This Sourdough Bagels Recipe makes the most incredible and chewy hand-made bagels just like a Bagel Shop! With the right ingredients and these easy steps, you can make New York-style Bagels right from home! I share the secret to the chewiest crust and helpful tips for making bagels like a pro! 

how to make sourdough bagels like a New York Bagel

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Need Topping Ideas? Top bagels with homemade Lox or make our Manhatten Bagel Sandwich, to start your morning! Our family loves these savory Asiago Bagel Sandwiches for lunch or dinner! Bagels are great for egg sandwiches too! Try oven-baked egg patties!

New York Style Bagels

When making bagels, it has to be everything a bagel should be, or at least like the bagels near me from a bagel shop! The good news is, making this bagel recipe is so easy and you get the perfect chewy texture! The overnight process may take a step longer, but the timing is perfect for my busy schedule as I can start the dough in the afternoon, shape the bagels, and pop them in the fridge for the night.

The only thing left in the morning is boiling the bagels and then baking! It really is the perfect bagel recipe and does not take a long commitment as other recipes! Although you can boil bagels the same day, I tell you chilling the bagel dough makes a huge difference!

This method of making bagels is practiced by Bakers themselves in the bagel industry! They start by mixing the dough, shaping the bagels, then proofing them for at least 12 hours. Some bakeries still boil the bagels, although steam bagels are a thing now, where a steam oven injects water into a commercial oven to create that irresistible crust minus the boiling! Either way, water is used to create a chewy crust.

New York Style bagels with chewy crust and nooks and crannies inside

The Secret to Shiny and Chewy Bagels?

You may have thought it’s simply boiling the bagels, but that’s not only it! If you want to make a traditional New York-Style Bagel my best tip for success is using a sourdough starter (cultured flour.) It makes the most incredible crust that I did not have when I made bagels from yeast. And I refrigerated the yeast bagels too!

As a result, you may be thinking do sourdough bagels taste sour? Not at all! They are not fermenting all day long like Artisan Sourdough bread. It only takes an afternoon to start the dough and they’re proofing in the fridge by evening. So, there is no substantial amount of time given for the bagel dough to sour the whole lump of dough.

how to get shiny crust on bagels

Sourdough Bagels

Don’t have a sourdough starter? Mix an equal amount of flour and water a few days before making bagels to let the fermentation take place or speed it up by adding yeast and letting it sit for a day! It’s easy!

Or if you prefer to have an active live starter, here is Where To Buy My Sourdough Starter.

Like naturally leavened bread it will take a little longer than yeast, but I’ve never had such a crisp and chewy crust from another bagel recipe! This Sourdough Bagels recipe is perfect! To find out how I feed my actual sourdough starter and how I maintain it jump below to my Q and A section.

The best bagel recipe!


What is a New York Bagel?

New York is the heart of bagel making. It was said that immigrants brought bagels to the US and that the bagel business thrived in New York City. Today some of the best bagel bakeries are located in the city!

New York bagels are made with malt and are cold-fermented (proofed) to enhance the crust of bagels. The preparation method for classic New York bagels consists of boiling the bagels before they get topped with seasonings and baked.

Bagels can be served any time of the day, including a savory brunch, fun breakfast idea, or filling dinner! Serve it with a tossed salad for lunch or a meaty deli sandwich for dinner!

Boiling the Bagels vs Steaming:

The most traditional way to make bagels is to boil them in water. Newer equipment has been developed to steam the bagels in the oven creating a similar chewy effect. Here is how to either method at home;

Boiling Bagels- bring a pot of water to a boil; add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Malt syrup or honey can be used in place of the malt. Boil the bagels until they float to the top (about 30 seconds) and remove with a slotted spoon.

Steaming Bagels- to skip the boiling method, place a small pan of water onto the bottom oven rack. Spray the tops of your bagels with water and add any toppings. Bake over the pan of water.

Baker’s Tip: bake your bagels at a high oven setting of 450°F-500°F. They will bake quickly and create a beautiful bakery-style bagel crust.

How To Make Bagels?

To make sourdough bagels or any bagel recipe in general follow these easy steps;

  1. Mix and knead the ingredients to form a dough.
  2. Shape the dough to form a traditional bagel shape: to make dough round with a hole in the middle, take a piece of dough and form a small rectangle, roll up into a log then roll the log into a 14-inch long piece. Next, wrap the long dough around your hand and roll to pinch the edges together. (Making a log first makes for smother bagels.)
  3. Proof the bagels in a warm spot then move them over to the fridge.
  4. Boil each bagel in the boiling water bath.
  5. Bake bagels anywhere from 400°F-500°F.

Some Water Bath Additives include lye, barley malt syrup, honey, and brown sugar. 

How to Make Sourdough Starter?

A sourdough starter is cultured flour, which basically means you are combining flour and water to sour (leaven) the sponge. Starters are usually wet, similar to a sponge. To start your own sourdough starter, mix equal amounts of flour and water for up to 21 days or until the starter passes the float test. This can take 7-21 days depending on the flour and climate.

