The Gluten-Free Skeptic: The Best Gluten-Free Bagel Recipes So Far

If you have been gluten-free (GF) for a hot second you’ll know that the bagels in stores are either cruddy, lifeless bread rolls with a hole in the middle, are stupidly expensive, or (most of the time) it’s both. I have yet to find a single GF bagel that even vaguely reminds me of a bagel. So, I turned to my kitchen, floured up my hands, and got to work. Our pantry has been taken over from this escapade, and I think I may have finally found a good recipe, or two!

Just interested in the recipes? Skip straight to them.

What is The Gluten-Free Skeptic?

The Gluten Free Skeptic is a new series where I (a gluten eater, but GF supporter) try to find the best of the best in terms of GF for those that maybe forgot what gluten even tastes like. I think this gives the little series a really fun advantage. I usually make a gluten-filled version of whatever I’m trying to really make sure the gluten-free version is everything I hyped it up to be.

Now… BAGELS

gluten free bagels recipe 4

Now, I’m not here to argue about what a New York bagel should be. I’m not here to debate toasting or not, or to tell you to add schmear (cream cheese). Frankly, I don’t care how you like your bagel, this is about getting to eat something that could actually be entered into a bagel competition, unlike the imposters they try to pass off on to us in stores.

While doing this, we (Derek and I) didn’t find it super hard to decide if something was bagel-y enough. It was pretty obvious when a recipe was garbage. This made this whole ordeal both easy and hard. It was easy to determine a good recipe, and hard because I had to burn through seven of them to even start to see the bagel light at the end of the tunnel. Also, if you’re wondering, no, I don’t want bagels for a very long time, and yes, my freezer is full of the darn things.

What Qualities Make Up a Bagel:

gluten free bagels recipe 3

When looking up what makes a bagel a bagel, I ran into some conflicting points of view. I then reminded myself how the bagels in the store tasted and realized the bar was set pretty low. Here are the qualities we found ourselves looking for and comparing to when taste testing.

Chewiness: We both agreed that the main difference between a circle of bread with a hole in the middle and a bagel was chew. This admittedly was the hardest quality to find in all walks of GF bagels.

Moistness: There were a lot of bagels that came back as dry as a good wine and others that were so moist they were soggy the next day (bleh). The distinct difference is that bagels normally have a very low water content compared to most bread meaning a very moist bagel wouldn’t do.

Crust: One thing we knew we needed was a distinctive crust. This was probably the hardest thing to achieve next to adequate chew. I found it impossible to get a recipe that guaranteed a crackly crust like an NY bagel. So, if that’s what you’re here for you might as well pack up and go home. I did want to have a ‘hard’ crust on the outside, meaning that there was a distinct difference between the crust and the chewy inside of the bagel. This was again, not easy to achieve, but with the help of an egg wash it came pretty close.

Easiness: Who doesn’t love an easy recipe that tastes good? I thought that it would be best to include and try out recipes that marketed themselves as easier, this didn’t really work out for me. A lot of the easy recipes were just plain nasty, but I did include one recipe that was really close to being a bagel because it didn’t need five different flours and crazy weird ingredients you never heard of until today. So even though the recipe wasn’t perfect, I thought it was important to include because it was pretty decent.

Accessibility: I wanted to make sure I provided a recipe that almost anyone could do almost anywhere in the world. This meant not relying on a pre-made flour blend. Also, I tried a few with pre-made flour blends and decided my self-confidence couldn’t handle another failure.

That’s it, not a super hard list of things, but yet it took days of baking and a few tears to finally find something decent.

Recipe #1

gluten free bagels recipe 2

This is my most recommended recipe. In terms of a yeast-based bread product, this is easy to make. It’ll probably take you a couple hours from start to finish, but there’s no overnight shenanigans and crazy kneading like other bread products. This recipe does require you to make your own flour blend, but I think it’s worth it.

When I first made this recipe, it was way too moist in the center (almost like a good cake). This caused the bagel to be a little more bread-like than I wanted. I also had a hard time following all their instructions because it over-watered my yeast and it didn’t rise as nicely as I would’ve liked. So I made some minor changes to the ingredients and process.

