Learn how to make the best homemade bagels with this easy step-by-step guide.

By Caitlyn Diimig, RD
Updated August 10, 2020

Nothing beats the chew and subtle sweetness of a real New York bagel. But not everyone can live a block from a bustling NYC shop, and grocery store bagels just don't compare. Baking your own is actually simple, though. Read on for a step-by-step guide to forming and baking bagels, and get ideas for bagels toppings, spreads, and bagel sandwiches. You'll also get tips for storing bagels and learn how to turn bagels into savory bagel chips.

How to Make Homemade Bagels

You can customize your bagels with all sorts of sprinkles, schmears, and fillings.

We used this recipe: Real Homemade Bagels

1. Make the Dough

Mix together 4 to 4¼ cups bread flour, 1½ to 1¾ cups water, 3 Tbsp. sugar, 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, 1 Tbsp. instant yeast, and 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. (Start at the low end of flour and water. The dough should be smooth and slightly sticky. Add more water if it's too dry, or more flour if it's too sticky.) Mix at low speed 8 minutes, repositioning dough as needed. Mix at medium-low speed about 8 minutes. With fingers floured, pinch off a walnut-size piece, then flatten and very gently stretch until slightly translucent. If it tears right away, continue to knead in mixer. Read more about how to work with yeast dough.

Credit: Kim Cornelison

2. Let it Rise

Transfer dough to an extra-large bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

3. Roll on Through

Preheat oven to 425°F. Punch down dough and put on a clean work surface. Cut dough into 8 equal pieces (4 oz. each). Pat out each piece into a ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Starting at the long end, roll rectangle into a tight log. Then roll back and forth to lengthen to 14 inches. Hold one end of log in your palm. Loop the other end around your hand, overlapping ends by 1 to 2 inches. Press and roll onto the work surface with the heel of your hand to seal. Gently reposition bagel so seam is on bottom and dough is evenly distributed in a circle. Repeat with remaining dough pieces.

Credit: Kim Cornelison

4. Boil the Bagels

Bring 4 qt. water to a boil in an 8-qt. pot. Add ½ cup honey or 3 Tbsp. sugar. (Boiling the bagels provides a chewy outer crust and the honey browns the bagels as they bake.) Boil bagels 2 at a time until they puff, 30 seconds per side. Remove bagels with a slotted spoon and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, seam sides down.

5. Sprinkle and Bake

Sprinkle wet bagels with desired toppings, such as "Everything Seasoning." Bake until bagels are golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool. Slice and serve with desired spreads, or see "Make It a Sandwich" below.

Credit: Kim Cornelison

Watch the VIDEO to see how to make Real Homemade Bagels

How to Make Bagel Chips

Watch the video to learn how to turn extra bagels — or stale bagels — into savory Salt and Garlic Bagel Chips.

Bagel Spreads to Try

Pistachio Pesto

Blend ¾ cup packed fresh basil leaves, ½ cup shelled pistachios, ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 clove garlic, and ¼ tsp. each salt and black pepper in a blender or food processor. Add 4 oz. softened cream cheese; blend until desired consistency. Makes 1 cup.

Lemon Goat Cheese

Stir together 2 oz. each goat cheese and mascarpone cheese, and ¼ tsp. lemon zest in a bowl. Makes ½ cup.

Raspberry Cream Cheese

Stir together 4 oz. softened cream cheese, ¼ cup fresh or thawed frozen raspberries, and 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar in a bowl. Makes ¾ cup.

Make It a Sandwich

Bacon and Eggs

Spread toasted bagel bottom with 2 Tbsp. Pistachio Pesto. Top with 2 slices each tomato and cooked bacon, a fried egg, and 2 tsp. fresh snipped chives. Add toasted bagel top.

Credit: Kim Cornelison

Peanut Butter & Berries

Spread toasted bagel bottom with 1 Tbsp. Raspberry Cream Cheese. Top with 2 Tbsp. each blackberries and raspberries. Spread toasted bagel top with 1 Tbsp. peanut butter and put on top of berries.

Credit: Kim Cornelison

Lots of Lox

Spread 1 toasted bagel bottom with 2 Tbsp. Lemon Goat Cheese. Top with 2 oz. lox, 1 Tbsp. each capers and fresh snipped dill. Add toasted bagel top.

Credit: Kim Cornelison

How to Store Bagels

Store fresh bagels up to 2 days in an airtight container at room temperature. You can refresh them by lightly dampening the exterior and baking at 350°F for 5 to 10 minutes.

Freeze Now, Bake Later

To freeze unbaked bagels: Follow directions through Step 4. Freeze boiled bagels on a parchment- paper-lined baking sheet until firm. Transfer to a freezer-safe zip-top bag; freeze up to 2 months. Thaw bagels on a parchment- paper-lined baking sheet in fridge 18 to 24 hours. Let stand at room temperature 15 to 20 minutes. Bake as directed.

To freeze baked bagels: Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months (after that, quality starts to drop off). For convenience, you can slice bagels in half before freezing. You can either thaw overnight in the fridge or pop frozen bagels straight into the toaster.

Check out our collection of Bagel Recipes.