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!
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, 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!)
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. Breads like dinner rolls and homemade breadsticks, and sweet bread, such as cinnamon rolls, include fat for richness and flavor.
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. After the dough has been 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
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?
- 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.
- 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 Bagel Varieties
- Plain Bagels: Follow the recipe below. These are excellent as the base for breakfast casserole.
- Cinnamon Raisin Bagels: Follow my cinnamon raisin bagels recipe.
- Everything Bagels: Follow my everything bagels recipe.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 I do use some whole wheat flour when making homemade English muffins, another breakfast staple!
See Your Homemade Bagels!
Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂
Homemade Bagels Recipe
- Prep Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours
- Yield: 8 bagels
- Category: Bread
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
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.
- 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
- 2 quarts water
- 1/4 cup (60g) honey (or barley malt syrup)*
- 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.
- Add the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes. The dough is very stiff and will look somewhat dry.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands, knead the dough for 6-7 minutes. After kneading, the dough should still feel a little soft. Poke it with your finger—if it slowly bounces back, your dough is ready to rise. If not, keep kneading. The dough is too heavy for the mixer to knead it.
- 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.
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- 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 below for a visual. Loosely cover the shaped bagels with kitchen towel and rest for a few minutes as you prepare the water bath.
- Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Overnight Make Ahead Instructions: Prepare the dough through step 4, but allow the dough to rise overnight in the refrigerator instead of at room temperature for 60-90 minutes. 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.
- 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Stand Mixer | Baking Sheets | Parchment Paper or Silicone Baking Mats | Large Pot (such as a large 5.5 quart dutch oven) | Pastry Brush
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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 Flour, Cook’s Illustrated, and Complete Book of Breads
Keywords: Homemade Bagels Recipe
Reader Comments & Reviews
I will never buy bagels again, this was so easy and they tasted amazing.
I made these bagels last week (2 batches). I used everything bagels seasoning on one and to the other I added Asiago cheese. My family went crazy! Said they were better than any they had ever had out! I will never buy bagels again. It’s easy, cheaper than a bagels store and better quality! I think. I’ll make some now.
The best bagel I ever ate. Visiting in Quebec and found a maple, pepper rub and mixed it with minced garlic OMG!!!!
These turned out amazing! First time making bagels and they were surprisingly easy. I’m from canada and all purpose flour worked just fine instead of bread flour.
Because we in Canada grow high grade milling wheat. Mine turned out excellent too but I added flax and oat bran as well.
First time making bagels, I tried three recipes, this one is absolutely the best. Bonus pints, people are so impressed when you make bagels. Do you have an egg bagel version? I tried one from another site and ended up with a dinner roll texture/taste.
Hi Christy, we’re so glad you’re enjoying our bagel recipe! We haven’t tested an egg version. If you do fine one you love, let us know!
Thank you for this recipe! I was wondering if I opt for the overnight method would I still want to use instant yeast or would it not matter?
It won’t make a difference. Enjoy!
I only have one baking sheet, is it ok to let half of the uncooked bagels sit on the counter while I bake the first batch? Thanks!
We are in Bulgaria and there are no bagels to be found here! And our family of five was craving bagels – this recipe delivered to us a wonderful American breakfast 🙂 they turned out wonderful. As a hobby chef and baker, I was able to get a good feel for the dough, because I normally eyeball everything dough-related…
Great proportions, perfect amount of boil and just the right temp I bake at (oh, and thank you for the metric versions 🙂
We used to live on a sailboat and I have used some of your recipes while sailing as well – you have been all over the world 😉
This is a great recipe, but why the egg wash? The bagel toppings adhere after boiling. They glisten after baking with/without the egg wash. Just not sure why the egg wash is really needed. The the other thing I found helpful is to add some barley malt to the dough and the boiling liquid. Imparts a really nice color/flavor to the bagels!
I made these this morning and they were AMAZING!!! WOW! I love how my bagels are not perfectly shaped but they taste better than anything I could get at a bagel shop. I appreciated your note about the types of yeast. I was using active dry and I started to panic because my dough did not double in size after an hour. I thought I did something wrong until I read your note that the type of yeast I was using takes longer. Thank you for all of your recipes. I’ve made many of them and I’ve never failed. Thank you… thank you… thank you! Your scone recipe is always a hit at my house but now I think the bagels will become the new most requested.
Does anyone else have major problems with the bagels sticking to the parchment paper? I’ve tried this recipe about 5 times, once with cornmeal on the bottom which I didnt like to eat. I’ve tried drip-drying the bagels before placing them on the parchment, but they still stick so much I have to cut the bottoms off. What am I doing wrong?
Hi Ayla! Do you happen to have silicone baking mats? They’re really the best to prevent the bagels from sticking.
Even though I am an experienced baker, I always learn so much from your recipes and looks to see what Sally thinks when I am trying something new. I added molasses and baking soda to the boiling water. I really liked the results.
I made these bagels for the first time this past weekend. They are the best bagels I have eaten in a long time quick and easy recipe . They flew off the table making my second batch today.
My daughter really wants to make “rainbow bagels” just like the kind they sell at the bagel shop. I was wondering when you would recommend adding food coloring?
Hi Kate, I would divide the dough into however many colors you want after you mix it together, and then knead the color into the different doughs in the kneading step. Gel food coloring would be best.
I was weary, I’ve attempted bagels twice before and some how things went wrong at the boiling stage. This recipe helped me make the perfect crusty, chewy, soft bagels
Love this recipe! I have made it several times as written. Today I ran out of time to bake so I proofed them in the fridge then followed with step 6 on. They seemed a little doughy then previous times, has anyone else felt this way? Maybe I need to keep them in the oven a few minutes longer? Still delicious though!
