These sourdough bagels are delicious and thick with that iconic chewy crust that you get with New York-style bagels.
This sourdough bagel recipe is super easy to make. Read on for homemade New York style sourdough bagels with step by step instructions or see the video showing the whole process.
Don’t have a sourdough starter yet to make this recipe? Check out my sourdough starter guide to get an active sourdough starter ready for baking!
New York Style Sourdough Bagels
I fell in love with these sourdough bagels from the first time I made them. They’re so flavourful and I was so happy with how they turned out! Unlike dinner rolls which have a light and fluffy texture, New York-style sourdough bagels are denser and chewier.
A strong flour with a high protein content is needed to develop the structure and give that texture.
🥯The bagel dough
The dough for these sourdough bagels is a lean and thick dough, with a low hydration level (around 56%) unlike many of my other sourdough recipes like sourdough brioche or sourdough cinnamon raisin bread.
It means it’s easy to knead it by hand, but it needs thorough working! A good 10 minutes of gluten development is best.
This bagel recipe needs 150g of active, fed starter. I feed the starter for this recipe at a ratio of 1:1:1 (equal weights flour, water and starter) and expect it to double within 4 hours at a room temperature of around 21-23°C.
I use it once it has doubled or tripled but before it passes the peak and collapses.
My starter is always getting refreshed so it has low acid content. This is crucial to all my sourdough bread recipes as an acidic starter can break down the proteins in the gluten. You can avoid creating an acidic starter by refreshing it often, using it before it passes its peak and keeping the seed starter amount small.
This bagel dough is a lean dough with minimal ingredients. To make these sourdough bagels you need -
- Strong bread flour -
Bagels should have a decent amount of toothsome chew to them. Flour with a higher protein level is required for the chew - a level between 11-13%. Some all-purpose flours have a protein level of over 11% in which case you can use that sort of all-purpose flour for homemade bagels. A higher protein level will give the best results.
It's best to check the protein level of each flour rather than going by the name of the flour.
- Sourdough starter - An active and bubbly starter.
- Honey (for poaching the bagels)
- Sesame seeds or poppy seeds for topping
📖 Step by step
Step 1 -In the morning feed your sourdough starter.
Step 2 - Once the starter has doubled and is ready to go, add it to a bowl with the rest of the dough ingredients and use a fork to combine it into a thick and rough dough.
Tip the dough onto a clean bench and knead it until it is smooth and strong. For optimal gluten development, the dough needs to be worked and kneaded for around 10 minutes.
Step 3 -Once worked, it is placed in a lightly oiled bowl and covered with a plate to stop the dough from drying out. It’s left on the bench for 2-4 hours depending on your room temperature.
In a warm kitchen with temperatures above 25°C a 2-hour ferment may be sufficient, whilst dough in a kitchen with a temperature below 20°C will be better with a 4 hour ferment.
The sourdough bagel dough is not expected to rise much at this stage. Once fermented, it is placed in the refrigerator overnight (a minimum of 10 hours for best flavour.)
⭐ Shaping Sourdough Bagels
Once the dough has chilled, remove it from the fridge and pull it from the bowl onto a clean bench.
I use my dough scraper to cut the ball into 8 'even' pieces (I guess these because I don't mind my bagels a bit rustic, but weigh them if you like.)
The dough pieces are shaped into tight balls and placed on the bench. Let these sit for 10-15 minutes whilst the glutens relax. Once they've relaxed, it's time to shape them into bagels.
- Grab a large baking sheet and generously dust it with semolina flour, or line it with baking paper.
- Use your thumbs to make the hole in the middle of the dough ball and roll the dough ball around your thumbs and fingers to widen the hole. Then place it on the baking sheet and continue with the remaining dough balls.
Let the shaped bagels proof at room temperature for 1-2 hours until lightly puffed.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil and preheat the oven to 220°C fan-bake, or 240°C regular oven.
Once the water is boiling, stir in a heaped tablespoon of honey. This is going to help set the chewy crust and gives the bagels a golden sheen without the need for egg wash. Trust me, it's good!
Some bagel recipes use baking soda instead of honey to give the golden colour. I don't because I think it gives the bagels a different flavour from baking soda. One that resembles soft pretzels. Try sourdough pretzels here!
