Homemade Bagels

by Ben Miller

You too can make delicious homemade bagels all by hand

You too can make delicious homemade bagels all by hand

A few weeks ago I complained about how recipes for many things–including almost anything involving dough–recommend using a stand mixer instead of just using your hands. One of the prime sources of my ire was a Cooks Illustrated recipe that strongly advised against making bagels by hand. Well not only were they wrong, but it’s a lot easier than pretty much all the recipes out there suggest.

The bagels above were made by hand over the course of about 2 hours,  start to finish. I’m sure you could use a stand mixer to the same task (and I’m sympathetic to people who due to arthritis or other reasons can’t knead by hand), but it’s really easy enough that there’s no need to break out the electric appliance.

The only other thing I’ll say about these bagels is that sometimes google just gets it right. The recipe came from the top hit when you google “bagel recipe.” It’s simpler, faster, and tastes a lot better than Emeril’s bagel recipe, which I also tried. I’m not even going to link to it because I was so displeased with the final product–it was like eating rolls that had a little bit of bagel taste.


Homemade Bagels

from John Lee

This makes 8 bagels. I’m sure you can increase the recipe accordingly. Allow about 2 hours from start to finish for these.


  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1.25 – 1.5 cups warm water
  • poppy seeds, sesame seeds or any other toppings.


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. You want to incorporate all the flour, but your dough will be stiff. Only add the water as needed until the flour is incorporated.
  2. Knead the dough for ten minutes until it is smooth. My general tactic with kneading is I use my knuckles to punch the dough out, fold it in half and rotate 90 degrees.
  3. Cut the dough into 8 balls and let it sit for about 15 minutes. While this is happening, get a large pot of water boiling (enough so that the bagels won’t touch the bottom while being boiled). You may want to do this even sooner depending on how big a pot you are using.
  4. Take each dough ball and roll it into a foot long snake using your hands. Keeping your hand in the middle of the dough snake and use your other hand to bring the two ends together such that the dough is fully wrapped around your hand. Rotate the dough around so that the part where the two ends come together is under your palm. Press down to make the ends come together. (If this doesn’t work, you can also flatten one end, place the other end in it, and then wrap the dough around it to encase one end of the dough in the other.
  5. You should now have eight balls of dough with a circle in them. Let them rest for about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 while you wait, and grease a cookie sheet with vegetable oil so that the bagels don’t stick to it.
  6. Once your water is at a persistent boil, place a few bagels in the water (you don’t want them crowded). Boil on each side for about 1 minute.
  7. Take the bagels out of the water (Use a spatula, they will be hot.) If you are making poppy seed, sesame seed or any other type, sprinkle some onto the bagel on each side. Alternatively, you can lay some on a plate and press the bagel into it.
  8. Once all the bagels have been boiled, place them on the cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes on each side.  If your bagels are too puffy after the first side cooks, flip them over so that the cooked side is pointing up, and flatten them using the head of a spatula.
  9. Let the bagels cool, and enjoy with cream cheese, lox, etc.

UPDATE: Thanks to Candadianfoodiegirl for catching my typos.


14 responses to “Homemade Bagels

  1. It is cruel to post this recipe just days before Passover.

  2. larryin la

    shmura matzah is delicious…
    and look at all we have to look forward to!
    matzah brie, matzah with butter, with cream cheese. good times!

    and congrats on making those beautiful bagels!
    perhaps after pesach, we will see a photograph of you very own braided challah…..
    with the leftover poppy seeds from your hamentaschen!!

  3. i tried to link unsuccessfully to this recipe once before here,
    but i would like to share it, because it is the absolute best recipe for challah that you can find.
    do not be misled by imitations!:-)
    if anyone is planning to make a challah or looking for a “keeper” recipe for challah, this is it.
    you can cut the recipe in half if you like….this recipe creates four perfect challahs to give as shabbos gifts that will be truly appreciated.
    this is the best.

    the rebbitzen’s exquisite challah

    5 pkges dry yeast (1 1/4 oz)
    4 cups warm water
    1 1/4 cups sugar
    1 tablespoon salt
    3 eggs
    1 cup oil
    5 lb bag of high gluten flour

    ~~mix yeast, water and 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl.
    ~~when it bubbles, add salt and rest of sugar, oil and eggs and half of the flour.
    ~~add remaining flour but leave 1/2 cup in the bag.
    ~~knead for ten minutes.
    ~~use extra flour for hands and kneading.
    ~~allow to rise for one hour.
    ~~pound down again.
    ~~let rise for another hour.
    ~~braid the beautiful challahs with three strands.
    ~~let the beautiful challahs double in size
    for one more hour.
    ~~bush with egg yolk, sprinkle with poppy seeds.
    ~~bake til golden brown on bottom for
    30 to 40 minutes.
    ~~ when you remove these from the oven, it will be a special moment.
    they will be so beautiful and the fragrance of these baked challahs will be overwhelming.. one of your most
    special cooking memories of all time.

  4. I suppose you could make them smaller and get more bagels from the dough?

    mmm, matzah with cream cheese, and caramelized matzoh crunch with matzah leftovers .

    P.S. I see two typos in step #8, the kind people make when they’re tired.

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  7. Now, when I make Pretzels, I use Alton Brown’s recipe, which calls for boiling in highly alkaline water, which you get by adding Baking Soda (quite a bit, actually) to the water. Supposedly, that helps harden the outside. Do you think that would make a positive difference with the Bagels as well?

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