Sourdough Bagels

As promised, here is that AMAZING sourdough bagel recipe from my friend Emilie Raffa!! The bagel dough is quickly thrown together the night before, rests on the counter overnight and then is baked off in the morning. SO GOOD!
Sourdough Bagels | DisplacedHousewife Rebecca Firth; Recipe from Emilie Raffa's book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple

As I write this post, my sourdough starter is sitting on the counter in the kitchen growing and getting bubbly so I can mix together the dough for these Sourdough Bagels to bake off in the morning. Heaven. This recipe comes from Emilie Raffa’s book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple (she calls them Sunday Morning Bagels in her book) and she has graciously allowed me to share her recipe with you. I have talked about this cookbook A LOT — I love it so much! If you love sourdough, want more sourdough recipes, want to get started with sourdough or are just sourdough curious ;) I cannot recommend it enough!!

This is a pretty straight-forward recipe that turns out amazing every time. The key to its success is making sure you have a robust starter that is rising and falling predictably and has lots of large and small bubble development. I have my guide for making a sourdough starter here if you need to get one going (and I highly recommend you do!!). If you have a starter going, use it once it has doubled (or more) in size with lots of bubbles. I like to use mine when it’s reached its peak and you can continue to use it even once it’s fallen a bit. 

*IF* your starter isn’t super robust, you can throw a teaspoon of store-bought yeast in with your starter and the warm water. That will give you the taste of sourdough with the added insurance of store-bought yeast making sure everything rises properly. This is something I did during my early days of sourdough baking years ago. And it works!

I am loving sourdough baking more than ever right now! It’s incredibly cathartic and relaxing and best of all, you don’t have to leave the house to have warm bagels in the morning. This is definitely a lemon-lemonade scenario.

Sourdough Bagels | DisplacedHousewife Rebecca Firth; Recipe from Emilie Raffa's book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple



Baking bread with a scale is so helpful, this is the one I use if you’re in the market. Otherwise, the cup measurements are also listed below!


You can check out my sourdough starter guide here or you can call a local bakery and ask if they would share some of their sourdough starter with you (most are happy too do so!) if you can’t be bothered. As mentioned above, you want a bubbly active starter that has doubled in size and has lots of large and small bubble development. 

Sourdough Bagels | DisplacedHousewife Rebecca Firth; Recipe from Emilie Raffa's book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple



I love to use Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning. You can also just sprinkle your bagels with sesame seeds or even simply sea salt flakes (which is delicious). To customize your bagel:


To make your own everything season follow this recipe.


From Emilie: “For cinnamon raisin bagels, add 6 grams (2 teaspoons) to the dry ingredients. While the dough is resting, soak 80 grams (1/2 cup) of raisins in warm water. Drain well before kneading them into the dough to incorporate.” Do this after the dough has been mixed.


Flour is a bit scarce right now; this is a great resource for sourcing local flour across the US and worldwide. Bob’s Red Mill is set to be back in stock later this month (April 2020), same with King Arthur Flour. If you only have all-purpose flour (and no bread flour), you can still make them. You may need a touch more flour (added very conservatively at 1 tablespoon at a time) as the all-purpose flour won’t absorb as much moisture as the bread flour resulting in a slightly stickier dough.

Sourdough Bagels | DisplacedHousewife Rebecca Firth; Recipe from Emilie Raffa's book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple



The instructions below are Emilie’s from her book. I added my own notes in italics.



I love salt. I add a full 1 tablespoon of sea salt to the dough and I think you should consider it. Just saying.



You don’t have to have an electric stand mixer to make these bagels. The instructions will reference it, but you can mix and knead using those beautiful arms of yours.


A quick note about humidity… If you live in a dry climate consider covering the bowl with plastic wrap while the dough rests overnight to keep moisture in there. A damp towel, as recommended in the instructions, can dry out overnight and there is nothing more frustrating than when the top of your dough develops a scab (from lack of moisture). I hate to recommend plastic wrap, so if you can come up with another way to keep it sealed, use that and let me know in the comments below so we can help others.

