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

992 Comments

  1. These exceeded my expectations by a mile. I’m a pretty decent baker, and as long as a recipe is good, I can usually make something turn out properly. This recipe was absolutely perfect.

    This was my first time making bagels, and although some of them were a little ugly, they were some of the best tasting bagels I’ve ever had in my life. My wife would’ve eaten all 8 in one sitting if I didn’t stop her. I can’t wait to make them again and try some other flavours!

  2. Hi! Love the recipe! Was wondering if there would be any added steps or tips to take if I added some blueberries? More flour maybe? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Leanne, Yes! 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.

  3. BEST RECIPE! Just amazing and my whole family is delighted. AMAZING!

  4. I’ve been playing with different bagel recipes for a few weeks. This is the best recipe! If your bagels are flat try letting them rise after forming them into a bagel before boiling them. Handle with care when you boil them. Overhanded will cause flattening! Use flour for sticky dough. I did 425 for 25 minutes. Perfect!

  5. Sally never disappoints with her recipes, and even though she is my first choice for any baked good, I almost never comment on recipes. However, this recipe was ridiculously easy and possibly the best bagels I’ve ever had. I made the dough the night before, and the flavor is unparalleled. I will not be trying any other bagel recipes. This is it. I’m on my first one as I just baked them, and I’m already contemplating making a second batch. Seriously. They are chewy, fluffy, soft, with just enough salt, honey/brown sugar, and now a staple for a weekend breakfast. I want to make these for all my friends and family. Everyone needs to know about these bagels. My only issue is that I wish the recipe yielded more, but I know doubling baking recipes can be tricky/sometimes not have successful results.

  6. I made this recipe for my first time ever baking experience. I’m a bagel lover, being from NY, and these came out absolutely amazing! My only mistake was it looked like there was so much dough that I made 12 of them. So they ended up much smaller than I expected. Oh well. Lesson learned! But these were great!!

  7. Hi Sally thank you for shaRING YOUR RECIPE . GOD BLESS AND HOPE TO WATCH YOU AGAIN .

  8. Can I use a hand mixer or a food processor if those are all that I have?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jackie, You can mix this dough by hand. See recipe note #8 for details.

  9. Adrian Malaryk says:

    I am knew to the bagel making process and found that the dough was very, very dry and stiff. It was pretty hard to form. It’s resting right now so hopefully it springs back. Any tips on how to prevent this from happening again?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Adrian, A dough’s consistency relies on many variables including how you measure the flour, brand of flour, even the weather and humidity in the air. While this should be a soft dough, it sounds like yours could benefit from less flour. If you try this recipe again try reducing your flour.

  10. Made these today (4 plain, 4 everything) for a brunch with New Yorkers! They loved them! I followed the overnight instructions to a tee. Bagels were gorgeously puffed and perfectly chewy! For anyone complaining about this recipe.. please note it is likely user error.. no shame in that either- happens to all of us- buuut don’t let those reviews discourage you. I am a decent baker but have never tried bagels before and these were fun and straightforward.

  11. Delicious bagels, every time! Super easy recipe! Any chance you have an egg bagel recipe? I didn’t see one in the variations.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

  12. I would love if you made a recipe for egg bagels! The plain bagels that are yellow from egg yolk. I only trust you as a baker and don’t want to make one from another person/site. 🙂

  13. Thank you! I am not a baker. Your great directions and recipe resulted in my husband saying, “These are the best bagels I have ever eaten in my life!” I was shocked. My kids laughingly tease me about my cooking as they know my talents are in other areas. I really appreciate your effort and talent.

  14. Amazing recipe! I actually wanted “bagel thins” to make egg, bacon, and cheese sandwiches- so I halved the recipe and still made 8 thin bagels. I also used half wheat flour and half bread flour. They still puffed up very nicely with a great consistency!

  15. Love this recipe. I can never eat store make bagels again!
    Can you post a variation for sundried tomato, and/or sundried tomato and basil? My favorite shop used to make a great sundried bagel, but alas, no more.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Keith, We haven’t tested this exact flavor combination but I would suggest adding 1/2 cup of sundried tomatoes and basil (the dried kind, not the kind packed in oil) to the dough when you add the flour. Let us know if you try it!

  16. First time with this recipe, which is slightly less fussy than the one I’ve been using. These turned out delicious and I’d say the effort is about the same as driving to my local bagel shop and waiting in line, with the added bonus of that heavenly bread smell permeating the house. I only had AP flour so I added a couple tablespoons of vital wheat gluten for chewiness. Made four plain ones for the kids, and two each with Trader Joe’s Everything but the bagel sesame seasoning blend and furikake. Delicious with egg, cream cheese, smoked salmon, and capers!

