Honey Whole-Wheat Bagels Recipe

homemade honey whole wheat bagels on simplebites.net

The summers of my pre-teen years were spent a little differently than those of my friends. Well, weekends, anyway. There were no long gossipy phone calls, girly pyjama nights, or mall crawls.

Instead, my sister, Haidi and I spent many a Friday night dusted in flour, hair tied back, baking for the Saturday morning farmer’s market in town. We stayed up working until one or two in the morning, crossing off one item after another from our ambitious list of baked goods, and as the Yukon’s midnight sun was streaking golden colors across Lake Laberge, we would collapse into our bunk beds.

By then the counters would be lined with loaves of honey-wheat sandwich bread and glistening egg-glazed Challah. Our family’s famous Butter Tarts would be carefully packed between tea towels, and trays of sticky cinnamon buns awaited transportation.

Our pride and joy were the golden sesame-toasted bagels, with their crusty bottoms, chewey interiors, and distinctive, slightly misshapen forms. They were boiled, then baked, and a staple in our home – not just on market day.

homemade honey-whole wheat bagels on simplebites.net

In the early hours of Saturday morning, our bleary-eyed family would quickly go about our chores before leaving for the farmer’s market. My brother would milk the goats and kick apart a bale of hay for their breakfast, and my father would load our bright green Ford crew-cab with bedding plants that were to be sold. My mother would feed and dress the baby, while Haidi and I packed up our now-cooled baking, scrunched our permed hair, and rounded up a cash float in a cookie tin.

We only fully woke up on the long drive into town. Haidi and I would pass any ‘rejects’  – misshapen bagels or broken butter tarts – around the truck to eager hands, and we would chat excitedly about the upcoming day during the drive into Whitehorse, the territory’s capital city.

Rain or shine, our stall opened up shop at 8 am sharp with the presentation of our hand painted sign boasting ‘The Daisy Bakery’. Immediately we began doing brisk business, as the market keeners, dressed in lumberjack shirts and sporting the local Northern ‘sourdough’ beard, showed up early, coffee in hand, ready for a fresh bagel and a stack of gingersnaps to go.

Often we would sell out by early afternoon, and with my pocket money from the baking, I would take in a matinee with my siblings or indulge in my favorite treat, an ice cream float at the No Pop Sandwich Shop.

homemade honey whole wheat bagels on simplebites.net

Many of the recipes that painted my childhood landscape now continue to splash color throughout my everyday baking repertoire, like these honey whole-wheat bagels.

Of course, now, over twenty years later, I no longer bake to make a quick buck at a local market, instead I channel my passion for yeast and butter into sweet and savory treats for my family and friends, as well as you, my readers. My children scrub their hands, don little aprons and join me in the kitchen, where I am passing onto them a similar love of dough.

I can only hope this space occasionally inspires you to tie back your hair, wrap on an apron and get baking. Shall we?

homemade honey whole wheat bagels on simplebites.net

Honey Whole-Wheat Bagels

I’ve adapted our bagel recipe since those early baking days. Gone is the white sugar in the dough, and they are made with half whole wheat flour. While they don’t puff as prettily as they did with all-white flour, they now offer more flavor, and provide a substantial bite that I far prefer.

These beloved bagels are so much fun to make with children, from shaping the dough to slathering with butter and eating warm from the oven. They also freeze extremely well, and taste fresh-baked when reheated in the oven.

Top your bagels with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or minced raw onion before baking, or leave plain to be toasted and enjoyed with jam.

Honey Whole-Wheat Bagels

Chewy and robust, yet tender and full of flavour, these bagels are sure to become a family favourite, as they are in our home.
4.42 from 17 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Bakery
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 16 bagels
Calories: 197kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 2 1/4 cups warm water 110F
  • 2 Tablespoons yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 Tablespoon organic cane sugar or maple syrup (for the boiling water)
  • 1 beaten egg white for the glaze
  • 2 Tablespoons cornmeal for the pans


  • sea salt
  • sesame seeds
  • poppy seeds


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine warm water and yeast. Stir with a fork and leave to sit for about 10 minutes until the yeast begins to blossom.
  • Add salt, honey and whole wheat flour, Using the dough hook attachment, beat mixture for one minute on low to combine flour, then 3 minutes on high.
  • Turn off mixer and allow batter to rest for 5 minutes for the whole wheat flour to absorb the water.
  • Add the bread flour, one cup at a time, mixing dough on low. The dough will be quite soft. Knead on low for 8 minutes, stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl or the dough hook as needed.
  • Cover the mixer bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour.
  • During the rising period, prepare water in a large 4-1/2 litre pot. Bring to a boil, and add cane sugar or maple syrup (the sweetener will give the bagels a nice sheen when they come out of the water). Cover the pot and leave simmer on low. Grease 2 baking sheets with oil and sprinkle generously with cornmeal. Whisk egg white together with 1 teaspoon of water for the glaze and set aside.
  • Prepare toppings of choice - poppy seeds, sesame seeds - and reserve. Preheat oven to 450F.
  • Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and punch down. With a sharp knife, divide the dough into 16 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Allow to rest for 3-4 minutes.
  • With your thumb, press deep into the centre of the ball, and open up a hole. Twirl the bagel around your thumb, gently stretching the dough apart.
  • Place formed bagels together on the floured work surface, cover with a towel and leave until dough is slightly raised - about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring your water to a low boil.
  • Gently lift bagels, one at a time, and lower into the simmering water. Do not do more than 2 or 3 at a time. Cook for 60 seconds, give or take, then flip them over in the water using a slotted spoon, and cook for another 60 seconds.
  • Lift bagels out with the slotted spoon, and place on your baking sheet. Repeat until all the bagels are boiled.
  • Brush with the egg glaze and dress them up with the topping of your choice and a sprinkling of coarse salt before popping them in the oven.
  • Bake bagels for about 20-25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Keep an eye on them so that the bottoms don't burn. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.


