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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

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  • sheila @ Elements
    September 29, 2010

    Thanks so much for the recipe! I just made some and they turned out great! 🙂 Cheers! sheila

  • Barbara Bakes
    October 16, 2010

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

  • Amy @ A Little Nosh
    April 13, 2011

    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

  • Amy @ A Little Nosh
    May 3, 2011

    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.


  • Wow…Homemade bagels sound great!

  • Mark B
    May 20, 2011

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

  • nicole
    June 11, 2011

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

  • Allison
    December 10, 2011

    I love the thought of making homemade bagels!

  • Juliana
    January 28, 2012

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

  • Abra Alani
    February 4, 2012

    I made these today! I followed your directions, and they turned out great! I used whole wheat flour instead of white, and it doesn’t seem to have affected anything, because they turned out delicious!
    Thanks for posting!

  • Rachel
    February 15, 2012

    Do you think I could mix the dough in my bread machine?

  • Abra Alani
    February 27, 2012

    I wanted to let you know that I’ve made these guys several times now. They’ve been breakfast egg sandwiches, pizza for dinner, and a toasted snack with peanut butter. I recently started adding toppings such as poppy seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, and mini chocolate chips! They are so versatile! Thanks again for the recipe!

  • Helen Gottesman
    June 3, 2012

    I made bagels for the first time today with another recipe and wondered why they did not stay in the correct shaoe. Thanks for the tip! The other recipe also did not mention an egg wash…Next time I will use your recipe!

  • whatkatyatenext
    August 3, 2012

    I just tried this out, having lived in India for sometime I am so starved of a decent bagel (they don’t exist here!) Great recipe, thanks 🙂

  • Alia
    September 10, 2012

    Thank you, this looks like a great recipe, I will definately try it and if it is as good as it looks, it will be my next fav recipe. But I was wondering what is the purpose of boiling them in water before baking. Thanks

  • Megan
    October 11, 2012

    I’m making these right now. It’s the second attempt. The first time, I overworked my dough. Already, I notice a difference. I’m pretty excited for them.

  • Tina
    October 22, 2012

    Followed your instruction and they turned out awesome!
    I have made a few batches and have used raisins, chocolate chips and cranberries and each batch turns out perfect! Thanks so much for the recipe.

  • Joanne Bischof
    January 7, 2013

    These are in the oven right now and the house smells heavenly. Thank you for sharing your recipe! My husband is a HUGE bagel man, so he’s going to be so pleasantly surprised when he gets home 😉

  • Kari
    February 23, 2013

    I made these for the first time tonight (second attempt at bagels ever). I would like to add a couple things I learned. Don’t turn on the oven when it says to, because there’s PLENTY more time left to turn it on, same for boiling the water. Also, I think it would be better instead of shaping the dough into balls and letting them rise, and then losing that wonderful shape in order to poke the hole, I think next time I’ll poke the hole, let them rise the total 40 minutes and then boil / bake. Oh, laughs, and last tip. Freezer paper does NOT work the same as parchment paper, and now I have to cut the bottoms off all the bagels because they have paper stuck to them, hahaha. I also did not have bread flour, so I did some googlesearch (google research) and decided to use 3.5 cups all purpose with 1/2 cup vital gluten. I think that the gluten probably absorbed a lot of water in the boil process, so mine were more doughy. After I did it and while waiting for the dough to rise, I found where someone else said they used 3 T gluten in 4 cups of APF, so I guess I overshot the mark some… hahaha. All in all, I will be trying the recipe again, just as soon as I have several hours time on my hands, (like the fifth of never or so it seems… ) Hubby is leaving for a week for work, so I might try it while he’s gone so I can hide the evidence if it goes badly.. =) Thanks for the recipe and hope the above helps future bagel bakers…. =)

  • Michael Wright
    March 22, 2013

    im gonna be using these for my Food and Nutrition controlled assessment 😛 THANKS

  • Anne
    February 6, 2014

    I made these tonight. They don’t look like yours, not sure why, but they taste good and I’ll try again – maybe they’ll come out like yours! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Anne
    February 6, 2014

    I also think next time, I will try Kari’s suggestion of making the balls and poking the hole, then letting them rise/rest for 30-40 minutes.

  • Karen Goodale
    March 25, 2015

    I have made these bagels many times. They taste great. The dough rises beautifully, I punch it down and follow directions. They look great boiling, but when baked they come out flat
    I haves tried putting the dough into the refrigerator over night, then forming bagels and still they flatten when baked. Is there anything else I can do?

  • Rhonda Shedron
    May 29, 2017

    I have made these bagels for years and this recipe easy and straight forward. I have found the most important thing to watch out for, is to not let the dough rise too much at any step, do not boil the bagels too long, and get them in the oven promptly after the boil/egg wash. We also usually add about a teaspoon of molasses and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the boil water. These bagels bake up nice and plump, browned and when toasted, have a nice crackle on the outside and chewy interior. Thank you for the recipe!

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