You can't beat homemade bread and these soft and chewy bagels are just the best. Made using a few basic store cupboard ingredients and no special tools, you can have bakery standard bagels with minimal effort. Perfect for brunch and so many different ways to use them. If you have never made your own bread, this Easy Bagel Recipe is a great place to start.
We started making our own basic loaf of bread to not only save money, but also on the plastic packaging. We then started to replace all the bread products we bought, but I was put off making my own bagel because they looked pretty scary to make. Maybe it was the hole in the middle that made me think it was complicated. Wrong! These are so easy, and maybe one of the easiest breads to make.
Just 5 ingredients, with the option for seasoning on top, and you have wonderful chewy bagels that would would expect to get in New York City. We have tested this many, many times to make sure they are perfect (it's a tough job, but someone has to do it) and also tested lots of different flavour options too. It doesn't take as long to make as other bread, and it's just 2 hours including proofing time.
Once you have made these bagels, you can then make our super delicious Bagel Crisps or easy Pizza Bagels.
Why you will love them
- Delicious homemade bread - You just can't beat homemade bread. The smell that fills your kitchen when this is baking is better than any air freshener. If you want to start making your own bread, bagels are great because they feel far fancier than they actually are.
- Easy - To look at, these might not look easy to make but they are. If you haven't made your own bread before, don't be put off because these are simple.
- Adaptable - Once you have the basic bagel recipe, there are lots of different ways to adapt it with flavours and toppings. More on that below.
- Stores well - If you don't eat these bagels in one go (it's hard not to, trust me), then they will store for a few days in a container, or you can freeze them.
- Flour - You need a strong white bread flour to make this and the best quality you can get, as it will make a difference. Bread flour is used over plain flour, because it has a high protein content, which gives the bagels that chewy texture. Plain flour just wouldn't get that chewiness.
- Water - You need luke warm water to make the dough in this bagel recipe. Around 42°C/110°F is what will work best, as it helps to activate the yeast and give the dough that smooth elasticity that it needs.
- Yeast - This is what helps the dough to rise. We use fast action yeast. Make sure that the yeast is not out of date, or been open for too long, as it won't work in the dough.
- Sugar - We used granulated sugar as not only does it give the bagels that slightly sweet flavour that they are known for, but it also helps to activate the yeast.
- Salt - This adds lots of flavour. We used crushed sea salt.
- Seasoning - This is totally optional, as you could leave the bagels plain, but we love adding some seasoning on top to have a different bagel every time. We used Everything Seasoning this time.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
How to make bagels - Step by step
One: In a large mixing bowl, add the yeast, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 120ml/0.5 cup of the the water (a). Leave for 10 minutes until it becomes frothy (b).
Two: Add the rest of the water, the salt and half of the flour (a). Stir well (b).
Three: Add the remaining flour a little at a time and using your hands, mix into a dough (a). The dough should be soft but not sticky. Form into a ball (b)
Four: Transfer to a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough feels elastic and soft (a). Shape into a ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and put somewhere warm to proof until doubled in size - about 1 hour (b).
Five: Preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7. Lightly flour a work surface and divide the dough into eight equal pieces. Shape each into a ball (a) and then push the handle of a wooden spoon all the way through the centre (b). Holding the spoon, carefully twirl the dough around the handle so the dough stretches and forms a 3cm/1 inch hole.
Six: Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the rest of the sugar. Reduce the heat to a simmer and put the bagels into the water (depending on the size of your pan will depend on how many bagels you can fit in). Simmer for 2 minutes, turning the bagels a few times. They should puff up.
Seven: Remove the bagels from the water and gently shake off any excess water. Put onto a lined baking tray (a) and sprinkle with the seasoning (b). Bake in the oven for 25 minutes and then leave to cool on a wire rack.
What is a bagel?
Bagels are a round yeasted bread product (with a hole in the middle) that originated in Jewish communities in Poland. Bagels are a lean dough, made without fat, which are shaped by hand to form a ring.
How a bagel is shaped varies depending on who is making it. The traditional method would roll the dough in to a log, and then shape in to a circle and bind the ends together. But we don't think that looks as good. So, we poke a hole in the middle of the dough with a wooden spoon and then swing it round the spoon to open up the whole. You could stretch the hole out with your fingers, but that isn't as fun.
Made the traditional way, once the bread is kneaded and left to double in size, it should be boiled in water for a few minutes before baked. It might sound a really strange way to make bread, to boil it before baking, but it works and it's what gives bagels their unique texture. A bagel should be soft and chewy, with a shiny crust and have a slightly sweet flavour.
Why the hole in the middle? Not only does it make it easier for it to be cooked all the way through, by having a bigger surface area, it makes them easier to transport as they can be stacked on wooden dowels.
Why homemade bagels?
The sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes from making homemade bread is like no other. It is making something totally from scratch, something that millions of people are buying every day and spending a fortune on and adding more plastic to the landfill. I always feel good when I have made my own bread, especially homemade bagels. Smug, maybe I feel smug.
But, apart from that, these are really cheap to make. Much cheaper than if you bought them in the supermarket or a bakery. Also, there is no plastic packaging for them to come in.
Some people like them plain, some people like them loaded with flavour. It's definitely a preference. We don't discriminate and we love bagels no matter what they have on them. This time we went with Everything Seasoning as we are obsessed with it (have you tried it on spring greens?).
Other toppings that work well are:
- Sesame seeds
- Poppy seeds
- Onion granules
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh garlic and shallots
- Cinnamon sugar
- Poppy Seeds
- Caraway Seeds
*Mix some cheese into the dough when you add the flour, and then sprinkle some cheese on top once the bagels are shaped too.
What to serve homemade bagels with
Eat them fresh out of the oven, or toasted with toppings - the choice is yours. We are big fans of just smearing cream cheese on toasted bagels, but there is so much more you can do with them. Smoked salmon and cream cheese, which is a traditional topping choice, is also a firm favourite. We love a breakfast bagel with poached egg, bacon and avocado too.
Something our kids love is a pizza bagel. Spread some homemade Pizza Sauce on to a cut bagel and top it with your favourite pizza toppings and some cheese and then put it under the grill for a few minutes until the cheese goes golden brown.
If you have made plain bagels (without the everything seasoning), then why not serve it slathered with Homemade Almond Butter, Healthier Nutella or Strawberry Puree?
Forget avocado on toast. Avocado and bagels is where it is at! Make up some delicious guacamole and spread it on a cut bagel and top it with a poached egg. It is one of my favourite breakfasts.
Or how about simply dipping them in some soup? Delicious!
Store: These stay fresh in an air tight container for up to 2 days, so many sure you only make as many as you can eat in that time, or freeze them.
Freeze: These freeze really well and we love having a stash of bagels in our freezer. Once cooled, individually wrap them and then put them in a freezer bag where they will stay fresh for 3 months.
Defrost: Defrost at room temperature for about an hour.
Frequently Asked Questions
We really recommend mixing and kneading by hand for the best texture, however you can use a stand mixer if you prefer. Use the hook attachment on the lowest setting for 5 minutes. This will depend on the size of your mixer though.
Yes, you can use plain (all-purpose) flour to make these bagels, but you won't get the same texture. Strong white bread flour is high in protein, which is what gives it the chewy texture.
Yes, you can. But, again, you won't have the same texture as wholewheat flour will make them a little more dense. You can swap half the strong white bread flour for wholewheat flour.
The amount of water we have used in this recipe is what works for us. However, you may need a little more or a little less. This will depend on things like the type of flour you have used and the climate in which you are making it (altitude and humidity all play a part). You want a dough that is moist, but still firm after it has been mixed together.
One of the main reasons this happens is because the dough has been handled too much. We have made these many times and sometimes they are super smooth and sometimes they have a few wrinkles in them. But, they are always delicious. Be gentle when you are forming the bagels and you will have a smoother result.
You also need to make sure that the water is not boiling too aggressively when you put the bagels in. You want a gentle boil, not a rolling boil, as this will throw the bagels around.
No, you don't have to measure/weigh all 8 balls of dough to make sure they are exactly the same. These are perfectly imperfect bagels, so just make sure they are fairly similar so they all bake at the same rate.
If you wanted to make 6 bigger bagels, rather than 8 smaller ones (we think these are perfectly sized for one person), then you could divide it in to 6 instead. Just be aware that they would need a little longer in the oven. Once they get to 25 minutes, check on them every few minutes until they get that golden brown topping.
Yes, you can halve the dough and there is no change to the method, just use half the ingredients. We wouldn't recommend doubling the recipe though, instead just make a separate batch.
Yes, if you want to make these the night before, so you can bake them fresh in the morning (what a way to wake up), then you can proof it in the fridge overnight. This is called a cold slow rise and actually gives the bagels a really incredible flavour. You will need to let the dough sit at room temperature for an hour before using it. You can also freeze the bagel dough and then let it thaw overnight and then shape your bagels and follow the rest of the instructions.
• Make sure you are really careful when handling the uncooked, shaped bagels when putting them in to the water. You want to make sure that they retain their shape.
• The dough really needs somewhere warm to rise, as the yeast reacts to warmth, as it's a fairly quick rising dough. You can put it it on a sunny windowsill or in a warm cupboard.
• Don't overcrowd the water that the bagels cook in first. We had a large pan, and we still just did 2 at a time. They need some space because they do puff up when they are in the water.
• If you like a really chewy bagel, leave them in the water for about 1 minute longer.
