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Sourdough Rye Bagels with Caraway Seeds

Sourdough Rye Bagels are chewy, crusty and properly dense New York style bagels with great rye flavor. They rise overnight so you can have fresh bagels for breakfast or brunch. All they need is a schmear of cream cheese.

I’ve said it before, I think a good bagel should have a nicely dense and chewy texture with a toothsome crust. Forget the frozen hockey pucks from the grocery store, and the bagels from chain bakeries that are way too fluffy to be a real bagel.

Homemade bagels are not hard to make and they freeze beautifully. If you set aside a little time over a weekend, you can stock up the freezer for weeks to come.

This Rye Bagel recipe is a variation of my popular recipe for Sourdough Bagels. I made a whole separate recipe because I’ve been asked so many times how to make a rye version of my bagels.

If you visit the original post you’ll get lots of additional tips for bagel success and you can read through the many comments and questions about making sourdough bagels.

Scroll through the process photos to see how to make Sourdough Rye Bagels:

showing two mixing bowls with rye bagel dough
1. The dough should cling to the hook and clear the bowl after kneading. 2. Set the dough aside to ferment for 3-4 hours.
showing bagels before and after rising overnight.
1. Shape the bagels and set them on a cornmeal dusted tray. 2. After a night in the refrigerator the bagels should be aerated and slightly larger.
a pot with boiling bagels and a rack with draining bagels
1. Boil the bagels on both sides. 2. Drain the bagels.
rye bagels before and after baking
1. Brush the bagels with egg white and sprinkle with caraway seeds. 2. Bake until golden brown.

A timeline for making sourdough rye bagels:

  • For best results I like to make sure my starter is very well fed and active. I give it two feedings, starting the day before mixing the dough. I do the final feeding with rye flour instead of the usual all purpose flour.
  • If you bake regularly with your starter you can probably do just one feeding early in the morning before you mix the dough.
  • Mix the dough in the afternoon and you should be ready for shaping the bagels by the early evening.
  • In the evening, form the bagels. In cooler months when my starter and dough are less active, I give the shaped bagels 30 minutes at room temperature then put them in the refrigerator for the night. In warmer months when my starter and dough more more active, I put the shaped bagels right into the refrigerator for the night without leaving them out for 30 minutes.
  • Take the bagels out in the morning.
  • Once the oven is preheated and the bagels are at room temperature, start boiling the bagels.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

Sourdough Rye Bagels with Caraway Seeds

Sourdough Rye Bagels with Caraway Seeds

Yield: 1 dozen
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Additional Time: 12 hours
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 13 hours 10 minutes

Chewy, crusty and properly dense New York style bagels with an extra depth of flavor thanks to the sourdough starter and whole grain rye flour. They rise overnight so you can have fresh bagels for breakfast or brunch. All they need is a schmear of cream cheese.


  • 1 cup (8oz, 224g) active sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz, 360 ml) warm water (about 100°F)
  • 3 cups (15 oz, 420g) unbleached bread flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (1.5 oz, 42g) barley malt syrup (or honey + molasses)
  • 1 tablespoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (7.5 oz, 210g) whole grain rye flour
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz, 56g) granulated sugar (for boiling)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda (for boiling)
  • 1 egg white, whisked lightly
  • Caraway Seeds for topping


