How to Make Homemade Bagels

updated Sep 20, 2023

These warm and chewy New York-style bagels are absolutely worth making from scratch.

Makes12 bagels

Prep1 hour 50 minutes to 2 hours 20 minutes

Cook23 minutes to 27 minutes

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

A freshly made bagel is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Slather a still-warm bagel with cream cheese and you’ve got yourself the perfect on-the-go breakfast; top one with an over easy egg and it’s a complete meal in one. The best bagels don’t even need to be toasted, and are good enough to just munch on plain.

I have a hunch that many people have only experienced this carb-laden joy via their local bagel shop — but I’m here to tell you that you can (and should!) make your own bagels at home.

Quick Overview

How to Make Bagels in 5 Easy Steps

  1. Mix up a dough with bread flour, light brown sugar, kosher salt, water, and active dry yeast.
  2. Knead until a tight ball forms.
  3. Let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours, then shape into balls and let rise for 30 minutes.
  4. Shape the bagels, then boil in a baking soda bath.
  5. Bake until deep golden-brown, about 24 minutes total.

You Can Absolutely Make Good Bagels at Home — And They’re 100% Worth It

Bagels are likely one of those foods you’ve never thought to make at home. But not only are homemade bagels possible, they’re absolutely worth making. Here’s why:

  • Homemade bagels are irresistibly chewy, and boast a crisp, golden-brown exterior.
  • They taste fresher and more flavorful than anything you can buy.
  • You can get endlessly creative with toppings and mix-ins.
  • Unlike other from-scratch breads, they require just a handful of staple ingredients, and no special equipment.

    Here, we’ll walk you through every step of the process, showing you how to make and shape bagels like a pro — and how to prep the dough in advance so you can bake off a fresh batch in the morning.
Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

Bread Flour Is the Secret to the Best, Chewiest Bagels

One of the most sought-after qualities of a good bagel is a dense, chewy interior. It’s one of the defining characteristics of classic New York-style bagels — and it’s easy to achieve at home.

Our recipe uses 100% bread flour to create that satisfying chewy texture. Bread flour has a higher gluten content than all-purpose flour, meaning your dough will be more elastic. This results in bagels that have a pleasant chew and a tight, toothsome crumb that contrasts the crisp exterior.

Bread flour can be found in the baking section of most well-stocked grocery stores or ordered online. Any leftover flour can be used to make a variety of homemade breads (like Japanese milk bread) or used in savory non-baking applications like roux-based sauces or as a coating on chicken cutlets.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

Do You Have to Boil Bagels?

Yes! Boiling bagels sets and thickens their crust before they’re baked — it’s the step that makes a bagel a bagel, not just a round piece of bread. Boiling also prevents them from rising too much in the oven, giving bagels their signature dense, chewy centers.

Recipes vary in the exact makeup of the boiling water bath, but after many rounds of testing, we’ve concluded that a baking-soda bath is the most effective. Baking soda makes the water more alkaline, giving the bagels a pretzel-like quality that contributes to their chewiness. Just one teaspoon helps the bagels develop a shiny, dark-brown exterior as they bake.

One thing to keep in mind: Keep the water bath at a constant simmer. After you boil the first batch, be patient and let the water return to a simmer before adding the second.

Do You Need an Egg Wash for Bagels?

Nope! Boiling the bagels eliminates the need for an egg wash. Instead, you’ll simply sprinkle your seasonings onto the still-wet bagels as soon as they come out of the water. Everything bagel seasoning is a favorite, but poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried onion flakes, and cracked black pepper all work well.

The trick is to pick toppings that won’t burn in the oven, so avoid things like dehydrated herbs that are too delicate to stand up to the heat.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

Prepping the Dough in Advance

As I mentioned before, bagel-making isn’t hard, it’s just time-consuming! If you’d prefer to make the dough the day before and boil and bake them the following morning, you absolutely can:

  1. Shape the dough into balls, place on a baking sheet, and spray the tops with cooking spray.
  2. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  3. When you’re ready for fresh bagels, let them sit at room temperature until slightly puffy (about one hour), then proceed with shaping and boiling.

Although they’re best enjoyed warm, your homemade bagels will keep for up to five days, meaning you and your family can enjoy them throughout the week. Or, wrap ’em up and pop in the freezer for future bagel consumption.

Homemade Bagels Recipe

These warm and chewy New York-style bagels are absolutely worth making from scratch.

Prep time 1 hour 50 minutes to 2 hours 20 minutes

Cook time 23 minutes to 27 minutes

Makes 12 bagels

Nutritional Info


For the dough:

  • 4 cups

    bread flour, plus more for kneading

  • 1 tablespoon

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon

    active dry yeast

  • 1 1/2 cups

    warm water

  • Cooking spray

For the water bath:

  • 8 cups

    (2 quarts) water

  • 3 tablespoons

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup

    topping, such as everything bagel seasoning, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds (optional)


  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Stand mixer with hook attachment (optional)

  • Large mixing bowl

  • Plastic wrap

  • Parchment paper

  • 2

    baking sheets

  • Large pot

  • Tongs or spider

  • Cooling rack

  • Measuring cups and spoons


Show Images
  1. Measure out the dough ingredients. Place 4 cups bread flour, 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. (Alternatively, place in a large bowl if mixing by hand.) Whisk to combine. Stir 1 tablespoon active dry yeast into 1 1/2 cups warm water until dissolved.

  2. Mix the dough. With the mixer on the lowest speed, slowly pour in the water-yeast mixture and continue mixing until the dough forms a tight ball and the sides of the bowl are clean, about 8 minutes total. (If kneading by hand, slowly pour in the water while mixing with a wooden spoon. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead by hand until a tight ball forms, 6 to 8 minutes.)

  3. Let the dough rise. Remove the dough from the bowl. Coat the bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough back in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until puffy and doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

  4. Shape the dough into balls. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray. Transfer the dough onto a clean work surface and divide into 12 pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball.

  5. Let the dough balls rise. Place 6 on each baking sheet, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Spray the tops of the balls with cooking spray, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and let them rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

  6. Preheat the oven and prepare a water bath. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 425°F.

  7. Prepare a water bath. Place 8 cups water, 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium to maintain a gentle simmer.

  8. Shape the bagels. Poke a hole through the center of each dough ball with your finger, then gently stretch the center by twirling it around your fingers until the hole is 1 inch in diameter.

  9. Boil the bagels. Carefully transfer 4 of the bagels into the simmering water. Simmer for 3 minutes. Flip the bagels with tongs and simmer for 2 minutes more. Remove the bagels from the water bath, hold them over the pot for a minute to drain off excess water, and place back onto the baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle each bagel with 2 teaspoons topping if desired. Repeat with the remaining bagels, making sure the water comes back up to a simmer between each batch.

  10. Bake the bagels. Bake the bagels for 12 minutes. Flip the bagels so that they are bottom-side up (this helps them maintain their shape). Bake until they are deep golden-brown, 8 to 12 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes

Overnight rising: The bagels can be prepared and shaped into balls the night before (prepare through Step 4). Place all 12 balls on one of the baking sheets, spacing them at least 1-inch apart. Spray the tops with cooking spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, transfer 6 of the dough balls onto the second baking sheet. Arrange all the bagels so they are evenly spaced out on the baking sheets and cover loosely with greased plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature until slightly puffy, about 1 hour. Proceed with the shaping and boiling steps (Step 6).

Storage: Leftover bagels can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

At Kitchn, we know how important it is to find recipes that are worth your time. That’s why every tutorial — like this one — features recipes that have been tried and tested by our team of developers and at-home cooks from across the country. Questions or feedback for us? Say hello: