Sourdough Bagels

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Sourdough bagels are chewy, tangy, and so delicious! This easy sourdough New York style bagel recipe is sure to please.

If you asked 10 people what the best breakfast food is, it’s likely that not even one of them would say “a bagel”.

And those 10 people are WRONG.

Bagels are the best breakfast food hands down.

Schmear that sucker with butter, or softened cream cheese, or make a BeefLT out of it. Add some cinnamon sugar for a sweet treat. Or use it for a fried bacon and egg sandwich.

Respect the bagel, people.

This sourdough bagel recipe is dedicated to respect.

Close up of sourdough bagels in a basket.

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Tips + Tricks

No. 1 –> Need a kick-ass starter? I’ve got you covered with my unbelievably easy sourdough starter. You’ll be ready to bake in 24 hours with your very own sourdough starter!

No. 2 –> Ensure your starter is very active and lively. It must be at least doubled in size and filled with bubbles before you begin.

No. 3 –> If you’re an avid sourdough baker, think about investing in a shower cap. I know that sounds weird, but it’s the best bowl cover I’ve come across, plus it reduces tons of plastic wrap waste. My shower cap covers all my mixing bowls AND even a 9×13 baking dish.

No. 4 –> Many bagel recipes call for barley malt syrup. I live in a small town in the northern Alberta and I can’t find it! My recipe calls for granulated sugar in it’s place. If you’ve got barley malt, by all means, use it!

No. 5 –> Boiling the bagels seems like a weird step, but hear me out. Boiling a bagel helps to set the crust and give it that bagel-y goodness that we all love. A longer boil gives a thicker and chewier crust with a more dense crumb, while a shorter boil gives a softer, more tender crumb.

Overhead view of 4 sourdough bagels with everything bagel seasoning.

Key Ingredients

Sourdough starter: This recipe is made with 100% hydration sourdough starter that has recently been fed, has doubled in volume and filled with bubbles.

Flour: Bagels are chewy, so we need a dough with high protein content. Use unbleached bread flour or all-purpose flour with at least 13% protein. You can calculate protein content easily with a little help from a formula.

Ingredients for sourdough bagels.

How To Make Sourdough Bagels

PREPARE THE DOUGH:

  1. In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the flour, sugar, salt, water, and active starter.
  2. Knead the dough for 5- 7 minutes at the lowest speed. It will take a while to come together, and will be dense. This is normal. Knead the dough until a smooth elastic dough forms, and it rebounds when poked.
  3. Grease a large bowl with olive oil, and toss the dough to coat. Cover and set aside to rise for 8-12 hours, depending on the ambient temperature in your house. I leave mine until at least doubled, which takes about 8 hours in my house at 73f.
  4. Once the dough has doubled, pop it into the fridge for an overnight nap. This step is SO flexible though. Your sourdough bagel dough can rest in the fridge for up to 3 days. The longer the rest, the tangier the dough.

BUILD THE BAGELS:

  1. Remove the dough from the fridge about 3-4 hours before you’re ready to bake.
  2. Once the dough reaches room temperature, turn it onto a clean work surface dusted with flour. Cut it into 10-12 pieces, I find it easiest to cut wedges, then form each piece into a tight ball. Place the balls on a well-floured surface and cover with a kitchen towel.
  3. Allow the balls to rest for 10-15 minutes, then flatten each ball slightly, and then poke your thumb through the middle of the ball to form the ring shape.
  4. Recover the bagels with a kitchen towel while you preheat oven to 425f and bring a pot of water to boil. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside for now.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare any desired toppings by spreading them in a shallow dish or plate if you’re dipping in the flavor. See below for topping ideas!
  6. Once the oven is preheated, add the brown sugar to the water, and begin by boiling the bagels in batches. 30-45 seconds per side. Remove the bagels from the water with a spider spoon, shaking off any excess water. Then dip one side into toppings, or sprinkle the desired flavor on top. Go quickly, as it’s important to bake the bagels within a few minutes of the water bath.
  7. Place the bagels on the lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 25-28 minutes, or until golden brown throughout.
  8. Remove the cooked sourdough bagels from the baking sheet and cool on a wire mesh rack.

Baking Schedule

Day 1:

  • 9 am: feed your sourdough starter, 100g starter, 100g water, 100g flour.
  • 1 pm: make the bagel dough. Cover and set aside to rise.
  • 7 pm: pop the dough in the fridge overnight.

Day 2:

  • 9 am: remove dough from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature.
  • 1 pm: divide the dough and form it into bagels.
  • 1:30 pm: begin boiling water and preheating the oven.
  • 2 pm: boil and bake the bagels.

This is a very, very loose schedule. The beauty of making sourdough bagels is that it’s so flexible within your schedule. If you wanted to form the bagels before you popped the dough in the fridge, that’s doable! Just allow them to rise a bit longer and shorten the time to come to room temperature.

