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. 5 stars
    A perfect recipe for today! We had an ice storm last night and the whole family is home for the day, including a little girl who loves bagels and baking. We will try making them together today. What a charming adventure your childhood was, Aimee!

  2. Amanda G. says

    Don’t know why, but I’ve always been too frightened to try making bagels. After this, I’m gonna give it a shot. You make it seem effortless!

  3. You paint such good pictures with your words… My earliest bking memory wS making peanut butter cookies with my grandma. She was the family member who taught me to bake and is responsible for me being able to make cinnamon pie crust strips for family functions. I think of her every time I smell A/P flour (since I use wheat flour for most of the things that I cook and bake now).

    I haven’t tackled bagels yet but am glad to have your recipe for when I do plan in doing this. I think it’ll be a rainy day activity for me and my 2 year old to help make memories and our bellies full. Thank you for sharing the recipe and story.

  4. Homemade bagels are always the best and these ones look and sound terrific!

  5. I don’t comment much anymore as compared to the early days of Simple Bites, but I did want to take the time to comment on your story-telling. I’ve enjoyed reading your blogs and watching your writing skills take off. I’m not sure what’s different, but lately your stories take me away from the computer screen and pull me into your world… I love it! As always, the recipe sounds (and looks!) delicious. 🙂

    • You’ve always been such a faithful commenter!!I missed you. 😉 Thanks for popping in today. I’m so blessed to have this platform to share my writing and stories with the world, but it is even more amazing when they are well received and cherished. So thank you!

  6. Such charming memories you paint – my childhood spent on subways amid skyscrapers was far opposite!

    The bagels sound great, adding them to the list, for my aspiring youngest baker!

  7. OMG i love these!! These bagels looks so good, wow!!

  8. Those are beautiful!! Now all I need is a big shmeer of cream cheese.

  9. Aimee, I love ww bagels and look forward to a good rainy (or snowy day) with some time and kids around to make them. But I love more the story of your childhood. I love that you grew up with this experience of running a business and responsibility – especially doing something you love and take so much pride in. As you well note, so different from the Friday night experiences of many preteens. I hope to give my children a similar take on where to put their energies and time.

    • Thanks for reading, Sarah. I never thought of it that way, but yes, I suppose it did teach us some numbers and budgeting at an early age.

  10. The bagels look perfect!

  11. This is soooo fun! I can’t wait to try these 🙂

  12. I love this post – and the gorgeous pictures have now made me hungry . . . for bagels. Unfortunately for me, I found my way to the kitchen only in adulthood, but I am amazed at the dedication and hard work you were already putting into the kitchen at such a young age. Wow! You always amaze me Aimee – I don’t think you are any older than I am, yet I still feel like I want to be like you when I grow up.

    I’ve made bagels before, though none quite as pretty as this. I’m going to try again soon – these look perfect!

  13. Yum! I absolutely love homemade bagels, and surprisingly not that difficult to make 🙂 My mom was a huge baker growing up. One of my earliest childhood memories and smelling the oatmeal bread that she used to bake each week for us. And I think that I started helping her mix and measure very early on. It is something that I am hoping to pass onto my kids, my love of cooking and baking which my mother gave me, and my nana gave her.

  14. mmm there is nothing like the smell of fresh baked bread that makes me feel more at home! Your pre-teen years sounds AMAZING to me!! I would have loved to do that with my family!

  15. these look amazing!! I just want it slathered in cream cheese!

  16. You baked for the Sunday Farmer’s Market?? How cool! These bagels look perfect!

  17. I could go for these right now! Great recipe!!

  18. I have always wanted to bake my own bagels – these look delicioussss

  19. I don’t have a standing mixer, could I use my food processor or a different method to mix up the dough? Please let me know, one of my goals for the year is to begin learning how to make yeast bread and these seem like a good place to start. Thanks. 🙂

  20. I loved your story!! And the bagels look wonderful! I have always wondered how to make bagels and my try these for the wheat eaters in our house.

  21. Oh these look wonderful! One more yeasty thing to make here. I already make all our bread, tortillas, and english muffins. These would be fun to add in over the weekend. As if I didn’t have enough on my plate transplanting seedlings, making bread for the next week, making yogurt for the next week, laundry and cleaning! But these simply must be tried. Thank you for sharing your recipe and story with us!

  22. I’ve never made bagels but now I’m motivated to give it a try some time. Maybe even some mini sizes for the kids. Yum!

  23. I wish my sister and I baked together as kids!! We made cookies but nothing as fabulous as bagels! I’m going to drag her into the kitchen next time we are both home – sister bonding 🙂 And then we can eat them and slater them in cream cheese and smoked salmon 🙂

  24. 5 stars
    Beautiful story. I love baking. There is nothing better than warm and soft bagels, rolls or pies…Yum. These bagels are just amazing, especially those with sesame. I am glad that weekend is here I am so going to make these.

