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

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

733 Comments

  1. These bagels are amazing!!!
    Can they be made with Almond Flour for our friends that cannot eat bread flour?
    Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Thom, No we don’t recommend almond flour as it has very different properties. We haven’t tested this with any gluten free substitutes but let us know if you try.

      1. Thank you for the feedback!!
        I have made the basic recipe a number of times now, including the cinnamon bagel recipe, and they always come out perfect!! They are the first bagels that could compete with those from the famous H&H bagels that was in NYC for so many years!!

  2. Hi! I was wondering what you lift the bagels out of the water/honey mixture with?? I used a chopstick and it leaves a small indent. Any suggestions?? Thanks!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Janet, try using a slotted spoon or slotted spatula!

  3. I made these for the first time yesterday, and they turned out delicious! Thanks so much for showing how easy good home made bagels can be!

  4. I’ve made these twice now, and they keep coming out flat. What could be the problem? I’m using King Arthur bread flour and Fleischman’s Active Dry yeast. After the first batch, I thought maybe I had let the dough rise too long, so this time I punched it down at 60 minutes, rather than 90. But they still came out flat and sad. Help! Could it be the slight elevation I live at (around 1800 feet)? Could my tap water be too high in minerals? I don’t generally have this issue with regular straight-dough bread….

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lola, Is your yeast expired by any chance? Was the dough particularly sticky? If so, a little more flour will help for next time– a firmer dough should create puffier bagels. Did they puff up during the boiling step?
      I wish we could help with your location, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. I know some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

      1. Thanks for responding! The dough was a bit sticky and definitely not as stiff as described in the recipe (felt a lot like pizza dough, actually), so maybe more flour will do the trick. They did puff up a bit in the boiling step, but not a lot. How much flour would be safe to add? A couple tablespoons? A quarter cup? More?

      2. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Don’t be afraid to add 1/3 – 1/2 cup more flour to the dough before or during kneading!

  5. Excellent bagels! We live overseas where the bagels here are more like bread. I looked for a good recipe online instead and found this one. The first time I made them, they were perfect and better than the New York bagel bakeries we had in Chicago. They continue to be perfect and I’ve shared this link with anyone who has tasted the ones I’ve baked. Thank you so much for posting this recipe for us all to enjoy!

  6. I used this recipe to make plain bagels with cheddar on top. They came out great and were hit in my house. The recipe calls to leave the bagels on for 1 minute on each side, I would recommend 30-45 seconds on each side. However, recipe was so easy to follow. I am making cinnamon raisin next!

  7. Can you use white whole wheat flour?

  8. Do you have the nutritional information for this recipe?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Matt, I’m unsure of the nutritional info of this recipe, but there are many great online calculators like this one: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

  9. Nope! First they bagels are super ugly (they’re fat and short) and the don’t taste anything like a good bagel… i don’t recommend this recipe!

    1. I don’t know what you did wrong, but I’m sure that you did. These turned out great for me and tasted like some of the best bagels I’ve ever had. I don’t know what you meant by “fat and short” either, because mine were the same dimensions as any other bagel I’ve ever had, except for Montreal bagels which are flatter.

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

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

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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!!

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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. 🙂

  22. 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.

  23. 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!

  24. 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!

  25. 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!

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

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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!

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