I’ve had the best and strongest starter when using all unbleached white flour. When I would occasionally add wheat flour to my starter it was much weaker and resulted in many flat loaves of bread. Unfortunately, I had to discard that starter.

Then, I was given a sourdough starter that was originally maintained for years and years by a relative. My aunt had asked a baker to share some and from then on, she’s maintained it and shared it with others. It is the strongest sourdough starter that I’ve ever had! This stuff foams after I feed it!

My advice is to start a sourdough starter that perhaps someone has already kept up with, if not make your own using all unbleached bread flour for the best results.

How To Feed Sourdough Starter?

I’ve had the most active sourdough starter by feeding it 1 heaping cup of unbleached bread flour and 3/4 cup of warm water mixed together first, before whisking it into the sourdough starter. The warm water helps the starter, culture quicker rather than using cold water. These proportions have worked successfully in a quart-sized starter to a gallon-sized sourdough starter, which I currently have.

The bigger the sourdough starter, you’re likely going to have to dump the starter into a large bowl to feed it so it won’t overflow on you (I’ve had that happen where my sourdough starter was 3/4 full in the jar and after I fed it I came back to a jar of starer that overflowed.

My given feeding amount always stays the same, no matter how much starter I have. My sourdough starter is the best it has ever been and I will continue to do this. I’ve heard people discarding sourdough starter in order to feed it because they stick to specific proportions of feed, but I don’t do that, and why would I? If I have the most active starter that I’ve ever had!

I Don’t Have Sourdough Starter how can I quickly start one for the recipe?

Need a quick sponge to use as a sourdough starter? Mix 1/2 cup unbleached bread flour and 1/2 cup of warm water. Stir in 1/2 tsp of yeast and allow the sponge to ferment anywhere from 2 hours to overnight at room temperature.

How To Shape Sourdough Bagels:

  1. To shape the bagel dough use 135 grams of bagel dough.
  2. Place it onto a working surface and pat it into a small rectangle.
  3. Roll into a log about 14-15-inches long.
  4. Wrap the dough around your fist and using the palm of your hand roll the dough back and forth until the edges have pressed down against the dough.
  5. Place all hand-shaped bagels onto a cornmeal-lined baking sheet (18×13-inch pan.)

How Long Do Sourdough Bagels Take?

Like naturally leavened bread it will take a little longer than yeast, but I’ve never had such a crisp and chewy crust from another bagel recipe! This Sourdough Bagels recipe takes about 7 hours to make and proof before refrigerating overnight.

Keep in mind most of the process is hands-off and just requires proofing. This is what I love about this recipe!

Ingredients To Make Sourdough Bagels?

To add the most flavor to your bagel, use a good sourdough starter instead of dry yeast. The recipe may take some extra proofing time but is so worth all the effort!

  • Unbleached Bread Flour- all-purpose flour can be used. For the best results use high gluten or high protein flour. I used King Arthur bread flour.
  • Sourdough Starter- is much needed. To make a quick sourdough starter mix 1/2 cup warm water and 1/2 cup of flour. Add 1/2 tsp yeast and allow the mixture to sit a day in a warm place.
  • Water- I use warm tap water to speed up the proofing time.
  • Salt- much needed
  • Malt- maple syrup, honey, or brown sugar can all be used to substitute dark malt syrup.
  • Sugar- granulated sugar for extra flavor, highly recommend!
  • Dry milk- proven to be a dough enhancer as seen in my Domino’s Pizza Dough Recipe
  • Plain or Everything Bagel Seasoning: onion powder, garlic powder, sesame seeds, poppy seeds.

How To Make Everything Bagel Seasoning for Bagels?

Combine the following spices to make a homemade bagel blend:

  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic Powder
  • 2-3 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2-3 Tbsp poppy seeds

All measurements are tablespoons.

Other Bagel Toppings?

Here are some homemade bagel topping variations that are popular at bagel shops;

  • sesame seed bagel
  • everything bagel
  • poppy seed bagel
  • Asiago cheese bagels
  • Jalapeno and Cheddar bagel
  • onion bagel

Bagel Spreads to Try:

  • Labneh (Greek or plain yogurt in a roasted garlic sauce from olive oil.)
  • Cream Cheese and herbs
  • Lox
  • Flavored cheese spreads
  • Cottage cheese and honey

My Baking Schedule for Sourdough Bagels:

  • 2 PM: the sourdough starter should have been fed at least an hour ago. Begin mixing and kneading the dough. Rest the dough for 1-2 hours in a warm place.
  • 4 PM: Line an 18×13 baking sheet with cornmeal. Divide and shape the dough. Proof the dough for 2-4 hours.
  • 8 PM: Cover bagels with plastic wrap and place them into the refrigerator. Allow bagels to proof overnight.
  • 5 AM: Make a water bath early the next morning boil and bake the bagels.

You do not need to wake up as early as me:)

Bagel Sandwich Ideas:

For dessert bagels spread jam or Nutella over the bagels!

How To Store Bagels?