  1. Combine the starter, water and 2 cups of the bread flour in a mixing bowl. Mix to form a thick batter. Cover the bowl and set aside for 30-60 minutes.
  2. Add the barley malt syrup and salt. Switch to the dough hook. Add the remaining bread flour and the rye flour and mix to combine. The dough should eventually cling to the hook and start to clear the sides of the bowl.
  3. Knead 5 minutes on medium speed. If working by hand, stir in as much of the flour as you can, then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in the remaining flour. Knead 5 minutes. Form the dough into a smooth ball.
  4. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover the bowl and set it aside at room temperature. After 30 minutes uncover the bowl, lift one side of the dough and fold it into the middle of the dough. Repeat with the other three sides of the dough then flip the dough over. You're basically turning the dough inside-out to redistribute the yeast. Cover the bowl and after 30 minutes repeat the procedure. Cover the bowl and after 60 minutes repeat the procedure again. Cover the bowl and after 60 minutes the dough should be ready to shape the bagels. By now the dough should be lively, elastic and airy. If the dough is still sluggish give it another hour or two at room temperature.
  5. Line a baking pan with parchment paper then generously sprinkle the paper with cornmeal (or flour). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface without kneading out the air. Divide the dough into 12 even pieces. Use a cupped hand to roll each piece into a smooth ball.
  6. To form a bagel, poke your finger all the way through the center of a ball to make a hole. Use two fingers to gently open up the hole. Continue gently stretching to form the bagel or twirl the dough around your fingers to widen the center hole to 1 - 1.5" wide.
  7. Place the bagel on the prepared sheet pan and continue to form the remaining bagels. The dough will probably spring back a bit so you can go back and re-stretch the holes once you're done forming all the bagels. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes then place the pan in the refrigerator overnight.
  8. In the morning, take the pan out of the refrigerator. The bagels should have risen a bit by now. Leave the tray out until the the bagels comes to room temperature, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours. The bagels should look full and aerated. They won't puff up and double, but should be noticeably lighter than when they were formed.
  9. Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a large pot combine 1 gallon of water with the sugar and baking soda and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to keep the water at a rolling simmer. Set a cooling rack over a sheet pan or kitchen towel and place it next to the stove. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and generously sprinkle with corn meal (or flour).
  10. Once the oven is preheated, you're ready to boil. Gently lift a bagel off the sheet pan and lower it into the water, top side down. Boil the bagels for 30 seconds, flip and boil for 30 seconds on the other side. Depending on the size of your pot, you can boil 3-4 bagels at a time. As you remove the bagels from the water, set them on the cooling rack to drain.
  11. Place 6 of the boiled bagels on each sheet pan. You could fit them all on one pan but they may stick together as they bake.
  12. Brush the bagels with egg white and sprinkle with caraway seeds. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.


The fermentation time will vary based on the ambient temperature of the room and the temperature of your dough. The dough will start out fairly dense. It should be quite aerated and elastic by the end of the 3 hour fermentation. If the dough is very cool and sluggish you can set the bowl over a bowl of warm water to warm it up a bit.

Did you make this recipe?

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Sunday 25th of September 2022

I'm about to give your recipe a try but I'm confused about the ingredient list notation to divide the flour. I don't see anywhere in the process instructions to add the flour more than once. Please can you clarify!

Eileen Gray

Sunday 25th of September 2022

Sorry, you add part of the bread flour with the sponge and the remaining after the sponge rests. I've fixed it in the recipe.

Ellen G

Wednesday 23rd of March 2022

I've made this many times and its a great recipe. Now I'm feeling adventurous and would like to add some pickle juice to replace some of the water. (I read about this somewhere...I think it was for a rye bread). I'm a bit anxious that the acidity will kill the yeast. Do you think it's a bad idea?

Ellen G

Friday 25th of March 2022

@Eileen Gray, I got geeky and read the link and now my brain is going to explode. But I did try exchanging some of the liquid with pickle juice and I found the flavor to be very good but it took awhile to get any kind of rise. Now I have to eat a jar of pickles or they will dry out. Lol.

Eileen Gray

Thursday 24th of March 2022

Hmmm, with a sourdough recipe the yeast is a little less hearty than with commercial yeast. I would say it's a great kitchen experiment to try! Let us know how it works if you do it. If you want to get really geeky here's a discussion on pH and fermentation.


Sunday 29th of August 2021

WOW! These are awesome! Baked this am and enjoying them right now! Got approval of the neighbors too! Thank you for great recipes! #lovesourdough


Friday 27th of August 2021

I made the sourdough bagels this week when my daughter was here. She sprinkled on the sesame seeds and I teased her about using caraway seeds, which she doesn't like. I'm excited to try this recipe! I won't make them for my daughter though.

Eileen Gray

Friday 27th of August 2021

I love caraway seeds!

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