John D Lee is a chef and restauranteur living and working in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He's always loved to cook.
Homemade Tastes Better
I've made a lot of bagels in my time. I owned a bagel restaurant for years, and you would find me every bleary-eyed morning kneading the dough and hand-rolling all the fresh bagels for the day.
I've since gotten out of the bagel game (yay, sleep!), but I still love a great bagel.
People think that making delicious bagels at home is really difficult, but it's really no harder than making a loaf of bread and can be done within about an hour.
Don't be discouraged if your bagels look at bit funny at first, you'll get the hang of it in no time. Those curiously-shaped bagels will still beat supermarket bagels hands down.
What makes a bagel different from other breads is the two-stage cooking process. A bagel is first briefly boiled, and then it is baked. I worked the meat counter in a Jewish deli as a teenager, and as my boss would say, an unboiled bagel is just a roll with a hole!
- 4 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups warm water
- Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. You don't have to worry about soaking the yeast when you use instant yeast (most yeast sold these days is instant yeast). The dough should feel stiff, but add the extra water if it's really stiff, or you won't be able to get all the dry flour incorporated.
- Plop the dough down onto the counter, and knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is uniform and smooth.
- Cut the dough into 8 equal-sized balls, and let rest for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 425°F.
- Now, take each of the dough balls, and using two hands, roll them into little snakes on the counter.
- When the snake is longer than the width of your two hands, wrap it around your dominant roiling hand. The dough rope should be wrapped so the overlapping ends are together at your palm, near the start of your fingers.
- Now take the two overlapping ends, and use your palm to squish and roll these two ends together. Once the dough is fused, you should have a perfectly circular bagel-to-be! This is the only part of the process that can take a little practice before your bagels will look really professional. Don't get discouraged if they don't look perfect; it just takes practice!
- Let your bagels rest on the counter for about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil, and lightly grease a large baking tray. You can just rub a splash of vegetable oil and rub it around.
- After the 20-minute wait, your bagels will start to look puffy, and it's time to get them boiling! Add them as many at a time as you can to your boiling water without crowding them. Boil for about 1 minute, turn them over, and boil for 1 more minute. Take them out a let dry for 1 minute and then place them on your oiled baking tray. Repeat this process until all of the bagels are boiled.
- Place the tray in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Open the oven, flip the bagels over, and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Take the tray out of the oven and let it cool for at least 20 minutes. Get the cream cheese ready, and feast on what's got to be one of the best weekend brunch treats possible!
Toppings and Variations
- Toppings: You can add any toppings you like to these; e.g., cream cheese, lox, onion, tomato, capers, etc.
- Variations: To make sesame, onion, poppy seed, caraway, etc., bagels, all you need to do is have a dry plate ready with the seed or spice topping spread out on it. After the bagels have come out of the boiling water, place them face down onto the seeds, and then place the seed side up onto the baking tray. Bake and flip as you would for plain bagels.
Cristie on March 21, 2019:
Hi, just found this recipe. It worked like a charm the first time. The second time not so much- I added jalapeños and cheese and they just didn’t rise and didn’t want to get done inside. Also I wanted to bake the next day so I let them proof until they would float, put in fridge overnight, next day- no rise. Can you give some advice? Email: email@example.com
Jessica on January 01, 2019:
I found your recipe about 8 years ago.I was living in Germany and was missing a good bagel with schemer. I came across your recipe, tried it and loved it. They have been a hit in my home and at brunch potlucks a like ever since. So easy and delicious.
Cristina on March 09, 2018:
Can a stand mixer be used to knead the dough, or is hand kneading a must?
Bagelmeister on March 05, 2017:
Did you make them?
Dawn Teakles on January 29, 2017:
This was my second try at making bagels and the bagels turned out great!!!
Alicia Ridout on December 24, 2016:
I made these bagels often about seven or eight years ago. Now making them for Christmas morning. Looking forward to delicious bagels. Had to do some googling to find this recipe, but I wouldn't use any other! Thanks again for years of tasty bagels! :)
John D Lee (author) on February 29, 2016:
Of course! Thanks
John D Lee (author) on February 29, 2016:
They should float. If they don't, your yeast probably isn't working and you aren't getting any/enough rise.
Ryan on March 11, 2015:
Made your recipe the first time in 2010 and have been making every since with my boys. Thanks. I took a break from making them, but looked this recipe up once again because I don't want to try another :)
Julie on January 24, 2015:
Made these with all sprouted grain flour. They were perfect. Great recipe. Need practice on the hand rolling technique
Mollymf on November 02, 2014:
Woops- meant they're soft on the inside ;)
Mollymf on November 02, 2014:
These are so delicious, nice and soft on the outside with the smooth crisp finish on the outside. Third time making these in the last 3 weeks, can't keep them in the house for very long!
