think.
        Thanks!
        Marisol

    2. Hi Marisol – I would try cocoa powder as a first attempt. I’m questioning what kind of bagel you would have adding the additional liquid of melted chocolate.

  5. Is the amount of yeast indicated the same amount that comes in one of the individual packets?

    1. no, a standard pack of yeast is 2.25 tsp, so you will need to add .5 tsp more unfortunately

      1. I had them made before I read about the yeast! Oh,well next time.

      2. Yeast grows in the dough, so it is ALWAYS possible to add less yeast and just raise the rising time (growing time). I typically make all my bread with about half the typical yeast and just rise longer. As she says, a long rise improves flavor anyway. (Conversely if you are in a hurry you can add more yeast for a shorter rising time. I’ve seen fast raising recipes use as much as a tbsp in a loaf! It’ll just taste more yeasty!)

  6. This is a fantastic recipe! Took a bit of effort but well worth it. They came out chewy with a good flavor. No more trips to Mr. Bagel!

  7. Lovely recipe!!! Bagels were chewy! But I find that the bagels had a strong yeast smell. Any way to reduce the smell/taste of yeast in the bagels? Thankyou!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Clara, Letting the dough rise too long can give the finished product a strong yeast flavor. Usually it takes between 60-90 minutes for the dough to rise, but keep an eye on them and move on to the next step when they have doubled in size.

  8. I’ve never made bread before but decided to try this recipe. It was my first time baking with yeast and I’m really pleased with how they came out!! Some of them were a bit misshapen but the taste is fantastic. I was worried they would be too bland with plain cream cheese but they have a great flavor! Can’t wait to try making the cinnamon raisin version.

  9. I’ve made the cinnamon bagels twice now and I’ve never been much of a bread maker. Thanks for this easy recipe! I’m currently trialling substituting gluten free bread flour in regular bagels. The dough needed more flour as was very wet, so I added extra flour and a little regular bread flour. They have turned out good!

  10. Is it bad to let the dough rise for longer than 90 min? I was stuck making dinner, feeding kids & bedtime before I could get back to my dough.. not sure how long it went but it was def over 90 min. They are cooling now but wondering if there are any immediate “oh no’s!”
    Thanks

  11. Wonderful recipe! Bagels were a Sunday breakfast tradition in my family, one that I miss since moving away from New York. Making them myself always seemed like it would be a daunting task–I had no idea how straightforward this process could be! Thank you for the detailed instructions and suggested variations. I look forward to keeping this in rotation.

  12. Can you adapt this recipe to make blueberry bagels?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Gabby, absolutely! You can use fresh or dried blueberries. You can add them in when we add the raisins in our Cinnamon Raisin Bagels. Follow those instructions. A caution, though, fresh blueberries will make this dough very wet. We prefer to use dried berries.

  13. Sally, I’ve tried your everything, cinnamon raisin and cheese bagels. They are the best bagels I’ve ever tasted. Thank you so much for your great recipes. I was wondering if you had a recipe for onion bagels.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We are so happy you enjoy them, Donna! We haven’t tested onion bagels, but recommend adding about 1/4 teaspoon onion powder and 1/3 cup dried minced onion in the dough. Add both when you add the flour. You can also top with more dried minced onion. You can find this in the baking aisle with the spices. Let us know if you try it!

  14. the bagels were really good nice and doughy but not to much the still had a nice chew to them

  15. found these recipes when looking to make everything bagels for the hubby, we made them sunday and now have the cinnamon craisan bagels in oven right now. recipe is so easy to follow, I make the dough the night before and let it rise in the fridge overnight. my mouth is watering waiting to try them out….thank you for posting the recipe..

  16. Sara Goverman says:

    Your instructions for the overnite refrigerator rise states to work through step 4. Does that mean that the dough rises on the counter, and then goes in the fridge or is the dough placed in the bowl directly after kneading.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sara, For the overnight instructions we are allowing the dough to rise overnight in the refrigerator instead of at room temperature (so skip the room temperature rise). This slower rise gives the bagels wonderful flavor!

