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Tray of baked sourdough bagels

Best Sourdough Bagels (Soft, Chewy, Easy!)

  • Author: Emilie Raffa
  • Prep Time: 15 hours
  • Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 bagels
  • Category: Sourdough Bread
  • Method: Oven-Baked
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian


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! Recipe adapted from my bestselling book: Artisan Sourdough Made Simple.


For the Dough

  • 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 
  • Cooking spray or oil, (for coating the plastic wrap)

For the water bath

  • 20 g (1 tbsp) honey


  • Mixed seeds, such as poppy, sesame, fennel, flax and sun flower seeds or Everything Bagel Spice. 


  • Water temperature: In winter, I use 85-95 F water (29-35 C) to give the rise a boost. In summer, I use cooler water, about 55- 60 F (13-16 C) to slow down and control the rise. 


  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. Bulk Rise: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap that has been lightly coated in oil to prevent sticking. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. 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 lined sheet pan for 10 to 15 minutes to relax the gluten. 
  6. 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 the sheet pan. It’s okay if the hole shrinks slightly. Repeat shaping the remaining dough. 
  7. Second Rise: Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes. The dough will puff up only slightly at this stage. 
  8. 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. 
  9. 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.
  10. 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. 
  11. Bake: Place your sheet pan on the center rack. 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. 


Keywords: homemade, sourdough, bagels, easy, recipe, overnight, NY-style bagels, soft, chewy, sourdough starter, active