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Homemade Sourdough Bagels | Easy Recipe for Lazy Bakers

Looking for homemade sourdough bagels without all the fuss? This easy recipe for lazy bakers will simplify the process, allowing even beginners to create delicious sourdough bagels from scratch!

baking tray with sourdough bagels on wood countertop with flower tea towel

Why I Love Homemade Sourdough Bagels

I’ve been making my fiancé a bagel for breakfast every day for months. We only have about 15 minutes after getting home from the gym before he leaves for work, so this quick meal is a staple for us.

And somehow, something as simple as a bagel has turned into a way I can show my love for him. Instead of buying them from the grocery store, I bake them myself! Homemade sourdough bagels feel so special, and it’s a process I’ve grown to really enjoy. He loves eating them, and I love baking them.

I make this recipe every single week. It’s seriously so easy and takes very little time! Once you get over the initial learning curve, you’ll discover that baking sourdough bagels is a total no-brainer. It really is something anyone can do, no matter how busy you are.

easy homemade sourdough bagels with sesame seeds on wood cutting board

It’s OK to be a Lazy Baker

I’m going to let you in on a little secret… I’m a lazy baker! I adore having fresh homemade sourdough bagels but to be completely honest with you, I can’t be bothered to spend hours in the kitchen making that happen. So I skip some steps… all right, I skip a lot of steps! And truth be told, they turn out great every time regardless.

So throughout this recipe I’ll be sharing with you some steps that I personally think are optional. You can try them out, or you can be lazy like me. Either way, you’ll end up with delicious fluffy sourdough bagels to enjoy.

Time Saving Tips

Double or Triple Batches

I usually bake 2 or 3 batches of these sourdough bagels in one go. Making 18 instead of 6 only adds a few extra minutes to the process and means I don’t have to worry about baking again for 2+ weeks. I store them in a bag in the freezer and take one out the night before so it can defrost (I place it in an airtight container on the counter).

easy homemade sourdough bagels with sesame seeds on wood cutting board, with cat, flowers and statue in background
close up of sourdough bagels with sesame seeds on baking tray with silpat mat

Memorize & Reuse This Recipe

I use the EXACT same ingredients and amounts for the majority of my sourdough bread baking creations, including these bagels. I tried out plenty of variations when I first got started in the world of sourdough and over time I’ve really simplified my routine.

This recipe works great for my sourdough bagels, sourdough sandwich bread, sourdough buns and sourdough artisan loafs. And the best part? I’ve got the amounts completely memorized, which saves me a lot of time and brain power.

I like to prep 3 batches of the same dough at night and then decide the next morning what I need to bake more of. This simplification makes incorporating sourdough into my life so much easier!

Forget About Perfection

I also don’t fret about making sure my bagels look perfect. They aren’t completely circular or even. I’m sure if I spent more than a few seconds on shaping them, they would look a lot prettier. But like I said, I’m a lazy baker! And they still taste amazing, despite looking a little rustic.

So forget about perfection. Bake the bagels, no matter what they look like! It’s better than never baking bagels at all.

close up of hand holding onr homemade sourdough bagels with sesame seeds

Homemade Sourdough Bagels Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 150g active bubbly starter
  • 250g lukewarm water
  • 500g all purpose flour
  • 10g salt
  • 15g sugar
  • 60g unsalted butter, melted (optional)
  • 2tbsp honey
  • optional toppings: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc.

Step 1: Feed Starter

Before we can make the dough, we need an active sourdough starter. So go ahead and feed your jar, then wait until it has doubled or tripled in size, and is very bubbly. The timing of this can vary, so keep an eye on it. If it’s warm in your kitchen, this might only take 4 hours, and if its cold, it could take 12 hours!

I tend to feed my jar 90g of both flour and water. It then takes anywhere from 6-8 hours before it’s doubled in size, bubbly and ready to use. But this timing really does vary depending on the season, so experiment with it.

Hot Tip: If my kitchen is cold and I’m in a hurry, I like to place the jars in my oven with the light on. The little bit of heat from the light speeds things up considerably!

Note: I highly recommend using a kitchen scale for all these measurements. It’s a lot faster than a measuring cup and more accurate too.

2 jars full of bubbly active sourdough starter on kitchen counter
close up of jar full of bubbly active sourdough starter on kitchen counter
bubbly active starter jars
2 jars full of bubbly active sourdough starter on kitchen counter

Step 2: Make Dough

Once you have a bubbly active starter, you can begin mixing the dough. Start by adding 150g of starter to a large mixing bowl, and then pour in 250g of lukewarm water. Whisk the water and starter together until it creates a cloudy milk.

Then add in 500g of all purpose flour to the bowl.

And lastly, pour in 10g of salt, 15g of sugar and 60g of melted butter (I put the butter in a glass jar and microwave for 30s to melt). These last 3 ingredients are also completely optional. I used to make my bagels without them but they taste so much better with. Trust me, there’s a reason most store bought bread comes with salt, sugar and butter!

