Jalapeño Cheddar Bagels

Cheddar cheese and jalapeño peppers are one of those savory matches made in heaven. The savory equivalent of peanut butter and chocolate, in my book. Sharp, creamy cheese is the perfect complement to crunchy, spicy peppers, and the two inevitably become constant companions in many dishes. A couple of examples include Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread and Jalapeño Popper Dip. Those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all of the ways that Cheddar and jalapeños work their magic together. A few years ago I tagged along with my Chief Culinary Consultant and his parents on a Costco run while they were in town for a couple of weeks. We shopped ’til we dropped (well, until the cart was full and we had to start thinking about where we were going to put everything in the car). When we spun through the bakery section, the two of us snatched up some jalapeño cheese bread/rolls, which looked particularly inviting, with melted, crusted cheese covering the top. No sooner had we gotten into the car with our token fountain drinks, we decided we were starving and needed to eat that bread, immediately. (We never really grow up, do we?) It was delicious – cheesy, wowza-level spicy, and the perfect afternoon snack. Ever since, I’ve had jalapeño cheddar bagels on the brain, but for one reason or another have never gotten around to making them. Until now. And now, I think I might have to keep my freezer stocked with them, because they are bagel perfection.

I have been playing off of my favorite plain bagel recipe (from the wonderful Peter Reinhart) for nearly five years now. The recipe creates such amazing bagels that I’ve never been tempted to stray from it; I merely keep adapting it to suit whatever flavor combination I’m feeling at the time. I’ve used it to make Asiago Bagels, Blueberry Bagels, Cinnamon Raisin Bagels, Egg Bagels, and Everything Bagels, and it has yet to let me down, this time being no exception.

I loaded these with tons of sharp Cheddar cheese and jalapeños. Feel free to adjust the amount of peppers you use based on your personal preferences. We like things pretty spicy, so I used a full two cups of minced jalapenos, and for us it was just right. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say that these register about a 7 on the spicy scale, so you can use that as a guide for modifying the spice level. I think they are the perfect balance of cheesy and spicy. They are great plain, and even better with a slathering of cream cheese. My Chief Culinary Consultant, who previously had a very strong allegiance to the Cinnamon Raisin Bagels, declared these as the best bagels I have ever made. So there you have it!

What’s your favorite type of bagel? Favorite way to eat Cheddar and jalapeños together?

One year ago: My Top 15 Favorite Indulgences

Jalapeño Cheddar Bagels

Yield: 14 to 16 bagels, depending on size

Prep Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours


1 teaspoon instant yeast
4 cups (18 ounces) high-gluten or bread flour
2½ cups water, at room temperature

½ teaspoon instant yeast
3¾ cups (17 ounces) high-gluten or bread flour
2½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons malt powder or 1 Tablespoon dark or light malt syrup, honey or brown sugar
8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups minced jalapeño peppers, seeds and membranes removed (about 12 to 14 peppers, depending on size)

To Finish:
1 Tablespoon baking soda
Cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting
8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded


1. To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly. It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

2. To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour and all of the salt and malt powder. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining ¾ cup flour to stiffen the dough.

3. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine). Add the Cheddar cheese and jalapeños during the last two minutes or so of kneading, and knead until evenly distributed. The dough should be firm, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all the ingredients should be hydrated. If you have an instant-read digital thermometer, the dough should register 77 to 81 degrees F. If the dough seems dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems sticky or tacky, add more flour to achiever the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feel satiny and pliable but not be tacky.

4. Immediately divide the dough into equal pieces (each piece should weigh approximately 4½ ounces). Form the pieces into rolls.

5. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for 20 minutes.

6. Line 2 sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil. Proceed with shaping the bagels: Push a hole through the center of the roll with your thumb and stretch out the hole to 2½ inches in diameter, making sure that the resulting ring has a fairly even thickness all the way around.

7. Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pan. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

8. Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room temperature water. The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it. If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days). If the bagel does not float, return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.

9. The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the better), and add the baking soda. Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.

10. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many as comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minute flip them over and boil another minute. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. Sprinkle the bagels with the shredded Cheddar cheese as soon as they come out of the water.

11. When all the bagels have been boiled and topped, place the pans on the two middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 8 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are only baking one pan at a time, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and continue baking for about 8 minutes, or until the bagels turn golden brown.

12. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.