  25. Max has been begging me to buy bagels for the past couple weeks and it keeps slipping my mind. I just found our weekend baking project! He’s already stoked about it. 🙂

    I love reading about your childhood and life. You have such a beautiful way of capturing the essence of the moment. I always feel like I’m there right along with you. 🙂 I lived in the NWT for a couple years when I was in elementary school. My dad had to travel over 1000 km to Whitehorse just to get my brother a pair of glasses. Up there we were practically neighbours! 😉

  26. Too cool! I’d love to try making my own bagels and your recipe looks like the perfect starting point. Thanks, Aimee!

  27. Thank you for sharing such an awesome childhood memory. That sure was a lot of hard work! When I worked at a bakery a few years back the owner paid her kids a nickel for every loaf they produced. They would tire of it quickly and go play in the dining area. 🙂 I would love to try these guys one day!

  28. They look lovely, Aimee.

  29. Perfect bagels, Aimee!
    And congrats on the Saveur nomination! So well deserved 🙂

  30. My earliest baking memories are of watching my mom make bread for our family. She made 36 loaves every other week to satisfy and fill the stomachs of six growing boys and two girls. I watched her put the ingredients into her old Bosch mixer and then my sister and I would alternate who got to stand on a chair and watch the mixer knead the dough. Then that batch went into a massive bowl to rise while mom cleaned up a bit. When it was time to knead the dough again mom let me and my sister help pound each loaf with our little fists. Of course mom was better at it than we were but we were flattered to participate. Then into the loaf pans to rise went the dough and mom began a new batch. I love the smell of yeast breads; it is home and that small kitchen in our old 1912 era home where mom made sure we knew we mattered.

    Thank you for sharing your bagel recipe. I spent some time majoring in culinary arts in college and seeing your pictures of fresh bagels brings back all those early-morning-bakery-hours memories. Thank you, thank you.

  31. Aimee, I love hearing your stories about your life journey… Can just picture you and your sister Haidi baking. Thanks for another great recipe!

  32. Wow, what a wonderful way to spend your teen years! Such nice memories 🙂
    I started baking when I was about 9 or 10. My mom still talks about how I’d get the “baking bug” at 8 PM or so, and proceed to bake the night away.
    I don’t bake much now, however I just reclaimed my bread maker, so I might start baking bread again!

  33. Aimee,
    I am really enjoying your writing. You paint such a vivid picture with your words, and then your photos just enhance the stories. I’m learning how to tell stories with food photography (you won’t see any of it on my blog, the class is this month and these posts were written/photographed a while ago) and I think it’s neat how I am starting to recognize story-telling in food photos around the web. What a great post today.
    Thank you!
    Oh, and the recipe? Saving until the kids get out of braces and can join me in a bagel–since they can’t eat them I have to sneak my bagels when they aren’t looking!

  34. 5 stars
    So you didn’t have a misspent youth then, not like me!! but if i had the chance to bake bread or go out with my mates i would have chose my mates in those days. Today I would choose the bread. Great recipe.

  35. 5 stars
    A “sourdough” beard? I think you’re going to have to tell me the story behind that name as we share a homemade bagel.

  36. Thanks so much for this – I made the dough on Friday night and put it in the fridge, and had a very joyous time on Saturday morning making bagels with my 14 year old son – PRECIOUS time with him, a great way to connect. he was such a help, as I got two pots going (made a double batch). we are all bagelling here!

  37. What a wondrous childhood, it sounds so lovely 🙂 I love honey whole wheat bagels!

  38. I can’t wait to try these! Thanks, Aimee!!

  39. These sound delicious!

    Any thoughts on using all whole spelt flour? I don’t tend to use white and have had a lot of baking success just substituting for whole spelt… but I have no experience with bagels.

  40. 5 stars
    Amazing recipe! I’ve always wanted to attempt to make bagels as store bought ones never are filling nor feel as if they were prepared with love. I stayed up all night to make these and created my own cocoa cinnamon raisin twist to them along with topping them with garlic and cayenne. Brilliant. If I wanted to freeze the dough to make the bagels at a later date after which step should that be done? After I make the dough and allow it to rise for an hour or so, or should it be after i shape the bagels?

    P.S. FYI your website has been my homepage for almost 2 years now, keep doing what you’re doing! Much love!

  41. 5 stars
    This is my first time commenting but I wanted to thank you for this recipe. I have had a stressful week (as so many of us have) and decided to try to release some of that stress by trying out your recipe. I’d never made a bread product with yeast before, so watching the dough rise, watching the bagels boil, seeing them brown was amazing. Plus, they taste absolutely delicious. Thanks for the stress relief, I needed it and it is much appreciated :).

  42. These bagels look delightful! I can’t wait to try them!

  43. 5 stars
    I made this for my three small children and picky husband and everyone gobbled them up, looking for seconds. Crispy outside and so nice inside. I used hemp hearts as a topping which worked very well. Thanks!!!

  44. this recipe is very different from the one i saw on youtube. there they give the bagels a quick broil before boiling them….i am following your recipe and is not working that well and they dont look like the pictures….:(

  45. So I guess you dont weigh any of this out then. But these sound great. How big do your bagels turn out?

  46. Do you ever let it bulk ferment for longer? Do you think your recipe would do well with say basil pesto and cheese?

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