• The cooking time will depend on the temperature of your oven. Some run hot, some run cold - you know your oven best. Use an oven thermometer to make sure it is exact. These should be done in just 25 minutes in the oven. Just look out for that golden brown top.
• Leave them to cool for 10 minutes before serving. They are delicious served a little bit warm, but try to resist cutting in to them right away. You can always cut them and toast them to warm them up a little before serving.
More bread recipes
If you’ve tried this easy bagel recipe, let us know how you got on in the comments below.
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Easy Bagel Recipe
- 300 ml (1.25 cups) Water
- 450 g (3.5 cups) Strong white bread flour
- 7 g (1.75 tablespoon) Fast action yeast
- 5 tablespoon Sugar
- 2 teaspoon Sea salt
- 25 g (1.5 tablespoon) Everything Seasoning - (optional)
- In a large mixing bowl, add the yeast, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 120ml/0.5 cup of the the water. Leave for 10 minutes until it becomes frothy.
- Add the rest of the water, the salt and half of the flour. Stir well.
- Add the remaining flour a little at a time and using your hands, mix into a dough. The dough should be soft but not sticky.
- Knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough feels elastic and soft. Shape into a ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and put somewhere warm to proof until doubled in size - about 1 hour.
- Preheat your oven to 220°C/200°C(fan)/425°F/Gas 7. Lightly flour a work surface and divide the dough into eight equal pieces. Shape each into a ball and then push the handle of a wooden spoon all the way through the centre. Holding the spoon, carefully twirl the dough around the handle so the dough stretches and forms a 3cm/1 inch hole.
- Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the rest of the sugar. Reduce the heat to a simmer and put the bagels into the water (depending on the size of your pan will depend on how many bagels you can fit in). Simmer for 2 minutes, turning the bagels a few times. They should puff up.
- Remove the bagels from the water and gently shake off any excess water. Put onto a lined baking tray and sprinkle with the seasoning. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes and then leave to cool on a wire rack.25 g Everything Seasoning
- Make sure you are really careful when handling the uncooked, shaped bagels when putting them in to the water. You want to make sure that they retain their shape.
- The dough really needs somewhere warm to rise, as the yeast reacts to warmth, as it's a fairly quick rising dough. You can put it it on a sunny windowsill or in a warm cupboard.
- Don't overcrowd the water that the bagels cook in first. We had a large pan, and we still just did 2 at a time. They need some space because they do puff up when they are in the water.
- If you like a really chewy bagel, leave them in the water for about 1 minute longer.
- The cooking time will depend on the temperature of your oven. Some run hot, some run cold - you know your oven best. Use an oven thermometer to make sure it is exact. These should be done in just 25 minutes in the oven. Just look out for that golden brown top.
- Leave them to cool for 10 minutes before serving. They are delicious served a little bit warm, but try to resist cutting in to them right away. You can always cut them and toast them to warm them up a little before serving.
Help! Your recipe calls for 5 tablespoons of sugar. Step one says add 1 tablespoon sugar and then nowhere does it say to add the rest of the sugar.
It says it in step 6 - "Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the rest of the sugar."
The rest is for the bagels to cook in.
There is nothing better than a bagel...and a homemade one?! Bring on the cream cheese!! Can't wait to try making these this weekend :)
I didn't realize how easy it is to make fresh homemade bagels!
We made these today and they came out awesome! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe
I love bagels. And this was such an easy recipe with so many tips. Cant go wrong with it. Delightful chewy bagels.
I have always wanted to bake my own bagels - now I know how!
I absolutely agree - it is impossible to beat a loaf of delicious homemade bread. So many great dishes to make it with, too!
This is seriously amazing! I don't think I'd go back to store-brought again!
Love bagels and these look so perfect.I will try your recipe soon and let you know. Thanks for sharing
I've always been put off from making bagels too because I'm a former New Yorker and most likely a bagel snob, but you make it look so easy. Onion and Everything was always my favorite bagels. I can't wait to try your recipe.
I remember being so surprised at how easy bagels were to make the first time I tried them out at home. This is a great basic recipe - love all the topping ideas. Everything seasoning for me wins every time!
My kids are on fall break this week and we decided to make homemade bagels for breakfast. They had a blast and this recipe was so much fun to make with them. Such a great recipe! We loved them.
This was so easy to make! The instructions were great for someone who has never made bagels before. So yum!
I've never tried making bagels at home before but this is a super simple recipe that really works! No more shop bought bagels here!
It looks like a super easy-to-follow recipe! I have never made bagels, but this post has inspired me to make some. I starting baking this year and I am looking for different baking options. Thanks!
Love LOVE bagels! Thanks for a super simple and delicious recipe.
I had no idea it was so easy to make bagels from scratch at home! Your recipe turned out perfectly, and I am a total novice baker. I don't know if I'll ever go back to store bought bagels again since these turned out way better than the premade kind!