These easy homemade bagels are soft and chewy on the inside and golden on the outside. They are a great introduction to getting started on your journey of making bread from scratch!
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Best Bagel Recipe
Any type of bread-making is the kind of skill that never goes out of style. This easy recipe for homemade bagels is a great one to start with and once you master it you’ve got to try homemade cinnamon rolls, rosemary focaccia, and homemade bread.
With a few simple ingredients and a few kitchen tools, you can enjoy a batch of bakery-style bagels fresh out of the oven in just a couple of hours. Make them plain or top them with your favorite seasonings!
Why This Recipe Works
- Taste and texture. The results are soft bagels with a chewy golden crust. Enjoy them warm or room temperature, toasted or not. No matter how you slice it, they’re amazing.
- Versatile. Homemade bagels are the perfect vessel for all kinds of toppings. Use them for pizza bagels, cream cheese, lox, turkey sandwiches, peanut butter, you name it.
- Easy to make. When it comes to breakfast ideas, homemade bagels are a little extra special.
Bagel Recipe Ingredients
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Bread flour, divided: Measure it accurately with a kitchen scale or the spoon and level method. It’s used with yeast and water initially to make a sponge which will then be added to the rest of the ingredients to help activate and proof yeast before forming the dough.
- Instant yeast, divided: Again, some will be used initially to create the sponge which helps to activate the gluten early on.
- Warm water: Yeast requires warm water to grow. If it’s too hot you’ll kill it, if it’s too cold it won’t do anything.
- Fine sea salt: To enhance the flavor of the homemade bagels.
- Molasses: Adds a bit of sweetness to the bagels. Some people use honey or barley syrup, and some will use brown sugar.
- For boiling: Water, molasses, baking soda, and fine sea salt create a flavorful bath for the homemade bagels to boil in before baking. This helps to provide a beautiful sheen on the outside and the chewy texture we are looking for like we do for soft pretzels.
Bagel Topping Ideas
Once you’ve got your homemade bagel recipe on the go, you may want to add some seasoning to yours. You can keep them plain, make a few different kinds, or stick to one of the ones listed here!
- Everything Bagel Seasoning
- Asiago cheese, freshly shredded
- Poppy seeds or sesame seeds
- Cinnamon sugar
Substitutions and Variations
This recipe for bagels is as simple as they come, however, if you’re looking to swap some ingredients depending on what you have in the kitchen, here are some ideas:
Use honey, barley malt syrup, or brown sugar instead of the molasses.
If you prefer to avoid sweeteners in your baking soda bath, do not skip the bath but omit any sweetener. Use an egg wash before baking instead. It’ll give it that same sheen and golden color, without the subtle sweetness.
How to Make Homemade Bagels
- Prepare the sponge. In a medium glass bowl, mix the first listed amount of bread flour and instant yeast. Then, add the warm water and stir until combined. Cover with a towel and allow it to rise at room temperature for up to 1 hour until the sponge is bubbly and active.
- Combine the dough. To the bowl of a stand mixer, add the sponge with the second amount of yeast, salt, and molasses. Use a dough hook attachment to mix on low until combined. Slowly add in the remaining flour, a cup at a time. Increase to medium-low speed to mix for 7-8 minutes. Allow it to rest for 20 minutes.
- Divide the dough. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface. Divide it into 10 equal pieces and form each one into a smooth ball.
- Make little dough balls. Hold 1 piece in both hands and stretch, then fold ends around toward each other at the underside, then rotate and repeat once, gently pinching to seal the underside. Create a smooth surface by rolling in your hands. Cover the balls with a towel and let them rest on your work surface for 20 minutes.
- Form into bagel shape. Use your thumb and index finger to pierce a hole in the center of each dough ball and slightly stretch it into shape.
- Let them rest. Place each one on a prepared baking sheet and once again, cover and let them rest for 15 minutes.
- Prepare boiling water. While the dough rings rest, bring a large pot of water, molasses, baking soda, and salt to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to keep it at a gentle rolling boil and drop the bagels into the water, about 2-3 at a time. Boil for a minute per side and remove them with a slotted spoon.
- Bake and let cool. Sprinkle any toppings immediately after and bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 14-15 minutes until golden brown. Cool for about 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!
- Measure flour accurately. Using too much dough can alter the texture of your homemade bagels in a way we don’t want. Weigh the flour using a kitchen scale, or if that’s not possible, scoop it into a measuring cup and level if off with the flat side of a bread knife.
- Test your yeast. There’s nothing worse than going through the process of making dough for homemade bagels, only to find out the dough isn’t going to rise.
- Test your dough before boiling. The key to boiling these homemade bagels is to ensure you’re not boiling them too soon. If you’re not proofed enough, there won’t be enough air in them to float. They will sink and turn out dense. Test a small piece of dough first.
- A fun tip. If you like more than just a sprinkle of seasoning on top of your bagels, it’s a good idea to add the seasoning to a shallow bowl and dunk the bagels face down to evenly coat the top with a generous amount.
Technically yes. I would only do this if bread flour wasn’t an option. Bread flour is the way to go for homemade bagels. They have a higher protein content than all-purpose flour which means more gluten. This also means a chewier texture.
It should be between 110 degrees and 120 degrees.
Yes, please! This step is crucial to the signature texture of the very best bagel recipes. The boiling water cooks the outside of the bagel first which gives it structure and once baked, a chewy outer shell, once baked.
There is so much you can do with the mighty bagel!
Use a spread like hummus, nut butter, honey, strawberry jam, or cream cheese. You can turn it into a sandwich topped with egg salad, tuna salad, or turkey.
We also like to swap the English muffins for bagels in this Egg McMuffin breakfast sandwich.
Keep them in a brown paper bag for up to 3 days. You can also freeze them for up to 6 months.
More Breakfast Recipes
For the Sponge:
- 3 ½ cups bread flour spooned and leveled
- 1 ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 ¼ cups warm water
For the Dough:
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 Tablespoon fine sea salt
- 1 ½ Tablespoons molasses
- 3 cups bread flour spooned and leveled
- 8 cups water
- 2 Tablespoons molasses
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Make the sponge: In a medium glass bowl, mix together the bread flour and instant yeast. Add the warm water and stir until combined. Cover with a towel and allow to rise at room temperature for 1 hour. The sponge should be active and bubbly.
- Make the dough: Add the sponge to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the additional yeast, salt, and molasses, then mix on low speed until combined. Slowly add in the flour 1 cup at a time. Once the flour is incorporated, increase to medium-low speed and mix for 7-8 minutes. Turn mixer off and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide into 10 equal pieces. Form each piece into a smooth surfaced ball (Hold 1 piece in both hands and stretch, then fold ends around toward each other at the underside, then rotate and repeat once, gently pinching to seal the underside. Create a smooth surface by rolling in hands). Cover with a towel and let rest on your work surface for 20 minutes.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- Shape each bagel: Using your thumb and index finger to pierce and make a hole in the center and stretch slightly into shape. Place each bagel onto the prepared baking sheets. Cover and rest 15 minutes.
- Boil and bake the bagels: While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Combine the water, molasses, baking soda, and salt in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce to medium heat to keep at a gentle rolling boil and carefully drop the bagels into the water in batches (2-3 at a time). Allow to boil for 1 minute on each side, then remove with a slotted spoon back to the baking sheet. Add optional toppings immediately after removing from water, if using.
- Bake for 14-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and move to a cooling rack to cool 15-20 minutes.
- Everything Bagel Seasoning
- Asiago Cheese, freshly shredded
- Poppy seeds or sesame seeds
- Cinnamon sugar
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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