Goringe Accountants from London, UK on September 21, 2014:
Jill on August 23, 2014:
Terrie Michelle, I always use active dry yeast when I make this recipe. Just proof the yeast first, as you would for any bread recipe. Warm water (for this recipe, I find 1 1/3 cups of water is the way to go), the sugar, and the yeast. Let it sit till frothy, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix. I've never had a problem using active dry yeast.
Terrie Michelle on July 24, 2014:
Hi, I will be making the bagels this weekend but I brought ActiveDry Yeast packets that states in it All natural yeast. It's not really rapid kind. Can I still use this according to your recipe?
Jill on May 04, 2014:
John, your recipe is fantastic, and I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience. I've made bagels before with MUCH lesser results. I have been making your recipe almost every Sunday for the last two months or so, and not only are they fantastic (and freeze well!) but they are saving me a boatload of money on bagel-shop bagels with absolutely no difference in quality. Thanks!
Ashley on January 12, 2014:
Oh these were delicious! I will be making them at least once a week from now on! Would you mind if I shared your recipe on my blog, with credits and a link back to you of course.
Jacob Jackson from Kansas on August 24, 2013:
these bagels look delicious
Kari on March 19, 2013:
Should my bagels float when I boil them? And if they dont, what am I doing wrong????
phorbekeery on March 07, 2013:
We utilized to get at the top of lifestyle nevertheless lately We have accumulated a new level of resistance.
Priya Singh from US on January 22, 2013:
wow, Lovely and tsty post...
rmcleve on January 22, 2013:
I wish my bagels turned out as beautifully as yours, but I love this recipe! My dough was a little dry on the outside for some reason, but the boiling process hid a lot of the uglies. Totally delicious, easy to make, and definitely a new recipe in my arsenal. Thanks! :)
Cyndi Rizzo on January 05, 2013:
Made these yesterday - they were awesome!!! Made 6 instead of 8. Making them again this morning. Making 8 this time. If I were to make 10 smaller bagels (good for little kids) would it change the resting/rising/boiling/baking times? These are amazing!! Thanks so much for sharing!!!
Melanie on December 24, 2012:
This was my first attempt at making homemade bagels. I am so glad I used this recipe! I added 2 teaspoons of vital wheat gluten since I didn't have bread flour and I added about 1/2 TBS of molasses to the boiling water. It was easy, faster than any other real bagel recipe I've seen, and most importantly, fabulously delicious!
Cheryl on November 21, 2012:
I made the recipe exactly as directed and voilà! Bagels are in the house in Paraguay! This was ridiculously simple, and now I know that wherever I am, I'll never be bagel-less again! Thanks for the recipe!
Michele on November 10, 2012:
What if I wanted to make pumpkin spice bagels? How would I alter the recipe?
katelyn on October 17, 2012:
the bagels were great
Cheryl on September 30, 2012:
I got here through a friend who posted some amazing results from her first try on her Facebook page! I'm living in Paraguay and desperate for a good bagel... so I'll definitely give these a try. Flour down here in South America is generally classified with 0, 00, 000, or 0000 and after some research I've determined that 000 should be used for bread products due to gluten content - so I'll give it a try and let you know how it goes!
Gzksbyasuwi on September 10, 2012:
Sarah Kenatz from Kansas, USA on August 21, 2012:
What a great recipe! I actually found this a couple of years ago and made it several times. At the time, I was only baking for my husband and me, so this made much more than we needed, but I would toss the extras in the freezer and defrost them in the microwave for breakfast throughout the week. I haven't made them in a while (since my daughter was born) but sometimes I fantasize about it -- maybe I will try it again soon.
Hosmdmeios on August 14, 2012:
Fansudeosab on August 10, 2012:
Mizosndufys on August 10, 2012:
Poimalokdoa on August 06, 2012:
Olsmaiswuda on August 06, 2012:
Mozsiewuaq on August 04, 2012:
Weavysiwson on August 04, 2012:
Angie on July 10, 2012:
If you get a small bowl of cold water and put a bagel in it during the proofing process, you will know if it is ready to boil. If the bagel floats within 10 seconds, it is ready to boil. If it doesn't, then let it proof a few minutes longer. In hot weather this will be just a few minutes, in cold weather it will take longer.
