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Homemade Bagels Recipe

If you've ever wanted to learn how to make bagels, you are in the right place! This traditional bagel recipe includes all of the tips for making homemade bagels that taste authentic, including refrigerating overnight, boiling, and baking.

Course Bread
Cuisine American
Prep 1 hour
Cook 10 minutes
resting time 12 hours
Total 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 12 large bagels
Calories 301 kcal


For the Sponge

For the Dough

For Boiling


  1. Make the Sponge: Stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart (or larger) 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. 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 the barley malt syrup. 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). The dough should be firm, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour - all the ingredients should be hydrated. Break off a small piece of dough and gently stretch and pull it to see if it will hold a paper-thin, translucent membrane (called the "windowpane test"). If the dough seems dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading. If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achieve the stiffness required. The kneaded dough should feels satiny and pliable but not be tacky.
  4. Shape the Bagels: Immediately divide the dough into 4½ ounce pieces for standard large bagels, or smaller if desired. Form the pieces into rolls. Cover the rolls with a damp kitchen towel and allow them to rest for 20 minutes.
  5. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats, or parchment paper sprayed lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
  6. To shape the bagels, use your thumb to poke a hold in a ball of bagel dough and gently stretch evenly until the hole is 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Alternatively, you can roll the dough into an 8-inch rope and wrap the dough around the palm and back of your hand, overlapping the ends by several inches. Press the overlapping ends together and gently roll back and forth to seal.
  7. Place each of the shaped bagels 2 inches apart on the pans. Mist the bagels very lightly with non-stick cooking spray 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 with plastic wrap, 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. Boil and Bake the Bagels: 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 pot the better - a Dutch oven is perfect!), and add the sugar and non-diastatic malt powder. 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 comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds). After 1 minute flip them over and boil another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same silicone baking mats or parchment-lined sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour. If you want to top the bagels with anything, do so as soon as they come out of the water.
  11. When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are baking only 1 pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.) After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450 degrees F and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown. You may bake them darker if you prefer.
  12. Remove the pans from the oven, transfer the bagels to a wire cooling rack, and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Fresh bagels are best, but these keep well in an airtight container or bag for up to 2 days. If you won't eat them within that time frame, I recommend wrapping them individually in plastic wrap and placing in a ziploc freezer bag, and storing them in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

  • High-Gluten Flour: You can substitute bread flour for the high-gluten flour, but I do not recommend all-purpose flour without compromising the texture of the bagels.
  • Barley Malt Syrup: You can substitute honey or light brown sugar for the barley malt syrup in the dough.
  • Shelf life and storage: Leftover bagels can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Freezing instructions: Bagels freeze wonderfully (we always have some in our freezer!). Wrap individually in aluminum foil then store in a resealable ziptop bag and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature, keeping the bagel wrapped until completely thawed.
  • Make-Ahead Instructions: Once the bagels have been shaped and pass the float test (see recipe below), they can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before boiling and baking.
  • Reheating: To reheat bagels, you can simply slice them in half and toast. Or to replicate its original texture, you can place the whole bagel in an oven or toaster oven at 375 degrees for about 5 minutes.
Nutrition Facts
Homemade Bagels Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 301
% Daily Value*
Sodium 541mg24%
Potassium 21mg1%
Carbohydrates 57g19%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 11g22%
Calcium 5mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.