How to Make Bagels | Easy Chewy Bagel Recipe (2024)

Tessa’s Recipe Rundown

Taste: Savory perfection!
Texture: Perfectly chewy and wonderful.
Ease: Not the quickest recipe ever, but with the step-by-step video you can totally make your own perfect bagels!
Pros: No need to fly off to NYC for a delightful bagel. Plus you can easily customize the flavors.
Cons: Time-consuming and a little messy. Definitely a project for a free afternoon.
Would I make this again? Absolutely! I make batch of these homemade bagels every few months.

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This homemade bagel recipe is about a million times better than any store-bought bagels. It’s the closest I’ve come to New York-style bagels at home.

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I won’t say they’re exactly like New York bagels because those seem to have some sort of magic power. I will say these are about 1,000 times better than all grocery store bagels. And honestly… most bagels found at bagel shops here in Phoenix.

Making bagels from scratch at home is such a fun baking project. They’re a little messy and time-consuming, but totally doable. Especially if you follow along with my video below which shows you exactly how to make bagels.

PLUS, I’ve even included a bunch of bagel baking tips and topping customization ideas so you can really get creative (right above the recipe!)

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How to Make Bagels

Ingredients for Homemade Bagels:

  • Bread flour – The higher protein level in bread flour helps to create that chewy texture that makes bagels so delightful. It’s worth the trip to the grocery store to pick some up. You can use all-purpose flour if you absolutely must, but the texture will suffer.
  • Instant yeast – You can also use active dry yeast, just note your dough may take longer to rise. Learn more about active dry vs. instant yeast here.
  • Fine sea salt – You can also use table salt. Learn more about the differences in salt types here.
  • Barley malt syrup – Order online or find at some health food stores or beer brewing supply stores. You can also use light or dark brown sugar instead if you must, but the flavor of your bagels won’t be as delicious.
  • Lukewarm water– Make sure it’s not scorching hot or it may kill your yeast. 100-110°F is perfect.

What Makes a Bagel New York-Style?

Bagels were brought to North America from Eastern European immigrants in the early 20th century. The debate about what’s most traditional or which style is best is fierce.

  • New York-style bagels are generally larger, uniformly round with a smaller hole and a chewy, slightly fluffy texture. They’re boiled then baked and generally have a fairly high salt content.
  • Some New York bagel shops may also bake their bagels on burlap wood planks.
  • On the other hand, Montreal-style bagels are boiled in honey water and baked in a wood-fired oven, caramelizing the exterior more than New York-style bagels.
  • Forget what you may have heard about needing NY tap water to make good bagels, that myth has been debunked.

What Makes a Bagel Chewy?

Bread flour is the essential ingredient to creating that distinct chewy bite we all crave in a bagel. Its high protein content creates a stiff dough that holds its shape while baking and develops more gluten for more chew. Boiling the bagels in barley malt prior to baking also contributes to creating this chewy texture.

Do I Have to Use Bread Flour?

  • I don’t recommend substituting the bread flour with all-purpose flour in this recipe as the texture will suffer.
  • The high protein content in bread flour is what allows the gluten to develop, to create a stiff dough that turns into chewy, well-shaped bagels.
  • If you’re going to the trouble of making bagels from scratch, you may as well use one of the primary ingredients required for the best texture!
  • Bread flour is the only flour that this recipe has been successfully tested with.
  • If you can’t find bread flour in supermarkets locally, you can buy it here on Amazon.

How to Knead Bagel Dough

  • For best results, use a larger 6-quart stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, or knead by hand.
  • This is a very stiff dough, and old or small stand mixers may not be up to the task of kneading and may ‘jump’ on the counter or burn out your motor.
  • Kneading by hand will take about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on your upper body strength.
  • Learn how to knead dough by hand here.

How to Shape Bagels

Bagels are made with a basic stiff yeast dough. We basically let the dough rise, shape it into 8 balls, then let those balls rise again. Then, in order to get the bagel shape, you simply use your index finger to poke a hole through the center and twirl it around your finger to stretch that hole out, as seen in the image below.

