Filed Under: Bread | Breakfast | How To | Videos

How to Make Bagels

Recipe By Tessa Arias
August 5th, 2016
5 from 2 votes
5 from 2 votes

How to Make Bagels that are perfectly chewy, golden brown, and flavorful!! Keep scrolling for the step-by-step video, flavor customization ideas, and the printable recipe!

Yield: 8 bagels

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

So much better than store-bought! Learn how to make PERFECT chewy bagels with my step-by-step video. Flavor customization options included!

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: I made everything bagels and asiago bagels, and they were both savory perfection!
Texture: Perfectly chewy and wonderful.
Ease: Not exactly quick and easy, 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 totally 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 homemade bagels every few months.

Homemade bagels are a million times better than store-bought.

Learn how to make Bagel BOMBS here – they’re bite sized and stuffed with cream cheese!

Like, those pre-packaged bagels in the bread aisle don’t even come close!

Which is why 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 flavor and topping customization ideas so you can really get creative.

How to Make Bagels Video:

Bagels are made with a basic 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.

Why do you boil bagels before baking?

In order for the bagels to develop that well browned exterior and slightly dense chewy texture, they’re actually 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. Traditionally lye is used, but you can also substitute with brown sugar.

Do I need to use 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.

The best homemade bagels from scratch with tons of flavor variations and ideas

Bagel Flavors & 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 flavor ideas below, or get creative and experiment with different dough add-ins and toppings! The full printable recipe is down below.

Basic toppings:

Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, minced onion, or coarse salt as desired

Everything Bagel Topping Ingredients:

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.

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.

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

2/3 cup raisins
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Knead the raisins into the dough just before the kneading process is done. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle all over a clean work surface. Place the dough on top and knead a few times in order to pick up all the cinnamon sugar in swirls. Proceed with the recipe as written.

Blueberry Bagels

1 cup blueberries
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

A few minutes into the kneading process, add the blueberries into the dough. Continue to knead as the recipe instructs; you may need to add more flour if the dough becomes very wet. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle all over a clean work surface. Place the dough on top and knead a few times in order to pick up all the cinnamon sugar in swirls. Proceed with the recipe as written.

How to Make Whole Wheat Bagels

4 cups (17 ounces) whole wheat flour

Replace the bread flour in the original recipe with the whole wheat flour. Combine all the dough ingredients and let stand for 1 minute before kneading. This allows the whole wheat flour to better absorb the water. Follow the recipe as written, but if time permits, allow the dough to rise overnight in the fridge to soften the whole wheat taste.

Homemade Asiago Cheese Bagels

More Homemade Bread & Breakfast Recipes:

5 from 2 votes

How to make

Yield: 8 bagels
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
How to Make Bagels that are perfectly chewy, golden brown, and flavorful!! Keep scrolling for the step-by-step video, flavor customization ideas, and the printable recipe!


For the dough:

  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 4 cups (17 ounces) bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon barley malt syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

For the water bath:

  • 2 quarts (64 ounces) water
  • 2 tablespoons barley malt syrup
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

For the topping:

  • 1 egg white
  • Desired toppings, see above


Make the dough:

  1. Combine all the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes (or knead vigorously by hand for 12 to 15 minutes). The dough will be stiff 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, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  2. Transfer the dough to a work surface and divide into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth, round ball. Place on a silicone mat-lined baking pan or lightly greased baking pan (do NOT use parchment paper) and cover the balls with plastic wrap. Let them rest for 30 minutes. They may puff up slightly.

Prepare the water bath:

  1. Meanwhile, prepare the water bath by heating the water, malt powder, and sugar to a gentle boil in a large, wide pan. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Use your index finger to poke a hole through the center of each dough ball then twirl the dough around your finger to stretch the hole to a 2-inch diameter. Place each bagel on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Transfer the bagels, 4 at a time, to the simmering water. Increase the heat to bring the water up to a gentle boil if necessary. Cook the bagels for 2 minutes, gently flip them over, and continue cooking for another minute. Use a skimmer to remove the bagels back to the baking sheet and repeat with remaining 4 bagels.

Top and bake:

  1. Beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water and coat each bagel with the mixture. Sprinkle any desired toppings evenly over the bagels.
  2. Bake the bagels for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they reach their desired brown color. Remove the bagels from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
  3. Serve or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Stored bagels are best served toasted. You can also freeze the bagels in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

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 you can't barley malt syrup (which I find on Amazon or at Whole Foods), use brown sugar.
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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Recipe Rating

  1. #
    Bonnie — August 5, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Do you know if the dough could be made in the evening and then put in the refrigerator over night? Or could the bagels be made as far as going through the water bath the night before? It would be lovely to have fresh-baked bagels in the morning.

    • #
      Tessa — August 5, 2016 at 8:29 am

      Hi Bonnie, the dough can definitely be made and refrigerated overnight. It’ll rise slowly in the fridge. I haven’t tried to make the bagels ahead through the water bath step but I’m thinking that would work fine! Let us know how it goes if you try that 🙂

  2. #
    Rita Zelig — August 5, 2016 at 9:23 am

    I love the technique you applied in creating these bagels! But I’m wondering how to do them in the oven. Par boiled then baked off? Also; I’ve seen bagels with some toasted garlic on to that looks a lot like sesame seeds. Would you know where I might find those to use as opposed to garlic powder or salt?

