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

A new month, a new year, a truckload of carbs.

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 loaves of bread and recipes like focaccia, pizza dough, and no knead bread. Sweet bread, such as cinnamon rolls, include fat for richness and flavor.

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

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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 (480g) bread flour, plus more for work surface and hands*
  • 1 Tablespoon packed light or dark brown sugar (or barley malt syrup)*
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • coating the bowl: nonstick spray or 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • egg wash: 1 egg white beaten with 1 Tablespoon water

For Boiling

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/4 cup (60g) honey (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, allowing 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.
  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!
  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!

Adapted from a mix of recipes I’ve tried: King Arthur FlourCook’s Illustrated, and Complete Book of Breads

207 Comments

  1. Hi Sally,
    Some troubleshooting for too chewy bagels? Overworked/underworked dough? Under baked slightly? I proofed until.doubled in size then split the dough and added my flavourings and shaped
    They’re not dense but a bit heavier than I expected, although this could be completely normal?
    I did all the mixing and kneading by hand too
    Thanks for any advice for the next time

    1. Hi Alicia! Bagels will be heavy and very chewy. Are they more dense and chewier than bakery bagels you’ve had before? They could be underbaked. Try proofing for 20 extra minutes next time; that should help.

  2. Thanks so much for the fast reply! I’ll try proofing a bit longer in the next batch and see if that helps.. they’re not too much heavier but look slightly underdone on the inside, whether its the proofing or the baking I’m not sure. I baked for 21minutes

  3. This is the second bagel recipe I’ve tried, and for some reason I can never get mine to rise right! they end up very dense. Any tips? Thanks!

  4. I just made a double batch of these today. I divided the dough into 4th and made some with cheddar cheese, some with mini chocolate chips, some with cinnamon and sugar, and then some plain. They turned out wonderfully! The recipe was easy to follow and I’ve already eaten two warm from the oven! They are soft on the inside with the right amount of chew on the outside. I’ve tried other bagel recipes that have only been ok, this one is a keeper! Thanks

    1. Great question! You do not need to. As you punch the dough back down and shape the bagels in step 6 your hands will warm the dough back up enough.

  5. Bagels were a huge success with all 3 of us. Added my mini cinnamon chips and they gave the bagels a great flavor. Definitely making this recipe again! My only change was to use 1 packet of yeast which is slightly less than the called for. Guess from now on I’ll be keeping bread flour in my pantry.

  6. Hi Sally!
    I am unable to get bread flour, is there something I could do? Or how much would the recipe change if I use all purpose flour?
    Help please, I really want to make these 🙂

    1. Hi Andrea! Is it unavailable at your grocery? I highly recommend bread flour. You can use AP flour, but they won’t taste very much like bagels.

  7. Hi Sally! I let my bagel dough rise overnight in the fridge and I noticed that the bagels that came up to room temp while waiting for their bath were much fluffier. Should I have left all my bagels come to room temp for best results or was that just a coincidence?

    1. Hi Julie! Do you prefer the fluffier bagels? If so, then I recommend letting them come to room temperature first next time.

  8. Amazing! I just made these and it was my first time. It came out delish! Being stationed in South Korea, it is hard to find bagels like in the states. Thank you for posting this recipe!

  9. Hi Sally,

    I love your recipes and they are always a hit. I attempted to make these bagels, and the bottoms burned and stuck to the parchment paper, while the tops were still raw. What can I do to avoid this? I sent oven to 425 as indicated above.

    1. Hi JoAnn! It sounds like the temperature was off for your batch or it could be from using a thin baking pan. Sorry for the trouble! I recommend lowering the temperature to 400 next time.

  10. Yum, yum, yum! I made the cinnamon raisin bagels. Worth the time and effort! I used the overnight refrigerator method. Bagels are bit dense but so chewy and delicious! Next time I’ll try not rising overnight to see the difference. I plan to make more and freeze them after baking. Thanks for a great recipe!

  11. I’ve been so excited to make these bagels and finally gathered all the ingredients only to realize I’ve misplaced my dough hook. How terrible would it be to use my paddle attachment?

    1. Hi Lindsay! I always use my paddle attachment for dough. Personally don’t notice a difference either way. Go ahead and use your paddle! 🙂

  12. Hi Sal- what ideas do you have for Onion bagels? How much onion powder would you suggest? Making these this weekend, so excited!

    1. Hey Angela! For onion bagels, I 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.

  13. Hey Sally! I just made these bagels today. I posted a picture of them for your baking challenge on Instagram and tagged you in it 🙂
    I made cinnamon, poppy/sesame/salt, and plain. I really like the seed and salt one. It was awesome. Even better with butter on it.
    I had a problem with the dough being super sticky! It rained this morning while these were mixing so I’m sure that’s all it was. I added more flour and kept kneading it until I could work with it. I used my bread machine for the mixing of the dough and kept a close eye on it to ensure it came together as it should. I make a lot of potato bread for my family but this is my first attempt at making bagels. They turned out beautifully! Your helpful advice made this super easy to do. Definitely worth the effort. I enjoy baking to lift my spirits and these were just what I was craving. Thank you for sharing!

  14. I’ve made bagels before so I decided to be adventurous. Instead of bread flour I used Gold Medal White Whole Wheat Flour plus a few Tablespoons of gluten. End result was that they were Slightly flatter than other bagels I’ve made but the crust was chewy and the flavor was delicious!

  15. Hi, I was just wondering if/how I could use bread mix (not bread flour) with this? This recipe looks great, thanks for the clear instructions!

  16. I made my first batch of bagels this weekend. So delicious and chewy, better than store bought bagels. I’ll be making them this coming weekend for our Airbnb guests. They’re from NYC so it will be interesting to see how they like them. Thanks for another wonderful recipe.

  17. I’ve never made a homemade bagel or had one warm and fresh from the oven. They were so easy and delicious! I’ve followed the baking challenges last year and this year I’m going to join in. So much fun. Thank you.

  18. Thanks to you, Sally, I have conquered one of my biggest fears! I can’t believe I actually made bagels! I’m so excited! One of my new year’s resolutions was that I am going to participate in every single baking challenge this year. Last year, I only managed to do a couple, but I’m so excited to make this a year long project to truly challenge myself. I just finished posting my very first entry picture for your monthly challenges, and it makes me SO happy! I’m most excited about the fact that I will now be making bagels on a regular basis, and I know they will only get better each time. My family orders bagels from NY for special occasions because we legitimately have NO true bagel shops where we live, I now forsee that happening a whole lot less now that I can make them. Thank you so much for everything you share with us. I’m a life-long fan!!

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