Drop the bagels in the water one at a time. If your pot is small, boil them in batches, but work quickly.
Let them poach in the water for 1 minute, flipping them after 30 seconds.
Drain the bagels on a rack and sprinkle over any seeds for toppings whilst they are still sticky from the water.
🍳Baking the bagels
Generously flour a baking tray with semolina flour or use baking paper and gently place the bagels on it.
Bake them in the hot oven for 2-3 minutes before turning the oven down to 200°C fan-bake, or 220°C regular oven. Bake for another 20 minutes until golden brown.
If they are baking unevenly, turn the oven tray around after 15 minutes of baking. Remove the baked bagels from the tray and let them cool for 30 minutes before slicing.
♨️ Serving and storing
They are delicious when served fresh on the day, but when eating them on the following days they are best toasted.
Bagels freeze very well, and it helps to slice them first before freezing so you can pop the bagel halves in the toaster when you want to defrost them.
❓Sourdough bagel FAQs
Some brands of all-purpose flour have a protein level that's more than 11%. In this case, those brands of all-purpose could be used. However, a bread flour with higher protein levels will give the best chew.
If you make the initial holes too small when shaping the bagels, the dough will shrink back too much and you'll lose the bagel holes.
Bagels are poached right before baking. This helps give them their iconic chewy golden crust.
Yes, if left too long the bagels can overproof and they can collapse. Bagels shouldn't rise too much, just puff slightly before poaching.
Sourdough bagels freeze very well which will prolong their life. They can be thawed in a toaster, microwave or low-temperature oven.
Spices can be added at the same time as the other ingredients. Larger additions such as dried fruits, nuts or seeds can be added at the end of the kneading period.
Up to 36 hours.
Yes, for a bagel recipe with yeast see these easy homemade bagels.
📋 Related recipes
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📖 Full recipe
- 50g sourdough starter
- 50g flour
- 50g water
- 450g strong all-purpose flour or bread flour , with a protein level of at least 11%
- 220g water
- 12g salt
- 12g sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Sesame and poppy seeds , optional
- Mix together the levain ingredients. Leave it to rise. It should at least double, if not triple within 4 hours (but not collapse). See the post for more information.
- Once the levain has risen, add it to a bowl along with the dough flour, water, sugar and salt. Knead it together to make a ball, then tip it onto a clean bench.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes to develop the gluten. If you get tired, take a break and let the dough sit, then come back to it after a few minutes.
- Once kneaded, place it in a greased bowl, cover the bowl with a plate and let it proof at room temperature for 2-4 hours dependant on the room temperature. (see post for more details.)
- Place the bowl in the fridge to cold proof overnight (a minimum of 10 hours.)
- In the morning, pull the dough from the bowl and place it on a clean bench.
- Cut it into 6 or 8 even pieces.
- Shape each piece into a tight ball and let it sit and relax for 10-15 minutes. Take a large baking sheet and generously dust it with semolina flour, or line it with baking paper.
- Take a ball of dough and use your thumbs to make the hole in the middle of the dough ball and roll the dough ball around your thumbs to widen the hole.
- Place it on the baking sheet and continue with the rest of the dough balls.Let the bagels sit at room temperature for around 2 hours to slightly puff.
- When they have nearly finished proofing, bring a large pot of water to the boil and preheat the oven to 220°C fan-bake, or 240°C regular oven.
- Once the water is boiling, stir in the tablespoon of honey.
- Drop the bagels in the water one at a time. If your pot is small, boil them in batches, but work quickly.
- Let them poach in the water for 1 minute, flipping them after 30 seconds.
- Drain the bagels on a rack and sprinkle over any seeds for toppings whilst they are still sticky from the water.
- Generously flour a baking tray with semolina flour or use baking paper and gently place the bagels on it.
- Place them in the oven and let them bake for 2-3 minutes before turning the one down to 200°C fan-bake, or 220°C regular oven. Bake for another 20 minutes until golden brown.
- If they are baking unevenly, turn the oven tray around after 15 minutes of baking.
- Remove the baked bagels from the tray and let them cool and soften for 30 minutes before slicing.
Serving Size:1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 311Total Fat: 0.8gSaturated Fat: 0.1gUnsaturated Fat: 0gSodium: 777mgCarbohydrates: 65.6gFiber: 2.3gProtein: 8.6g