This homemade vegan bagel recipe is simple to make and creates delicious dense-yet-fluffy bagels. This recipe is customizable so you can create any bagel flavor you enjoy including everything, onion, poppy seed, sesame and more!
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Are Bagels Vegan?
Many types of bagels found in grocery stores or restaurants are vegan. Often, if a bagel isn’t vegan it’s for more obvious reasons, for example, served with cream cheese, butter or the bagel is topped with cheese.
However, sneaky milk ingredients and eggs can easily creep into even the most vegan-friendly recipes. It’s always best to check the ingredients before you buy!
Ingredients to Make Homemade Vegan Bagels
Homemade bagel recipe ingredients are fairly simple, but there’s a few key points to keep in mind.
- Lukewarm water: whenever you’re activating yeast, lukewarm water is the way to go! Lukewarm water is 100- 110 F and should feel warm to the touch but not produce steam. If it’s too cold, the yeast may not activate. If it’s too hot, the heat may kill the yeast.
- Active dry yeast: active dry yeast is a standard type of yeast and allows the bagels to rise, creating a fluffy yet dense texture.
- Maple syrup: when yeast activates, it feeds off the sugar and creates air bubbles that allow dough to rise. Any type of sugar should work but since we use maple syrup in the water bath too, I kept it the same here.
- Salt: some salt helps round out the flavor of pretty much any recipe!
- Bread flour: bread flour is essential to making this bagel recipe work. Bread flour has a higher protein content compared to all-purpose flour; this extra protein (gluten) creates a firm dough and more dense texture once baked. This is what we want when making bagels as bagels aren’t meant to be super fluffy!
- Water bath: the water bath helps give bagels their signature outer crust.
- Cornmeal: cornmeal on the bottom of bagels provide a crispy layer.
- Soy milk: soy milk gets brushed onto the top of the bagels before they bake, allowing toppings to stick and helping the bagels brown. Other plant-based milk could work but soy milk is my preference.
- Toppings: you can top these vegan bagels with whatever you like! Sesame seeds, poppy seeds or everything bagel seasoning are delicious and simple options. If you want an onion bagel, stir some dry chopped onion into the dough while you knead it as adding onion to the top alone isn’t enough for that tasty onion flavor.
How to Make Vegan Bagels
Bagels are surprisingly simple to make, although some arm work is necessary to knead the dough.
Step 1: Activate the Yeast
To begin, add 1 ½ cups of lukewarm water to a large bowl. Lukewarm water is 100-110 °F and should feel warm to the touch but not create steam. Hotter water can kill the yeast and colder water doesn’t offer the right environment for yeast to activate.
Stir 1 tablespoon of maple syrup (or sugar) into the water. Yeast feeds off sugar, so this helps it activate.
Sprinkle the yeast into the maple syrup water and allow it to sit for 5-8 minutes, until the yeast looks dissolved and foamy.
This recipe uses standard active dry yeast which comes in small, circular granules.
Step 2: Add Dry Ingredients and Knead the Dough
After the yeast is foamy, add dry ingredients (1 ½ teaspoon of salt and 4 cups of bread flour) to the bowl. Stir until a ball of dough starts to form.
When you can’t stir anymore, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and begin kneading. This is a very dense dough, so it takes work to knead. Keep going until the dough feels smooth.
This dough should feel tacky (slightly sticky) but not stick to your hands where pieces of dough rip off the main portion. Keep adding additional bread flour, 1-2 tablespoons at a time until this texture is reached.
Step 3: Let the Dough Rise
Lightly oil the large bowl your dough was mixed in. Return the kneaded ball of dough to the bowl and lightly oil the top.
Oil is necessary to prevent dough from sticking to the bowl and to prevent drying out as it rises.
Cover your bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough double in size. This takes about 1 hour, however timing varies depending on the temperature and humidity present where you’re baking (a warmer room allows dough to rise faster).
Step 4: Prep Baking Tray, Water Bath and Toppings
Once the dough has risen (or almost done), begin preparing a baking tray by covering it with a piece of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Sprinkle cornmeal onto the paper or mat. Cornmeal provides a classic texture to the bottom of these homemade bagels (traditionally it’s used to prevent bagels from sticking to the tray but that’s not a concern when using parchment paper).
Get the water bath prepped by filling a large pot with 8 cups of water and ¼ cup of maple syrup. This water bath helps create the nice, golden brown outer layer or “crust” of the bagels. Sugar from the syrup helps bagels brown.
It’s also a good idea to preheat the oven to 400 °F and have toppings and soy milk ready.
Step 5: Shape Bagels and Boil
When the dough has fully risen, boil the water bath then lower the heat to medium, keeping the water at a rolling simmer.
Cut the bagel dough into 8 equal pieces. Grab one piece and roll it into a ball with your hand. Poke a hole in the middle of the dough ball and begin shaping the bagel by pulling outwards from the hole.
The bagel dough is very springy, so stretch out the bagel larger than you would like as it quickly returns to a smaller size.
Once the bagel is shaped, carefully lower it into the water bath. Cook for 1 minute on each side.
To remove the bagel, use a slotted spoon to pick up each bagel and allow excess water to drip back into the pot. Transfer the bagel onto your cornmeal covered baking tray.
Repeat for all bagels.
Step 6: Top Bagels and Bake
Once all bagels have boiled and are resting on the baking tray, turn off the water bath heat.
Lightly brush soy milk onto the tops of each bagel then add your toppings. I’ve used a homemade vegan everything bagel seasoning mix (see recipe notes below to make this seasoning).
When the bagels are topped, bake on the center rack of your oven for 12-15 minutes. The bottom and sides should be browned (and the tops if you can see them through the toppings).
Remove your bagels from the oven and allow to cool slightly before eating. If you’d like to cut the bagels for toasting, it’s best to let them cool completely otherwise they’ll be too soft.
Serve with vegan butter, vegan cream cheese or anything else you enjoy on bagels!
Plant-based Bagel Tips and Variations
The most important consideration with this recipe is to use bread flour. Other types of flour won’t create this delicious homemade bagel recipe.
You can use any toppings you like. This recipe provides options for poppy seed, sesame or everything bagel seasoning. To create an onion bagel, add 2-3 tablespoons of chopped dry onion to the dough as you knead it. The dry onion will have time to rehydrate as the dough rises to create the best flavor.
Other bagel variations you can try with this recipe are:
- Blueberry bagels
- Cinnamon raisin bagels
- Jalapeno cheddar bagels (use vegan cheese shreds!)
- Sundried tomato bagels
How to Refrigerate and Freeze Homemade Bagels
Let the bagels cool completely before storing in an airtight container (or bag). They’re fine to sit on the counter for up to 4 days but can also be kept in the fridge for a week.
If you’d like to freeze this recipe, cool the finished bagels completely before adding to a freezer bag. They can last in the freezer up to 3 months.
If you’d like, you can also freeze the dough and cook extra bagels later. Wrap the kneaded dough (that hasn’t risen yet) in plastic wrap then place into an airtight bag. It can be frozen for up to 2 months.
To cook, place the frozen ball of dough into the fridge to thaw out overnight. The next day, transfer the dough to a bowl and follow the steps above to allow it to rise and then proceed with cooking!
If you leave the dough in the fridge too long, it will start to rise even with the cold temperature. If this happens to you, simply proceed with the recipe from the point where the dough has risen.
If you make this recipe, please rate and comment below to help others benefit from your experience!
Vegan Bagels (Everything, Onion, Poppy Seed and Sesame)
- 8 cups water , hot
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup cornmeal
- ⅓ cup soy milk
- 4 tablespoons toppings (poppy seed, sesame seed, dry chopped onion, etc. see notes for everything bagel seasoning recipe)
- Add lukewarm water to a large bowl. Lukewarm water is 100-110 °F and feels warm to the touch but isn’t steaming.1 ½ cups water
- Stir maple syrup into the lukewarm water.1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Sprinkle active dry yeast into the water.2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- Allow yeast to sit for 5-10 minutes, until foamy.
- Add salt and bread flour. Stir until a dough ball forms.1 ½ teaspoons salt, 4 cups bread flour
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5-8 minutes, until the dough is smooth. Add 1-2 tablespoons of extra bread flour at a time, as needed. The dough will feel tacky but shouldn’t stick to your hands to the point where pieces come off.
- Spray some oil into the large bowl and place the kneaded dough in. Lightly coat the top of the dough with oil (prevents drying).oil spray
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow dough to double in size, about 1 hour.
- Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 400 °F.
- Prep a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. You may want to use 2 trays with 4 bagels on each as the bagels are quite large.
- Sprinkle cornmeal across the parchment paper. This prevents the bagels from sticking (although they wouldn’t stick to parchment paper much) and add an important texture to the bottoms of the bagels.¼ cup cornmeal
- Once the dough has doubled in size, prep the water bath by mixing hot water with maple syrup in a large pot. Bring the water to a boil, over high heat, then lower the heat to medium and simmer.8 cups water, ¼ cup maple syrup
- Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and begin shaping bagels in batches of 2-3 (depending on how many fit into the pot of water at a time).
- Take one piece of dough in your hand and roll it into a ball. Pinch a hole in the center of this ball and stretch the dough outwards from the center, forming a flattened disc shape.
- Once the bagel is shaped, place it into the simmering water and cook for 1 minute on each side.
- Once cooked, scoop the bagel out with a slotted spoon and allow excess water to drip back into the pot for a few seconds before transferring to the cornmeal coating baking tray.
- Repeat with all the bagels.
- Once all bagels are on the baking tray, brush soy milk across the top of each bagel.⅓ cup soy milk
- Next, sprinkle a generous amount of everything bagel seasoning (see recipe in notes below) or simply top with sesame seeds or poppy seeds, depending on which type of bagel you prefer.4 tablespoons toppings
- Bake the bagels for 12-15 minutes, until the tops and bottoms are browned (may not see browning on top if covered in seeds).
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before cutting and serving.
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes and easy-to-understand nutrition science.