Mix everything up. You can do this by hand, using a kneading like motion for a few minutes. I did it this way for months before finally investing in my pride and joy, a KitchenAid. I use the dough hook attachment and mix for 60s until the ingredients are combined and form a dough.

Cover mixing bowl with a damp tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Stretch & Fold

Perform at least 1 set of stretch and folds. This involves exactly what it sounds like – stretching and folding. Take one edge of the dough, lift it up (stretch it) and then fold it over and back down into the centre. Repeat for the 3 other sides of the dough.

You can continue to perform 3 more sets of stretch and folds at 30 minute intervals (so wait 30 minutes with the dough covered, stretch and fold it, cover again and wait another 30 minutes, etc.)

Personally, I just do the one set of stretch and folds (yep, another lazy baking hack!). With every stretch and fold you are strengthening the dough which will result in a slightly fluffier bread that rises just a *teensy* bit more. But for me, it’s such a minimal difference that I can’t be bothered. So go ahead and skip if you feel like it – you have my permission!

Step 4: Bulk Rise

After you’re done stretching and folding the dough, it’s time for a bulk rise. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel, cling wrap, or something else that will prevent the dough from drying out.

Let it rest for a few hours, until the dough has doubled in size and become super puffy. For me this usually means leaving it over night for 8-10 hours, but as with the sourdough starter, timing will vary depending on the temperature of your kitchen and health of your starter (so experiment and keep an eye on the dough!)

sourdough in white bowl covered with clear cling wrap on white table

Step 5: Shape Sourdough Bagels

Once the dough is done rising, it’s time to shape the bagels. Start off by lightly flouring a surface and then pouring the dough out onto it. I like to shape the dough into a ball by lifting the edges and folding them inwards and underneath. This sounds kinda complicated but it’s not – just look at the video if you’re confused!

shaping the dough
girl in apron slicing sourdough into 6 pieces to make sourdough bagels
dividing dough with knife into 6 portions

Then slice your dough into 6 even pieces. I use a normal kitchen knife to do this, and I eyeball all the cuts. If you want to ensure each piece is exactly the same size, then you can use your kitchen scale for this (but I never do and it turns out fine!)

Now take each piece of dough, form it into a ball, and use your thumb to poke a hole through the centre. Continue until all 6 bagels are shaped. Lay them onto a non-stick baking sheet or parchment paper, on top of a baking tray.

As you can see, my bagels are not perfectly round. They do not look like the bagels you buy at the grocery store, and that is OK! They still taste amazing. No matter how hard I try I have never managed to get them into an even circle. I have read that a bagel / donut tray would make this easier… but like I said, they still taste amazing, so I haven’t gotten around to trying that yet.

Reminder: the bagels don’t need to look perfect in order to taste good!

Step 6: Let Rise

Cover bagels with tea towel and leave to rise. You know they’re ready once they’ve grown in size and are puffy. This usually takes mine 2-3 hours (but as always – timing varies depending on the temperature of your kitchen, so keep an eye on them).

Sourdough bagels at beginning of rise
close up of sourdough bagels on baking tray after 2 hour rise
Sourdough bagels after 2 hour rise (a lot puffier and bigger now!)

Step 7: Boil Bagels

Fill a large pot with boiling water and place on the stove over high heat. Add in 2 tbsp of honey (or sugar) to the water and mix.

filling copper pot with boiling water from blue smeg kettle

Now, add bagels to the pot of boiling water. I am able to fit 3 in at one time, but this amount will obviously vary depending on how big your pot is. Boil the bagels for 1 minute, then flip and continue boiling for another minute. Remove bagels from pot using a slotted spoon, and place them back onto the baking tray. Continue until all bagels have been boiled.

girl placing uncooked bagel into a pot of boiling water
placing bagels into boiling water
flipping bagels
using a slotted spoon to remove bagels after boiling from pot
removing bagels from pot

Step 8: Add Toppings

Now it’s time to get creative and add some toppings! This is completely optional and normally I skip this, but sometimes it’s fun to change things up. Here I used sesame seeds, but you could also try poppy seeds, cheese, everything bagel mix… the options are endless!

If you end up using seeds, my favourite method is filling a shallow bowl and then dipping one side of the bagels in.

uncooked bagels with sesame seeds on baking tray

Step 9: Bake Homemade Sourdough Bagels

Preheat oven to 380F. Once ready, pop the bagels in and bake for at least 35 minutes. Depending on your oven, this may take closer to 40 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready when they have a beautiful golden crust.

Step 10: Storing Bagels

These bagels are best eaten within 24 hours, but will keep fine in an airtight container on the counter for 3-4 days.

