If you like bagels, you're probably going to love these bialys. They're not as heavy and dense as bagels and they have a savory filling, that combined with the chewy, light dough is absolutely magical! I might only be 25% Polish but my take on bialys was 100% amazing.

Prep Time:
40 mins
Cook Time:
30 mins
Additional Time:
13 hrs 5 mins
Total Time:
14 hrs 15 mins
8 bialys

Like many Americans who don't live in New York or New Jersey, I first was made aware of bialys watching The Sopranos. They seemed to enjoy them every bit as much as the Italian treats so often highlighted in the show. I remember thinking I would like to try one myself, if and when I came across them at a bakery, which never happened.

Years went by, the show ended, and I forgot all about them. Then they started springing up at bagel shops during the Game of Thrones era. I couldn't tell you where, but I eventually tried one, and wasn't impressed. It was the same dough used for the bagels, which was just shaped slightly differently, and filled with some caramelized onions.

Years went by, Game of Thrones ended, and I eventually got a request to film them. I did some actual research on this unique Jewish-Polish bun, and discovered that these aren't meant to be another type of bagel, but a totally different thing altogether. Made properly, they are supposed to be very light, but still a little chewy, and the dough is lean, without any sugar or fat involved. I'm not saying these are authentic, but from what I've seen and heard, they are close. I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!

Chef John's Polish Bialys
Chef John

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For the Dough:

  • 3 ¾ cups bread flour

  • ½ teaspoon instant yeast

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 ½ cups water, at room temperature

For the Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • 1 tablespoon bread crumbs

  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds, plus more for garnish

  • 1 tablespoon sliced green onion

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper


  1. Combine bread flour, yeast, salt, and water for dough in a bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon and mix until a very wet, soft, and sticky dough forms. Cover and leave at room temperature for at least 12 hours.

  2. When ready to make the bialys, heat olive oil for filling in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and salt and cook, stirring occasionally until onion softens, sweetens, and turns golden brown, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add bread crumbs, 2 teaspoons poppy seeds, green onion, and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine and cool down until needed.

  3. Uncover dough; it should be bubbly. Scrape it away from the sides of the bowl with a spatula and transfer onto a floured work surface. Dust a little flour over top and gently press dough with your hands to flatten. Divide it into 8 equal portions and roll each into a ball, using a bit of flour as needed. Stretch each ball gently and tuck dough under the bottom; place on a baking sheet lined with generously floured parchment paper or a silicone liner (such as Silpat®). Dust the tops with flour and carefully cover with a dish towel; let proof until just about doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes.

  4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C).

  5. Flour your fingers and pick up one dough ball. Press and pull on the center to form it into a ring shape; the center of the dough will be thin and the edges will be thicker. Make sure the centers are very thin but be careful not to tear them open. Repeat with remaining balls.

  6. Fill the center of each with no more than a rounded teaspoon of onion-poppy seed filling, then gently press the filling up the sides toward the outer rings. (You will have extra filling.) Spray bialys with some cold water and sprinkle poppy seeds over top.

  7. Bake in the center of the preheated oven until puffed and nicely browned, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for about 20 minutes before serving.

Chef's Note:

You can fill these with anything you like instead of the onion-poppy seed filling.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

234 Calories
3g Fat
44g Carbs
7g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 234
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g 4%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Sodium 490mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 44g 16%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 2mg 8%
Calcium 27mg 2%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 98mg 2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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