Homemade Sourdough Bagels

homemade bagels - Rusty Plow Farms blog

During the 2020 COVID pandemic, many of us began making our own sourdough starters and took on home baking due to a shortage of yeast and other baking supplies. “Globert” has been my kitchen pet since then.

In early 2023, a health diagnosis required us to begin a low-sodium diet. I found that one of the highest sources of sodium in our diet comes from commercially made baked products, so I accepted the challenge to create my low-sodium bagels and bread using my sourdough starter. This recipe is the result of months of trial and error. I make this recipe weekly, so any time my bagels don’t turn out well is usually due to Globert being overhydrated. If my starter seems to be watery, I add another pinch or two of flour during the dough-making process.

Even though this bagel recipe uses sourdough, additional yeast is still needed. Bagel dough is quite dense and the sourdough starter alone isn’t usually strong enough to give the bagels the needed lift without the added yeast.

If you do not need a low-sodium bagel, you can add an additional 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the dough for more flavor. If you do add more salt, you may also need to add some additional yeast, since salt regulates the rising activity. Adding more salt without adding more yeast may result in flatter, denser bagels.


  • ¾ cup warm water
  • ½ tsp yeast
  • 2 tsp packed brown sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fed sourdough starter
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

For the water bath

  • Water
  • Non-diastatic malt powder or 2 tablespoons of brown sugar


  • Egg
  • Everything But The Salt seasoning by Mrs. Dash; ; or regular Everything Bagel seasoning (or other bagel seasoning of your choice such as poppy seeds, toasted sesame seeds, dried onion, etc.)
  1. Add the water, yeast, and brown sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the mixing paddle, stir the ingredients together for a minute. Let the yeast proof for 5 minutes.
  2. Switch the mixing paddle for the dough hook. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl. Mix and knead for 10 minutes. The dough will be stiff and should hold its shape well.
  3. After kneading, place the dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Let rise on the counter for about 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
  4. Lightly grease two baking sheets. Or place two silicone baking mats inside of the baking sheets instead. Transfer the dough to a work surface and divide it into 9 pieces. Each piece should weigh approximately 3 ounces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball and place on the baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap or damp kitchen towels and let rise for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the water bath. Fill a large, wide-diameter pot with about 3 inches of water. Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar (or 1 tsp of non-diastatic malt powder) to the water. Bring the water to a gentle boil. Preheat the oven to 375*F
  6. Working with one dough ball at a time, gently poke a hole in the middle using your index finger, then enlarge the hole to approximately 2 inches in diameter. Place the bagel into the boiling water bath. Repeat two more times. Working in batches of 3 bagels, boil them for 90 seconds, flip them over and boil for another 90 seconds. Remove the boiled bagels to the baking sheets. Repeat the rolling and boiling until all of the bagels are boiled.
  7. Mix the egg with a teaspoon of water. Brush the top and sides of each bagel with the egg mixture. If desired, sprinkle with Everthing Bagel seasoning, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or any other type of bagel topping you prefer.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until your desired browning level is reached. Remove each bagel to cool on a wire rack.
  9. Store in a sealed container after the bagels are completely cooled. They store well frozen, too.

2 thoughts on “Homemade Sourdough Bagels”

  1. These sound yummy. I also started sourdough starter during pandemic, her name is Betty 😉 Can’t wait to try your bagel recipe! Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Lori. Love your sourdough’s name, seems fitting for baking. Let me know how your bagels turn out. We are both glad to have such a yummy, low sodium option. Happy baking!

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