A Better Homemade Bagel: #92 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

My parents’ house is just down the street from an amazing Jewish bakery, and the smell of fresh bagels when you walk in there is like floating away on a cloud of deliciousness. I was determined to figure out how to make bagels myself, and discovered they’re actually not that tricky! We topped these with “Everything but the bagel” spice from Trader Joe’s (a mix of garlic, onion, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, salt and pepper) and made some amazing sandwiches.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($3 total for 8 bagels)

1 tbsp active dry yeast – $0.50
1 tbsp brown sugar – $0.37
1 1/2 cups hottest tap water – free
4 cups flour – $0.64
1 tbsp salt – $0.12
1/4 cup honey – $0.56
1 tbsp baking soda – $0.03
1 tsp salt – $0.05
8 cups water – free
Bagel toppings (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper) – $0.56
1 egg – $0.29


1. In a small plastic (non-metal) bowl, mix the yeast and brown sugar, then add the hottest tap water. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to form a foam over the surface. In a separate, larger bowl, mix the flour and 1 tbsp salt.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together. Use your hands to knead it for about 7-10 minutes. Rub some olive oil around the larger bowl, then add the dough ball to it. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours until doubled in size.

2. Divide the dough into 8 equal balls, and poke a hole with your thumbs into the center of each ball. Pull it apart and shape it into a bagel shape. 

Heat the 8 cups water, honey, baking soda, and 1 tsp salt in a large, shallow pan until it boils. Turn the heat down to simmering (medium or medium-high) and gently place a few bagels in at a time. They will float to the top. Cook for 1 minute, then flip them over and cook for 1 minute more. 

3. Put the boiled bagels on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with the beaten egg, then sprinkle whatever toppings you like on top. We left a few plain for the picky eaters among us. 

Bake at 425F for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for 10 more minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for about 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Enjoy fresh or store in the freezer for later eating!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings:  3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

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