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Super Soft and Chewy Sourdough Bagels

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Real Boiled and Baked Sourdough Bagels!

It took me a good many years to work up the nerve to try my hand a bagels. 

Long Pinterest collage image showing baskets of sourdough bagels with text.

I’ll be the first to admit I was always a little intimidated, knowing that the bagels needed special shaping, boiling, and baking. My intimidation was unfounded. The process is so much easier than I expected, and once I started playing around with developing this recipe I realized just exactly what I had been missing out on all these years!

Basket of soft and chewy sourdough bagels.

Soft and Chewy Sourdough Bagels

I want to start this post by making it clear that my intention was not to develop a dense and doughy bagel, but instead a soft, light, and fluffy bagel, with the classic chewy texture of sourdough.

If you are looking for a dense and doughy bagel this might not be the recipe for you. Yes, I know that many people prefer a dense bagel, I’m just not one of them. I like the versatility of a softer bagel that can be sliced, toasted, cream cheesed, buttered, used as a bun, as a sandwich, with toppings, without … not to mention I just can’t keep my sourdough starter down. The puff and rise on this recipe is exceptional!

These sourdough bagels come out as soft and lofty as pillowy clouds with a shiny chewy exterior that becomes delightfully crisp when toasted. 

Basket of soft and chewy sourdough bagels.

Topping Your Sourdough Bagels

My personal favorite is probably the toasty sesame seeds, but I’ve also made onion, plain, yuzu, everything, salt, cheese-stuffed, and even bagel dogs! Some of the more technical recipes like cheese-stuffed, bagel dogs, blueberry, and cinnamon raisin I hope to publish in the future!

Basket of soft and chewy sourdough bagels.

Basket of soft and chewy sourdough bagels.

Super Soft and Chewy Sourdough Bagels

Super Soft and Chewy Sourdough Bagels

Yield: 16 Bagels
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 1 hour 30 minutes

A fluffy, super soft, and chewy sourdough bagel. These fully fermented bagels are boiled and baked for the best crust, taste, and texture possible.


  • 1000 grams bread flour 
  • 600 grams water
  • 250 grams sourdough starter
  • 60 grams avocado oil or light olive oil
  • 40 grams honey or coconut sugar
  • 20 grams salt

Boiling Water

  • 2 quarts water
  • 20 grams (1 tablespoon) honey
  • 20 grams (1 heaping tablespoon) baking soda
  • 7 grams (1 teaspoon) salt


The Night Before

  1. Using a dough whisk, wooden spoon, or silicone spatula, mix all the bagel ingredients in a large bowl. Once the dough comes together let it rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Do a few rounds of stretch and fold in the bowl, resting the dough for 5 minutes between each round. Once the dough is smooth and stretchy cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and let it ferment overnight.

The Next Morning

  1. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut and weigh the dough into 16 equal pieces, about 120 grams each.
  2. Lay a large sheet of parchment paper off to the side of the work area.
  3. Preshape each piece of dough into a tight ball the same way you would for buns. Set them seam side down on the parchment.
  4. Once all the dough is formed into balls, cover them with a damp flour sack towel and let them rest for 1 hour.