Ciaisoewyaw on July 09, 2012:
Dadunsimsid on July 09, 2012:
Liz on July 03, 2012:
Would I change anything if I used Rapid Rise yeast?
Tara on June 19, 2012:
BEST RECIPE! first time and came out perfect! The only thing i did different was to add BROWN SUGAR and HONEY to the boiling water
Steve NZ on May 31, 2012:
I have made this recipe dozens of times, well worth the effort and fairly quick once you get the hang of it.
I actually read through every single comment on here last night in anticipation of this mornings baking to see if anyone had any handy hints. Mine sometimes come out flat and hard other times tall and light. Inconsistancy is annoying, I think it has to do with the yeast and the temperature fluctuations we have here in southern NZ.
But after reading the comments I felt brave enough to try some new ideas, so used 2 cups high grade flour, 1 cup all purpose and 1 cup buckwheat flour (just becuase I had some to use up). I also substitued the sugar for honey and added baking soda and treacle to the water. They came out good, I wouldn't say perfect but I'm going to keep trying for perfect by changing things around a little.
I don't think the baking soda or treacle in the water made much difference, but I highly recommend making the bagel shape by making a ball and pushing your thumb through the middle to make the hole, way easier than trying to join the ends. Thanks for the recipe others I tried wer a complete disaster.
reagu from Los Angeles on May 24, 2012:
I've been a bagel fan for well-over 15 years. I prefer them over doughnuts in the morning.
BakeSisters on May 23, 2012:
My 12-year-old sister found your site... it's a godsend!! My mom had little faith that we could so quickly and easily master yeast cooking... especially the boiling process used in bagel-making! But our bagels turned out remarkably well first time and a second batch is now rising. We made 1/2 the first batch herb-garlic, with the addition of basil and garlic powder to the dough, and rolled them in chives and poppyseeds. The second half was honey-cinnamon-raisin. Thank you so much!! Our new favorite thing to bake, we had fun and got to enjoy a great bagel at the end!! The dishes were the only downside....
bakerbarb on May 01, 2012:
Wow!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe!! I always thought that bagels were too difficult for the average person to make! LOL this was easier than making an apple pie!!! My family loved them and I will deffinately be making them again!!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!
Laura on April 23, 2012:
I just made my first batch of bagels today! They are awesome!! Thank you so very much for posting this!! GREAT RECIPE!!!
Stephanie on April 22, 2012:
I learned to make bagels a few months ago. I have been through many recipes. This is by far the best! It is so easy and tastes great! I've made bagels that takes hours and even one that took a whole day. You are amazing!
Deanna on April 13, 2012:
Great recipe! Mine came out fabulous! I posted a blog step by step pictoral here:
Gregorious on April 07, 2012:
I'm going to try your recipe tommorow. Few years back I tried making bagels once, but they didn't came out right. I hope this time I'll get better luck.
momof4 on March 25, 2012:
Loved the bagels they came out great and tasted even better.
My kids loved them made some turkey sandwiched with them best bagels I have ever had.
Li on March 25, 2012:
I had a jalapeno bagel craving and was the only one at home so I made 1/4 batch - stupid right? I have made bagels before and couldn't be bothered looking for the recipe but knew not to let them double or get to puffy before boiling. I only had home brand flour and they were still great. I hadn't flipped my bagels before, next time I will flip only sime to see the difference.
I spray the oven with water upon putting them in to get a crisp crust. I have tried putting the malt syrup in the mix previously as another reviewer asked but they came out stodgy. When I added it to the boiling water it added a nicer colour and flavor than these.
I've never seen dried blueberries here. Has anyone tried making them with fresh berries?
james on March 23, 2012:
whomever said that the bagel tasted like a pretzel.. Umm duhh pretty much similar stuff..
Carolrita on March 13, 2012:
I just want to add my thanks to the hundreds you have received on this site. I'm originally from New York, lived in Miami and now live in Vancouver, Canada, While Vancouver is one of the most beautiful places in the world to live, great bagels are impossible to find. ( I can't understand why, because Toronto's bagels are as good as New York') Anyway, I've been planning to make these bagels for months and finally found the time. Made the dough in my Breadman, on dough cycle ...but removed the dough before it rested. Then cut the dough into 8 pieces, followed your instructions and "Bob's your uncle". OMG, I will never buy bagels in Vancouver again. Now if I can only find a way to import New York water to Vancouver (for the bagels) life would be sweet. Thank you , Thank you!