73 Responses to “Jalapeño Cheddar Bagels”

  1. Barbara @ Barbara Bakes on April 11, 2012 at 12:50 am

    Looks like the perfect sandwich bagel. I’m going to have to give this one a try.


  2. Mary @ Bake Break on April 11, 2012 at 12:51 am

    YES! My favorite (well, one of many) flavor of bagel! I’ve been meaning to make these also – I’m glad to have your directions before I give it a go!


  3. Averie @ Averie Cooks on April 11, 2012 at 12:59 am

    Mmm, I made savory baked donuts a few months ago with chives and cream cheese and these bagels would be great to try!


  4. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious on April 11, 2012 at 1:40 am

    I love this combo in bagel form. I also love it in a jalapeno popper! 🙂


  5. Chloe on April 11, 2012 at 2:59 am


    Your bagel looks so very yummy ! I will definitely try this

    By the way… Do you knead this with your hands or a stand mixer ? If it’s a stand mixer… what do you use ?!

    I’m considering getting a KitchenAid Heavy Duty or Artisan ( that’s the only two models in my country )… will it do the job ?

    Thank you


    • Michelle on April 11th, 2012 at 10:16 am

      Hi Chloe, I use my KitchenAid to knead the dough – I have a 6-quart professional series model, and it does the job just fine, without blinking an eye 🙂


    • sage7x7 on April 14th, 2012 at 10:41 pm

      Hi Chloe,

      I have both of those KitchenAid mixers — the Heavy Duty and the Artisan. Since those are the only ones available to you, they will do just fine.


  6. Kathryn on April 11, 2012 at 4:43 am

    I love anything involving jalapenos so these bagels look really good to me!


  7. Blog is the New Black on April 11, 2012 at 5:14 am



  8. mireia on April 11, 2012 at 5:22 am

    I have to make these!!!! They look perfect!


  9. Kiri W. on April 11, 2012 at 6:12 am

    Mmm, look at that gold baked crust 🙂 Yum!


  10. Lauren at Keep It Sweet on April 11, 2012 at 7:07 am

    These bagels would make an amazing sandwich, yum!


  11. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on April 11, 2012 at 7:31 am

    OMG! My favorite bagel ever!! Ever I tell ya!! This looks out of this world. I love all the bread recipes you have been posting. I am making these for sure on Saturday!! I can’t wait!! Love Jalapeno Cheddar bagels!!


  12. Ellen @ The Baking Bluenoser on April 11, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Bagels are one of the next foods I want to attempt making, and I might just start with these ones 🙂 They look delicious.


  13. Paula on April 11, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Even though I’m not a fan of jalapeno peppers there is no denying that you make an awesome bagel. These look fantastic.


  14. Erin on April 11, 2012 at 9:55 am

    So glad you posted these today after talking about them on Twitter last night. I think my favorite bagel is actually everything bagels. They are good with well… everything.


  15. Lauren on April 11, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Yes!! Want these smothered in cream cheese!!


  16. Lauren on April 11, 2012 at 10:04 am

    I had one of these delicious bagels for breakfast this morning! Thanks for leaving a couple behind 🙂 Love you!


    • Michelle on April 11th, 2012 at 10:17 am

      Glad you liked them! You’re welcome! 🙂


  17. Eileen on April 11, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Michelle, This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I have been wanting to make bagels for a while and you’ve just provided me with a great recipe. I know I can trust your opinion 🙂 Your’ bagels look perfect!


  18. Cindy @ Once Upon a Loaf on April 11, 2012 at 10:39 am

    OH yes. These will be mine. So pretty, too. Thanks!


  19. Nancy @ CouponClippingCook on April 11, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I for sure will need to make this. Looks delicious. Love the idea of jalapeno and cheese in almost anything!


  20. Kima on April 11, 2012 at 11:26 am

    These bagels look awesome! Will definitely be trying this recipe soon 🙂

    Off topic question: Can clean unused Ceramic molds be used for Fondant molding? Thanks


    • Michelle on April 11th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Hi Kima, I’m not sure about fondant molding, it’s not something I’ve ever done.


  21. Jen of My Tiny Oven on April 11, 2012 at 11:32 am

    My boyfriend would love these, jalepeno cheddar is his favourite combo!! I have been wanting to try making bagels for awhile now, this is going to have to be the recipe!!


  22. Maria on April 11, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I have to make these for Josh!


  23. Tracey on April 11, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Genius!! These look so good Michelle. I think I commented on this on your instagram pic yesterday, but your shaping of the bagels is so impressive. Mine are always a lopsided mess 🙂


    • Michelle on April 11th, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      Thanks Tracey! I think it takes some practice, mine were never very even or smooth for the longest time. I finally got a feel for it, after doing it tons of time.


  24. bridget {bake at 350} on April 11, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Michelle…these looks insanely good! I really need to work up my nerve and make some bagels! There is a flavor that a bagel shop near my dad sells that is so incredible. I need to use your base recipe and give them a shot.

    In the meantime, can you ship me about 6 of these? 😉


    • Michelle on April 11th, 2012 at 12:25 pm

      I would totally ship six out to you… if there weren’t only 2 left! Between myself, my sister, my boyfriend, and his brother, they have been demolished in about 12 hours. Oops! But a sign that they really are good 🙂


  25. Jennie @themessybakerblog on April 11, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Wow! these look amazing. This is my favorite bagel flavor.


  26. Stacey Rider on April 11, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Looks GREAT – been using a lot of jalapenos lately and this is something I really want to try. Thanks for sharing!


  27. Janet@FCTC on April 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Normally my favorite bagel is an everything bagel but I have been known to stray… and I think this recipe may make me stray 😀


  28. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel on April 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Perfect spicy sandwich bagel!


  29. Jessica @ Portuguese Girl Cooks on April 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    These look great! Now I have to make bagels! Great pics!


  30. Angela on April 11, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    I can’ t wait to make these! I looooooove spicy bagels, and these look perfect!! YUM!

    Have you ever made Sourdough bagels? My hubby loves sourdough bagels and if you have a recipe on your site that I can’t find on your recipe index, I would greatly appreciate it! 🙂


    • Michelle on April 16th, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      Hi Angela, I have not yet made sourdough bagels, but I am adding it to my list for when I get my sourdough starter going!


      • Angela on April 16th, 2012 at 9:43 pm

        Can’t wait! 🙂


  31. Peggy on April 12, 2012 at 8:24 am

    After seeing these bagels, I think I, myself, have a new favorite! Can’t wait to get to making these =)


  32. Bloggy on April 12, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Oh give me these bagels online, I sure want to eat them now. Will definately try them this month.


  33. Bakeaholic on April 12, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Love, love, love this! Wish I had one right now.


  34. Heather @ Better With Veggies on April 12, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Wow! I’ve never even considered making my own bagels — love the idea and the flavor combo. There are so many things you could do with this – I did just get a bottle of bacon-flavored Torani and I wonder how I could incorporate that into a bagel recipe. Good inspiration recipe. 🙂


  35. Suzanne on April 13, 2012 at 1:47 am

    These look fabulous, I need to try bagel making at home, you make it look easy 🙂 Congrats on the top 9!


  36. KonstantKraver on April 13, 2012 at 6:33 am

    tCongrats on the Top 9! These look so golden and appetizing , comfort food at its best


  37. Geraldine Saucier on April 13, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Jalapeno Cheddar Bagels are my favorite. I usually pick up a dozen when I am at the store. Now I can make my own. Thanks for a great post and congrats on making the Foodbuzz Top 9:)


  38. Emily @ She Makes and Bakes on April 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Yum! Yum! and more Yum! No wonder they’re in the top 9.


  39. Candice on April 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Congratulations, Michelle on the Top 9! Well deserved! =D


  40. Karen on April 13, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Your bagels really do deserve to be in the Top 9! I made your Asiago bagels a couple weeks ago and they were the best bagels I have ever had. I can’t wait to try these. Thanks Michelle, so much!


  41. danielle on April 14, 2012 at 10:28 am

    This sounds great! I wanted to let you know that I featured this on my “What I Bookmarked This Week” post today- stop by and see.


  42. Tracy on April 16, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Holy cow. I am swooning over these. What a fabulous adaptation to what is also my favorite bagel recipe! Yum!!!


  43. CJ @ Morsels of Life on April 22, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    I’ve wanted to make bagels for a while, and I think it’s going to be these! 🙂


  44. RisaG on May 7, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    I love jalapeño bagels but my favorite is cinnamon raisin. As a child, we lived within a mile of a bagel shop. Just the best.


  45. Kevin (Closet Cooking) on May 9, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    I am a huge fan of jalapeno poppers in all forms and these bagels sound amazing!


