Water Bagels

March/April 1996

Your rating: None Average: 4.4 (9 votes)

These classic bagels are also known as New York bagels. If the secret ingredient, as New Yorkers always contend, is indeed the water, out-of-town bakers are out of luck. However, minus the Hudson River, these bagels are still a good replica of the bagels many think of as the definitive model.

"I made these, and they are delicious! I used whole wheat flour instead of white and they turned out great. Here's a picture: "
Water Bagels

Makes: 12 three-ounce bagels

Active Time:

Total Time:


Bagel Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 3 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons malt syrup, or malt powder (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4-5 cups white bread flour, preferably unbleached
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (approximately) cornmeal, for sprinkling baking sheets

Kettle Water

  • 6 quarts water
  • 2 tablespoons malt syrup, or powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  • 2 tablespoons (approximately) sesame, poppy or caraway seeds, coarse salt, chopped garlic or 1/2 cup chopped onion for sprinkling on top (optional)


  1. To make bagel dough & shape bagels: Whisk 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, yeast, sugar, 2 teaspoons malt syrup (or powder), if using, and oil in a large bowl until the yeast dissolves. Stir in 1 cup flour. Then stir in 1 tablespoon salt and enough additional flour to make a soft dough, about 2 1/2 cups.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead, gradually incorporating more flour, until the dough is smooth and quite firm, 10 to 12 minutes. Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into 12 pieces; roll each piece into a 10-inch-long rope. Form into bagels by overlapping the ends up 1 inch. Pinch ends together firmly. Set bagels aside, uncovered, to rise until slightly puffy, about 20 minutes.
  4. To kettle & bake bagels: Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450°F. Line 1 large or 2 small baking sheets with parchment paper, sprinkle with cornmeal and set aside. Bring water, 2 tablespoons malt, if using, and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a large pot. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
  5. Slip several risen bagels at a time into the pot"the water should be at a healthy simmer. Cook for 45 seconds, turn them over with a slotted spoon or tongs, and cook for 45 seconds longer. Drain the bagels on a clean dish towel and place on the prepared baking sheet(s). Sprinkle with topping, if using. Place the bagels in the oven, reduce heat to 425°F and bake for 15 minutes. Turn over and bake until golden brown, about 5 more minutes. Variations To the dough, mix in 1 cup dried or chopped frozen cranberries or 3/4 cup dried cherries or 1/4 cup chopped nuts or 1 to 3 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs or 1 to 2 teaspoons grated citrus zest.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Freeze fresh (and properly cooled) bagels immediately unless you are eating them all that day.
  • Don't let bagels rise too long before being shaped: the dough becomes slack and the hardy rings cannot hold their shape in the boiling water. Also, the characteristic, appealing denseness is lost.


Per serving: 155 calories; 1 g fat (0 g sat, 1 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 32 g carbohydrates; 6 g protein; 1 g fiber; 305 mg sodium; 69 mg potassium.

Carbohydrate Servings: 2

Exchanges: 2 starch

More From EatingWell

Recipe Categories

Total Time
More than 1 hour
8 or more
Preparation/ Technique
Ease of Preparation
March/April 1996
Get a full year of EatingWell magazine.
World Wide Web Health Award Winner Web Award Winner World Wide Web Health Award Winner Interactive Media Award Winner