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How to Make Bagels More Flavorful AND Make Them Ahead of Time

Besides choosing flavorful toppings or mix-ins, an easy way to develop better flavor in your bagel dough and make them ahead of time to finish off the morning you want to serve them is to allow them to ferment in the fridge for up to 48 hours.

UPDATE:Some people who have allowed their shaped bagels to ferment in the fridge for up to 48 hours have had their final bagels turn out flat. This is likely due to overproofing. For this reason, I would recommend reducing the amount of yeast to 2 teaspoons if you’d like to refrigerate the dough for an extended period.I had also originally recommended using a damp towel to cover the bagels but received reports of people’s towels freezing in the fridge (how cold are your fridges?!) so I have removed that direction.

Make Ahead Directions:

  • Cover your shaped bagels on their baking sheets with plastic wrap.
  • Allow to proof in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours to develop more flavor and chewiness.
  • Simply let the bagels come to room temperature before boiling, topping, and baking.
  • This is also a great idea if you’re hosting company for breakfast or brunch!

Why do You Boil Bagels Before Baking?

In order for the bagels to develop that well-browned exterior and slightly dense chewy texture, they must be boiled briefly before baking. This works because the boiling water sets the exterior crust before it hits the oven, preventing the bagels from rising very much, while further developing that browned exterior.

The reason we add barley malt to the boiling water is to further develop that browned crust and to give it that distinct flavor we all know and love. I also add a little bit of baking soda to elevate the pH of the water solution, to encourage more browning on the bagel’s crust.

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Tips for Preparing a Water Bath for Bagels

Use a wide heavy-bottomed pot and add the baking soda and barley malt first before turning the heat up, to avoid spillovers. A small mesh or wire skimmer or spider makes quick and easy work of dipping and removing the bagels from the water.

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What to Put on a Bagel

  • Cream cheese, obvs! Stick with plain, or try any flavor you’d like. Fresh herbs in cream cheese are delicious!
  • Lox or gravlax with sliced red onion, tomato, and capers
  • Egg and cheese for a breakfast bagel sandwich situation

How Long do Bagels Last?

Fresh bagels are the most delicious, but uncut bagels can be stored for up to 48 hours in a paper bag (or loosely wrapped in parchment). Slice and briefly toast before serving. See just below for freezing instructions.

Can you Freeze Bagels?

Yes! To freeze bagels whole, wrap each in plastic then place in an airtight container. To freeze bagels sliced, slice them and place on a baking tray in the freezer until solid. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container or ziptop bag. Toast directly from frozen. Bagels may be frozen for up to 3 months.

Homemade Bagel Topping Ideas & Directions

It’s one thing to know how to make bagels, but it’s another to make any flavor you want! Customize your bagels by using my topping ideas below, or get creative and experiment with different dough add-ins and toppings! The full printable recipe is down below.

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Basic Toppings

  • Sesame seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Minced onion
  • Coarse salt

Everything Bagel Topping

  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons onion flakes
  • 2 teaspoons garlic flakes or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt or coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • Combine all ingredients and sprinkle over egg-washed bagels before baking.
  • Find the full recipe + more tips on homemade everything bagel seasoning HERE.

Asiago Cheese Bagel Topping

  • 10 ounces freshly grated Asiago cheese
  • Make the recipe as instructed all the way until the water bath.
  • Place the cheese in a shallow bowl.
  • As the bagels come out of the water bath, immediately place them, one at a time, in the cheese.
  • Turn to coat and press to adhere. Transfer back to the prepared baking sheet.

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More Homemade Bread & Breakfast Recipes:

  • Quiche Lorraine
  • How to Make Crepes
  • Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
  • How to Make Buttermilk Biscuits
  • The BEST Pancake Recipe
  • Homemade Pizza Dough
  • Classic Soft Pretzels

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How to Make

Bagels

By: Tessa Arias

Yield: 10 bagels

Prep Time: 30 minutes mins

Cook Time: 30 minutes mins

Total Time: 1 hour hr

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How to Make Bagels that are perfectly chewy, golden brown, and SO flavorful! This homemade bagel recipe is so easy to make – plus I share tons of topping ideas and bagel tips.

