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. If I am using self rising flour do I need all 2 3/4 teaspoons of yeast or can I just use one packet or none at all?

    1. Hi Connie, I don’t recommend using self rising flour for this particular recipe.

    2. Hi Sally,
      I do not have access to bread flour where I live. Would it be a disaster to try with regular flour?

  2. Great recipe. Topped mine with cornmeal. Boil one minute on each side equaling two minutes total is what made them extra chewy? Could I boil one minute total. Husband thought they were a bit too chewy.

  3. Excellent bagel recipe! I just made these bagels for the first time and they were delicious. I followed the overnight make ahead style and they turned out great. I can’t wait to make them over the holidays when my kids are at home. Thank you!

  4. Hi, I’m wondering if there’s anything that can be substituted for the egg white needed to make the egg wash?

    1. A little milk would be just fine.

  5. Fantastic! Since we don’the get good bagels in Germany, we tried your recipe. And we love those bagels. We only did the plain version to begin with, but this is only the start… The only thing is, that we hade to take more flower than you said in your gramm- version. I took 130 g flower for 1 cup in the end and that worked out perfect. Thank you so much for this recipe.

  6. My daughter and I made these today! They are Yummy! How do you get them smoother? We have been trying different recipes, cinnamon rolls, bread sticks! All Good by they way!

  7. Thank you so much for this recipe. Made these today for a lunch. Became a fan of bagels and though I have not had many I know what I like. We live in a rural town in Queensland and cannot really buy bagels locally. These are fantastic.
    Again thank you

  8. Love this recipe and will use it again! I substituted healthy oat flour for 1/4 of the bread flour called for in this recipe and it worked out great. Oat flour has higher protein so that may be why it really didn’t alter or degrade the outcome.

  9. I did it and my boss really like it but I forgot to to take picture

  10. Great homemade, easy bagel recipe. I never thought that I would be making bagels myself and never thought I would actually want to eat them if I did. They came out tasting great though mine had a more bread-like texture than bagel. The outside of the bagel was chewy but the interior was a bit more bread-like. However, they were very light and pleasant to eat. Went great with cream cheese or butter. My only regret was that I didn’t put enough time into shaping them and making them look nice. How they looked before being cooked was how they looked out of the oven. I was hoping they would magically mold together better under heat. I had somewhat haphazardly shaped them which also lead to some uneveness in the bake itself so some areas were more cooked than others. I would recommend anyone trying this recipe to try to get the bagel smooth and bagel-looking before baking. Also, don’t be alarmed by how hard the exterior is when you first take them out of the oven. Like rock hard. And like magic, as they cool, they soften beautifully. Thanks for the great recipe!

  11. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe. It’s my first time making bagel at home and it’s such a success. I added cheese to it and it tastes perfect. Thank for again for sharing your recipe and techniques.

  12. Incredibly easy to make and the recipe was easy to follow. Love that you provided overnight instruction.
    I made six big bagels on round 2 and baked them 25 min covering them with foil (not cinched down, just laid over) the last 7 minutes.
    Crunch and golden outside, slightly chewy and not too dense and bready inside. YUM.

    1. Thank you so much for your positive feedback! Thrilled you enjoyed the bagels 🙂

      1. Claudia Saraniecki says:

        I’ve been making sourdough bagels at home for 20 years . For a lighter texture And more open interior:
        After mixing, cut the dough into 2.5 to 3 oz portions. Cover and let the dough rest 20 minutes. Roll each piece into a log and wrap around your hand, sealing it against the counter. Use some pressure against the dough!
        Place each one a baking sheet, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.
        The next morning, start to heat the oven and then remove the raw bagels from the fridge and let them begin to come to warm up a bit. Start checking at 20 minutes to see if your finger leaves an indentation. (You should start your water bath before this point). Hopefully, your raw bagels will still be cool when they have risen enough; usually not more than 30 minutes. To test if they have risen enough, drop one bagel into the simmering water. If it doesn’t float in a few seconds, they all need more time to rise at room temperature.
        When ready, Carefully drop in simmering water for 20 seconds per side. Drain and add toppings.
        The cool dough placed in the bath prevents the bagels from overproofing, which creates the sagging or lumpy appearance.

        Give it a try; it will upgrade the appearance, texture and flavor of your bagels. You can see a few of my bagels on my Instagram page.

  13. Great recipe! I’ve used it twice in two days! I do recommend using less water though, maybe between 250 and 300 milliliters instead of the 360; that made the dough far too sticky and I had to add way more flour in.

  14. It’s a brilliant, easy recipe this is my second time doing it and it’s even better than the first. thank you for sharing this amazing recipe

    I have to say that every time I want to do something new I come to your blog looking for instruction.

  15. Followed the recipe exactly and turned out perfect.

  16. Hi Sally, can I use AP flour in a pinch?

    1. Hi Kim, Bagels really do require a high protein flour so I don’t recommend using all purpose in this recipe.

  17. Hi Sally! If I wanted to make blueberry bagels what step would I add them in and how much? Have a great day

    1. Hi Linh, Are you planning to use fresh or dried blueberries? If dried berries I would treat them the same as the raisins in my Cinnamon Raisin Bagels. I have never tried using fresh berries in this recipe. Let me know how they turn out!

