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, 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.
  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

235 Comments

  1. Outstanding recipe!
    I am a bagel nut and have been an avid bread baker for 30+ years but have never tried to make bagels. This recipe is fabulous and so, so easy. I followed it to a T using the Red Mill unbleached artisan bread flour I had on hand. After mixing in my stand mixer I removed half the dough to knead and then added cinnamon and raisins to the remaining dough. To form the bagels I tried both the ball with the thumb hole and rolling a log and pinching the ends together methods. The ball with a thumb hole worked best for me. The pinched ends came apart in the boil stage. I did not add the egg wash, however. Both the plain and the cinnamon raisin bagels were excellent. The crusts were very chewy with a tender inside. I will definitely be making this recipe whenever we want bagels. In my opinion these bagels rival the big brand bagels we all are familiar with.
    Thank you, Sally, for one of the best and most successful online recipes I have found!!

  2. Thank you for the recipe! My family loves these bagels! I have made a batch for the past 3 weekends. I followed the recipe as directed and they were perfect! Those who complained about burnt bagels in the reviews may not have used parchment paper?!?

  3. This is the 4th time I bake them and I made about 4 dozens this time. Now I experimented with chocolate chip bagels with chocolate cream cheese. It was funny to think that it was probably the first chocolate chip bagel with chocolate cream cheese baked and eated in my city for the first time ever. The good news is that I almost master the dough preparation, my bagels are expanding as the professional ones. I realized that the Yeast brand, amount and the correct water amount and temperature are the most important factors for success. I tried 4 different yeast brands and 2 of them do the job, (Tradi Pan and Clabber Girl) while Rexal and Magidely didn´t work, I still need to try Nevada, but for the moment, I got the results I expected. Ialso have a slight diference in the process. The yeast is mixed in dry with the flour and No boiling step is needed at all. The dough rises to double in matter of half hour, but after shaping the bagels, if you compressed the dough at shaping, bagels will expand again until you placed them into the oven, so it all depends of time and probably ambient temperature, in this final step after shaping bagels is when I noticed the defrosting oven will be necessary, so what I did to help my bagels expand again is to placed them next to the oven, where temperature is higher, and it worked. Finally, thank you very much for everything, I have shared small cream cheese and jam sandwiches with many people, and everyone loves them, I am thinking seriously in starting a business, it will be the 2nd in my city, but it will be the best.

  4. This recipe is truly as easy as it looks. My family loves the sesame, everything and cinnamon variations. Perfect!!

  5. I moves from the East to West Coast 30 years ago. Sort of a bagel desert here until my niece sent me this recipe. Wow!! It was easy & produced the best bagel I’ve enjoyed out here…and right from my own kitchen. Delicious & New York-style chewy. Thank you so very much, Sally. (sigh…)

  6. If I could give this recipe a 5!star rating I would. My husband is a bagel snob and said that these are as good as his favorite bagel chain in Atlanta. One thing I did differently was seed both sides..crispy and delicious! It is a keeper!

  7. I just made this for the first time and followed the recipe to a tee. Made everything salted and being from Maryland had to do an Old Bay as well. They are a huge hit. Both my wife and son said they are the best bagels they have ever eaten. Huge compliment. Thanks so much for the recipe

  8. I just made 2 batches of bacon n 5 cheese beagles. AWESOME!!!! The second batch I used 2 1/2 cups of bread flour 1 1/2 cup of oat flour and 1/2 cup of oat bran and an extra teaspoon of yeast. It turned out perfect. Thank You for sharing your recipes.

  9. Amazing! I’ve always been so nervous to try making bagels. The recipe and instructions were so easy and straight forward. I used parchment paper and they are perfectly browned. They look great. I’m waiting for them to cool right now, then I’m sure my kids are going to eat them up so fast. I think I may need to double (or triple) next time.
    The kids love french toast bagels…do you have add ins for that? I was thinking cinnamon raisin recipe minus the raisins, with brown sugar and cinnamon on top

  10. My grandson and I made these and they were so easy compared to the last recipe we tried. We made them plain. Everyone who tried them raved about them. The night we made them I cut each one in half and froze them. Then we take them out as needed and they are just as good as the first day. I have not tried keeping them without freezing because I have found bagels do not keep well.

  11. If I decide to proof the dough in the refrigerator overnight, do I let it rise first at room temperature or do I put it right in the refrigerator? The instructions are a bit confusing for this.

  12. Hi Sally,
    Being a life long New Yorker(73) I just tried your recipe. The taste was really good.
    the only issue I have it wasn’t as chewy as I’m used to. I will admit I’m not much of a
    baker, more or a cook. I followed the recipe to a T so my question is what can I do to make them a little chewier, less water more flour? I baked them for 20 minutes as they
    looked done, nice brown color.
    thanks
    Ira

    1. Hi Ira! Are you using bread flour? That helps guarantee extra chewy bagels. A little extra water in the dough may help add the extra chewiness you crave.

      1. Hi Sally,
        yes I used bread flour. I’ll try a little more water on the next batch and let you know. Also after a couple of days they did become a little chewier but that was probably just from becoming”stale”. I also used this recipe and made some bialys which were also very interesting.
        Thanks again for your recipes

  13. I have used this recipe over and over and my family is now addicted. They can’t to go back to store-bought anymore!
    I was wondering if you’ve tried this recipe with a liquid addition such as pumpkin or banana. Will I need to add more flour or change anything to compensate for the additional liquid?
    Thanks so much!! You and your recipes are the best!

    1. Hi Carla! Thank you so much and I’m so glad you enjoy these homemade bagels! I wish I could help, but I’ve never tried making pumpkin or banana bagels. You’d likely need to *slightly* adjust the liquid and add more flour. Let me know if you test anything!

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