Best Sourdough Bagels (soft, easy, small batch recipe)

My sourdough bagels recipe makes soft and fluffy bagels with easy steps that anyone can follow. You don’t have to be a pro baker to make bagels at home from scratch. One bite of a sourdough bagel will have you swearing off the premade selections at the grocery store. They really are that good!

bagels on a tray and a pinterest graphic
Source: Plum Branch Home

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Sourdough Bagel Recipe Inspiration

I love eating bagels for breakfast, especially with a warm cup of coffee paired with them. So I decided to develop my own sourdough bagel recipe from scratch, using wholesome ingredients and simple steps. I used avocado oil as my secret ingredient to help the bagels come out soft and fluffy. My husband and I can’t get enough of this recipe!

bagel cut open with a hand holding it
Source: Plum Branch Home

Why You’ll Love This Recipe for Sourdough Bagels

  • This is a super easy recipe that has simple steps.
  • These bagels are made with wholesome ingredients and no seed oils.
  • The bagels turn out so soft and fluffy.
  • This recipe makes a small bath of 6 bagels.

My Best Tips for Making Sourdough Bagels

  • Use pure avocado oil; it does make a huge difference in the texture.
  • Feed your sourdough starter in a 2:1 ratio (of flour and water), 4–12 hours before using it.
  • Don’t skip over the kneading process or shorten it.
  • Let the dough bulk ferment for the full 10–12 hours to ensure the fermentation is completed.
  • Make sure you add both honey and baking soda to the water bath when boiling bagels.

Sourdough Bagels Ingredients You’ll Need

For the Bagels 

  • Fed sourdough starter
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour 
  • Water
  • Sea salt
  • Avocado oil (or melted butter) 
  • Raw honey 

For the Water Bath

  • Baking soda 
  • Raw honey

Kitchen Tools You’ll Need

How to Make Homemade Sourdough Bagels

Step #1 – Make Bagel Dough

In a mixing bowl, combine the starter, water, honey, avocado oil, and salt until combined.

Add in the flour and mix until combined. It will be shaggy, so use your hands to finish combining it into a dough ball until all the flour is incorporated.

Knead the dough for 5 minutes and place it back in the mixing bowl. Cover it loosely with a tea towel, lid, or plastic wrap.

Step #2 – Bulk Rise

Let the dough bulk ferment on the counter for 10–12 hours.

Step #3 – How to Shape Sourdough Bagels

Turn the dough out on the counter (no flour needed) and cut into six even pieces.

Roll each piece into a ball and push your thumb through the middle to create the bagel shape. Use your hands to thin the bagel out a little and make the hole wider. Repeat this step until all six bagels are shaped.

At this point, you can either proceed with the recipe or place the bagels on a parchment-lined sheet pan, loosely cover them with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and place them in the fridge for up to 24 hours until you’re ready to continue the recipe.

Step #4 – Boil Bagels

To continue the recipe, let’s make the water bath. Fill a large pot half the way full with water and add baking soda and honey. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil.

Turn down the heat to medium and drop in 2 bagels at a time for 30 seconds, then flip and let them boil for another 30 seconds. (If the bagels were in the fridge, they may not float right away; just nudge them after the first 30 seconds before flipping.)

Remove the bagels from the water bath with a spider strainer or slotted spoon, allowing excess water to drip off.

Place bagels on a parchment-lined baking sheet, 1-2 inches apart.

Repeat until all bagels go through the water bath.

bagels on a wire rack cooling
Source: Plum Branch Home

Step #5 – Bake Bagels

Preheat the oven to 425. Bake bagels for 20–25 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!

Sample Baking Schedule

  • Friday 8:00 PM: Start mixing ingredients.
  • Friday 8:15 PM: Start bulk fermentation.
  • Saturday 8:15 AM: Shape the bagels after fermentation.
  • (Optional second rise in the fridge, if needed)
  • Saturday 8:20 AM – 8:25 AM: Prepare water bath.
  • Saturday 8:25 AM – 8:35 AM: Boil bagels & preheat oven.
  • Saturday 8:35 AM: Bake the bagels.
  • Saturday 8:55 AM: Cool the bagels.

How to Store Sourdough Bagels

Store sourdough bagels in an airtight glass container for the best quality and lasting freshness. They’ll last up to 3 days at room temperature and 5–6 days when stored in the fridge. I like to keep ours out for 3 days, then place them in the fridge for 2–3 more days so they last longer. 

How to Freeze Sourdough Bagels

Freeze bagels in a glass freezer-safe container for best results for up to 3 months. You can also store them in a freezer-safe baggie. 

Thawing Sourdough Bagels

Thawing sourdough bagels is super easy. Just take them from the freezer and place them in the fridge overnight. They’ll be ready to eat by morning. 

tray of bagels
Source: Plum Branch Home

Recipe FAQ

Are sourdough bagels healthy?

