Homemade Bagels

finished bagels

It’ll be hard to go back to storebought bagels after these.

These homemade bagels were simply delicious, and as though that were not enough, they were both easy and fun to make on top of that. They had a perfectly chewy crust and a tender/chewy inside that stood up well to butter and jam. The bagels also toasted perfectly – and in a bagel, that is just about all you can ask for.

I decided that plain was the most versatile type of bagel to make, so I only topped this batch with a simple egg wash to give them a shine. Poppy or sesame seeds can easily be added on top of that glaze to liven things up a little.

The most difficult part of bagel-making is shaping them. But it is only difficult because so many sources will steer you wrong about how it should be done. You should absolutely not attempt to form the bagels by rolling the dough into a “snake” and pinching the ends together. The “snake” will come undone in the boiling water and you’ll be left with a less than optimal shape. They’ll probably taste fine, but they’re not going to fit easily in the toaster that way. The much easier, more foolproof way is to shape the dough into tight balls and poke a hole through the center of each. Stretch out the dough into a ring with your fingers and you’re all set! Make the hole a little larger than you want the finished bagel to have, as it will shrink slightly while the bagel is expanding during the baking process. Along with the recipe below, I’ve included a step-by-step photo that demonstrates bagel-shaping to help you along.

These aren’t the giant-sized bagels that make for good sandwiches, but rather more “normal” sized, good for breakfast or a snack. If you do want sandwich-sized bagels, follow the instructions below and, instead of making 12 bagels, make 6 or 8 with the same amount of dough. Increase the baking time by a few minutes and you’ll have the right size to suit your needs.


Homemade Bagels
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 3/4 cups water, warm (100-110F)
4 cups bread flour (not all purpose)
1 tbsp salt
1 egg, for egg wash

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) combine yeast, sugar and water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in flour and salt. Mix dough thoroughly until it comes together in a large ball, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Add an additional tablespoon of flour or water, if needed.
If kneading by hand, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until very smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If using a stand mixer, knead dough with the dough hook until elastic, about 8 minutes on a low speed. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil and preheat the oven to 400F.

When dough has risen, turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces (first quarters, then thirds). Shape each piece into a tight ball as illustrated below, pinching the corners together at the bottom of the piece of dough. When all the balls are shaped, let the dough rest for 30 minutes covered with a clean dish towel.

bagel shaping how-to

Once dough balls have rested, the bagel shape can be formed. Using your fingers, poke a hole through the center of each dough ball. Stretch out the dough into a ring with your fingers and be sure to make the hole a little larger than you want the finished bagel to have, as it will shrink slightly while the bagel is expanding during the baking process. Let bagels rest for about 10 minutes.

boiling bagels

Working four at a time, drop the bagels carefully into the boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes on the first side, then flip and boil for an additional minute. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, transfer bagels to a clean towel to drain for a moment, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining bagels.
Brush boiled bagels with lightly beaten egg (a pastry or bbq brush is a good tool for this) and bake for 20-24 minutes, until golden brown.
Cool completely on a wire rack.
Slice and toast to serve.

Makes 12 bagels.

buttery bagel

85 comments

  1. Hi Nicole!
    This sounds like an excellent recipe for bagels! Your photo description is amazing and the bagels look very very yummy!!!I really want to try it out first thing tomm., but I have no bread flour at home. Is it even slightly possible to have similar results with all purpose flour or do I have to make a trip to the grocer’s?
    Thank you!

  2. Nae – Definitely go for bread flour. The higher gluten (protein) content is what you need to make perfect, chewy bagels. They’re worth the trip to the store!

  3. I simply adore bagels! I naively got half a dozen bagels on Thursday to last through the weekend, they were all gone even before the weekend started.

    I’ve got to try this as soon as i get my hands on some bread flour. Thanks for sharing this! =)

  4. hi
    i have been reading your blog for a while and i really enjoj.Good job by the way bagels look yummy

  5. Looks great, the pictures are awesome!

  6. They look so good! I love bagels and have a recipe I like to use but your’s looks much easier. I’ll have to give it a try.

  7. Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

  8. I love bagels. My dream and maybe the end of me will be to start making them at home – I will probably eat them all the time.

  9. i am an incredibly inexperienced baker, but i work pretty well with directions. do you think i could make cinnamon-raisin, blueberry, strawberry, or banana-walnut versions by simply adding in those ingredients to the dough before boiling?

