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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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  • nae
    June 1, 2007

    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!

  • Nicole
    June 1, 2007

    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!

  • thecoffeesnob
    June 2, 2007

    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! =)

  • Duygu
    June 2, 2007

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

  • meeso
    June 2, 2007

    Looks great, the pictures are awesome!

  • Barbara
    June 2, 2007

    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.

  • Myrtille
    June 2, 2007

    Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

  • valentina
    June 3, 2007

    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.

  • Melissa
    June 4, 2007

    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?

  • Augustina
    June 4, 2007

    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.

  • Gigi
    June 5, 2007

    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?

  • Jen
    June 5, 2007

    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.

  • Gigi
    June 5, 2007

    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.

  • meg
    June 7, 2007

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

  • Shelly
    June 9, 2007

    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!

  • Nicole too
    June 11, 2007

    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???

  • leandra
    June 14, 2007

    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)

  • Hannah
    July 18, 2007

    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!

  • CJay
    July 30, 2007

    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!

  • Jaime
    October 17, 2007

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

  • mona
    October 23, 2007

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

  • sonia
    October 25, 2007

    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.

  • Anonymous
    January 1, 2008

    How do you store home made bagels?

  • grace
    February 28, 2008

    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.

  • Raul
    April 17, 2008

    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

  • Gerry
    July 15, 2008

    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.

  • tasha
    October 28, 2008

    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

  • Azalia
    November 9, 2008

    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.

  • Judy
    January 6, 2009

    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?

  • Denise
    January 10, 2009

    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.

  • fjdks
    January 12, 2009

    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.

  • Mike
    February 1, 2009

    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

  • Raen
    February 8, 2009

    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!!!! 😀 LOL!

  • angiedmann
    February 15, 2009

    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?

  • Pauly B
    March 1, 2009

    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?

  • Marc
    April 15, 2009

    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.

  • Rhonda
    June 3, 2009

    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.

  • Jackie
    August 12, 2009

    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.

  • tl
    March 22, 2010

    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!

  • Pink rain boots
    April 13, 2010

    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.

  • BagelMan
    June 19, 2010

    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.

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