Sourdough Bagels | DisplacedHousewife Rebecca Firth; Recipe from Emilie Raffa's book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple



Feed your starter in the morning, mix the dough in the afternoon/evening when your starter has reached its peak and then allow the bagel dough to rest and rise overnight while you sleep. When you wake up, proceed with Step 3. This is known as living your best life.


If you have any questions regarding the technique or substitutions, please leave them in the comments below so that they can help others and I will answer as soon as possible to help you along!

Let’s bake some badass sourdough bagels, shall we?

Sourdough Bagels | DisplacedHousewife Rebecca Firth; Recipe from Emilie Raffa's book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple
Sourdough Bagels | DisplacedHousewife Rebecca Firth; Recipe from Emilie Raffa's book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple

Sourdough Bagels

As promised, here is that AMAZING sourdough bagel recipe from my friend Emilie Raffa!! The bagel dough is quickly thrown together the night before, rests on the counter overnight and then is baked off in the morning. SO GOOD!
4.82 from 27 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Bagels
Servings: 8 -16


For the Bagels

  • 150 grams (3/4 cup) active starter
  • 250 grams (1 cup plus 2 teaspoons) warm water
  • 24 grams (2 tablespoons) sugar
  • 500 grams (4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) bread flour
  • 9 grams (1 1/2 teaspoons) fine sea salt (I use 1 tablespoon of sea salt in this dough)
  • 20 grams (1 tablespoon) honey

To Garnish

  • You can use everything seasoning see note above, cinnamon raisin variation (also see note above), sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sea salt flakes…get frisky


Make the Dough

  • In a large bowl, whisk the starter, water and sugar together with a fork. Add the flour and salt. Combine to form a rough dough, then finish mixing by hand to fully incorporate the flour. Because this dough is stiff, consider using a stand mixer (fitted with the dough hook attachment) to give your hands a break; run on low speed for 5-6 minutes to combine. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Meanwhile, replenish your starter with fresh flour and water. Store according to preferences. After the dough has rested, work the mass into a semi-smooth ball, about 15-20 seconds and place in a large bowl that’s lightly oiled.

Bulk Rise

  • Cover with a damp towel and let rise until double in size, about 8-10 hours at room temperature, 70F (21C). Note, this dough can also be stashed airtight in the fridge for several days until ready to bake if you can’t get to making them right away.


  • Line a sheet pan with nonstick silicon mat or parchment paper. If using parchment, lightly coat with cooking spray or oil to prevent sticking. Remove the dough onto a non-floured surface. Flatten the dough into a rectangle and divide into 8 equal pieces, about 115 grams (4 ounces) each. (I divided mine into 16 pieces for more, smaller bagels). Gather the ends, flip the dough over and roll each piece into a ball. Let the dough rest on your sheet pan for 10-15 minuets to relax the gluten. Working with one ball of dough at a time, poke a hole straight through the center. Lift up the dough, insert both index fingers through the center hole and barrel roll to gently stretch the opening to about the size of a walnut. When finished, place the dough back onto your sheet pan. It’s ok if the hole shrinks slightly. Repeat shaping the remaining dough. Set on the prepared baking sheet.

Second Rise

  • Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest for 15-20 minutes. The dough will puff up only slightly at this stage. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the honey and whisk well to dissolve. Preheat your oven to 425F (220C). Add the seeds and/or any other toppings to a rimmed tray or shallow bowl.

Boil the Bagels

  • Add 2-3 bagels into the pot and wait for them to float to the top, about 10 seconds (some will float immediately). Cook for 30 seconds on each side for a thin crust. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bagels back to the sheet pan you used earlier, placing them rounded side up. Once slightly cool but still wet, dip the rounded side of the bagels into the seeds (or whatever topping, if using) to coat. Place back onto the sheet pan and finish boiling the rest of the bagels.


