Make Your Own Bagels, Seriously

It’s no secret that I tend to be on the frugal side. Perhaps that’s an understatement—I can be down right cheap, especially when it comes to things I think I can make myself. I also tend to be a little particular and enjoy having things just so. This holiday my husband tapped into both of these neurosis and got me a great book, “Make the Bread, Buy the Butter.” The author, Jennifer Reese, assesses, based on both effort and cost what we should buy and what is best to make. And while much of the content is related to things I do not consume (cured meats, eggs, cheese), it’s nonetheless interesting and has given me great ideas about how best to veganize some of the old standbys. It’s also great to know that when in doubt, I can make my own bagels and we did! Yesterday afternoon I enlisted the help of my littlest baker and we got to work. It really was no trouble at all, and they are in fact the best bagels you’ll ever lay down a tofutti schmear on. Reese uses a recipe from Bernard Clayton’s “The New Complete Book of Breads.” We went the extra mile and used the high gluten flour (I just happened to have some languishing in the cupboard), but skipped the malted barely syrup. Now that I know how good they are, I’ll spring for the barley syrup next time. All in they take about two hours, but that includes a lot of dough rising time. Next time you’re hankering for a real bagel, give this recipe a try.

Homemade Bagels

From “Make the Bread, Buy the Butter.” by Jennifer Reese
Makes ten bagels


  • 3 1/2 cups high-gluten flour or all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 3 tbsp. cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (not too warm, water above 130 degrees will kill your yeast)
  • Neutral vegetable oil for greasing
  • 2 tbsp. barely malt syrup or dark brown sugar
  • Coarse cornmeal, for sprinkling
  • Optional toppings: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc.


  1. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Add the water and beat hard with the paddle attachment for a few minutes, switching to the dough hook once it all comes together. This is also when you might add a bit more flour if the dough is too wet, but just a bit at a time until you have a stiff dough. Knead for 5 minutes.
  2. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a clean, damp towel to rise about one hour. Dough will have doubled in size.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and bring a large pot of water to boil. While water is heating, lightly oil one baking sheet and sprinkle another generously with cornmeal.
  4. Deflate the dough and divide it into 10 pieces. Roll each piece into the neatest ball you can and then stick your thumb through the middle to coax it into a bagel shape. Let bagels rest on the greased baking sheet for 10 minutes.
  5. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add the brown sugar or barley syrup. Drop the bagels into the water, three at a time. Let them simmer for a minute and flip them over to simmer for another minute. Remove with a slotted spoon back to the greased baking sheet to dry a bit. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
  6. Move all the boiled bagels to the cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet. The bottoms of my bagels were pretty wet still when I did this and too much cornmeal stuck. I recommend flipping them over when putting them down so the drier side sits in the cornmeal. If you want to add any toppings, this is the time to sprinkle away.
  7. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. Store for up to a week or tuck away in the freezer for longer storage.
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  1. Just curious if anyone has done the math what the cost breakdown/comparison is for this recipe.

  2. Cindy,
    I was wondering the same thing, but it HAS to be a better buy than the store. I usually see a 6 pack of bagels on sale for $2.00 where I live and this recipe uses basic things that I always have in my kitchen…a container of yeast, flour, salt, sugar, and oil are all cheap when you look at the little amount you use for the yield. Plus this recipe makes 10 bagels. I ALMOST calculated it out, but realized how lazy I was and convinced myself I was saving tons of money instead haha!

    Well Vegan – Thanks for the recipe! I am trying it as we speak! Well, the dough is rising. I’m sure they will be delicious.

  3. Well Vegan

    @Becky – I’m sure they’ll be amazing! Thanks for the breakdown. At the bagel shop I frequent, they’re about $1 each. This is super cheap by comparison, especially since you usually have most of the supplies on-hand. These are so freaking good, now I have to make some.

  4. Lindsay

    Hey! 🙂 could I make this gluten free? Thanks

  5. Hello from Singapore
    Made the bagels today and I must say they turned out stunning. Making German pretzels I’m used to the wetness and I do it a bit different like you, anyway great recipe..don’t want to be cocky but they really better then the ones above 🙂
    Thank you so much for sharing

  6. What purpose does the cornmeal serve?

  7. Well Vegan

    @Sonam – It adds a little texture and keeps the bagels from sticking to the pan. Hope your bagel making is successful!

  8. Betty Holzwarth

    Where I live there is absolutely NO stores that have Vegan bagels…… I have to make my own! They all have milk and eggs! Stupid really because these cruel items are completely unnecessary and a waste of time and money to use them!

  9. Hi, this sounds really good. Before I make it I was wondering what temp to bake the bagels at?


  10. Well Vegan

    Hi Emma! You’ll want to bake them at 400 F. Good luck 🙂

  11. Hii. I was wondering, is it neccessary to use the cornmeal?Because thats the only ingredient i don’t have and it’d be more convenient if i didn’t have to run to the store and buy some ahaha.

  12. Hii. I was wondering, is it neccessary to use the cornmeal?Because thats the only ingredient i don’t have and it’d be more convenient if i didn’t have to run to the store and buy some ahaha. Also can i just add regular brown sugar or maple syrup instead of the syrup or dark brown sugar? Thanks in advance! 😀

  13. Well Vegan

    Hi Tanayem! I’ve never tried it without cornmeal, but my best guess is that it would work just fine! It mostly keeps the bagels from sticking to the surface after they’re cooked. And I think you can get away with regular brown sugar 🙂 Good luck and let us know how it goes!

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