Some commercial bagel industries par-bake the bagels to finish baking later at home or a business. Bagels keep best for up to 2 days at room temperature. To help bagels from getting stale keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Bagels freeze best and retain their freshness when cooled and frozen the same day of baking. Don’t wait until the bagels get stale. Use how many you think will be eaten and freeze the rest!

Storing: store bagels at room temperature for up to 2 days. Refrigerate or freeze bagels to retain the bagels from getting stale.

Reheat: toast refrigerated bagels.

Can You Freeze Bagels?

Yes! To freeze bagels, you could either par-bake the bagels and cool them before freezing or place fully baked and cooled bagels into a freezer bag. Keep frozen for up to 3 months.

Reheating- Thaw in the refrigerator before toasting.

To par-bake bagels undercook them for 5 minutes. Cool and flash freeze. To prepare the par-baked bagels heat in a 350°F oven for 7-8 minutes.

Can I Substitute Malt?

Malt syrup can be substituted with lye, brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey.


Best Tips for Bagels:

  1. Use a good sourdough starter for an incredibly chewy crust and bagel texture!
  2. Do NOT over boil the bagels 30 seconds of boiling time or until they float to the top is perfect! The skins can get too mushy and the bagels can look unappealing.
  3. Boiling the bagels in baking soda and brown sugar helps with browning.
  4. Order a little bottle of malt syrup, you won’t be sorry when you make these bagels. Most bagel bakers use malt and it keeps very long in the back of the fridge. It may be the signature taste of bagels because you can hardly tell the difference between my bagels and the bagel shop bagels.

Equipment Used:

More Bread Recipes:


How To Make Bagels:

Sourdough Bagels

Prep Time: 7 hours
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12 bagels
Author: Alyona Demyanchuk
This Sourdough Bagels Recipe makes the most incredible and chewy hand-made bagels just like a Bagel Shop! With the right ingredients and these easy steps, you can make New York-style Bagels right from home! I share the secret to the chewiest crust and helpful tips for making bagels like a pro! 


  • large slotted spoon
  • 18x13" sheet pan
  • Malt syrup



  • 470 grams warm water (2 cups)
  • 30 grams granulated sugar (2 1/2 Tbsp)
  • 30 grams barley malt syrup (1 1/2 Tbsp)
  • 15 grams dry milk (2 Tbsp)
  • 20 grams salt (1 1/2 Tbsp)
  • 200 grams active sourdough starter (1 cup)
  • 950 grams unbleached bread flour (6 3/4 cups)

Water Bath:

  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar

Everything Bagel Seasoning:

  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp poppy seeds



  • In the mixing bowl of a Kitchen Aid combine the water, sugar, malt syrup, dry milk, salt, and sourdough starter. Add the flour and knead for 3 minutes.
  • Rest the dough in a warm place for 3 hours.
  • Dust cornmeal over an 18x13 sheet pan. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (weighing at 135 grams each.) Flatten each piece of dough into a small rectangle and form it into a log.
  • how to shape bagels
    Roll into a 14-15-inch log.
  • hand-shaped bagels
    Wrap the dough around your fist and using the palm of your hand roll the dough back and forth until the edges have pressed down against the dough. Place on the lined sheet and proof for 2 hours in a warm place. Refrigerate overnight.
  • boiled bagels on a baking sheet
    In the morning bring the water bath ingredients to a boil and boil bagels for 30-50 seconds (or until they float.)
  • baked bagels
    Dredge the tops in bagel seasoning or leave plain. Arrange bagels onto 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone mats (6 bagels onto each pan, the bagels grow when boiling.)
  • Bake at 480°F for 14-15 minutes or until golden.


  • Barley Malt Syrup can be substituted with maple syrup, honey, or brown sugar. 

Nutrition per serving

Serving: 1bagelCalories: 339kcalCarbohydrates: 65gProtein: 11gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 941mgPotassium: 137mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 13IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 88mgIron: 1mg


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    • Al D

    Had them for breakfast today and they go so well with cream cheese and jam.

    • Al D


    • Al D

    These are my perfect bagels! The best of all the ones I tried.

    • Penny

    If I wanted to make these with 100% fresh ground whole wheat and commercial yeast would you think that the process should be to let the flour and water sit overnight and then add the remaining ingredients using 2 Tbsp yeast instead of the starter. Let the dough rise to doubled. Form bagels. Rise again and then refrigerate overnight? I am trying to combine several of your recipes into one! Thanks so much for any insight you might have.

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      Hi Penny, that’s right I’d probably do that.

        • Penny

        Thank you! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

    • Mary

    So my bagels didn’t rise after shaping and setting for 2 hours and the boil bath they never floated. Any tips? Thanks so much!

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      Hi Mary, it sounds like the sourdough starter wasn’t active. An active sourdough starter will nearly double in size, to test if it’s active drop a spoonful into the water and if it floats it’s active. Let us how it turns out.

    • Anna

    Hi Alyona,
    For step 2, do we rest the dough in the bowl after mixing?
    Or do you mix the dough, shape right away, then rest?

      • Alyona Demyanchuk

      Hi Anna, you would rest the dough in the bowl then shape it into bagels and rest again.

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