  • Bake the bagels for about 20-25 minutes in the center of the oven. Flip them over to briefly cook the bottom side, about 1-2 minutes or less. When ready, your bagels will be puffed up and light golden brown, and they will feel light to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, but indulge yourself and eat one (or two) warm. The chewy texture of bagels is best enjoyed when made fresh. Stir tin a plastic bag at room temperature for up to 2 days. Bagels freeze well; freeze them whole or slice, covered in plastic wrap and a layer of foil, for up to 3 months.
Thanks for baking with me! Please tag me on social @displacedhousewife #displacedhousewife so I can see your beautiful treats! xo



  • Seth 2021/01/19 at 8:19 AM

    5 stars
    Great recipe! I’ve made these a couple of times and everybody loves them! I had 2 questions for you. 1) For the 8-10 hr bulk rise, should I allow the dough to double in size BEFORE refrigerating? Or should I put them in the refrigerator immediately after shaping into a round and placing in the bowl. 2) Can I double the recipe and make all in one large bowl? Can I make 2 separate recipes (for my mixers sake!) but still allow them to bulk rise together in the fridge? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  • Joseph Alevizatos 2021/01/19 at 6:06 AM

    Hi Rebecca Can you tell me what a “barrel roll” is for shaping the bagels?
    I made them yesterday and they turned out amazing!

    • Rebecca Firth 2021/01/19 at 8:24 AM

      Hi Joseph! I’m so glad you liked them!!

      Sooo…’barrel roll’, I agree it’s a bit confusing but I’ve struggled with a better way to articulate!! You basically put two fingers in the middle hole you’ve created and then rotate them in a circular motion to stretch that hole out a bit. Does that give a better visual? xx

  • Michelle Urban 2021/01/16 at 5:09 PM

    5 stars
    Made these for the first time today and they turned out pretty good considering I’m a total beginner to any kind of baking. They were light and soft and perfect, except the color was really light on the crust. What might be the reason for that? Not enough honey? Not long enough boil? They’re cooked through

    • Rebecca Firth 2021/01/17 at 12:22 PM

      Hi Michelle!!! I’m so glad you enjoyed them. So, I’m thinking either the honey in the water (maybe you did need more?) or perhaps your oven runs cooler? I’ll have to think on this some more, but those are my initial thoughts!! xox

  • Kermit 2021/01/03 at 8:31 AM

    If you want to avoid waste and you need plastic you could try doing what I do and dedicate some plastic produce bags from the market to bread making. I cut these from their top to bottom, flatten them on the counter and wipe or spray lightly with oil. The bag is then ready to go and I have used the same collection of bags to cover my proofing bread for years.

  • Marc 2021/01/02 at 1:10 PM

    5 stars
    After trying a few other sourdough bagel recipes, this was by far the best approach. I think shaping the bagels immediately before boiling was the key here, rather than trying to do the bulk rise after the bagels are shaped. I also mistakingly put the honey into the dough instead of in the water, and it was delicious!

    • Rebecca Firth 2021/01/09 at 4:22 PM

      Hi Marc! I am so happy you like them. I have done the same thing with the honey and you’re right, delish!!! xox

  • Jill 2021/01/02 at 8:04 AM

    5 stars
    Have made these bagels, several times, with and without an added teaspoon of yeast. With and without an overnight in the fridge. They come out delicious every time, every way. I use my scale to keep the bagels evenly weighted. Great recipe, great results. Thank you

    • Rebecca Firth 2021/01/09 at 4:23 PM

      Hi Jill! Aren’t they so good?! I feel like they are foolproof too!! xox

  • Mike 2020/12/07 at 4:18 PM

    Made this on Saturday so that I could have bagels on Sunday. Due to circumstances beyond my control I had to leave these in the fridge till Monday. Pulled out of the fridge early, about 6am to come to room temperature and cooked them about 9am and ate them at 9:30am.

    They were outstanding! This was my first time making bagels. My only regret is there are none leftover!

    Great recipe! Thanks,Rebecca!

    • Rebecca Firth 2020/12/10 at 5:10 AM

      Hi Mike!
      I recently did the same thing and they came out great! This dough is so forgiving — so happy that you liked them!! xx

  • Karen Gardner 2020/11/16 at 4:45 PM

    5 stars
    Easy and delicious! Thx!