  17. These taste amazing and they look so nice and professional once you get the hang of it

  18. The first attempt turned out pretty well, although they took longer to bake then the recipe suggested. I pulled them at 30 minutes, and they probably needed another 1-2. That could be an oven issue. I don’t think it had to do with them being in the fridge overnight. I have to work on that.

    One problem during the process was forming the balls. They simply wouldn’t form. When I tried finding the dough on itself, it didn’t stick and just sprang back. I ended up with some crevices and little pieces sticking out. They tasted ok, but it would have been nice to get them a little nicer looking.

  19. Joe in Newfoundland says:

    For freezing dough, is there a reason you can’t freeze the individual balls in step 6 (instead of the whole dough?)

    1. You could definitely freeze the dough portioned out instead of as a whole.

  20. Great recipe! Easy and delicious! The only issue I’ve had are the bagels are burning on the bottom, is there a way to fix this? I am using darker pans so wondering if I should decrease the heat? I have even gotten them out early and they’re still too crispy on the bottom. Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alyssa, If they’re too hard on the bottoms, try lowering the oven temperature 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.

  21. I’m interested in trying the recipe and I want to leave the dough in the frig overnight before forming and baking. Can you clarify your instructions for refrigerating overnight after going thru step 4: That means I let the dough rise at room temp, then put it in the frig to let it rise? Sounds like that’s a double rise?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sam, 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!

  22. Have made this recipe a few times & have loved it! Have also passed it along to others who have also loved it. Wondering if anyone has tried whole wheat flour?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nicole, 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 us know how they turn out for you!

    2. Yes!! I made half whole wheat and half white flour and they turned out great! I wouldn’t recommend any more than 50% of the whole wheat to 50% of the white flour.
      When you use whole wheat flour you have to have a higher water ratio because of the density. If you don’t use more water the bagels will be dryer and mealy this is also the reason I wouldn’t add more whole wheat flour to the 50/50 ratio. That being said, keep in mind that the dough will be stickier and airier so keep white flour on hand to better handle it. You actually want the dough to be stickier and airier with whole wheat flour because that’s what ensures that you won’t have dry mealy bagels.
      So what I did to keep a higher ratio of water is I decreased each of the cups of flour by about 1/8 or so ( truth be told I eyeballed it)
      Hope it works for you as well as it did for me!

  23. Hi Sally

    I tried your recipe and I am very happy how they came out. My wife, who is a New Jersey Jewish girl and considers herself a bagel snob, gave your recipe (which I followed to the letter) 2 very enthusiastic thumbs up!

  24. These are delicious, but every time they come out slightly underbaked around the hole. I’ve left them in for a lot longer than what’s required, and they are definitely dark golden brown, and the bottoms are approaching overdone. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Hi Arielle, try reducing the oven temperature a bit. (Try 375°F (191°C).) This may help them cook more evenly. The bake time will be longer since the oven temperature is lower.

    2. Try making the holes bigger? That would allow more heat to get to the middle

  25. Absolutely delicious! My husband says he could not tell them apart from NYC bagels, and no special water is needed (as they like to claim about NYC bagels).

  26. Hello, can I use instant yeast in the overnight version of the recipe? If so, are there any modifications needed?
    Thank you!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alyssa, instant yeast will work, following the overnight instructions in the recipe notes with no other modifications needed. Enjoy!

  27. I love this recipe! It’s so easy and my boyfriend requests them weekly :). I had been making them with the brown sugar & honey substitutes until we recently found a home brew store with barley malt. I’ve now made them twice with barley malt and the flavor is great (definitely more traditional than with the brown sugar) and they are chewy, but the outside doesn’t crisp as much as with the honey, any suggestions? Or was this your experience as well when making them both ways?

    We would like to keep using the barley malt as its cheaper, better flavor, and boiling with honey made them a bit on the sweet side, is there a specific barley malt that you buy? The brew store had various ones from light to dark. Thanks for the help!

    1. Hi Sarah, somehow I’m just seeing your comment/question now so my apologies on the delay responding to you. I’m so glad to read that you enjoy these bagels! I found the bagels to have a nice crisp both ways (even with the barley malt syrup), so I’m wondering if you just need to bake the bagels an extra minute or two? That will definitely help. We use and love Eden brand organic barley malt syrup.

  28. I made these for the first time today. They just came out of the oven and they smell delicious but they do look a little flat. Question: The dough was REALLY sticky for me. I used the exact amount of flour indicated in the recipe. Should I have added flour?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jen, 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. A firmer dough should create puffier bagels for you next time!

  29. Stephanie Boyd says:

    If I want to make blueberry bagels, when would I add the berries?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stephanie, 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.

  30. Great to see you mention barley malt syrup. This made all the difference to the flavour (and texture) of my bagels.

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