New York Style Bagels, Anywhere!


What could be better than waking up to a Christmas morning breakfast of homemade bagels (with smoked salmon and cream cheese)? Not much if you ask me!

If you’ve ever had a bagel from New York City, you know that they are’t anything like the bagels that you can get at the grocery store or at chain bagel bakeries. My grandparents used to bring bagels from NYC with them when they would come visit, and it was always a huge production. The bagels weren’t bready. Instead, a crispy outer crust encases a soft, chewy center. I’ve been able to find a few good approximations at independent bagel bakeries in other cities (DC has a good one; Albany, sadly, does not), but now… I can make them at home. And so can you!

I know what you’re thinking – but I promise that these are a lot easier to make than you (or I!) would ever imagine. They’re virtually fool-proof. You can make them on a lazy afternoon with simple ingredients that you likely have on hand. And once you have a bite of one, you’ll be hooked. Trust me.

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I made a dozen mini-bagels, which I found were the perfect size for breakfast. I left six plain and topped six with coarse sea salt, which is my favorite. You could also top yours with dehydrated garlic or onion, sesame or poppy seeds, or anything else that suits your fancy.

For not being loaded with chemicals and preservatives, I found that they kept really well, although the salt ones did get a little soggy when I stored them. (They still tasted great once I toasted them, but just a word of warning if you’re planning to serve these to guests.) You can store the bagels on the counter in an airtight container for about 5 days. You can also freeze them for longer-term storage – just slice in half and freeze individually on a cookie sheet before throwing them in a freezer bag. You’ll end up with bagel halves that can be popped right into the toaster whenever you’d like.



New York Style Bagels
Adapted from recipes by The Sophisticated Gourmet and Smitten Kitchen

  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1-1/2 Tbs sugar
  • 1-1/4 cup warm water
  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs baking soda
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Optional: Assorted toppings (ex. coarse sea salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dehydrated garlic, etc)

Add sugar and yeast to 1/2 cup warm water, without stirring. Let sit for five minutes, then stir until dissolved.

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and our in the yeast mixture along with half the remaining water. Begin to mix, adding more water as needed to form a firm dough.

On a floured counter, knead for 20 minutes (I know its a long time, consider it your arm workout for the day). Cover and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled. Punch down and let sit another 10 minutes.

Divide dough into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. To form the bagel, dip your pointer finger into some flour and poke it through the middle of the ball to form a rind. Stretch it out so that the hole is about 1/3rd the diameter of the bagel. Continue with remaining pieces. Set on a cookie sheet, cover, and let sit for another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the baking soda to a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Working in batches, add about 3 bagels to the boiling water. They should float to the top almost immediately. Let boil 2 minutes, then flip over and let boil 3 minutes on the other side. Remove and return to cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining bagels.

While the bagels are boiling, combine the egg yolk with 2 Tbs water. Brush over the bagel as you remove them from the pot. Sprinkle with any toppings that you desire (but brush with the egg wash even if you aren’t using toppings).

Heat oven to 450. Bake bagels for 10-15 minutes or until the bagels are a light golden color.

Yields 12.
Approx. 140 calories, 0.5 grams fat, 1 gram fiber, 4 grams protein


  1. How cool! The three things I miss most about living in NYC are: the pizza, vegetarian dim sum, and bagels! Must try this.

  2. Natasha - 5 Star Foodie says:

    Beautiful homemade bagels! We may just make some here too during winter break, especially if we can’t get out of our driveway (still snowed in!)

  3. I love bagels, and find it intimating to make at home.
    I agree bagels from NY are so differently tasty. Not sure why though. I bet homemade ones must be superb.

  4. that is the most gorgeous color salmon i have ever seen!

  5. Too funny that we both made bagels at nearly the same time! Yours look great, too. And I love the sea salt addition – yum, yum!

    I made some this weekend with with cinnamon & raisins – my fave. They were great, too, though the raisins cause a little caramelization (i.e. over-browning!) in the oven. Oh well – looks aren’t everything!

  6. oh wow amazing Merry Christmas

    love Rebecca

  7. One thing I miss about NY is the food. I remember trying a bagel there on the first trip. Sooooo good. Having it with some cream cheese and lox makes it even better. Yum!!!

  8. I made bagels for the first time this past summer. It is amazing how much easier they are than I thought they would be. Yours look great with the lox. You have made me hungry for them, so as soon as the holidays are over, I am going to have to get to baking!

  9. I can’t wait to try these!! Drooling over salmon and cream cheese!

  10. Impressive that you made your own bagel. Even though I’m in NY, I’m very curious now how a homemade bagel will turn out. I’ll give this recipe a try. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I live in NYC and I still think homemade bagels are infinitely better than the storebought ones. I’ve made cinnamon raisin bagels before and the flavor is just so much more complex and delicious than the ones you can get at the store.

    Yours look awesome! I love your topping ideas.

  12. nice – I made them before but mine did not turnout this good – I learned a secret – baking soda in the water -

  13. I’ve been waiting so much for this post! It doesn’t disappoint…your bagels turned out fabulous! I miss good bagels so much…haven’t had any since I moved to LA!

  14. Unplanned Cooking says:

    Salt bagels are my favorite! I’ve only tried making bagels once, and it was a disaster. I think even our dog turned her nose up at them :). Yours look so soft!

  15. Truly, a great bagel is like a great work of art. But fortunately, this is one piece of art you not only can touch, but chew on, too! ;)

  16. These look SO good. I have always wanted to try making bagels…I’m not sure why I don’t just DO IT. yummy. Enjoy them

  17. I haven’t had a bagel and lox for a long long time – and homemade bagels at that! Beautiful photo! Happy Holidays!

  18. i do love NYC bagels there is nothing like them! And bagels from scratch i would have never thought to try that, i’m impressed!

  19. i was recently home in NJ for the holidays and ate bagels daily. they are SO amazing and we do NOT have a good subsitute in LA. i just might have to try this recipe…although if they are as good as you say, it might be very very dangerous :)

  20. Hey,
    If you don’t have the time to make your own & you realize…

    New York Bagels are in a league of its own when it comes to consumption.
    Many other cities try to imitate the taste but just can’t get close.
    People who aren’t from NYC or haven’t been here may not be able to understand or relate. But there are people that have tried to replicate the style in places like Denver and

  21. First off I buy the best bagels which are from
    Order and then freeze the bagels I don’t plan on eating in the next 24 hours.
    A great article that tells you how best to store food and it is something you already have

  22. I make the moste tasty and perfect bagel in the world,ask for one in the Price shoper in Marlboro,MA.My name is Carlos,but I have to make the dough/bak it.Taste,softeness,shiny and beautifull.people can not forget the experience.My experience is like kids after candy,it is amazing!!!

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