This bagel is chewy, has a bit of a crust (could have been better), and is a little more flexible in some steps than other recipes I’ve tried. Overall, this is the only GF bagel-y thing I’ve had all week. I think the chew could be a bit better, and I’m still looking for something that is a bit closer to the gluten version I tried.

The Best Gluten-Free Bagels #1

  • Servings: 6 Bagels
  • Difficulty: Hard (it's a baked good, what'd you expect?)
  • Print

Warm, chewy, and delicious gluten-free bagels that aren't just circle of bread with a hole in the middle.

Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.

We live in a dryer climate, so I had to take certain precautions to make sure the dough didn’t dry out.

I can’t guarantee your recipe will work if you don’t use the same flour blend I did. GF flours are all very different and can’t always be used in place of others. I used Bob’s Red Mill for all my flours and starches.

Ingredients

  • 383 grams of Gluten-Free Flour Blend:
      • 218g white rice flour
      • 68g brown rice flour
      • 64g potato starch not flour
      • 27g tapioca starch/flour (it’s the same thing)
      • 7g dry low-fat milk powder (very good for flavor)
      • 57 grams gluten-free oat flour
  • Water (we use this several times so I’m just going to put the measurement at the time of use)
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (salt can stop yeast production, which means no rise)
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons powdered, unflavored psyllium husk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 egg for optional egg wash

Directions

1. Create a proofing box. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 200°F. Place an oven-safe pan/bowl filled with about a cup of water (or whatever) into the oven. When the oven is preheated, turn it off and do not open the door. Do not move on to next steps until the oven has preheated and been turned off, this will make sure it’s not too hot by the time the dough is ready to proof.

2. Prepare sheet pan. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with oil.

3. Make the flour blend and mix all dry ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer measure out the white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, milk powder, oat flour, psyllium husk, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum. Using a paddle attachment, mix together the dry ingredients on low.

4. Prepare yeast. In a small bowl, add 2/3 cup warm water (water should be between 110-115°F, or according to the yeast’s instructions), add in sugar and yeast and mix. Leave the mixture to sit and bubble for five minutes. The yeast should bubble like crazy and have a good head on it (like a beer). If your yeast does not do this your water was too hot or cold or your yeast is dead/bad. Do not use a yeast mixture that didn’t bubble during this process, your bagels will not rise. Move on to next steps while yeast sits.

5. Mix butter and molasses. Melt the butter using your preferred method and add in the molasses. Set aside until the yeast is ready.

6. Prepare water. Once the yeast is done bubbling, get 1 cup of warm water into a measuring cup or something with a spout. You will probably only use 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of water, but have it ready just in case.

7. Mix. Still using the stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add in the butter and molasses mixture to the dry ingredients you prepared in step 2. Mix on medium to low speed. Give the butter mixture 10 seconds to quickly incorporate and start slowly adding in the yeast mixture. It should take 20-30 seconds to get it all in. Give your stand mixer about a minute to fully absorb the yeast mixture. You will now add the water in small increments to get the dough finished. Give the dough plenty of time to completely absorb and distribute the water before adding more (30-45 seconds). You do not want to add too much water in this step. I used 3/4 cup of water. Your dough should be like a soft play-doh when you’re done (soft, pliable, and just slightly moist but not wet). If it feels dry or crumbly add more water. DO NOT add more than 1 cup of water. Give the dough 1-2 minutes to finish ‘kneading’ once all the water is in (if you are adding a flavor like cinnamon and raisins to the whole dough, add them here). This process should have taken you 6-10 minutes to fully complete.

8. Shape into bagels. Divide the dough into 6 pieces (I used a scale). Cover the balls of dough with a wet paper towel to prevent drying out while you work. Get a small bowl of water with warm to room temperature water. On a clean and dry surface start shaping your dough:

  1. If you want to add several different flavors (i.e. a few cinnamon raisin, some cranberry and orange zest, or whatever else) this is the stage to do that. You can add the ingredients to each individual ball of dough and give them a quick knead. For seasonings and seeds on top, you will sprinkle them on after the bagels boil.
  2. Start by balling your dough and trying to get it smooth. I do this by quickly rolling my dough into a ball. I then place my dough against the surface I’m working on, cup it with one hand and apply some pressure while I roll it against the surface for a few seconds. The dough will become UFO shaped and flat. I then flip it over and repeat this process. The dough should now be significantly more smooth.

