Homemade sourdough bagels? Absolutely! With just 10 minutes of prep, this easy, overnight recipe uses active sourdough starter for the ultimate soft & chewy NY-style bagel. Customize with zesty everything bagel spice, sesame seeds and more!
Here’s the scoop: Sourdough bagels are nothing like yeasted bagels.
They are more flavorful. Less dense. Intensely chewy. You can eat two without getting a massive stomach ache.
And the crust? It’s incredibly thin and crispy, and absolutely life changing!
Admittedly, homemade sourdough bagels might seem challenging at first. But I promise you, it’s not rocket science. This post breaks down the entire process, from making the dough, to shaping, boiling and baking the bagels.
You Will Need
- Bubbly, active sourdough starter (purchase here or make your own)
- Good quality bread flour (I use King Arthur)
- Optional mixed toppings, such as Everything Bagel Spice, poppy, sesame, flax or sunflower seeds
How to Make Homemade Sourdough Bagels
First, you need a game plan. Understand this: Sourdough bagels include several steps, which can be broken down into manageable chunks. I recommend splitting the process over 2 days. Make the dough in the evening and let rise overnight in cooler temperatures; shape, boil and bake the bagels following day. See my Sample Baking Schedule for additional options.
Mix the Dough
- Whisk the water, starter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the flour and salt. Combine to form a rough dough; it will be very dry and stiff. Tip: you really need a large bowl or high sided dough tub. This dough is very strong and rises quite high especially when using King Arthur Flour.
- Cover and let rest for 1 hr to relax the gluten. Return to the bowl, and work the dough into a semi-smooth ball.
You’re are now done with the dough.
Why is the dough so dry? Bagels require a low hydration dough. The dry, stiff texture is easy to shape and produces a tight-knit interior crumb. This is what you want for bagels. Do not be tempted to add more water!
Cover the dough, and let rise overnight at room temperature until double in size. This should take about 10-12 hrs @ 68 F; 8-10 @ 70 F.
How to Shape Bagels
- Divide dough into 8 equal pieces, about 115 g each. Use a digital kitchen scale for accuracy.
- Roll each piece into a ball. Place onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Poke a hole into the center of each dough. Gently stretch the opening, using your fingers to roll it around.
Now the dough needs to rise again, but only for a short period of time.
- Cover and let rest for 20 minutes; the dough will puff up slightly.
- Meanwhile, boil a pot of water. Add the honey (this adds color and flavor to the crust) and whisk well.
- Preheat your oven to 425 F. Set up a topping station: add seeds to a rimmed tray or shallow bowl.
How to Boil Bagels
- Gently lower 2-3 bagels into the pot and let float to the surface. Simmer for 30 seconds on each side for a thin crust.
- With a large slotted spoon, transfer the bagels onto the sheet pan, rounded side up. They will look weird and bumpy (totally normal) and feel slightly wet.
Why boil bagels in the first place? It helps to set the crust before baking. Otherwise the dough would puff up and rise too high. You can’t skip the boiling step- it’s part of what differentiates bagels from bread.
Top The Bagels with Seeds
- When the bagels are slightly cool but still wet, dip the rounded side into the toppings. Leave a few plain (the crust is amazing).
- Place back onto the sheet pan.
Bake the Bagels
- Pop the sheet pan into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes @ 425 F.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly (but please, do yourself a favor and enjoy one warm, straight from the oven!)
- To serve, top with salted butter, veggie cream cheese, smoked salmon etc. Or just eat plain. The choice is yours!
How to Store Bagels
I’ll be honest with you, your first batch of homemade bagels will be gone in a day. They’re just SO good.
But, if you do have any leftover, store in a plastic bag at room temperature for up to 2 days (although they are best enjoyed fresh before they get rubbery).
Bagels also freeze well; freeze them whole or sliced, covered in plastic wrap and a layer of foil, for up to 3 months. Warm in a low oven or toaster before serving.
