Homemade bagels are easy to make at home. This recipe only uses 5 ingredients and the bagels taste like they’re from New York!

homemade bagels with center bagel cut open with cream cheese

Homemade bagels are officially on If You Give a Blonde a Kitchen! It’s been a long time coming. I did multiple test on this recipe to get it right. Having grown up in the Northeast and lived in New York City for two years, it’s safe to say I have high standards for bagels. This recipe meets those standards without having to use NYC water 😉

Why this recipe works

This homemade bagel recipe works for a few reasons. It requires only 5 simple ingredients that you already have in your pantry. The bagels can be ready in just a couple hours. And to achieve the perfect chewy New York-style texture, the bagels are boiled for a few minutes before baking.

bagel ingredients labeled

How to make homemade bagels

Homemade bagels require several simple steps. Once you get the hang of it, it couldn’t be simpler! Refer to the step by step photos or recipe video for visual aid.

  1. Prepare yeast: Combine 1/2 cup warm water, sugar and active dry yeast—do not stir. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes until foamy.
  2. Combine ingredients: Whisk together bread flour and salt. Pour in yeast mixture followed by an additional 1/3 cup warm water. Mix the ingredients together. The dough should form a shaggy ball. Use your hands to press the pieces together. If the dough is still very floury, add more warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough comes together. The dough should be moist and firm.
  3. Knead the dough: Transfer dough ball to a floured surface. Knead the dough for 10 minutes until the dough becomes stiff.
  4. Let dough rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with oil and turn the ball of dough inside so it gets lightly coated with oil as well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise 1 hour.
  5. Divide the dough: Transfer risen dough to a floured surface. Use a bench scraper to cut the dough into 8 equal sized pieces. Shape each piece of dough into a small ball.
  6. Shape the bagels: Poke a hole in the center of the dough ball. Start turning the ring and use your fingers to make the hole in the middle 1-inch to 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough balls.
  7. Let bagels rest: Cover the baking sheet with a damp kitchen towel. Let bagels rest for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  8. Boil the bagels: While the bagels are resting, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Drop bagels into the pot (make sure they are not touching). Boil bagels for 2 minutes per side. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer bagels back to baking sheet and immediately sprinkle seasoning on top if desired. Repeat with remaining bagels.
  9. Bake the bagels: Bake bagels at 425° F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden in color.
water, sugar and yeast in small glass bowl; before and after yeast activating
Prepare yeast for bagels
water yeast mixture poured into bowl of flour; second photo more water added to bowl of flour
Combine ingredients
four step by step photos kneading dough for homemade bagels
Knead the dough
before and after photos of bagel dough rising in glass bowl
Allow dough to rise for 1 hour
four photos demonstrating how to cut and shape dough for homemade bagels
Shape the bagels

Tips for making bagels

Use bread flour: Using bread flour is essential to getting a chewy, dense texture. Use a high quality one such as King Arthur Flour. The higher protein percentage helps with the texture.

Work the dough: Bagels require a lean, firm dough. You can use your dough hook, but after a couple minutes I found the dough doesn’t stay inside the bowl. Use the heels of your hands to knead the dough for 10 minutes.

Boil the bagels: If you like a chewy texture, boil the bagels 2 minutes per side. If you boil the bagels 1 minute per side then the texture will be more bread-y.

Climate: I tested this recipe on a humid day in Connecticut and a dry day in Colorado. There was such a difference! Pay attention to the texture of your dough. If you’re working in a humid climate, you will likely not need to add any additional water once you start mixing the ingredients together. If you are working at a higher altitude or a dry climate, you may need to add up to 1/4 cup more warm water. Remember: Aim for a slightly moist, firm lean dough.

bagels in pot of boiling water
Boil the bagels 2 minutes per side
before and after baking homemade bagels on baking sheet
Bake the bagels (before and after)

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use instant yeast?

Yes, instant yeast can be used as well (2 1/4 teaspoons or 1 packet). You do not need to add the yeast to the warm water. Simply whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Pour in warm water separately.

Can I use whole wheat flour?

Yes, replace half the bread flour with whole wheat flour. You can also use white whole wheat flour.