Thank you Sally, without your confidence I would never have tried to make bagels at home. You have been a huge source of inspiration to me in many ways with many recipes!
This is a wonderful recipe, especially for a beginner yeast bread maker. I’ve been baking and making bread for many years and while this is a little different from a traditional bagel recipe, it’s actually my family’s favourite that I make. Couple of things worth noting that may be helpful to others: I find these bagels HUGE! My cheese bagels came out so big they barely fit in the toaster! LOL! I think I will divide the dough into 10 pieces next time and see if that is a better size for us. The second tip is if you have a bread machine, try using your dough setting. I’ve made these a number of times by hand and then the other day I used my bread machine’s dough setting and they turned out even better with less manual labour!
How exactly do you use the bread machine? Do you do step 1, let it sit in the bread machine pan for 5 minutes. Then push ” dough” to cover steps 2, 3 and 4? Or do you take the dough out for step 4? Novice here. Thank you.
I’ve been making more bread since the price of good bread is out of control. I can’t wait to try this recipe!
Do you have the nutritional information for this?
Hi Alyssa, We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://www.verywellfit.com/recipe-nutrition-analyzer-4157076
These were AMAZING. It was my first time making homemade bagels. I added everything bagel seasoning on top after step 9. The only issue I had was shaping them and it wasn’t anything to do with this recipe. I just need to find a technique that works for me. They still turned out great and held their shape. The taste was phenomenal! 10/10.
I’ve made this recipe twice, and each time the bagels came out perfect. Thanks so much!
I would like to try making these with high gluten flour. Would more water be needed, more yeast?
Hi Joanna, we haven’t tested these bagels with a high-gluten flour, so we’re unsure of the results. You may have to tweak some of the other ingredients. Let us know if you give it a try.
I am on my 3rd batch of bagels. Today was cheesy jalapeño. I love this recipe and have already previously also rated it 5 stars. But I have a question: I am using the barley malt syrup and it is rather pricey. Can I reuse the water for another batch on a different day? Can’t seem to find an answer. Thank you!
Hi Cindy! So glad you are enjoying these bagels, and I’m just seeing your question now! I don’t think I’ve ever reused the water before. I imagine it would be fine a few days later, refrigerating it during that time, and then boiling again.
I went ahead and saved the barley malt syrup water after my last batch. I kept it in the fridge. I reused it today. There was some sediment at the bottom which I poured out. The leftover liquid equaled about 1 .5 quarts. I added enough liquid to equal the 2 quarts and added a tablespoon of brown sugar. Bagels came out great! I will be saving my malt syrup in the future and saving a few pennies. 😉
Amazing bagels!! Thanks for an excellent recipe.
The recipe was straightforward and I followed it exactly and the bagels came out amazing! I am not a baker and I was so thrilled with how beautiful they looked that I sent a picture to my daughter, who is an outstanding home baker and is the one who told me about your site. (your chocolate chip cookies are amazing by the way). On my second batch and experimenting with the everything bagel topping. Next cheesy jalapeño. Fingers crossed. Thank you, my new favorite recipe.
I’ve loved every recipe I’ve tried from your blog! Anytime I search a recipe and see one of yours, it’s my first choice.
These bagels did not disappoint! I’ve got my third batch in the oven now. The only deviation I’ve made from the recipe is to generously sprinkle shredded parmesan on top before baking. So good! We love whipping up a pesto cream cheese to spread all over them and they remind us of a favorite bakery that unfortunately closed down.
I’ve tried both the overnight and the regular rise. They’re both delicious, but I prefer the overnight method. The dough has greater elasticity and I think the finished product has a slightly better chew to it. But either way, these are the best! Thank you for another amazing recipe!
So glad you enjoyed the bagels, Lisa!
I never thought I’d be able to make homemade bagels until I found this recipe. The instructions are so clear that it gave me the confidence I needed to give it a try. I’ve made this recipe at least 5 times now and it’s a big hit every single time. I love how straightforward Sally makes her recipes. I gain the confidence to give new recipes a try because of how easy Sally makes it. Thank you, Sally!
My Husband & I were just recently talking about making homemade bagels, I immediately told him “Absolutely not, I could never do that”. I searched online how to do it & your recipe came up ..Your tutorial & instructions made it look so easy & gave me the confidence to try. I am making my 1st batch now, it’s been so fun & I am so excited to see how they turn out! Thank You!!
Sally, I just made these for maybe the 20th time. This is our 3rd Christmas brunch where they’ve been a star! I just made a second batch…just for my husband, a self declared bagel expert who ranks these as #1 of all the (many) bagels he’s tried. The recipe is easy, ALWAYS consistently good and just a 5 star hit all around!! Thank YOU!
I love your recipes. I’m definitely a fan. Thank-you you have given me back the love to bake in the kitchen.
It’s nothing personal but this would have to be one of the worst bagel recipes I’ve come across. I’ve baked a lot of bagels from using a sourdough starter to double feed over a cold 48 hour fermentation. First things first, if you’re using high quality bread flour, you will need to add more water. The dough with the current hydration is not shapable. That’s where it ended for me. I threw the mix in the bin.
Imagine coming to this page to write a bad review. Maybe if you would have added helpful suggestions.. like how much water TO add, since you mentioned a hydration issue, I’d respect your “bagel dude” authority but nah.
I just got mine out of the stand mixer and it is so dry as well. I added some water to my hands as I was kneading it to hopefully salvage them… but it’s doubtful.
I love this recipe. Last time I tried bagels it was a complete fail. These came out perfect. I didn’t use my stand mixer at all, all mixing by hand. I made mini bagels and got 14. Thank you Sally for another great recipe
I was just considering making these as mini bagels (a better size for my kids to eat!). How long did you end up baking them for?