    rolling dough 1
    Sorry about the unaesthetic layout. It was late, but I thought some visual was better than none so Y’all better appreciate!
  3. After the dough is smooth, I begin to roll it out. Using your hands carefully start rolling the dough into a 9-inch snake. Work slowly and try not to ‘stretch’ the dough while doing this or you will create lines and rips that we just worked on removing. I like to put more pressure on the dough from above and work my way down the ‘snake’ rather than trying to stretch it horizontally. Try to keep the dough as uniform as possible and do not taper ends.
  4. Start forming a circle. Wet about 1 inch of one end with water. Bring the two ends of the dough together overlapping about 1/2-1 inch. Start pinching the two doughs together around the outside. You don’t want to pinch the whole end super hard making it thin in that area, you instead want to pinch around the outside of the two ends joining them together. Once the ends are joined and pinched, lightly roll that section of the dough against your surface using two fingers, flip the dough and repeat. This is to fully seal the ends and eliminate the lines as much as possible.Wetting and shaping doughshaping bagel 1.gif
  5. To even out the circle, place one to two fingers inside the hole and lightly cup your other hand underneath the dough to support it. Start lightly pinching/squeezing the dough to make it slightly thinner, then rotate slightly and squeeze again. Keep rotating and squeezing until your dough has become uniformly thinned and the hole should be larger. You want the hole in the middle to be about 1 1/2-2 inches large (it will close as it rises/bakes).shaping bagel 2
  6. Place the circle of dough down, and working with a wet finger start smoothing out the top of the dough. You may have to wet your finger several times. Once the dough is smooth and slightly wet on top, transfer it to your baking sheet prepared in step 1 and cover with a large piece of plastic wrapwetting dough
  7. Continue to form all the balls of dough, working quickly and placing them on the baking sheet (space them apart when placing as they will rise and increase 50% in size).

9. Proof. Once all the bagels have been shaped, place the bagels in the oven. The oven should be slightly warm on the inside but you should be able to touch the oven rack with your bare hand (if not, it’s too hot and you need to leave it open until it is cooler). Leave the water in the oven. Leave the dough in the oven for 30 minutes  (it should look 50% bigger).

10. Prepare a water bath. Once the bagels have finished proofing, remove them and the water from the oven. Place the bagels off to the side still covered with plastic wrap. Preheat your oven to 425°F. In a large pot, bring 12-16 cups (not that important, just a lot) of water to a boil. Add in 2 teaspoons baking soda.

11. Boil bagels. Once the water is at a rolling boil (keep it at a rolling boil for this whole process), start placing bagels one at a time into the water. I like to place my bagels in using a slotted spatula top-side down (meaning the top of the bagel will be the side in the water first). After seven seconds gently roll the bagel onto the other side for an additional seven seconds. Remove the bagel from the water and place onto your baking sheet with the top up. Repeat this process with all bagels. Once all bagels have boiled you can add the seasoning/seeds/whatever to the top of the still moist dough if you are not doing an egg wash.

12. Egg wash (optional). If you would like your bagels to be shinier and have a more defined/golden brown crust, add an egg wash (just whisk a whole egg with a splash of water and brush onto the tops of the bagels). This isn’t necessary, I tried it both ways and didn’t notice a substantial difference besides looks. If you add an egg wash, sprinkle on your seasoning/seeds/whatever after the egg wash.

13. Bake. Bake the bagels for 20 minutes or until they are set up and cooked through. Since they are GF they will not brown (unless you have an egg wash).

14. Enjoy! Once the bagels have finished cooking let cool for at least 20-30 minutes then rip into them!

15. Storing. To store, I would recommend freezing them after they have completely cooled after an hour or two. They don’t really store well in a bag or anything. For peak freshness, slice all bagels and place a sheet of wax paper in between the bagel tops and bottoms and put into a freezer safe container or bag. To reheat either place in a low-temperature oven until warm or toast in a toaster (they will toast/get crunchy when toasted, but they will not brown).

Recipe #2

gluten free bagels recipe

This recipe only uses two flours which I thought was perfect for those new to GF baking that may have not accumulated as many flours and whatnot as I have. I also think this recipe is easy because you don’t have to make a whole flour blend before even getting into the recipe. This recipe is like a bagel, it is close to and reminiscent of a bagel, but I wouldn’t say it’s perfect. The original recipe was more the texture of Pão de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) than a bagel. This was due to the mass amounts of tapioca flour (the only flour used in Pão de Queijo). I switched up the flour ratios and it is a bit closer to a bagel, but still is very chewy.

