Plain Bagels are a staple for breakfasts and have evolved to be topped with everything from cream cheese to your favorite pizza toppings! But, you don’t have to settle for the prepackaged or frozen bagels from the supermarket. Make your own plain bagels to serve and enjoy how and when you want. If you love great breakfast options, try my Lemon Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Plain Bagel

Bagels have been around for centuries and are still popular, even after the New York Times described them as “an unsweetened donut with rigor Morris” back in 1960. Bagels are not going anywhere, and the dense and chewy round bread is not just for breakfast anymore.

Yes, the traditional bagel with cream cheese is still a popular choice, and I even have a homemade strawberry cream cheese recipe for these homemade bagels. But now, they are served with both savory and sweet toppings for any time of the day!

PLain Whole Bagel on Parchment with other plain bagels

Plain Bagel Recipe

In this bagel recipe, there are the bagel ingredients, egg wash for the tops of the bagels, and a homemade strawberry cream cheese recipe.

Bagels Ingredients (full recipe below)

  • Warm water
  • Instant yeast–If you are using active dry yeast instead, you will need 1 1/2 tablespoons of the yeast (compared to 1 tablespoon instant).
  • Bread flour–You can also use the same amount of all-purpose flour; but with bread flour, you will get a higher rise because it contains more protein than all-purpose.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • Water
  • Honey
  • Cornmeal

Egg Wash Ingredients

  • Egg white
  • Water

Strawberry Cream Cheese Ingredients

  • Fresh strawberries–I would stick with fresh strawberries in this recipe. If you do use frozen, let them thaw completely, drain them, and pat them dry before mixing.
  • Cream cheese
  • Confectioners’ sugar

Overhead Image of Plain Bagels on Parchment Paper with one Cut in Half to See Inside

Plain Bagel Dough

To get started making the bagel dough, get out your stand mixer and whisk the yeast and warm water in the bowl of the mixer. Let that sit for about five minutes. Add in the flour, sugar, salt, and vegetable oil. Use the dough hook attachment to mix on low for about 8 minutes.

If you don’t have a dough hook attachment, knead the dough by hand for about 25 minutes. Place the ball of dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a clean towel, and let it rise for about two hours (or until doubled in size).

Hand Dropping Formed Bagel Ball Before Punching Whole in Middle

Shaping the Bagels

To shape the bagels, first divide the ball of dough into twelve equal-sized pieces. If you have a baking scale, each piece would weigh about 3 ounces. Work each piece of dough on a clean work surface with your hand cupping the dough.

Gently press down on the ball of dough, working your cupped hand in a circular motion until you have a smooth ball of dough. Place the dough balls on a baking sheet, cover them with a towel, and let them rest for about 15 minutes.

To get the hole in the center of the bagels, use your fingers to create the hole. Then, twirl the dough around and around your fingers until you have a hole that is about 2 inches. Set the bagels aside while you preheat the oven to 425°F and get the water and honey ready to boil the bagels.

Plain Bagels on the Handle of a Wooden Spoon with "i am baker" written on the spoon

Boiling and Baking the Bagels

Before you can bake the bagels, they need to be boiled in the water and honey mixture. While the water and honey is coming to a boil, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle the paper with cornmeal. Once at a rapid boil, reduce the heat a little bit, but still keep the water boiling. Place 3-4 bagels at a time in the boiling water (or as many that will fit without overlapping).

Boil for 1-2 minutes per side. Then, with the end of a spoon or pair of tongs (or anything you can put through the hole), remove the bagels and place them on the cornmeal layered baking sheet. Repeat for all bagels.

Whisk together the egg white and water for the egg wash. Brush the egg wash over the boiled bagels and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the bagels begin to brown. Let them cool on the baking sheet before enjoying them with your favorite cream cheese spread or other toppings.

Overhead Image of Plain Bagels with Homemade Strawberry Cream Cheese in a Bowl and On a Bagel

How to Store Bagels

It’s best to eat up your fresh bagels as soon as possible since they do dry out and harden in just a few days. Store any extra bagels in plastic bags at room temperature (not in the refrigerator, which actually makes the bagels dry out faster). Make sure they have cooled down before storing them. If you are not planning to eat the bagels in a couple of days, freeze them.

To freeze the bagels, let them cool completely, but then get them into the freezer as soon as possible after that. Slice each bagel before putting them into a zipped freezer-safe plastic bag. Label and date the bags; they will last up to 3 months in the freezer. The best part is that you do not need to let them thaw before popping them in the toaster. You can also heat them in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350°F. 