Temperatures can also be manipulated to ensure this baking fits into your time schedule. My starter is very active when it’s placed somewhere warm (like my microwave with the light on), I can decrease doubling time and fermenting time substantially by adding a little warmth.

Likewise, if you’ve gotta feed your starter in the morning and finish after work, start with cool water and keep your starter somewhere slightly cooler. It will be ready for you when you get home!

Hands holding a cooked sourdough bagel.

Topping Ideas

I’ve included two ways to get toppings onto your bagels. 1) dip into a shallow dish or plate coated in the toppings, and 2) sprinkle the topping on top of the damp bagels once they come out of the water bath.

I personally prefer the sprinkle method as I feel like I have more control over the topping situation, but the dip method definitely attracts more flavored toppings to your bagel, so use your discretion on that one.

Need ideas on how to top your sourdough bagels? I’ve got you covered!

  • sesame seed
  • poppy seed
  • everything bagel seasoning
  • flaked salt
  • cheese; cheddar, smoked cheese, Parmesan, asiago etc
  • dehydrated onions
  • dehydrated garlic

My new favorite is thinly sliced smoked garlic, shredded Parmigiano Reggiano, and red pepper flakes. SO good.

Two sourdough bagels topped with parmesan, garlic and red pepper flakes.

Batch + Storage Information

Batch:

This sourdough bagel recipe makes between 10 and 12 bagels, depending on desired size. The smaller the bagel, the more you’ll make.

It can easily be doubled, but be aware this dough is dense and 10 cups of flour will likely have to be kneaded by hand as I’m not sure a stand mixer can handle that abuse!

Storage:

Store your cooked and cooled bagels at room temperature for up to 3 days. They can also be stored in the freezer. Wrap the bagels in plastic wrap, then place in an airtight container or bag before placing them in the freezer for up to 3 months.

To use frozen sourdough bagels, thaw at room temperature until warmed through, then toast and enjoy!

Two sourdough bagels on a baking sheet.

Variations + Substitutions

There are a few substitutions that you can make for this recipe:

  • Cinnamon raisin bagels – add a scant tablespoon of cinnamon to the dry ingredients while mixing. Then knead in 1/2 cup of raisins by hand once the stand mixer is done.
  • Blueberry bagels – add 1/2 cup of blueberries to the dough while kneading – subtract 1/4 cup of water.
  • Pretzel bagels – add 1/4 cup baking soda to the water bath, increase boil time to 2 minutes per side. Brush the top of the bagels with egg wash (1 beaten egg) then sprinkle with coarse kosher salt.
  • Whole wheat bagels – sub up to 2 cups of bread flour with whole wheat flour. This may mean your dough needs more water – if it refuses to come together, simply add water 1 tablespoon at a time until the flour is completely incorporated.

More Sourdough Recipes To Try!

Stand mixer: I use my KITCHENAID MIXER for so many things. It makes everything much easier – I couldn’t live without it for my baking! I’ve got a bum wrist on my dominant hand which makes kneading quite difficult, having my stand mixer is such a blessing!

If you love this recipe, please give it a star rating or leave a comment below! This helps me to create more content you enjoy!

📖 Printable Recipe

Close up of sourdough bagels in a basket.

Sourdough Bagels

Allyson Letal
This easy to follow guide will have you making fresh sourdough bagels in no time! These New York style sourdough bagels are a breakfast hero.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Rise Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 35 minutes
Course Baked, Breakfast, Sourdough
Cuisine American
Servings 10 bagels
Calories 279 kcal

Ingredients
  

for the sourdough bagels:

  • 5 cups 650g unbleached bread flour * see notes
  • 1 cup 240g active sourdough starter, stirred down
  • 1 ¼ cup 285g warm water, 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 2 tablespoons 26g granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon 10g fine salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

for water bath:

Instructions
 

PREPARE THE DOUGH:

  • In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the 5 cups 650g unbleached bread flour * see notes, 2 tablespoons 26g granulated sugar, 1 ½ teaspoon 10g fine salt, 1 ¼ cup 285g warm water, 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit, and 1 cup 240g active sourdough starter, stirred down.
  • Knead the dough for 5- 7 minutes at the lowest speed. It will take a while to come together, and will be dense. This is normal. Knead the dough until a smooth elastic dough forms, and it rebounds when poked. If the dough refuses to come together, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until cohesive.
  • Add the 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large bowl, grease the bowl, and toss the dough to coat. Cover and set aside to rise for 8-12 hours, depending on the ambient temperature in your house. The dough should have at least doubled before proceeding.
  • Once the dough has doubled, pop it into the fridge for a rest. The sourdough bagel dough can rest in the fridge for up to 3 days. The longer the rest, the tangier the dough.