  18. Hi, Sally!
    I’ve been trying to find a decent recipe for onion bagels to make for my boyfriend, but there doesn’t seem to be agreement on using fresh onions vs. dehydrated (although it appears fresh onions have serious effects on internal moisture levels when cooking that must be considered). My hunch is that the best onion bagel would be a combination of dehydrated onions and conservative use of onion powder in the dough. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you!

    1. Hi Athena! I would personally avoid fresh onions. For best results, use dried onions and onion powder. I’ve never made onion bagels before but that’s where I would start!

      1. Great…thanks! Any advice as to how much onion powder to use with your recipe above?

  19. Hello, I have a sourdough starter I use to make bread. Could I use starter and lower the amount of instant yeast? I favorite sourdough recipe has me use starter and a tsp of instant yeast.

    1. I haven’t personally tried it, but I can’t see why not!

  20. Linda Oosthuizen says:

    Hi Sally!
    I used to be a flight attendant, flying to the United States from Holland regularly. My absolute fávorite breakfast item was a toasted bagel with creamcheese, tomato and chives.

    I now no longer live in Holland, but in Kruger NP, South Africa where fresh bagels are vére hard to come by. I am soooooo making these next weekend! Thánk you! Best, Linda

  21. Just wondering the nutritional values Im a type 1 diabetic

    1. Hi Cindy! 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

  22. Amazing! Trying not to eat them all at once! Thank you!

  23. Anna MacDougall says:

    Great recipe! I made mine with cheese and chives. It is a household favorite.

    Personal tip: I would start with 3.5 cups of flour and evaluate dough texture and then if needed continue with the last half of a cup.

    1. I’m so happy you enjoy these, Anna!

  24. If using instant yeast instead of active dry yeast, how much would you recommend? And then what other modifications would I need to make with regard to rise time and such? I have two huge bags of instant yeast I need to use up 🙁

    1. Hi Lena, This recipe is written using instant yeast – so just follow the directions as written! If you were to use active dry yeast the recipe would remain the same but the rise time would be longer. Enjoy!

  25. Hey Sally! Tried this recipe and it was awesome! I’m thinking of making these again .. but with whole wheat flour. Would it be okay to use whole wheat flour? Thanks!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed these bagels, Jessica! 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 me know how they turn out for you!

  26. I love this recipe. So delicious and so easy and I’ve tried a couple of bagel recipes. Sally I want to get your input on how you would make a french toast bagel. The one I used last time the dough was way to wet

  27. I just can’t get over how delicious these are! I have made the plain bagels…will try the cinnamon raisin next! I love the fact that there is no fat used but they still turn out amazingly

  28. hi Sally, I have zero experience in baking, and I mean ZERO. I am 58 years old and have never ever baked a cake or any type of bread. I tried your bagel recipe because bagels have become so ridiculously hard to find here in Sydney Australia. Wow, they turned out wonderfully. Hint for other users – the Kitchen Aid dough hook is fantastic, the dough turns out so even and just right. Sally your recipe was easy even for a novice like me to follow, and the bagels (4 sesame =seed and 4 poppy seed) taste really great. I think it’s the honey and the egg-white glaze I just need to work on my shaping a bit (they were a little wonky in shape (but who cares)! Possibly I may use 20% more flour next time, because the bagels were of average to slightly below average size, and I like nice big ones. This weekend I am going to run up a batch of 16, since the eight I made last weekend are nearly all gone! Thanks so much, Alex.

  29. First time trying to make bagels, and this recipe was a hole in one! (hee hee, bad bagel pun) Your descriptions of how the dough feels/should look were so helpful, and I can’t believe how easy it was to work with and to form (I’ve always wondered how the hole in the middle would stay, but the structure of this dough makes it so). Fresh warm bagels during an extreme cold warning in January = perfect! Thanks Sally 🙂

  30. This recipe is great, easy to follow for new bakers, and seems to be foolproof. But most of my family are lovers of any baked good with some fruit in it. So I make blueberry bagels when using this recipe. It’s unfortunate that you don’t include any blueberry or fruit-related bagel instructions, so I’ll do it myself. I just add about half a cup, or more, of blueberries (I like frozen, they’re usually the sweetest) when the dough is still a shaggy mass, then dump it out onto a surface and start kneading. It’ll take a bit of time but the blueberries will mix into the dough, don’t be worried if it looks like it it will never come together. But once they do the blueberries will smash and make the dough a dull purple, along with adding a good amount of liquid. This will cause for the dough to become very sticky. So adding an extra 1/4 cup flour is gonna be necessary. Knead the dough till it’s smooth, firm, and almost not sticky. And that’s it, follow the rest of the recipe as usual. I don’t know if following an actual blueberry bagel recipe would yield better results, but these bagels, plain or blueberry, are great!

    1. Donna Wakefield says:

      I made these today using half whole wheat flour, half bread flour. They turned out great! I used black and white sesame seeds for the topping. I posted photos on instagram and tagged you.

      Regards

      Donna

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