Bowl of Homemade Strawberry Cream Cheese Next to Plain Bagels

Whipped Strawberry Cream Cheese

While the bagels are cooling, whip up (pun intended) this homemade whipped strawberry cream cheese to spread on your freshly baked bagels.

  • To make the cream cheese, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer in a medium bowl.
  • Add the chopped strawberries and confectioners’ sugar, mixing at medium-low speed until well blended and creamy. You can use less sugar if you prefer, but we found the sugar enhances the sweet strawberry flavor. 

Enjoy it on your bagel or try this cream cheese with homemade vanilla wafers for another yummy treat!

Plain Bagel Ripped in Half to Show the Inside and Next to a Bowl of Strawberry Cream Cheese

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4.84 from 6 votes

Plain Bagels

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 24 minutes
Resting time 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 9 minutes
Don't settle for the prepackaged or frozen bagels from the supermarket when you can make your own plain bagels to serve and enjoy!


Bagel Dough

  • 1 ¼ cups (296g) warm water
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 4 cups (508g) bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Ingredients for Boiling and Baking

  • 4 quarts water
  • 2 tablespoons honey, (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water

Strawberry Cream Cheese

  • 8 large fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar


Bagel Dough

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together warm water and yeast. Rest for 5 minutes.
  • Add in flour, sugar, salt, and vegetable oil.
  • Mix on low with the dough hook until the dough starts to come together (about 8 minutes). If you are kneading by hand, knead the dough for about 25 minutes.
  • Transfer the dough to a greased bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 2 hours or until the dough has nearly doubled in size.
  • After 2 hours, turn the dough out onto a work surface.
  • Divide the dough into 12 even pieces (about 3 ounces each).
  • Working one piece at a time, fold the sides of the dough under to create a dough ball (top should be smooth).
  • With the seam side down (on an unfloured surface), place your palm on top of the dough (your hand should be slightly cupped around the dough ball).
  • Push down slightly (but firm and even) on the dough and roll the ball under your palm in a circular motion. Use the cupped sides of your hands to keep the dough centered in your palm. You may have to work the dough for a while, but eventually, it will come together and most of the lines and folds should have incorporated into the dough, forming a smooth dough ball.
  • Place the dough balls on a baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel.
  • Let the dough balls rest for 15 minutes.
  • After resting for 15 minutes, use your fingers to create a hole in the center of the dough balls, twirling the dough around your fingers until you form about a 2-inch hole.

Boiling and Baking Bagels

  • Preheat oven to 425 °F.
  • Line a separate baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle evenly with cornmeal. (You can use more or less depending on your preference.)
  • Add the water and honey to a large pot. Bring it to a rolling boil. (Truly, the honey is optional. When testing we were not able to notice a distinguishable difference when adding it and when not adding it.)
  • Reduce the heat slightly (still boiling) and add bagels in batches (3-4 at a time). Bagels should have room to expand and should not be overlapping at all.
  • Boil for 1-2 minutes per side (the longer the boil the denser the bagel).
  • Place boiled bagels on top of the cornmeal layer on your baking sheet.
  • In a small dish, whisk together the egg white and water.
  • Brush the tops and sides of the boiled bagels with the egg wash. (If you only cover the tops you will see a line of egg wash on the final bagel. Try to cover every exposed area of bagel with the egg wash.)
  • Bake in the preheated oven until the bagels begin to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Oven temps vary, but you will want a golden brown on the finished bagel.
  • Bagels are best when allowed to cool completely before using. You can, of course, reheat when ready to consume.

Whipped Strawberry Cream Cheese

  • In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to beat cream cheese on medium until smooth.
  • Add chopped strawberries and powdered sugar, and mix on medium-low until well blended.
  • Spread whipped cream cheese over bagels.


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Meet Amanda Rettke

Amanda Rettke is the creator of I Am Baker, and the bestselling author of Surprise Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion – With a Little Something Extra Inside.Over the course of her 15+ year blogging adventure, she has been featured in and collaborated with the Food Network, New York Times, LA Times, Country Living Magazine, People Magazine, Epicurious, Brides, Romantic Homes, life:beautiful, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Mail, Star Tribune, The Globe and Mail, DailyCandy, YumSugar, The Knot, The Kitchn, and Parade, to name a few.

Reader Comments

  1. Thank you for the bagel recipe! So good & easy to make with your instructions!
    Love your recipes!

    1. Hi, Carol! I work with iambaker and am happy to help with questions. We have not tested this recipe using whole wheat flour, so I can’t say what adjustments would need to be made or how that would affect the recipe. Have a great day!

  2. Made these today and topped with some cheese – I will never buy bagels again. Thank you for making this easy to follow!

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