How to store homemade bagels:

Homemade bagels are best the day they are made. However, they may be kept in an ziplock plastic bag for up to 2 days. Make sure the bagels are completely cooled so there is no moisture in the bag. Bagels keep longer at room temperature than in the refrigerator.

How to freeze bagels

Let bagels cool completely and place in a freezer-safe bag. Freeze for up to 1 month. Do this the day bagels are made for the best taste.

Can you make homemade bagels the night before?

Yes, allow dough to rise in the refrigerator and then in the morning bring it to room temperature to rise for 30 minutes. Follow remaining instructions.

homemade bagels on white cake stand

Toppings for bagels

The best part of bagels are the toppings! My favorite is sesame seed, but you can also use poppy seeds, Everything Bagel seasoning and salt! Add seasonings immediately after boiling the bagels and before baking.

For plain bagels, I suggest adding an egg wash for more flavor and a shiny exterior. Whisk 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water together. Use a pastry brush to coat bagels with egg wash. You can also do an egg wash before adding the toppings to make sure they stick.

Do you love bagels? I suggest checking out these posts from some of my fellow bloggers to give you some fun ideas.

homemade plain bagel cut in half with cream cheese; halves stacked on top of each other on small white plate

Homemade bagels are so rewarding to make. You will wonder why you haven’t tried making them before! If you give this recipe a try, be sure to tag @ifyougiveablondeakitchen on social media so I can see your breakfast!

homemade bagels with different toppings, one bagel cut open

Homemade Bagels

Homemade bagels are easy to make at home. This recipe only uses 5 ingredients and the bagels taste like they're from New York!
5 (6 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast, (1 packet)
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups warm water, about 105 to 110° F
  • 3 ½ cups (437 g) bread flour, plus extra for kneading
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Additional toppings (see notes)

Instructions 

  • Fill a measuring cup with 1/2 cup (118 mL) warm water. Add sugar and yeast—do not stir. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes (it should get slightly foamy/bubbly). Give the mixture a gentle stir.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together bread flour and salt. Pour in yeast mixture followed by an additional 1/3 cup (78 mL) warm water. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to mix the ingredients together. The dough should form a shaggy ball. At this point I use my hands to press the pieces together. If the dough is still very floury, add more warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough comes together. In dryer climates you may need up to an additional 1/4 cup warm water. Aim for a moist, but firm ball of dough.
  • Transfer dough ball to a floured surface. Knead the dough for 10 minutes using the heels of your hands. Work in the flour that is on the surface so the dough becomes stiff.
  • Lightly grease a large bowl with oil and place the ball of dough inside. Turn it a couple times so it gets lightly coated with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  • Transfer risen dough to a floured surface. Use a bench scraper or knife to cut the dough into 8 equal sized pieces. Shape each piece of dough into a small ball. Press down slightly, then cup the dough with your hands while turning the dough to form a uniform ball.
  • Use your middle fingers and thumbs to poke a hole in the center of the dough ball. Start turning the ring and making the hole in the middle wider until the hole is about 1-inch to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough balls.
  • Once done shaping the bagels, cover the baking sheet with a damp kitchen towel. Let bagels rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil and preheat oven to 425° F.
  • Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Sprinkle in some salt if desired. Drop bagels into the pot (depending on the size of your pot, you can fit 2 to 4 bagels without them touching). Boil bagels for 2 minutes per side for a chewy texture. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer bagels back to baking sheet and immediately sprinkle seasoning on top if desired (see notes). Repeat with remaining bagels.
  • Bake bagels at 425° F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden in color. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!

Notes

Yeast: Instant yeast can be used in place of active dry yeast. However, you do not need to mix instant yeast with water. Instead, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, yeast, sugar and salt). Pour in the warm water after and mix/knead.
Storing/freezing bagels: Cool bagels completely. Store at room temperature in an airtight plastic bag for up to 2 days. Bagels may be frozen in a freezer safe bag for 1 month.
Suggested tools:
  • Kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients. I like this one because it measuring milliliters too.
  • Mixing bowl to combine ingredients. A glass bowl is preferred for letting the dough rise.
  • Baking sheet to bake the bagels on. I own the large one from Nordic Ware.
  • Big pot to boil the bagels. I used my 6-qt Dutch oven.
Recipe sources: Baking Illustrated, Sophisticated Gourmet; King Arthur Flour

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