Boiling and Baking the Bagels

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F with two baking racks evenly spaced in the center.
  2. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. I use the half sheet pan size (18 by 13-inch).
  3. Have your desired toppings ready.
  4. In a large pot bring the water and other boiling ingredients to a strong boil. I use my 8-quart stockpot.
  5. Uncover the dough and drop a large pinch of dry flour on the top and center of each dough ball.
  6. Working one at a time, push the thumb of your dominant hand down through the center of the flour and dough until it reaches the paper underneath.
  7. With your thumb against the paper, gently swirl your hand, spinning the dough around your thumb until the hole is fully coated with flour.
  8. Lift the bagel from the paper, and without deflating it, use your other hand to gently stretch the hole to about 2 inches wide. Rotate the dough during stretching to get an even circle.
  9. Gently drop the dough into the boiling water with the top side down first. Cook on the first side for 1 minute. If you can work fast enough, add two to three more bagels to the water. This is also dependent on the size of the pot; the bagels should not be touching.
  10. Use a slotted spoon to flip the bagels starting with the first one in the pot. Cook the bagels on the second side for 1 more minute.
  11. Remove the bagels from the pot, letting excess water drip off them. Slip them onto the parchment-lined baking sheet with a little room around each one.
  12. Once all the bagels from that batch have been removed, top the wet bagels with your favorite toppings, or leave them plain.
  13. Start boiling the next batch of bagels and continue this process until they have all been boiled with toppings added.
  14. Place the bagels in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.
  15. When the timer goes off, rotate the pans and switch their positions in the oven, allowing for even baking.
  16. Bake the bagels for 10 more minutes or until golden brown.
  17. Remove the bagels from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool.


You can substitute up to 50% whole wheat or heirloom flour in this recipe without a very noticeable change in texture. 100% whole grain will result in a denser bagel and may require 5% (30 grams) more water in the dough.

Pinterest image of a basket of soft and chewy sourdough bagels with text overlay.

Donna Crumpler

Monday 17th of July 2023

Would it work to shape them into bagels and then let them rise instead of shaping them from the risen balls? I'm afraid I'm going to deflate them too much. I have a pretty heavy hand when dealing with dough. Thanks for your help!

Butter For All

Monday 24th of July 2023

Hi Donna!

Yes, it is fine to shape first, just make the hole at least 2 inches in diameter because you'll be surprised at how much it will close up. I have an awesome technique that I will try to video soon!



Sunday 18th of June 2023

I love these bagels! Mine stick to the parchment paper after baking, how can I prevent this???

Butter For All

Saturday 1st of July 2023

Hi Alex!

I'm so glad you love the bagels! They are definitely a hot commodity around here as well.

Different brands of parchment will behave differently. I like the If You Care brand, and Costco parchment is pretty good too. A few tips I can offer. #1 make sure the bagel is drained well after boiling. #2 It's best to let the bagels cool a little bit on the pan before trying to remove them. Hope that helps!



Tuesday 7th of February 2023

Thank you for this recipe! Everyone I have made it for has LOVED it. I also have used it to make pretzel rolls since we noticed the bagels have a very pretzel like taste. I’m wondering if you think the recipe could be used to make actual pretzels? I have yet to find a sourdough pretzel recipe I like and I’m wondering if this dough would work…


Saturday 29th of April 2023

@Butter For All, Do you have your pretzel recipe yet? I cannot find it on your site...

Butter For All

Thursday 9th of February 2023

Hi Genevieve,

This dough works great for pretzels! I also have a unique pretzel recipe coming, so look out for that too!


Monday 23rd of January 2023

Hi. I’ve just finished shaping the bagels but the dough was very sticky and a bit hard to handle. I followed all the steps. Any idea what I’ve done wrong? Thank you.

Butter For All

Tuesday 31st of January 2023

Hey Naomi!

Hopefully they baked up well! You can always add a touch more flour during mixing if the the dough seems too wet. Or use a little extra flour when shaping. With different flours and water and temperatures and humidity you may need to adjust my recipes slightly. I would love to hear how they worked out!


Chelsea Sewell

Wednesday 12th of January 2022

I am a WAPF follower and love your sourdough recipes! Could you include cup and tablespoon measurements in this recipe for the bagel ingredients? I tried my best to convert but probably not really accurate. I got a really sticky dough! What should the consistency be compared to a whole wheat bread? I used whole wheat spelt. Thanks!

Butter For All

Thursday 20th of January 2022

Hi Chelsea!

I'll do my best to take care of that this weekend! The dough should be tacky, but not too sticky. I'd be interested to know how they came out after fermentation!

Check back for an updated recipe soon!


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