The Best Gluten-Free Bagels #2

  • Servings: 6 Bagels
  • Difficulty: Hard (it's a baked good, what'd you expect?)
  • Print

Very chewy gluten-free bagels with a good crust.

Recipe adapted from Wheat-Free.org.

We live in a dryer climate, so I had to take certain precautions to make sure the dough didn’t dry out.

I can’t guarantee your recipe will work if you don’t use the same flour blend I did. GF flours are all very different and can’t always be used in place of others. I used Bob’s Red Mill for all my flours and starches.

Ingredients

  • 200 g white rice flour (+ more for sprinkling and to add if the dough is too wet)
  • 80 g tapioca flour/starch
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon agave syrup (or honey)
  • 100 mL warm (110-115°F) water + 50mL hot water
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (salt can stop yeast production, which means no rise)
  • 1 large egg (+ 1 egg for optional egg wash)
  • 1/2 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

1. Create a proofing box. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 200°F. Place an oven-safe pan/bowl filled with about a cup of water (or whatever) into the oven. When the oven is preheated, turn it off and do not open the door. Do not move on to next steps until the oven has preheated and been turned off, this will make sure it’s not too hot by the time the dough is ready to proof.

2. Prepare sheet pan. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with oil.

3. Mix all dry ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer measure out the white rice flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, and salt. Using a paddle attachment, mix together the dry ingredients on low.

4. Prepare yeast. In a small bowl, add 100mL warm water (water should be between 110-115°F, or according to the yeast’s instructions), add in the 1 teaspoon agave and yeast and mix. Leave the mixture to sit and bubble for five minutes. The yeast should bubble like crazy and have a good head on it (like a beer). If your yeast does not do this your water was too hot or cold or your yeast is dead/bad. Do not use a yeast mixture that didn’t bubble during this process, your bagels will not rise. Move on to next steps while yeast sits.

5. Mix butter, water, and agave. Melt the butter using the hot water and add in the agave. Set aside until the yeast is ready.

6. Mix. Still using the stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add in the butter mixture and one egg to the dry ingredients. Mix on medium to low speed. Give the butter mixture 30 seconds to quickly incorporate and start slowly adding in the yeast mixture. It should take 30-60 seconds to get it all in. Give your stand mixer about a minute to fully absorb the yeast mixture. Once the dough seems uniformly mixed, test it to see if you need to add in more white rice flour. Take a small piece of dough and roll it between your fingers. It should easily form a ball and lightly stick to your fingers leaving a small amount of dough stuck to your finger. I had to add about a tablespoon of white rice flour. Once you have tested your dough and got it to a good place, give the dough 4-6 minutes to finish ‘kneading’ (if you are adding a flavor like cinnamon and raisins to the whole dough, add them here). This process should have taken you 6-10 minutes to fully complete.

8. Shape into bagels. Divide the dough into 6 pieces (I used a scale). Cover the balls of dough with a wet paper towel to prevent drying out while you work. Get a small bowl of water with warm to room temperature water. On a clean and dry surface start shaping your dough:

  1. If you want to have several different flavors (i.e. a few cinnamon raisin, some cranberry and orange zest, or whatever else) this is the stage to do that. You can add the ingredients to each individual ball of dough and give them a quick knead. For seasonings and seeds on top, you will sprinkle them on after the bagels boil.
  2. Place a spoonful or two of white rice flour in the corner of your work surface. Flour your hands lightly to start each dough ball off.
  3. Start by balling your dough and trying to get it smooth. I do this by quickly rolling my dough into a ball. I then place my dough against the surface I’m working on, cup it with one hand and apply some pressure while I roll it against the surface for a few seconds. The dough will become UFO shaped and flat. I then flip it over and repeat this process. The dough should now be significantly more smooth.rolling dough 1
  4. After the dough is smooth, I use cupped hands on the sides to make sure the sides are rounded. Once I have a nice rounded shape, I will begin to make the hole.roll dough 1.gif
  5. Flour one of your fingers and begin to poke it into the center of your dough. About halfway through the dough flour your finger once more and remove any dough that may have stuck to you. Push your finger the rest of the way through the dough. Flour your finger once more and place it in the hole. Move your finger around to make the hole larger while almost swinging the dough around your finger.shaping dough 2
  6. Flour your hands again. To even out the hole, place one to two fingers inside the hole and lightly cup your other hand underneath the dough to support it. Start lightly pinching/squeezing the dough to make it slightly thinner, then rotate slightly and squeeze again. Keep rotating and squeezing until your dough has become uniformly thinner and the hole should be larger. You want the hole in the middle to be about 1-1 1/2 inches large (it will close as it rises/bakes).shaping dough 3.gif
  7. Place the circle of dough down, and working with a wet finger start smoothing out the top of the dough. You may have to wet your finger several times. Once the dough is smooth and slightly wet on top, transfer it to your baking sheet prepared in step 1 and cover with a large piece of plastic wrap.wetting dough 2
  8. Continue to form all the balls of dough, working quickly and placing them on the baking sheet (space them apart when placing as they will rise and increase 50% in size).

9. Proof. Once all the bagels have been shaped, place the bagels in the oven. The oven should be slightly warm on the inside but you should be able to touch the oven rack with your bare hand (if not, it’s too hot and you need to leave it open until it is cooler). Leave the water in the oven. Leave the dough in the oven for 30-60 minutes to rise until double (mine only increased about 50%).

10. Prepare a water bath. Once the bagels have finished proofing, remove them and the water from the oven. Place the bagels off to the side still covered with plastic wrap. Preheat your oven to 425°F. In a large pot, bring 12-16 cups (not that important, just a lot) of water to a boil. Add in the molasses and baking soda.

11. Boil bagels. Once the water is at a rolling boil (keep it at a rolling boil for this whole process), start placing bagels one at a time into the water. I like to place my bagels in using a slotted spatula top-side down (meaning the top of the bagel will be the side in the water first). After thirty seconds gently roll the bagel onto the other side for an additional thirty seconds (1 minute total in the water). Remove the bagel from the water and place onto your baking sheet with the top up. Repeat this process with all bagels. Once all bagels have boiled you can add the seasoning/seeds/whatever to the top of the still moist dough if you are not doing an egg wash.

12. Egg wash (optional). If you would like your bagels to be shinier and have a more defined/golden brown crust, add an egg wash (just whisk a whole egg with a splash of water and brush onto the tops of the bagels). This isn’t necessary, I tried it both ways and didn’t notice a substantial difference besides looks. If you add an egg wash, sprinkle on your seasoning/seeds/whatever after the egg wash.

13. Bake. Bake the bagels for 20-22 minutes or until they are set up and cooked through. Since they are GF they will not brown (unless you have an egg wash).

14. Enjoy! Once the bagels have finished cooking let cool for at least 20-30minutes then rip into them!

15. Storing. To store, I would recommend freezing them after they have completely cooled after an hour or two. They don’t really store well in a bag or anything. For peak freshness, slice all bagels and place a sheet of wax paper in between the bagel tops and bottoms and put into a freezer safe container or bag. To reheat either place in a low-temperature oven until warm or toast in a toaster (they will toast but they will not brown).

I don’t think these recipes are quite perfect. I have tried many, but I’m still on the hunt for something a bit chewier and denser. If you have a bagel recipe you know and love, share it with me so I can try it! I will update this post if I find something more suitable, but through my many trials, I think recipe #1 is the closest to a bagel I have gotten.

Check out the latest Gluten Free Skeptics:

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The Gluten Free Skeptic: Best Gluten-Free Brownie Mixes, RANKED

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The Gluten-Free Skeptic: Fluffy Japanese Souffle Pancakes (Recipe)

Thank you so much for reading. If you have a GF recipe, mix, or anything else you would like me to try, leave your suggestions in the comments below or go through the contact page!

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I love cooking, photography, DIY projects and generally seeing what mess I can get myself into. I am very sarcastic and an annoyingly glass half-full kind of person. I like to make everything an adventure and a half and I hate blogs that are boring, so if mine ever is you better let a girl know. I don't know… do you know how hard it is to try and explain yourself in a little paragraph? Poke around a bit on here and I'm sure you'll learn who I am in no time! Thanks for stopping by.

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