Sample Baking Schedule
- Saturday Evening (8 PM): Make dough & let rise overnight @ 68 F. Note: in the summer, the dough will rise faster. Skip the overnight rise and make the dough during the day. Once almost doubled in size, cover and chill the whole bowl overnight. Proceed using the cold dough the following day.
- Sunday Morning (whenever you get up): Shape, boil, top & bake bagels.
With just 10 minutes of prep, this easy, homemade sourdough bagel recipe uses active sourdough starter and a long, overnight rise. Customize with Everything Bagel Spice, sesame seeds and more!
150 g (3⁄4 cup) bubbly, active sourdough starter
250 g (1 cup plus 2 tsp) warm water (See Notes below for temperature range)
24 g (2 tbsp) granulated sugar
500 g (4 cups plus 2 tbsp) King Arthur bread flour
9 g (1 1⁄2 tsp) fine sea salt
20 g (1 tbsp) honey
Cooking spray or oil, for coating
Mixed seeds, such as poppy, sesame, fennel, flax and sun flower seeds or Everything Bagel Spice.
- Make the Dough: In a large bowl, whisk the starter, water, and sugar together with a fork. Add the flour and salt. Combine to form a rough dough, then finish mixing by hand until no lumps of our remain. The dough will be very stiff and dry. Note: it’s important to use a large mixing bowl- this dough is strong and rises quite high. As a mixing alternative, use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook; run on low speed for 5 to 6 minutes to combine and knead.
- Cover the dough with a very damp towel and let rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour. After the dough has rested, work the mass into a semi-smooth ball, about 15 to 20 seconds.
- Bulk Rise: Cover the bowl with a lightly coated plastic wrap and let rise until double in size, about 10-12 hrs when the temperature is 68 F (20 C); 8 to 10 hours @ 70°F (21°C). Note: in the summer, rise the dough during the day. Once the dough is almost double in size, cover and chill the whole bowl overnight (it will continue to rise slightly in the fridge). Proceed using the cold dough the following day.
- Shape: Line a sheet pan with a nonstick silicone mat or parchment paper. If using parchment, lightly coat with cooking spray or oil to prevent sticking.
- Remove the dough onto a non- floured work surface. Flatten the dough into a rectangle and divide into 8 equal pieces, about 115 g (4 oz) each. Gather the ends, flip the dough over, and roll each piece into a ball. Let the dough rest on your sheet pan for 10 to 15 minutes to relax the gluten.
- Working with one ball of dough at a time, poke a hole straight through the center. Move your finger around in a circular motion to gently stretch the dough until the hole is about the size of a walnut. You can also lift up the dough, insert both index fingers through the center hole, and barrel roll to gently stretch the opening. When finished, place the dough back onto your sheet pan. It’s okay if the hole shrinks slightly. Repeat shaping the remaining dough.
- Second Rise: Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. The dough will puff up only slightly at this stage.
- Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the honey and whisk well to dissolve. Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). Add the seeds to a rimmed tray or shallow bowl.
- Boil the bagels: Add 2 to 3 bagels into the pot and simmer for 30 seconds on each side for a thin crust. Note: if using cold dough from the fridge, the bagels might not float to the surface right away. Give them a nudge after 30 seconds or so and be patient. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bagels back the sheet pan you used earlier, placing them rounded side up.
- Once slightly cool but still wet, dip the rounded side of the bagels into the seeds to coat. Place back onto the sheet pan and finish boiling the rest of the bagels.
- Bake: Bake the bagels for about 20 to 25 minutes. Flip them over to briefly cook the bottom side, about 1 to 2 minutes or less. When ready, your bagels will be puffed up, light golden brown, and feel light to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, but indulge yourself and eat one (or two) warm.
The chewy texture of bagels is best enjoyed when made fresh. Store in a plastic bag at room temperature for up to 2 days. Bagels also freeze well; freeze them whole or sliced, covered in plastic wrap and a layer of foil, for up to 3 months.
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