  • Li Lammert 2020/11/15 at 12:44 AM

    5 stars
    OMG! I’m pretty new to the sour dough baking. But I love bagels so I thought I’d give this recipe a try. And it is the BEST bagel I’ve ever had! I made the dough in the Ninja food processor with the dough attachment. Came together so well. Otherwise, I followed your recipe to the letter. Thank you for the best birthday bagel ever!

  • Flynn 2020/08/19 at 4:26 AM

    4 stars
    I halved the recipe and it tasted wonderful, but they were a little bit too toasted in the oven so next time I’ll low the time to sixteen minutes.

  • Stacybeth 2020/08/13 at 4:40 AM

    I live in RI and it’s been very hot and humid but our AC has been on and the humidity hovers around 50% in the house this time of year.

  • Katrina 2020/08/03 at 1:01 PM

    I have made onion bagels before by just rolling them in dried onion flakes instead of the sesame seeds or everything seasoning. I have also combined them into the dough much like she talks about combining the raisins.

    I am NOT an expert baker (elementary teacher who just loves trying – and eating – new recipes!), but I have had great success with that!

  • Maureen 2020/08/07 at 4:20 PM

    Did you try this? I would love to know if it works and I can make them quicker in the morning!

  • Dallas 2020/08/08 at 12:20 PM

    5 stars
    Hi Erin, I have done that a few times with this recipe and they turn out wonderfully. I shape them the night before, put them in the fridge covered for the night, and when I pull them out in the morning give them 20-30 minutes to come up to room temp. Great time saver!

  • Becky 2020/08/10 at 2:04 PM

    I have successfully subbed it for molasses in the boiling water. Not sure if that is Vegan though.

  • Stacybeth 2020/08/13 at 4:38 AM

    Thank you for your reply! I just noticed it. I have actually made the bagels 3 more times (today included) and made sure to grease the bowl a little more and the dough wasn’t so dry! In fact, I felt like it was a little too wet so the dough stretched out a lot and the holes didn’t keep their shape. Added 20 more grams of flour to today’s batch which is rising overnight as I type.

  • Stephanie R Rogers 2020/09/30 at 8:36 PM

    So I have been making these delicious bagels for the last 6 months. However, had one problem: The toppings dis not stay on and made a mess in the bag. Solution (per my husband): mix poppy seeds, sesame seeds and onion flakes in before adding the flour! It worked!

  • Stacybeth 2020/08/13 at 4:39 AM

    5 stars
    I live in RI and it’s been very hot and humid but our AC has been on and the humidity hovers around 50% in the house this time of year.

  • Alicia 2020/08/23 at 5:20 PM

    My guess is the added sugar in the water helps with browning once the bagels get to the oven.

  • Rebecca Firth 2020/09/30 at 9:31 PM

    I love this idea — I’m trying it next time!! xo

  • Brenda 2021/01/09 at 5:46 PM

    I love these bagels but I’m never sure about 2 things. First do I do a stretch and fold during the bulk rise? In fact do I should stretch and folds with all your breads? I’m
    A little confused.

    And secondly if I put the dough straight into the fridge before the bulk rise, usually overnight, I’m assuming I must let the dough rise when I remove it from the fridge in the AM and before shaping as it doesn’t rise much in the fridge.

    Thanks for the fantastic recipe!!

  • Rebecca Firth 2021/01/10 at 10:34 AM

    Hi Brenda! There are no stretch and folds with this dough and unless one of my recipes specifies that, you don’t need to.

    I haven’t put the dough in the fridge before the bulk…I would definitely give it time to rise and come to room temp in the morning. Oh wait, I think I did do that one time and then I kept it in the fridge for several days, brought it to room temp and then moved forward with the recipe. I feel like it’s a pretty sturdy dough that can handle changes and abuse. ;)

    I’m so glad you’re enjoying it — we love it!! Let me know if you have any other questions or if this wasn’t clear!

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