  10. I cannot wait to try this recipe. I love bagels and I’ve always wanted to bake my own but thought they were too difficult. Thankyou for the recipe and the great pictorial instructions.
    -Augustina

  11. I made these yesterday (on a whim, thanks to your lovely photography!). They taste yummy, but they don’t look as puffy as yours. Everything was fine until I boiled them – they got a little flat and didn’t have that nice smooth “skin” anymore. Any idea what might have happened?

  12. I just finished making these and although they are yummy I had flat bagels too! I think I figured it out with the second batch–I simply left them in the oven for a few more minutes; right to the full suggested time of 24 minutes. Also I did peek in a few times so that may be the problem with the first ones as well. Hope that helps.

  13. Hmm…interesting theory. I figured it was the boiling step that made them flat, but it’s quite possible that my anxiousness and opening of the oven door every minute after the 20 minute mark may have done them in.

    Out of curiosity, how “rolling” of a boil did you use? I was afraid they would get waterlogged so I upped the boil a bit on the second batch of 4. That might have contributed to their flatness too.

  14. Next time add some sugar or malt syrup to the water.

  15. Just made a batch–delicious! We had them straight out of the oven with a little butter. This will be a great recipe to pull out for special breakfasts and get togethers!

  16. Hmmmm mine also came out “flat” and I did everything as stated. I would love to make them again as I’m a bagle lover but not if they are going to come out so flat. I can barely cut them in half….What gives???

  17. I just made these last night and they turned out great. I even sprinkled a little asiago cheese on a few before baking, delicious. Thanks!

    (found via Not Martha)

  18. Wow, I’ve attempted to make bagels before, and they were nowhere near as delicious as these. Plus I just love how simple the recipe is!

  19. Awesome! I just made this simple recipe with the easy to follow directions and they turned out PERFECT! They are delicious, too! Mine did not go flat. A couple of things that may have made yours go flat is the temp. of the water you add the yeast to. You need to make sure the water is between 100 and 110 degree’s and will need a thermometer for that. Keep the water at a soft boil not a hard boil. The last thing that might weigh them down and flatten them was when you had to turn them onto a lightly floured surface. If you floured too much and kneeded that back into the dough balls that could have done it. Hope this helps!

  20. Looks yummy! cant wait to make them this weekend. Any suggestions or links for making whole wheat or different flavors?? Thanks!

  21. I made these and my husband just adores them ..thanks for the recipe…

  22. Hi Nic,

    I just made the bagels, they turned out alright except for one thing–the crust was too hard. Do you think it happened because I baked them for too long ( almost 35 minutes–they looked wet after 20 minutes) or because I omitted the egg wash ?
    Please help.
    Thanks.

  23. How do you store home made bagels?

  24. i’ve never made bagels before and found your instructions really easy to follow. the first batch i made plain ones which were good. for the second batch, i added 1 cup raisins (soaked for 5 minutes in hot water, well drained and patted dry) and 1 tbsp of cinnamon with the flour and salt and mixed it all together, then followed the rest of the recipe. they turned out brilliantly, hubby says it’s the best bagel he’s ever had! i’ve also found that they freeze well. thanks for a great recipe! cheers.

  25. Neiza , quien sabe te interese esta receta de bagels que tu sabes son tan ricas y mejore que donuts. Mas saludables. Prueba a hacerlas que yo tambien las hare . Me dices como te salieron. tu cuñado

  26. Hi,
    I have been making breads & occasionally bagels. I use malt/honey in boiling water. I use all purpose (canadian) flour which is 1-2% higher in gluten than the USA all purpose flour. I find that all most always no matter what recipe I have used that on cooling off (& even a day or 2 later) my bagels shrink from bagel to doughnut size. I have asked a few bakers but no success. I wondered if the boiling destroys the yeast for its final rise but lower temp of water had no major effect.
    Any suggestions or answers as to cause.

  27. I have tried many many bagel recipes and yet i have never found the “perfect” bagel recipe. This recipe tasted good but I found like many others that my bagels were flat! they didnt rise or brown as they should have. if anyone knows the PERFECT bagel recipe then please please please send it to me at tnjmarried2003@yahoo.com

  28. I’ve just tried making these. And I too got flat bagels just coming out of the boiling pot. So I turned the heat down and just boiled half a minute on each side and it doesn’t flat as much when it was on hard boil and longer boiling time. Will try these again.

  29. I have no idea why my dough do not raise. I tried twice with different yeast, but still not work. Most recently, I put the dough in the oven at 170, but no use. I also tried to steam
    the dough.