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 6 cups (762 grams) bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon (9 grams) instant yeast*
  • 1 tablespoon (18 grams) fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (32 grams) barley malt syrup or brown sugar
  • 2 cups (473 grams) lukewarm water

Water bath:

  • 2 quarts (64 ounces) water
  • 2 tablespoons barley malt syrup, or molasses or brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

Topping:

  • 1 egg white
  • Desired toppings

Instructions

Prepare the dough:

  • Combine all the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed for about 7 to 10 minutes (or knead vigorously by hand for 10 to 15 minutes). The dough will be stiff yet tacky and hold its shape without spreading. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise until puffy but not necessarily doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Shape the dough:

  • Punch down the dough and transfer to a clean work surface and divide into ten equal pieces. Roll each piece into a tight ball. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

  • Starting with the first ball you formed, pierce one or two fingers through the center to form a hole. Twirl the dough around your fingers to stretch out the hole to about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Repeat with remaining dough. balls Place all shaped bagels on two greased parchment paper-lined half-sheet pans (5 bagels on each pan).

  • Cover and let them rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until visibly puffed but not doubled.

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Prepare the water bath:

  • In a large wide pot, combine the water, malt syrup, and baking soda. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle boil.

  • Gently transfer bagels, two to four at a time (don't overcrowd the pot), to the boiling water. Cook the bagels for 1 to 2 minutes (2 minutes for a stronger crust and chew), gently flip them over, and continue cooking for 1 minute. Use a skimmer to remove the bagels back to the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining bagels. Beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water and brush egg wash on the smooth side of each bagel. Place your desired topping(s) in a shallow dish, and place each bagel, egg white-side down, onto the toppings to coat.

  • Bake the two pans of bagels for 17-25 minutes, or until they reach your desired brown color and exterior crunch, rotating the pans and switching shelves halfway through. Remove the bagels from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes.

  • Uncut bagels can be stored up to 48 hours in a paper bag (or loosely wrapped in parchment), then sliced and briefly toasted to serve.

  • To freeze bagels whole, wrap each in plastic then place in an airtight container. To freeze bagels sliced, slice them and place on a baking tray in the freezer until solid. Remove to an airtight container. Toast directly from frozen.

Show us!If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a picture and share it on Instagram with #handletheheat so we can all see!

Recipe Notes

*If you don’t have instant yeast, you can always substitute with the same amount of active dry yeast. Simply add the active dry yeast to the warm water and let it proof for 5 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.

*If preparing the dough in advance, reduce the amount of yeast to 2 teaspoons. Cover your shaped bagels on their baking sheets with plastic wrap and allow to proof in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours. Allow the bagels to come to room temperature before boiling, topping, and baking.

If you can’t find barley malt syrup (which I find on Amazon or at Whole Foods), use brown sugar.

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This post was originally published in 2016 and recently updated with recipe improvements and new photos. Photos by Joanie Simon.

March 2022 Baking Challenge

This recipe was the March 2022 selection for our monthly baking challenge! Every month you can join the challenge by baking the recipe and snapping a photo for a chance to win prizes!Learn more about my monthly baking challenges here. Check out everyone’s bagels:How to Make Bagels | Easy Chewy Bagel Recipe (12)

How to Make Bagels | Easy Chewy Bagel Recipe (2024)

FAQs

How do you make bagels more chewy? ›

Using bread flour and a steam bath gives these bagels their chewy, golden exterior. The overnight starter adds flavor, while also giving you a head start on tomorrow's breakfast.

Why are some bagels chewy? ›

What Makes a Bagel Chewy? Bread flour is the essential ingredient to creating that distinct chewy bite we all crave in a bagel. Its high protein content creates a stiff dough that holds its shape while baking and develops more gluten for more chew.