BUILD THE BAGELS:

  • Remove the dough from the fridge about 3-4 hours before you’re ready to bake.
  • Once the dough reaches room temperature, turn it onto a clean work surface dusted with flour. Cut it into 10-12 pieces, then form each piece into a tight ball. Place the balls on a well-floured surface and cover with a kitchen towel.
  • Allow the balls to rest for 10-15 minutes, then latten each ball slightly, and then poke your thumb through the middle of the ball to form the ring shape.
  • Recover the bagels with a kitchen towel while you preheat the oven to 425f and bring a pot of 8 cups water to boil. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • Meanwhile, prepare any desired toppings by spreading them in a shallow dish or plate if dipping the toppings. See notes for topping ideas.
  • Once the oven is preheated, add the 2 tablespoons brown sugar to the water, and begin by boiling the bagels in batches. 30-45 seconds per side. Remove the bagels from the water with a spider spoon, shaking off any excess water. Then dip one side into toppings, or sprinkle the flavor on top of the damp bagels.
  • Replace the bagels on the prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven for 25-28 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Remove the cooked sourdough bagels from the baking sheet and cool on a wire mesh rack.

Notes

FLOUR: If you don’t have a scale, it’s important to measure your flour with the scoop and level method. Stir the flour in the bag, then use another spoon to scoop it into your measuring cup. Level the measuring cup with the back of a knife. Avoid packing in the flour.

Topping ideas:

There are two options for getting the topping on the bagels, 1) dip it into a shallow dish or plate with the topping, or 2) sprinkle the topping on top of the bagels. Dipping gives a more concentrated topping on the highest part of the bagel, while sprinkling gives a bit more spread to the topping.
  • sesame seed
  • poppy seed
  • everything bagel
  • flaked salt
  • cheese; cheddar, SMOKED CHEESE, Parmesan, asiago etc
  • dehydrated onions
  • dehydrated garlic

Variations

  • cinnamon raisin bagels – add a scant tablespoon of cinnamon to the dry ingredients while mixing. Then knead in 1/2 cup of raisins by hand once the stand mixer is done.
  • Blueberry bagels – add 1/2 cup of blueberries to the dough while kneading – subtract 1/4 cup of water.
  • Pretzel bagels – add 1/4 cup baking soda to the water bath, increase boil time to 2 minutes per side. Brush the top of the bagels with egg wash (1 beaten egg) then sprinkle with coarse kosher salt.
  • Whole wheat bagels – sub up to 2 cups of bread flour with whole wheat flour. This may mean your dough needs more water – if it refuses to come together, simply add water 1 tablespoon at a time until the flour is completely incorporated.

Batch:

This sourdough bagel recipe makes between 10 and 12 bagels, depending on the desired size. The smaller the bagel, the more you’ll make.
It can easily be doubled, but be aware this dough is dense and 10 cups of flour will likely have to be kneaded by hand as I’m not sure a stand mixer can handle that abuse!

Storage:

Store your cooked and cooled bagels at room temperature for up to 3 days. They can also be stored in the freezer. Wrap the bagels in plastic wrap, then place in an airtight container or bag before placing them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To use frozen sourdough bagels, thaw at room temperature until warmed through, then toast and enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 279kcalCarbohydrates: 55gProtein: 8gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0.3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 361mgPotassium: 66mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 1IUCalcium: 17mgIron: 1mg
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13 Comments

  1. These were worth the wait! I usually make a non sourdough recipe but these were impeccable

  2. 5 stars
    These were amazing! I have made many sourdough dishes and these were definitely a hit for my family and I! I would highly recommend making these!

    When you make these, I would recommend doubling the recipe. Even though I let my bagels rest the proper proofing time, they ended up turning out small. Despite that, they were still utterly delicous!

  3. Just made them, trying really hard not to eat them all while still warm. Easiest, tastiest recipe I have made. Thank you for your well written recipe and all the ideas.

  4. I would like to try this recipe next! I’m curious to know how the different additions to the boiling water affect the crust consistency? For example baking soda vs brown sugar? I think I prefer more of a soft pretzel crust. Does the sugar do the same? Thank you!

    1. Great question, Denise! Baking soda bath tends to give the bagels a more pretzel like crust, and the sugar adds a hint of sweetness to the dough. Both improve browning via the maillard effect. If you’re looking for a softer texture, the sugar would be the best bet!

  5. I made these, but filled them with cream cheese, cinnamon sugar cream cheese and cream cheese with raspberry jelly…. Sooo good. My kids said it reminded them of Bagelfuls when they were younger.

  6. I’m not sure if I did something wrong but my bagels poofed way up in the oven lol and their holes are almost gone 😅 I mean they still look delicious!

    1. Ha! I’ve had a batch or two do that to me as well. We coined them the butthole bagels. HA! They were still delicious, and the cream cheese didn’t spill out the middle, so that’s a win 🙂