Sourdough bagels are a healthy option! They’re made from scratch with wholesome ingredients, no seed oils, and no additives. The fermentation process adds gut health benefits to the dough as well!

Why are my sourdough bagels so chewy?

Bagels are supposed to be a bit chewy, but if they are overly chewy, it comes from a problem in the fermentation process. If the dough wasn’t able to ferment for the full 10–12 hours, it could make it dense and chewy. Also, if you over ferment the dough for more than 12 hours, it creates a chewy texture. 

Can you overproof sourdough bagels?

Yes, you can overproof bagel dough, especially if it’s left to bulk ferment for more than 12 hours at room temperature. Your dough will not have elasticity, the bagels will fall flat in the oven, and they won’t brown up. 

Can I use sourdough discard for these bagels?

Not for this recipe, you want the active-fed starter to help the bagels rise in the oven so they don’t come out dense. 

More Sourdough Breakfast Recipes To Try

Full Printable Recipe

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bagels on a baking tray with a towel beside it

Best Sourdough Bagels (soft, easy, small batch recipe)

My sourdough bagels recipe makes soft and fluffy bagels with easy steps that anyone can follow. You don't have to be a pro baker to make bagels at home from scratch. One bite of a sourdough bagel will have you swearing off the premade selections at the grocery store. They really are that good!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Bulk Ferment 10 hours
Total Time 10 hours 40 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Sourdough
Servings 6 bagels

Ingredients
  

For the Bagels

  • 1/2 cup fed sourdough starter (fed 4-12 hours before using)
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil (or 4 Tbsp melted butter)
  • 2 tsp raw honey

For the Water Bath

  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp raw honey

Instructions
 

Step #1 – Make Bagel Dough

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the starter, water, honey, avocado oil, and salt until combined.
  • Add in the flour and mix until combined. It will be shaggy, so use your hands to finish combining it into a dough ball until all the flour is incorporated.
  • Knead the dough for 5 minutes and place it back in the mixing bowl. Cover it loosely with a tea towel, lid, or plastic wrap.

Step #2 – Bulk Rise

  • Let the dough bulk ferment on the counter for 10–12 hours.

Step #3 – How to Shape Sourdough Bagels

  • Turn the dough out on the counter (no flour needed) and cut into six even pieces.
  • Roll each piece into a ball and push your thumb through the middle to create the bagel shape. Use your hands to thin the bagel out a little and make the hole wider. Repeat this step until all six bagels are shaped.
  • At this point, you can either proceed with the recipe or place the bagels on a parchment-lined sheet pan, loosely cover them with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and place them in the fridge for up to 24 hours until you’re ready to continue the recipe.

Step #4 – Boil Bagels

  • To continue the recipe, let’s make the water bath. Fill a large pot half the way full with water and add baking soda and honey. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil.
  • Turn down the heat to medium and drop in 2 bagels at a time for 30 seconds, then flip and let them boil for another 30 seconds. (If the bagels were in the fridge, they may not float right away; just nudge them after the first 30 seconds before flipping.)
  • Remove the bagels from the water bath with a spider strainer or slotted spoon, allowing excess water to drip off.
  • Place bagels on a parchment-lined baking sheet, 1-2 inches apart.
  • Repeat until all bagels go through the water bath.

Step #5 – Bake Bagels

  • Preheat the oven to 425. Bake bagels for 20–25 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!

Notes

How to Store Sourdough Bagels

Store sourdough bagels in an airtight glass container for the best quality and lasting freshness. They’ll last up to 3 days at room temperature and 5–6 days when stored in the fridge. I like to keep ours out for 3 days, then place them in the fridge for 2–3 more days so they last longer. 

How to Freeze Sourdough Bagels

Freeze bagels in a glass freezer-safe container for best results for up to 3 months. You can also store them in a freezer-safe baggie. 

Thawing Sourdough Bagels

Thawing sourdough bagels is super easy. Just take them from the freezer and place them in the fridge overnight. They’ll be ready to eat by morning. 

Sample Baking Schedule

    • Friday 8:00 PM: Start mixing ingredients.
    • Friday 8:15 PM: Start bulk fermentation.
    • Saturday 8:15 AM: Shape the bagels after fermentation.
    • (Optional second rise in the fridge, if needed)
    • Saturday 8:20 AM – 8:25 AM: Prepare water bath.
    • Saturday 8:25 AM – 8:35 AM: Boil bagels & preheat oven.
    • Saturday 8:35 AM: Bake the bagels.
    • Saturday 8:55 AM: Cool the bagels.
Keyword easy sourdough bagels, plum branch home sourdough bagels, soft sourdough bagels, sourdough bagels, sourdough bagels plum branch home

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avocado oil bagels on a pinterest graphic
Source: Plum Branch Home

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