What is the secret to making bagels? ›

10 Tips for Making Schmear-Worthy Homemade Bagels
  • Moisture: Wetter dough means crispier bagels. ...
  • Water temp: The colder the better. ...
  • Dry active yeast: Let it chill. ...
  • Flour: Embrace the gluten. ...
  • Mixing: Low and slow is the way to go. ...
  • The rise: Your kitchen climate is A-okay. ...
  • Flavor kick: After the proof.
Jan 13, 2023

What kind of flour is best for bagels? ›

Bread flour – Because of its high protein content, bread flour makes these homemade bagels delightfully chewy. This recipe also works with all-purpose flour, they're just a bit less chewy than bagels made with bread flour. Maple syrup – It activates the yeast and gives the bagels a hint of sweetness.

Does boiling bagels make them chewy? ›

The boiling also thickens the crust — Coppedge says it "is essential to produce a more 'chewy' bagel."

Do bagels have to be chewy? ›

One of the most sought-after qualities of a good bagel is a dense, chewy interior. It's one of the defining characteristics of classic New York-style bagels — and it's easy to achieve at home.

Why do you boil bagels in baking soda? ›

Add honey and baking soda to boiling water in a large pot. This will help give the bagels a nice sheen and golden brown color when out of the oven. Add a few bagels at a time to the pot, making sure they're not crowded. They should float immediately when added to the water.

What happens if you don't boil bagels? ›

If you don't boil your bagels, you'll be baking round bread. There's more to a bagel than the shape. The boiling sets the crust of the bagel to get the signature thin crunchy crust. It also affects the texture of the bread inside.

How chewy should a bagel be? ›

A proper bagel should be chewy enough that it takes a bit of jaw muscle to bite into it. Good bagels are denser than most bread, but not hard. Bagels are fully proofed before being boiled, then baked.

What makes the best bagel? ›

Opinions on what make for an “ideal” bagel vary of course, but to my mind the best ones have a plump, rounded exterior and a fine crumb structure, with a balanced chewy-yet-tender texture.

Why are homemade bagels tough? ›

When too much flour is kneaded in, bagels become dense, hard and tough, instead of crisp and chewy. It can easily take 10 minutes of mixing and kneading before the right texture and gluten strength is achieved. This is what the inside of a well-made bagel should look like.

Is baking soda or baking powder better for bagels? ›

Make sure you use only baking soda and not baking powder. The baking soda helps the bagels form that beautiful golden crust and give them the distinct bagels taste. Use bread flour instead if you want, or any high-gluten flour, this will help create more glen in the dough.

What is the best syrup for bagels? ›

Boiling and baking the bagels

Adding a tablespoon of malted barley syrup or honey to the water will help with the colour and shine of the crust. I prefer to use honey but I have also boiled bagels in plain water too. Fill a large wide pot with water and add your honey or barley malt syrup and bring to a boil.

What makes bagels in New York so good? ›

a regular bagel is the water you boil them in. Much like a specific vineyard terroir is used to make a wine, certain minerals in New York City tap water are attributed to creating the best bagels. These include low concentrations of calcium and magnesium and a high level of sediment.

What makes New York bagels so much better? ›

Much like a specific vineyard terroir is used to make a wine, certain minerals in New York City tap water are attributed to creating the best bagels. These include low concentrations of calcium and magnesium and a high level of sediment.

How do you make bagel bites softer? ›

For softer Bagel Bites

Arrange frozen Bagel Bites about ½-inch apart on a microwaveable plate. Heat 9 Bagel Bites on medium power for 4 ½ to 5 minutes. Heat 20 Bagel Bites on High power for 4 ½ to 6 minutes. Rotate the plate ¼ turn halfway through the cooking time.

Why do fresh bagels get hard so fast? ›

When you first make a bagel, the process of adding water to the flour and cooking softens the starch, which makes it more tender and chewable. When bread sits out and loses that water through evaporation, the remaining moisture gets trapped in the starch as it recrystallizes and hardens.

What makes bagels smooth? ›

Boiling: Before baking, bagels are first boiled briefly in water. This step is essential for achieving the characteristic chewy texture and shiny crust of a bagel. The boiling process gelatinizes the starch on the surface of the dough, creating a thin, smooth layer that gives the bagel its shine.

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