Michelle T on March 13, 2012:
I made bagels for the first time using this recipe and they turned out fabulous!! I made one slight addition, as I brushed the tops of the bagels with a tiny bit of canola oil which made the bagels brown very nicely.
louromano on March 10, 2012:
Looks great all. I feel hungry.Homemade bagel recipe is fantastic. It took me three tries to get this right (first time entirely my fault...not sure what happened the second), but it was COMPLETLEY worth it. Bagels here are disappointing, at best, and it's so wonderful to be able to have the real tasty thing. thanks !!!
Kellie on March 08, 2012:
This was such an easy & wonderful recipe thanks!
TechLauren on March 06, 2012:
My effort involved replacing 1C of bread flour with 1C wheat flour and 1t gluten all King Arthur brand. Turned out awesome. Easiest dough I've ever worked with! So fun!!!
Rob on March 05, 2012:
Just followed the recipe and made homemade bagels for the first time ever. They came out perfect!
Can't believe how great these taste. Thank you for the post.
daniella on March 05, 2012:
OMG going to make these great recipie (l) lovethem
Marilee on March 04, 2012:
I know you don't need any more praise for this recipe, as there is already so much in these comments, but I can't help it--I just made these today, and they're amazing! I never thought making bagels was something that could be done so quickly and easily. Thanks :)
melanie on March 03, 2012:
Tried these today and LOVED them! Now if I can only make them last til breakfast...
richi kataruka on February 26, 2012:
we dont get bagels here in calcutta, india.. my friend had the in israel n he was hooked on to it.. so i gav it a try.. he said it was exactly like the ones he had ther... im so pleased :D thanks a lot
traged on February 25, 2012:
Yummy! thanks for that!
proxlittleman on February 16, 2012:
Hannah on February 14, 2012:
I have to tell you-- I recently moved to Germany, where there are few bagels and if you find them, they are NEVER boiled, not even steamed. I grew up eating bagels on the weekends from a local Jewish bakery and I was so homesick, first try they were alright, but I have a feeling they'll get better with practice and 1050-high gluten flour!
KristaLee on February 08, 2012:
Thank you for posting your recipe. I have been making them now for about a year and have added all types of ingredients into them. Sun Dried tomatoes and Basil is one of my most asked for. Tonight I am making up a batch of jalapeno and cheese ones. I've also done bacon and chives, blueberry, strawberry, and many others.
JodiV on February 06, 2012:
This is the first time I made bagels and I chose your recipe. Everything seemed fine and the flavour turned out ok but what I don't understand is why flip them half way through the baking process. They were looking great and after the flip I ended up having bottom halves of bagels with no rounded tops. I think had I left them they would have turned out perfect. Any thoughts? Thanks.
Andi on February 06, 2012:
I'm so glad this was the first bagel recipe I have tried. I have room for an improvement, but they still tasted great. Thank you. The recipe is great, and so easy to follow.
mary on February 05, 2012:
I just made bagel dogs and they turned out better than Ive ever bought from ANY box store. This dough is beautiful- so soft and supple after kneeded for the 10 minutes. I followed everything exactly except wraping the dough around the dogs and they turned out PERFECT.
ScottB on February 05, 2012:
Very similar to my pizza dough! Tried that and it came out pretty good. I used to be GM of a bagelshop, we boiled them, but I haven't even tried them in over a decade though.
Irenevosburgh from Philadelphia, PA on February 04, 2012:
Hi, I was looking on Yahoo search for my own HUB page Bagel Recipe to see where it ranked and yours was on the first search page...CONGRATS!
Very nice HUB.
Angela on February 02, 2012:
I've tried this before and after I boil my bagels, they deflate some and get very dense and lumpy. What did I do wrong?
Elisa on January 23, 2012:
I live in Italy and I can't find bagels here. With your recipe I can make them now!!!! Thanks a lot, they are really good and easy to make!
kxdorey from Beverly Hills, California, USA on January 13, 2012:
Way to make me hungry! Mmmmmm. They look bakery quality.
Bagel Spud on January 11, 2012:
Nailed 'em didn't I! Now I am North London's premier bagel maker. I've already put two bagel shops out of business and I don't even sell mine. I think they're intimidated by my skills.
I've even adopted a new nickname!
You've got to boil your bagel!
Jan on January 06, 2012:
What is instant yeast? Is it rapid rise yeast?
Angela on January 06, 2012:
Bagels are in the oven. I coated half of them in cinnamon and sugar for the kids. Can't wait to try them.
(I think I made them a little too big, next time I'll make the snake shorter and keep them a little tighter when I roll)
Kahla on January 03, 2012:
Just used this reciepe and added fresh roasted green chile to mine and they're amazing my neighbors won't stop eating them!! Thanks
Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on January 03, 2012:
I make bagels infrequently, but will use your expert advice when I crank out my next batch.