If you want them to last longer, store them in the freezer. When you want a sourdough bagel, just take it out and let it defrost overnight in an airtight container on the counter. If you want a frozen bagel right away, then just microwave it for 50s, then slice in half and pop in the toaster. Easy peasy!

homemade sourdough bagels inside of ziploc bag on kitchen counter
homemade sourdough bagels inside of ziploc bag on kitchen counter

Homemade Sourdough Bagels

Looking for homemade sourdough bagels without all the fuss? This easy recipe for lazy bakers will simplify the process, allowing even beginners to create delicious sourdough bagels! For more tips and photo explanations, see step-by-step tutorial above.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:1 day 3 hours
Cook Time:35 minutes

Equipment

  • baking tray (with parchment paper or non-stick mat)
  • large stock pot
  • mixing bowl
  • electric mixer with dough hook (optional)
  • kitchen scale

Ingredients

  • 150 g active bubbly starter
  • 250 g lukewarm water
  • 500 g all purpose flour
  • 10 g salt
  • 15 g sugar
  • 60 g unsalted butter melted
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • optional toppings: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc.

Instructions

Step 1: Feed Starter

  • Before we can make the dough, we need an active sourdough starter. So go ahead and feed your jar and then wait until it has doubled or tripled in size, and is very bubbly. The timing of this can vary, so keep an eye on it.
  • I tend to feed my jar 90g of both flour and water. It then takes anywhere from 6-8 hours before it's doubled in size, bubbly and ready to use. (Timing will vary depending on temperature of your kitchen and health of your starter, so experiment with it.)
  • Note: I highly recommend using a kitchen scale for all these measurements. It's a lot faster than a measuring cup and more accurate too.

Step 2: Make Dough

  • Once you have a bubbly active starter, you can begin mixing the dough. Start by adding 150g of starter to a large mixing bowl, and then pour in 250g of lukewarm water. Whisk to combine.
  • Add 500g of all purpose flour to the bowl.
  • And lastly, pour in 10g of salt, 15g of sugar and 60g of melted butter (I put the butter in a glass jar and microwave for 30s to melt). These last 3 ingredients are also completely optional. I used to make my bagels without them but they taste so much better with. Trust me, there’s a reason most store bought bread comes with salt, sugar and butter!
  • Mix everything up. You can do this by hand, using a kneading like motion for a few minutes. Or use an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment, like the KitchenAid. Mix until the ingredients are combined and form a dough.
  • Cover mixing bowl with a damp tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Stretch & Fold

  • Perform at least 1 set of stretch and folds. Take one edge of the dough, lift it up (stretch it) and then fold it over and back down into the centre. Repeat for the 3 other sides of the dough. (See above step-by-step tutorial for video demo)

Step 4: Bulk Rise

  • Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel, cling wrap, or something else that will prevent the dough from drying out.
  • Let it rest for a few hours, until the dough has doubled in size and become super puffy. For me this usually means leaving it over night for 8-10 hours, but as with the sourdough starter, timing will vary (so experiment and keep an eye on the dough!)

Step 5: Shape Sourdough Bagels

  • Once dough is done rising, it's time to shape the bagels. Start off by lightly flouring a surface and then pouring the dough out.
  • Slice dough into 6 even pieces. I use a normal kitchen knife to do this, and I eyeball all the cuts. If you want to ensure each piece is exactly the same size, then you can use your kitchen scale for this (but I never do and it turns out fine!)
  • Now take each piece of dough, form it into a ball, and use your thumb to poke a hole through the centre. Continue until all 6 bagels are shaped. Lay them onto a non-stick baking sheet or parchment paper, on top of a baking tray.

Step 6: Let Rise

  • Cover bagels with tea towel and leave to rise. You know they're ready once they've grown in size and are puffy. This usually takes mine 2-3 hours.

Step 7: Boil Bagels

  • Fill a large pot with boiling water and place on the stove over high heat. Add in 2 tbsp of honey (or sugar) to the water and mix.
  • Now, add bagels to the pot of boiling water. Boil for 1 minute, then flip and continue boiling for another minute. Remove bagels from pot using a slotted spoon, and place them back onto the baking tray.

Step 8: Add Toppings

  • Now it's time to get creative and add some toppings! This is completely optional and normally I skip this, but sometimes it's fun to change things up. Here I used sesame seeds, but you could also try poppy seeds, cheese, everything bagel mix… the options are endless! If you end up using seeds, my favourite method is filling a shallow bowl and then dipping one side of the bagels in.

Step 9: Bake Homemade Sourdough Bagels

  • Preheat oven to 380F. Once ready, pop the bagels in and bake for at least 35-40 minutes. You know they're ready when they have a beautiful golden crust.

Step 10: Storing Bagels

  • Because these bagels are made without preservatives, they are best eaten within 24 hours, but will keep fine in an airtight container on the counter for 3-4 days.
  • If you want them to last longer, store them in the freezer. When you want one, just take it out and let it defrost overnight in an airtight container on the counter. If you want a frozen bagel right away, then just microwave it for 50s and pop it in the toaster. Easy peasy!
Servings: 6 bagels

I hope this tutorial was helpful and that you end up baking some delicious homemade sourdough bagels! If you do, I would love to see it (tag me on instagram @gwenthemilkmaid).

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close up of easy homemade sourdough bagels with sesame seeds on baking tray
easy homemade sourdough bagels with sesame seeds on wood cutting board

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