    I knew it worked once before, the bagels were great.

    Do I need to get expensive yeast? Should I get yeast from baking section or freezing section of the store?

  30. Just made these bagels this morning- they were great! They were surprisingly light, not doughy or heavy at all. A very minimal application of cream cheese or butter seemed best. The bagel itself has such a nice light flavor on its own that heavy toppings overwhelm it.

    My bagels stayed nice and high, puffed up beautifully in the water, not sure why others had flatness woes. The only change I made to the recipe was baking them cornmeal dusted lightly greased foil lined baking sheets. I was out of parchment paper.

  31. This is the best bagel recipe I have found. My first batch turned out kinda flat, but on the second batch I added 2 tsp of baking soda to my water when boiling, and they were nice and high.

  32. Just made these bagels this morning…they are sooo good…I made blueberry, cinnamon brown sugar, and everything. I can’t wait till next weekend to make some more LOL

  33. This is my favorite website. I love it. hahha I love to bake and I decided to try bagels (which by the way are amazing. I am never buying them in stores again!), and now I want to bake everything!!!! :D LOL!

  34. I’m about to make these, and find I have no parchment paper. Is this going to stymie the process? Should I wait until I do? I’m very impatient to have some fabulous bagels and sadly Seattle’s offerings always disappoint me. Am I out of luck until tomorrow?

  35. My 2nd recipe and 3rd attempt at “Bageling”. Finally had success. My flat bagels were due to not kneading enough. 2-3 minutes vs. 10. I did not know what kneading really did for the end product. After cooling they do appear to be shriveling a bit. I also want to get the outside just a bit thicker and harder.

    Any ideas?

  36. Thanks for the great recipe. I’ve tried a couple of other recipes, but this one turned out much better than the others. Just the right texture and no wrinkly crust. I think the people with crust and texture problems may have added too much flour during kneading. My dough was very soft and I used a stand mixer for the kneeding, sliding the dough off of the hook every 30 seconds or so. The dough was still sticky when I divided it into balls, so I dusted my hands in flour.

  37. I have had bagels go flat after the boil and believe it may have been caused by too much rise prior to boiling. I find you need to flexible with the 30 minute rest after shaping the balls and watch the progress…you don’t want them to rise too much because when you put them in to boil, they rise more and if between the two you overdo it, they collapse.

  38. I love this recipe and the pictures were very helpful if you have never made bagels before. I had made some modifications by adding some medium whole wheat flour and malt and my family loves them! Remember to add a pan of water in your oven too.

  39. I made these tonight. My second and far more successful attempt at bagels. The first recipe I tried was too bready and not chewy enough. I only had all-purpose flour on hand, but I wanted them NOW, so I added 2 TBSP. vital wheat gluten to the flour. I also kneaded for quite a while with my stand mixer and by hand. They’re chewy! I had a couple come out flat, and based on others comments I wonder if they weren’t the first ones to go into the pot, when the water was at a stronger rolling boil? I’ll have to watch that next time, but this recipe is definitely a keeper! Thanks!

  40. Just for an example, they rejected one of my articles because the content didn’t match the title. I had a title that said “twenty ways to…” and only included five.

  41. Used this recipe for my first time making bagels. The big reason the bagels are coming out flat is because the flour and water amounts are way off in the recipe.

    Learned this the hard way. Most other bagel recipes out there use less water for the same amount of flour. I should have went for the stiffer dough, but I thought there was no way the recipe could be that far off. It would have probably taken at least 5 full cups of flour in order to make the correct dough.

  42. Thanks so much for the recipe! I just made some and they turned out great! :) Cheers! sheila

  43. Great post! I loved the shaping tips. I included a link to this post in my bagel post today. Thanks!

  44. Thanks for the shaping tip! I had a bit of an issue with the “snake” way as you can see here: http://alittlenosh.blogspot.com/2011/04/homemade-bagels-fail-sort-of.html

  45. Okay, I tried your version and these turned out AMAZING. My brother ate 4, and then made them twice the next week. Love love love.

    http://alittlenosh.blogspot.com/2011/05/mothers-day-brunch.html

  46. Wow…Homemade bagels sound great!

  47. How do I modify to make strawberry bagels with fresh strawberries?

  48. I made these bagels, they taste great but are not smooth in appearance like yours. what did I do wrong?

  49. I love the thought of making homemade bagels!

  50. tried this recipe a few months ago, it’s easy and the bagels turned out vry good – thanks!

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