    • #
      Tessa — August 6, 2016 at 8:52 am

      I’m not sure what you mean by doing them in the oven? Did you watch the video and read the recipe? As for the garlic, it sounds like you’re talking about granulated garlic, which is available at many grocery stores, Costco, spice stores like Penzey’s, or online.

  3. #
    sandy — August 5, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Hi Tessa – I can’t have malted barley in any form (I assume this is the same stuff you find in a lot of flours?). I’ve made bagels myself and they come out ok, just not that extra flavor from the malted barley! The recipe I use – rise, then punch down for 10 min and form into the balls. Immediately make bagel shape out of the balls (finger through middle). But I use parchment lined cookie sheet, with some oil spread onto the parchment, to rest them on for 10 min before boiling. Then I do same on another cookie sheet for baking. Why do you use silpat for the rest period vs parchment? Thanks so much!

    • #
      Tessa — August 6, 2016 at 8:50 am

      I don’t use parchment at all when making bagels, because I don’t want to the dough to stick especially once the bagels have come out of the boiling water and they’re wet. If you place the wet boiled bagels on a parchment sheet then bake in the oven, the paper will bake onto the bagels and stick horribly.

  4. #
    Nick — August 5, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Thank you for sharing this recipe and Technics to make a GREAT BAGEL!

  5. #
    Mrs. Currie — August 7, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Do you ever make your own bread flour using vital wheat gluten? I have a bag of wheat gluten in the freezer because I do not make enough bread to warrant having a bag of bread flour in my cupboard. I have not found a definitive ratio of gluten to AP flour to use. Have you made your own bread flour? Can you help me out?

    • #
      Tessa — August 8, 2016 at 5:23 pm

      I haven’t ever tried that 🙁

  6. #
    Sandy — August 10, 2016 at 7:33 am

    Responding to your reply on my comment about the parchment- I haven’t had sticking issues. I use one baking sheet lined with parchment for the final rest after I form the bagel, then put the bagels back on the same sheet after boiling. I then transfer to a fresh oil coated sheet for baking. Haven’t had any stick issues!

    • #
      Tessa — August 10, 2016 at 7:43 am

      Sandy, I think you’re misunderstanding. I’m saying that if you place wet bagel dough on parchment and then bake it off on that same parchment, it’ll stick. You just said you transfer to a greased baking sheet for baking, so we’re not talking about the same thing 😉 Since this becomes quite confusing to describe, I just recommend people don’t use parchment so they don’t accidentally bake on it and have their bagels stick. Make sense?

  7. #
    Sandy — August 14, 2016 at 5:02 am

    Lol – makes a lot of sense! (And I still use parchment – greased – on the baking sheet I bake the bagels on). I mainly do this because I’m lazy and hate clean up!

  8. #
    2pots2cook — September 25, 2016 at 5:08 am

    Hi ! I am happy to find you and your recipe. I shall prepare the dough today to have fresh bagels tomorrow for breakfast. Since I carry food made at home for office lunch, it shall serve two purposes, if any left after breakfast 🙂 Thank you !

  9. #
    Amanda — October 19, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Hi I wsd wondering if there is a substitute for the barley malt? My son was recently diagnosed with severe allergies so im reluctant to use new ingredients and have started making my own breads as opposed to store bought. These bagels look amazing and Inwould love to make then for him!

    • #
      Maureen Peterson — May 10, 2020 at 5:00 am

      Have not tried this but I believe you can substitute molasses for barely malt I think you just need less of it? But double check

  10. #
    quinns16 — October 28, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    Hi Tessa!

    So how do you shape the bagels so beautifully? I found that because the dough was somewhat sticky, when I picked them up to shape them or put them into the water bath it stuck to my fingers and messed up their smooth shape. Please let me know, thanks!

    • #
      Tessa — October 29, 2016 at 9:07 am

      Hi! Did you watch the video? Around minute 2:30 you can see how I got the raw bagels into the water 🙂

  11. #
    quinns16 — October 29, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Ok, so I used a little more flour when I was shaping the bagels and used the rope method to shape them and it made SUCH a difference! They look a lot more like bagels now, haha 🙂

  12. #
    quinns16 — October 29, 2016 at 9:53 am

    I did watch the video! I used a slotted spoon. But I just think my dough was way too sticky the first time. This time was so much better!

  13. #
    Kevin — March 28, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    I make these all the time without deviating from the recipe. Everyone loves them! Whether I make them for work, family, or friends I’m always getting the best compliments! Love these things!!

  14. #
    Howard — December 14, 2019 at 10:01 am

    Can you freeze par boiled bagels and oven bake at a later time?

  15. #
    chris carney — August 10, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    Delicious bagels! Followed the recipe to a T but mine seem to “deflate” or flatten after they cool. Any thoughts? Am I not letting the dough rise long enough maybe? I would say I have a warmer than cooler kitchen if that helps. Thanks for any help!

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