Classic Homemade Bagels

These classic homemade bagels are traditional and made with flour, yeast, water, sugar, salt, and olive oil, are the best we’ve ever made. And you can make them with any topping you want—or, for everything lovers, with all the toppings you want. Here’s how to make them.

A variety of homemade bagels on a white surface.

Bagels have become standard fare in coffee shops these days. And certainly a real, traditional bagel, with a firm, shiny crust and a luscious, chewy inside, is a super tasty thing. Is it possible to replicate this magic at home with homemade bagels? After many doughs and testings, we believe we’ve perfected it. Try it. It’s worth the effort.–Ruth Joseph and Simon Round

Classic Homemade Bagels

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 3 H
  • 3 H, 50 M
  • Makes 40
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Ingredients

  • For the bagel dough
  • For cooking the bagels
  • For the bagel toppings

Directions

Make the bagel dough

In a large bowl, combine the bread and whole-wheat flours and whisk to blend well.

In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour mixture with the lukewarm water, yeast, and sugar and whisk until smooth, making sure all of the yeast has dissolved. Set it aside in a warm place for 10 to 15 minutes until fermented and foamy.

Combine the remaining flour mixture with the salt in the bowl of your stand mixer.

Pour the oil into the fermented yeast mixture and beat with a fork until smooth. With the mixer running, add the yeast mixture to the flour in the bowl and mix until a soft, pliable dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a large oiled bowl, drape a piece of oiled plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel over the bowl, and place in the fridge to rise overnight.

On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into 40 pieces and shape them into balls. Then roll each ball of dough into a sausage shape and form into a bagel by overlapping the ends to form a ring, pressing the ends together so they stick. Allow a disproportionately large hole in the center so there’s space for the bagels to rise (otherwise the hole will close).

Transfer the bagels to 2 or 3 baking sheets lined with parchment paper and dusted with flour. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C).

Cook the bagels

Bring a large, wide, deep pot of water to a boil.

Add the molasses and whisk in the baking powder. Carefully drop the bagels—just 3 at a time—into the boiling water and simmer without budging them for 2 to 3 minutes. Then quickly flip the bagels over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them back on the parchment paper while you repeat with the remaining dough.

Top the bagels

Once all of the bagels are cooked, lightly glaze them with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the onion or seeds. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

Transfer the bagels to a wire rack to cool completely. Be proud! Originally published April 11, 2013.

Print RecipeBuy the Jewish Traditional Cooking cookbook

Want it? Click it.

    Rye and Caraway Variation

    • You can substitute 2 cups rye flour for the whole-wheat flour and use 4 tablespoons caraway seeds instead of onion or other seeds.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    I LOVE Bagels. I LOVE to make bagels. For me, one of the truly wonderful things about making bread, especially bagels, is the traditional ritual of kneading and resting the dough, letting it rise, shaping it, baking it, and finally eating it. It’s a very relaxing and therapeutic endeavor that anyone should find rewarding. This is a VERY good bagel. The crust became very shiny and almost crisp and the crumb was chewy, as a bagel should be.

    This recipe calls for the standard method of boiling the shaped dough for a couple of minutes, but what I found interesting is the use of molasses and baking powder as opposed to the standard baking soda.

    I found these to be much better when they were allowed to cool. I made this recipe twice. The second time I halved the recipe, which also worked quite nicely.

    This was an elaborate recipe but well worth the effort. The recipe produced 40 melt-in-your-mouth bagels. I used sesame and nigella seeds on my bagels.

    The recipe makes about 5 pounds of dough. I found that I needed 1/4 cup more water while kneading the dough than what the recipe had specified. I rolled them into approximately 2-ounce balls and shaped them into bagels measuring 2 1/4 inches in diameter. I used a large Dutch oven and filled it with 12 cups of water and added 3 bagels at a time to boil.

    After about 20 bagels, I had to add at least 6 more cups of water to replenish. I then baked them for about 15 minutes. The first 3 bagels I boiled came undone and I ended up with crescent-shaped bagels. When you overlap the ends of the bagel, moisten your fingers and really press the ends together well.

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    Comments

    1. Excellent recipe! I still need to work on my shaping technique (next time I will work the seam better, some of them opened while simmering in water), but it is the best homemade bagel recipe I’ve tried! I added raisins and cinnamon to 1/4 of the dough. I also added cocoa powder and mini chocolate chips to another 1/4 of the dough. The rest of the dough I topped with sesame seeds! Yum! Thanks!

      Homemade Bagels

      1. Glori, all I can say is you can do my seams anytime. These look fantastic. I’m so happy you like the recipe, and we’ll be looking for more from Glori’s Bageleria.

    2. Bagel forming question:

      Growing up I’d always seen bagels formed (in bagel shops) by making a ball of dough, starting a hole in the middle with thumb and forefinger, then using both hands to spread the hole to maybe and inch or so in diameter.

      Lately I’ve been seeing this overlapped sausage method. Is this new? Seems like it would be hard to slice and fill without it tearing open at the join, plus the thickness of the sides is really uneven.

      PITA cranky bagel lovers want to know. 😉

        1. My research tells me that the more traditional method is the over-lapping method. I have tried both but prefer the poke your finger and thumb method. After you make the hole put both index fingers through – one from either side and pull from the center a bit while winding like string.

            1. Well, the overlap looks nicely rustic, I will admit. 😉 And is fine if you’re just eating a bagel, but for slicing, toasting, filling…I’ll stick to the expanded dimple method. Kind of makes me think of making pizza, stretching the dough to get the shape you want.

              Anyway, I’m going to give this recipe a try ’cause I often just eat a bagel, all by itself and I haven’t fallen in liove with any of theother bagel recipes I’ve tried.

              Thanks, Larry! And Beth for passing it along. 😉

    3. Hi Cait, when I make everything or seed bagels, as soon as I take the bagels from the pot of boiling I sprinkle them with the ingredients. That way the topping sticks without doing an egg wash, which will work as well. When I make a cinnamon raisin bagel, I add the raisins to the dough and then I brush the bagel just before baking with butter and shake a mixture of cinnamon and sugar over the top. Depending on your oven, you may need to make certain that the sugar doesn’t burn. (If it looks like it will burn, turn off the oven and leave the door open a bit so the bagels finish baking.) I think any dried fruits would work well in bagels, I have never tried blueberries but I say try anything that sounds good to you. Oh, and I would probably add the Asiago near the end of baking to keep it from melting and running on the pan. One of my favorite things about experimenting with breads is if you try something and it doesn’t work, all you have lost is a few cups of flour and a couple minutes of your time. More often than not, if it seems like it will work, it usually does.

    4. Any hints on making an asiago or “everything” bagel? Do I just add the stuff on top or can I do mix-ins?

    5. What is the purpose of using self-rising whole-wheat flour? Obviously, you can use leavening and salt to make your own self-rising flour, but it is so odd to see this in a recipe using yeast. To say nothing of how difficult it would be to find self-rising whole-wheat flour!

      1. Hi Roseanne, you can certainly make your own self-rising flour. In this recipe, the chemical leavening just adds a little extra lift to dough.

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