  17. Alexandria Shepherd says:

    THANK YOU. This recipe is awesome!!!

  18. CHRISTOPHER SEEFELDT says:

    Simple recipe with a fantastic end result. Thank you for sharing. I have been baking them every weekend for the past month. My neighbors and co-workers love them. I believe the barley malt makes the difference. Thanks again! Bake-On!

  19. Hi there! 1st time making and was easy but I found the dough was very crumbly… suggestions?

    1. Hi Rebecca, the dough should be a little soft. Is it dry and shaggy? If so, there could have been too much flour used.

  20. Boiled them 90 seconds each side made them chewer.

  21. My dough came out too moist after mixing, had to keep re-oiling my fingers to shape the bagels, and then I over baked them. But, in spite of all these mishaps, the flavor was pretty good! Can’t wait to turn these pandemic bagels into redemption bagels.

  22. Hi, I want to know if I can use all purpose flour? I live in Chile, South America and bread flour is not available in this area?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maria! You can use all-purpose flour in a pinch. The bagels won’t be as chewy, but they’ll still turn out!

  23. Hi Sally! I just made this recipe for the first time and I officially love making bagels now. As always, I appreciate how you make things look so easy and un-intimidating! 1 quick question: have you ever adapted this recipe to make egg bagels, or do you have any plans to do so in the future? I imagine I could not just add eggs to the dough and expect it to work out the same, given the added water content. Let me know. Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rachel, We are so happy you enjoyed these! We haven’t tried egg bagels yet, but let us know if you test anything.

  24. Can you make sour dough bagels?

  25. Hi Sally
    I’ve substituted half the flour for whole wheat twice now. The whole wheat bagels are delicious!

  26. Have made these 3 times and everyone loves them! Watching the video, my dough is always SO sticky. Almost impossible to knead, and then really hard to shape and make thick (they’re always quite flat). Am I not adding enough flour? Love the flavor but wish they were nice and thick.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Emily, There are a lot of variances that go into the consistency of dough, even down to the weather and humidity in the air. There’s nothing wrong with adding just a little more flour to bring the dough into a less sticky and knead-able consistency. Just remember that the dough is supposed to be a little soft, so don’t over-flour it. Flour your hands and work surface well when you are shaping them. I hope this helps!

  27. very good recipe I have made it multiple times but recently I’ve been having issues the dough barely rises and is very dense that it sinks to the bottom of the pot and come out very chewy not in the good way like half raw even after cooking them past the recommended time still trying though love the recipe i’ve had good batches from it before just seem to be messing up recently

    1. Hi Leah, I’m concerned your yeast may be inactive or the dough isn’t rising long enough. There should be enough air in the shaped bagels that they float. Try again with new yeast and let the dough rise a little longer in step 4.

    2. That’s the thing the dough barely rises within the time frame so I end up letting it sit for hours but I will continue to try not giving up this is my favorite recipe from you so I’m determined to make it work

      1. I added a little sugar to my yeast and it really helped the dough rise

  28. I’ve made all kinds of bread successfully for 40 years and bagels is the one thing I haven’t been able to get right. They collapse after the boiling stage and turn into little wrinkled hockey pucks. Any idea why and what I can do about it?

  29. I’ve tried that I think my yeast is just not activating at least not fully because I tried it the other day but the yeast fizzed a little for like 2 minutes not even but when I came back 2 minutes later no sign of the yeast being active so I think I’ve figured out the problem now

  30. I’ve been making these for months with great chewy results, overnight rise in fridge. But the bagels are often too flat, not tall/rounded enough. The instant yeast is ok, 1 hour warm up wait after fridge. Any suggestions?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Was the dough particularly sticky? A little more flour will help for next time– a firmer dough should create puffier bagels. Did they puff up during the boiling step?
      Another tip is to not let your dough rise too long (you want it to double in size). Yeast recipes/breads will deflate if the dough has risen/proofed too long. I hope this helps!

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