Sourdough Bagels Recipe

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There’s nothing like a good batch of sourdough bagels – chewy and flavorful, with a good crust and a malty flavor. But did you know that it’s simple to make your own, and enjoy the bagels fresh from your own kitchen?

Though the bagel-making process may seem lengthy (with the dough preparation, it takes about two days) it is well worth the time and effort to be proud of your own delicious, homemade, sourdough bagels!

sourdough bagel recipe

Here is a step by step sourdough bagel recipe to get you started.

Sourdough Bagel Recipe


  • 1 or 2 packets of wheat sourdough starter.
  • 2 cups of non-chlorinated water.
  • 8 cups of bread flour.
  • 2 teaspoons of barley malt.
  • 1 teaspoon of dry yeast.
  • Bagel toppings.

How to Make Sourdough Bagels

One: Make the Bagel Sponge

The first key ingredient to a sourdough bagel is the wheat sourdough starter. Mix the starter with two cups of non-chlorinated water, and whisk them together until the mixture is foamy.

Add four cups of bread flour and mix it all thoroughly, until there are no more lumps in the bowl. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure you get all the mixture!

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a loose lid, and let it sit for at least six to eight hours. When the sponge is very stretchy and foamy, it’s ready!

You can test its readiness by dunking a teaspoon of the starter in a glass of cold water. If it doesn’t sink, you’re good to go.

If you work regular office hours, start the sponge in the morning before you go to work, and it will be ready for you to continue when you get home in the afternoon or evening.

sourdough bagels

Two: Begin to Make the Dough

Take five cups of the starter sponge for this round of bagels, and save the rest for other projects.

Combine the sponge with two teaspoons of barley malt, one teaspoon of dry yeast, and three cups of flour into a bowl. Mix it all together until it forms a ball.

Three: Knead the Dough

Continue adding another cup of flour a bit at a time as you knead the dough, until all the flour is fully absorbed.

The dough will be tough and non-sticky, while still being elastic and smooth. If the dough starts to tear or stretch too much, stop adding flour and add a few drops of water.

Continue to knead the dough until it is fully elastic and smooth. This will take about ten minutes by hook, or fifteen minutes of kneading by hand.

Four: Divide and Shape the Bagels

Separate the dough into twelve equal parts of about four and a half ounces each. Shape each piece of the dough into a ball, and then roll it out like a sausage.

Cover the rolls with a damp towel and let them stand for twenty minutes. While you wait, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

When you have waited long enough, wrap each dough roll around your fingers, overlapping the ends. Press the ends together and roll the dough back and forth a few times, so that the ends fuse together, creating a circle. Now the dough looks like a bagel!

sourdough bagels

Five: Let the Bagels Rise

Place the bagels on the lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let them rise for another twenty minutes.

After the twenty minutes pass, test one of the bagels by placing it into a bowl of cold water. If, after a few seconds, the bagel begins to float, it’s ready!

If not, dry it off and let the bagels rise for another fifteen minutes before repeating the water test.

Six: Refrigeration

Keep the bagels covered with plastic and place them in the refrigerator. Let them cool there, either overnight or up to thirty-six hours.

This step is very important for allowing the texture and flavor of the bagels to properly develop!

If you want, you can freeze the bagels after this step. If you do, be sure to thaw the bagels for an hour before continuing preparation.

Seven: Boiling and Baking

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and line up your preferred bagel toppings near a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Fill a wide pot with water and bring it to a boil, leaving the heat on high. Add the bagels to the boiling pot, turning them over after a minute with a slotted spoon to allow them to boil for one minute on each side.

Then, remove the bagels from the pot and place them on the baking sheet, adding the toppings now, when the bagels are the stickiest.

Continue until all bagels have been boiled and topped. Then bake the bagels for twenty to twenty-five minutes, until they are evenly browned on all sides.

You may need to rotate the baking sheet mid-baking to make sure that the bagels bake evenly, depending on your oven’s capabilities.

Cool the bagels on a rack until they are ready to eat, and enjoy the fruits (or breads) of your labor!

Here’s a video showing an example how to make a sourdough bagel.

Have you tried making a sourdough bagel?

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