  46. Ananya on June 28, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Wow! These look so delicious! My brother, mom, and I love spicy foods! I have got to try these ASAP! Thank you so much for this recipe! I love your blog! Breakfast for tomorrow is decided…


  47. Shana McLean on July 22, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I made these over the weekend, and they taste great. Just one question. Mine turned out rather flat. I used half high-gluten flour and half whole wheat flour. Otherwise, I followed directions exactly. Do we need to let them come to room temperature before boiling? What do you think could cause the flattening? They seemed fine before putting them in the fridge last night.



    • Michelle on July 28th, 2012 at 4:13 pm

      Hi Shana, There is no need for them to come to room temperature before boiling; they should come straight from the fridge. However, you substituted half of the high-gluten flour, which could have absolutely had an affect on the final product.


  48. Aubrey on October 19, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Help!!! I am attempting to make these but my sponge did rise but definitely did not double and it doesn’t fall when tapped on the counter. Is it dead? Should I bag it and start over to avoid wasting more ingredients? Help me please!!!


  49. Katherine on December 19, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    I recently made your everything bagel recipe, and they turned out great! So, for Christmas presents I am making one batch of every kind you have listed. My question is: how long of a shelf life do these bagels have? I don’t want to make them too soon and have them turn bad right after gifting them. When I made the everything bagels I used egg yolks to make the topping stick, and incorporated sunflower kernels into the dough for added texture. The spots where the kernels were exposed to air turned a mildewy green after a few days. I’m not sure if that was a reaction to the egg yolk, or that the bagels don’t last long on the shelf. Thanks!


    • Michelle on December 19th, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      Hi Katherine, I’m thrilled that you’re loving the bagels! I find that they’re best within 3 days or so. If we haven’t eaten them all by then, I freeze them. I hope that helps!


  50. windykitchen on January 9, 2013 at 10:58 am

    I made these recently (my first time making bagels!), and I couldn’t believe how great they were. I had trouble finding instant yeast, but I adapted it a tiny bit to use active dry and it worked perfectly. I would love to see more bagel recipes from you, as these were to die for!!


  51. Martha Davis on January 29, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    These bagels turned out perfect. Thank you for the recipe!


  52. Valerie on February 5, 2013 at 3:01 am

    I made these last week and they were amazing. However, the jalapenos I bought were so mild there was hardly any spice to them at all which was a bit disappointing. Do you think I could substitute for canned or jarred?


    • Michelle on February 5th, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      You could, just make sure they are drained and patted completely dry.


  53. cheesemegee on June 7, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    meow cheese bagel


  54. Vanessa on June 17, 2013 at 9:27 am

    I had a couple problems when trying to make these. First, when I made the sponge its not like pancake batter, its really thick and lumpy. Second, when I baked them they stuck to the parchment paper. I spent hours picking off the the paper from the bottom of the bagels. My family said they tasted good, but the texture didn’t seem quite right. What did I do wrong? Please help!!!


    • Michelle on June 17th, 2013 at 7:30 pm

      Hi Vanessa, Well, I usually find pancake batter to be thick and slightly lumpy, so I think your sponge was just right. If you thought it was too lumpy, some additional whisking would have smoothed it out.

      As for sticking to the parchment, I’m totally baffled by that. I’ve never had anything stick to parchment paper.


  55. Becky on August 17, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Just interested in making sure I use right amounts of flour as four cups isn’t 18 oz. when making the sponge it is really thick and doesn’t seem like it would get bubbly or frothy thanks!


  56. Ivy on August 18, 2013 at 2:36 am

    I am in the process of making it and I have a question about the step 5, making the whole. Do I deflat the dough? Or just try to create the hole then let it rest more?


    • Michelle on August 19th, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      Hi Ivy, You don’t need to deflate it, just make the hole and shape it into a bagel shape.


  57. Sandy on September 1, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Why do I have to put these in the refrigerator? what does retarding them do for the bagel?


  58. Jenny on December 29, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    Just wanted to say that I made these bagels yesterday and they are amazing!! I have never made anything in the bread/bagel category before and these turned out great. Thank you Brown Eyed Baker for a delicious bagel with a wonderful and easy to follow recipe 🙂


  59. Amanda on April 16, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Hey Michelle – love your bagels and make them frequently. Do you think I can swap the jalapenos and cheddar for sun dried tomatoes and asiago cheese without changing anything else in the recipe? Thanks!


    • Michelle on April 16th, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      Yes, definitely! That sounds amazing!


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