Andrew on November 21, 2011:
Love these bagels!
Guy on November 12, 2011:
I'm assuming that your talking about the first mixing process, if this is the case, add 1/4 cup at a time and continue mixing until the dough reaches the desired consistency.
Joe on November 03, 2011:
How many cups of water should we add??????
Krazy Kook on October 30, 2011:
No idea how many times I've used your recipe, and shared it with others, but thank you so much!!
I've made several different variety's, and my favorite is adding cinnamon and dried cranberries when first mixing the dough.
Again, manyyyyyyyyy thanks for the best recipe!!
Yumi on October 28, 2011:
Btw, I'm making some right now!!! Just waiting to boil them!! Half Cinnamon Rainsins, Half Classic :D
Yumi on October 28, 2011:
I moved down to Venezuela from NYC!! Oh gosh! I was so desperated to find bagels (I found a small bag that were fluffy, tasted funny, and weren't worth the travel to buy 'em); so couple of months ago, I found this recipe! I WON'T ever buy them again! It is too easy, fast, and not delicious but YUMMMY!!! Thanks for this recipe, wherever I move, I'll have the chance to have a bagelicious breakfast! :D
Elisabeth Lowther on October 23, 2011:
I made your bagels today. I used half whole wheat flour in them. They came out really great and also looked quite nice thanks to the good description! Now we have bagels in Serbia!
Mr Bytchy from Taipei, Taiwan on October 22, 2011:
This sounds great. I have been making bread for a little while and have perfected my 'Crusty Cloud' recipe. I am going to try your recipe today using my preferment (biga).
A former Montreal resident, I long for the bagels from Fairmount Bagel Factory http://www.fairmountbagel.com. I hope this comes even a little bit close.
Kristian on October 17, 2011:
Thanks so much for the hub! Haven't had a bagel, worth eating, since moving to the country a few years back. Time for that to change!
Katherine on October 13, 2011:
I have made these bagels three times now. Delicious and so easy.
I've started making blueberry bagels by simply substituting 3/4 of a cup of dried blueberries into the mix and replacing the sugar and water with an equal volume of apple juice. I finish it off with a dash of ground cinnamon. Absolutely lovely. Excuse me while I go and polish them all off.
halaB on October 13, 2011:
Hi can I refrigerate the dough after the first rise and shape them the next day?
Jon on October 03, 2011:
Made these this past weekend. Got 8 bagels out of the batch. When all was done, they had the proper shape and consistency. Color was a little light... my reading suggests this might be because of missing lye in the water. Didn't feel adventurous enough to play with poison :) Bread flavor was a little flat. Perhaps some longer rising time for the yeasts to produce more flavor, or some different flour combinations. I'll certainly try this again and experiment more. thanks!
Nomannic on September 29, 2011:
Not quite the soft, doughy taste I was looking for. Tastes more like really good white bread. But still - very delicious. My family ate them right up. But a note - this takes more like two hours to do, at least the first time around.
Dr Rockpile from USA on September 28, 2011:
I never thought of making my own bagels before. Might have to try it!
amanda on September 28, 2011:
AMAZING!!!! So easy and tasty to boot.
Madds on September 25, 2011:
I laid my dough out and sprinkled cinnamon, sugar and crazins on it, then rolled up the doing and kneaded the extra stuff in. it came out amazing! thanks for the recipe.
BagelManiac on September 22, 2011:
This comment is for anyone who says that this bagel tastes like pretzel.
You never had a real pretzel in your life, if you think this bagel tastes like pretzel!!!! Great recipe, thank you so much. Just came out of the oven :) yammm
Middleton on September 18, 2011:
I added a cup of chocolate chips while I was kneading the dough and they turned out just like a bagel shops I'm so happy now thanks for the recipe :)
JimBakes on September 18, 2011:
Last week was the basic halved recipe, this weekend I decided to try chocolate chip. I know, I know, not very traditional but tasty! I followed others' tips and added the 1/3C chips (2/3 for the full recipe) at the beginning. I also wanted more "bagel" flavor so substituted barley malt syrup for the sugar (equal amounts), and added 1Tbsp of the barley malt syrup, 1Tbsp baking soda and 1Tbsp salt to the boiling water. They were excellent! Just the perfect tasting, chewy bagel. Next is some toppings on a plain bagel with the water additions. I can't believe how easy this is!
billybob122121 on September 11, 2011:
Thanks for the recipe i really needed it :) have a grrrreeeeeat day :)