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


By: Tessa Arias

Yield: 10 bagels

Prep Time: 30 minutes mins

Cook Time: 30 minutes mins

Total Time: 1 hour hr

Review Print


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.



  • 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


  • 1 egg white
  • Desired toppings


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)


How do I make my 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 my bagels not chewy? ›

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.

Does boiling bagels make them chewy? ›

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

How do you make a bagel softer? ›

The microwave is a quick solution for many kitchen tasks. To help soften a hard bagel, simply wrap it in a moist paper towel and microwave it for 15 seconds. You can also set the bagel on a microwave-safe plate, then surround it with a few water drops or lightly mist it and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds.

How to make bagels more chewy reddit? ›

High gluten flour is one of the keys. You want flour that is 14% or higher in protein which you likely won't find in a grocery store. I order King Arthur Sir Lancelot flour (14.2%) protein for bagels.

Are all bagels chewy? ›

You shouldn't expect a bagel to be as soft as a loaf of bread. It should have some chew to it, just not too much. A bagel should have an airy/(but denser than sourdough) center/inside, but a chewy top and a semi soft bottom (part of the steam/boiling process).

What gives bagels their chewy texture? ›

How do you get a bagel with really good chew? Moreira: That's the flour. High-gluten flour is what gives you that [signature texture].

Should bagels be soft or chewy? ›

A great bagel must have a great chew. The best, and probably the only good way to get that is to use high gluten flour. My favorite is King Arthur's high gluten flour, also known as sir Lancelot.

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

Is it better to boil or not boil bagels? ›

Boiling bagels give it's distinct chewy and dense texture. It helps it create a thin, slightly crispy texture when you boil it for 30-6o seconds on each side it also contributes to the bagel's shiny appearance. Boiling also prevents over expansion to keep its unique shape.

Should I boil my bagels before baking? ›

One of the most important steps in making bagels. is boiling before baking. Baking the dough right away gives a bagel with a matte. finish and an open interior structure. Boiling the bagel pre gelatinizes the crust.

How to make hard bagels soft without a microwave? ›

Sprinkle some water on top. and in the centre of the bagel, then foil wrap it, place it in the oven at 300 degrees for 10 minutes, and you're gonna have soft bagels. They will feel like they're freshly baked. out of the oven.

What makes bagels so dense? ›

How long you boil a bagel greatly affects the crust and texture inside. A longer boil produces a thicker crust and very dense interior, while a shorter boil produces a thinner crust and softer interior. Sometimes lye or barley is added to water for flavor and to help the crust brown in the oven.

How do bagels get their texture? ›

Bagels are usually made from a stiff, dry dough, with hydrations in the range of 55 to 65% (compared to soft sandwich or crusty artisan breads, which are usually 65% hydration and higher). This helps give them their signature tight crumb structure and their chew.

Why are bagels so stiff? ›

Bagels are minimalists - the ingredients are simply high gluten flour, water, salt and a little sugar. The dough tends to be very stiff and the sugar is usually in the form of malt syrup, helping with the traditional flavour notes.

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 a bagel soft? ›

All-purpose flour has a lower percentage of protein which means that it will produce a much softer texture. You need the higher protein content from the bread flour which creates more gluten and a more elastic dough. This equals the ideal chewy bagel.

What happens if you let bagels rise too long? ›

Bagels deflate when they're overproofed. If you're making wood-fired bagels and leave them on the board too long before flipping, then they get flat too, but I don't think that's a problem many home cooks are having. I think they're overproofed and/or they're boiling longer than they need to.

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