Calories: 197kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 295mg | Potassium: 120mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1.1mg

Did you bake when you were a child? What is your earliest baking memory?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. I am out of bread flour and I get a little hesitant to use AP flour as a substitute. Do you think it would still be ok to use in this recipe? And if not, do you have any alternatives I could use?

  2. 4 stars
    These bagels were great!! They were so much fun to make, and I love your story behind them. I even wrote about this recipe in my blog at poshcuisine.blogspot.com if you want to check it out! (All the credit goes to you, thank you for the recipe!)

  3. Can you make this without a mixer?

    • 5 stars
      Yes you can. Use a fork for stirring, and then need by hand after adding the rest of the flour. I made them with whole wheat bread flour and can’t stop thinking of them. Really yummy

  4. I just used this tutorial (but changed the recipe, don’t worry 😉 ) to make bagels (actually my first time making any kind of yeast product!) it took me a few tries but eventually it worked SO WELL, Now my husband thinks I’m a rockstar. Thanks! Pinning 🙂

  5. Hello, I read your blogs regularly. Your humoristic style is witty, keep doing what you’re

  6. Rolly rules says


    Great recipe. Great story.

    No oil?


    Will make this and report!


  7. Love the recipe! Just wondering though, isn’t it better to proof it overnight? Or, perhaps that is only when you mix by hand, vs. a mixer?

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. 2 stars
    I felt like the instructions needed to be clearer about how sticky/not-sticky the dough should be once it’s done being kneaded. I added even extra flour, but it was still SO sticky. The bagels turned out flat and I was pretty disappointed. I am determined to do better next time, but all in all I wouldn’t rate these bagels that highly. 🙁

  9. Elizabeth says

    The bagels have an amazing texture and flavor, and it’s fun to get a picture of the warm history behind the recipe. Thank you for sharing:)!

  10. Kim Barwick says

    You have an extra cup of water in this recipe. that is probably causing the sticky/flat problems.

  11. 4 stars
    tried this recipe today, and it’s delish! i did have to add a bit of extra flour as the dough was too sticky to handle, but possibly this is because i live in a pretty humid place. it’s better than any store bought bagel i’ve ever had by a long shot!

  12. 4 stars
    I love this recipe, a few comments to help with though. Bagel baking is not for the faint of heart cooker! I bake nothing without my gas oven and baking stones. Bagels look like slimy failed miserable mess that bake into heaven. We made two different versions of the recipe. Both of great success, very sticky dough, but again it is a very wet dough to begin with. We added diced jalapeno & cheese. My family would never have eaten them, but the balance of the dough and pepperz were great! We rested the second batch of dough, not necessary did not change the texture while it waited for us. This does make a large batch, but not worth the risk to half the batch. Thanks for working it into a great recipe

  13. 4 stars
    These bagels are tasty! However, the first time I made this recipe I noticed the dough was super runny.

    The second batch I made, I used 1.5 tbsp of sugar to help the yeast blossom, and used the remaining 1.5 tbsp as honey for the dough. Also added approx. 1 extra cup of flour.

    I ended up sprinkling some with sea salt, others with sugar + cinnamon, leaving a couple poppyseed bagels, and a couple more as plain.

  14. going to try this out today… looks amazing

  15. 4 stars
    Hi, Aimee… greetings from Indonesia!
    Thanks for posting this recipe. I’ve tried this recipe twice by hand and the resulting bagels turned out great! I should confess that I thought I was gonna fail when the dough was so sticky. But I succeed! I made some for my husband’s teacher and she loves it!
    Thanks you!

  16. Hi Aimee,
    Do I need the bread flour in this recipe or can I just use whole wheat flour? I was thinking about using White Whole Wheat flour.
    Thank you,

  17. Krysta wolfangel says

    4 stars
    These came out pretty good :). I made a half batch for kids and husband. My favorite were the jalapeno cheddar. The plain were very good too :). My issue was the burning on the bottoms. I lowers the temp to 400 on the second batch and the bottoms were less brown.

  18. Hammerhead80 says

    Baked this three tikes. My first baking experience. The wife, in laws and our kids seem to like alot. Thank you!

  19. Hiba Ahmad says

    Thank you so much for this recipe. It tastes so good and so similar to what I used to have in the U.S.
    you definitely helped me put a big smile on my family’s face as they were shocked to how good it turned out.

  20. Thanksgiving is my favorite says

    5 stars
    Super tasty. I don’t think I’ll do sesame seeds with the sweetness of whole wheat again though.

    I’m surprised everyone else was saying their dough was runny! I measured my water carefully, used freshly ground white wheat, and ended up leaving out *at least* a cup and a half of (all purpose) white flour. The texture of the bagels turned out amazing though. I’m planning on making blueberry next week…

  21. At the top you say cook for 15 min and in the instructions you say 25-30 min. I learned that 15 min is correct. I also have some quite dark brown bagels.

  22. I usually find the jibber jabber at the beginning of a recipe blog so boring and never read it, but this story of your childhood and now baking with your kids was wonderful. Thank you for bringing a little joy to my day with young kids:) Now to try the recipe!

  23. Gary R Hook says

    Flour should never be specified by volume, only by weight. And that value may depend upon the brand.

    These came out rather dense; I’m unsure as to why there isn’t more time allowed for a rise after shaping into balls, and again after forming the rings (like every other bagel recipe I have been using)? That is a mistake I won’t make again.

    The flavor is pretty good, but lacks salt. The boil for a bagel typically includes salt and a syrup, so I’ll be changing that next time, too.

    No rating yet, but I think there’s some promise here.

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