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golden brown bagels with various toppings.
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5 from 2 votes

Overnight Sourdough Bagels

This homemade bagel recipe makes the most flavorful and chewy bagels with the help of a sourdough starter. The bagels proof overnight in the refrigerator which allows for a rich flavor to develop. You can easily add any toppings you'd like to create unique flavors of sourdough bagels. This recipe will teach you about the science of bagel making and how to create bakery-worthy bagels in your home kitchen.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time25 mins
Resting Time1 d 2 hrs
Total Time1 d 3 hrs 25 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegetarian
Servings: 12 bagels
Calories: 252kcal
Author: Jessica Mode



  • Whisk water, sourdough starter, and 17 grams of molasses in a medium bowl until combined.
  • In a separate large bowl combine bread flour and salt. Combine the wet ingredients with the flour using your hands or a bowl scraper just until a shaggy dough forms.
  • On a clean, unfloured surface, remove the dough from the bowl. Begin kneading the dough by hand for a full 15 minutes (don’t cut this time short). You'll know the dough is done kneading when it is flexible and bouncy to the touch. To check that you've kneaded long enough, grab a piece of dough between your fingers, stretch it, and see the web fibers that have developed. You should be able to pull the dough thin enough that light shines through. If your dough rips as soon as you start pulling, you need to keep kneading the dough. You want the dough to be able to stretch rather than tear.
  • Turn the oven to 200°F. Place the dough in a clean glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise on top of the warm oven (not in the oven) until it’s doubled in size, about 7-8 hours. The time it takes to double in size can vary depending on the climate and temperature of your house.
  • Prepare two baking sheets generously sprinkled with cornmeal.
  • Punch down the risen dough a few times to release some of the gas that formed. On a clean, unfloured surface, remove the dough from the bowl. Using a bench scraper, divide the dough into pieces weighing about 107g each.
  • Working with one piece of dough at a time, and keeping the others covered with a tea towel, roll the dough into a ball. Push through the center of the ball using both thumbs to make a hole. Then, continue to stretch the bagel out until it reaches about 4 inches across. Be sure not to flatten the bagel too much throughout this process. Place completed bagels 2 inches apart on the previously prepared baking sheets and cover with a tea towel. Repeat until all pieces of the dough have been shaped.
  • Securely and completely cover the bagels with plastic wrap so they don't dry out. Allow dough to proof overnight in the refrigerator for 12-18 hours.
  • Arrange the oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Place a pizza stone on each of the racks, then heat oven to 450°F. Allow the oven and pizza stones to preheat for at least 30 minutes.
  • Fill a shallow stockpot or dutch oven about halfway full with lukewarm water. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator. They will have puffed up slightly overnight. To test that the bagels have proofed long enough, gently place the bagel in the lukewarm water. If it floats, the bagels are ready to go. Pat the bagel dry and return it back to the covered baking sheets until the water begins to boil. If it sinks, allow the bagels to sit at room temperature, still covered, until they float. Check every 15 minutes until they float.
  • Once the bagels float, begin to boil the water over high heat in the stockpot. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add in molasses, a tablespoon at a time, until the water is dark brown.
  • Gently place as many bagels into the boiling water as will comfortably fit without over crowding the dutch oven. Allow the bagels to boil for 30 seconds on the first side, then flip and boil for an additional 30 seconds on the second side. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bagel from the boiling water and place on a wire rack to cool. Repeat until all of the bagels have been boiled. While the bagels are still wet, add any desired toppings.
  • Carefully, remove the hot pizza stones from the oven. Transfer the cornmeal from the original baking sheets to the hot pizza stone to prevent sticking. Place bagels on the stone about 2 inches apart. Bake for 22 - 25 minutes, rotating shelves halfway through until bagels are deeply browned and shiny on top. Keep an eye on your bagels (without opening the oven door) to ensure they're not getting too dark. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.


BAKING SCHEDULE: In order to make the sourdough bagels, here is the schedule I follow:
  • Day 1 - 10:00 pm: Feed sourdough starter.
  • Day 2 - 8:00 am: Mix bagel dough. Then cover and allow to rise in a warm area until doubled in size, about 7-8  hours. The time it takes to double in size can vary depending on the climate and temperature of your house.
  • Day 2 - 4:00 pm: Divide and shape bagel dough. Cover and allow the dough to proof overnight in the refrigerator for 12 - 18 hours.
  • Day 3 - 8:00 am: Preheat the oven and pizza stones. Boil the bagels.
  • Day 3 - 8:30 am: Cook and cool the bagels.
STORAGE: Bagels can be stored for up to 4-6 days in an airtight container at room temperature. I suggest toasting to reheat. Bagels can also be frozen for up to 6 months. I suggest slicing them in half before you freeze them. Then, you can pop the frozen bagel straight into the toaster. Check out this article for the best bagel storage tips.


Calories: 252kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 327mg | Potassium: 87mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg