Gluten Free Plain Bagels

October 7, 2020
At a Glance


If you miss the bagel store, this is the next best thing: make your own gluten free plain bagels. Trust this New Yorker to serve up real bagels!


Prep / Cook Time

25 minutes, plus rising / 25 minutes


 5/5 (10 votes)
Gluten Free Plain Bagels

With a crisp outside and chewy inside these boiled gluten free plain bagels are more than just a roll with a hole. No fancy ingredients required!

Plain bagels in a brown bowl with a blue and white stripe towel

A New York bagel, of a kind

When I first started developing recipes for bagels, I was inclined to make a true New York bagel: one that has a relatively tight crumb, and is intensely chewy.

That’s the kind of bagel I grew up in NY eating from the local bagel store in town. The kind where teens worked after school. The kind that is required at a proper gluten free breakfast or brunch.

When I lived in New York City, I ate at places like Ess-a-Bagel and H&H Bagels. They had bigger, puffier bagels.

They were still chewy, but they also had a much more airy crumb. To me, they tasted fluffy. But they’re not truly fluffy. These gluten free plain bagels are like those bagels of my young adulthood.

They’re not the roll with a hole that you get from somewhere like Dunkin Donuts (bless their hearts). No one aspires to that sort of bagel, not even Dunkin Donuts.

Same goes for all the packaged gluten free bagels you can buy—at least all the ones I’ve tried. They are bagel-shaped bread.

These bagels are amazing fresh out of the oven. Pile a chunky chicken salad on one, and try to conceal your pleasure before you even take a single bite.

They’re also awesome toasted. First, why would anyone do that with a true fresh bagel?

But if you’re planning to toast your bagel, you may as well make a big batch, let them cool completely, slice them through the middle, and freeze them. Defrost at room temperature, and toast to perfection.

Finger poking a hole in a round of raw bagel dough on a tray

How to shape a bagel

Bagels are sometimes shaped by rolling out a cylinder of dough, about 1 1/2-inches thick and then joining the ends together to create a round. That is not the way I shape or recommend shaping bagels.

If you shape your bagel like that, the edges may separate during boiling or even during baking. Plus, a bagel tastes no different if it’s shaped that way. Maybe it’s just for showing off? We do not need that.

I prefer to shape my bagels the easy way. Create a round of your portioned piece of dough as you would any other round of dough.

A smooth round piece of bread dough is shaped by cupping your hand around the dough, with the pinky edge of your hand resting on the surface and your hand in a C shape (or a backwards C if you’re right handed like I am). Move your hand around in a circle, maintaining contact with the surface on the side of your hand at all times.

Then, poke a floured finger into the center and rotate the dough around that finger in concentric circles. If you’re a visual learner and are sighted, watch the how-to video. You’ll get the hang of it.

Raw bagel boiling in water in black pot

Why bagels must be boiled and then baked

After the shaped pieces of dough rise just enough (you only want it to rise to be about 1 1/2 times its original size), you’re going to boil them in a molasses bath. That’s just 6 cups water with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon unsulphured molasses brought to a rolling boil.

 If you have a cakey bread dough, no amount of boiling is going to give you a chewy dough. But if you have the right recipe with the proper balance of regular pantry-style gluten free ingredients like this recipe, boiling your shaped and risen bagels will keep them from rising too much in the oven.

When the bagels’ oven rise is just a bit restricted, you are rewarded with a chewy bagel. Be sure not to let them rise too much once they’re shaped, or your bagel dough will soak up water like a sponge and disintegrate during boiling.

Bagel on brown paper with a knife and cream cheese on a dish

Ingredients and substitutions


The dairy in this recipe comes from butter and milk powder. The milk powder you use can be nonfat dry milk or whole milk powder. Whole milk powder makes a slightly richer result.

To replace the milk powder with a dairy-free alternative, coconut milk powder should work. I like Native Forest brand, but there are many others available now, including Anthony’s brand.

In place of butter, vegan butter should work. I like Miyoko’s Kitchen or Melt brand vegan butters best.


If you can’t have egg whites, you can try replacing the egg white with an equal amount, by weight, of aquafaba, which is the brine from a can of chickpeas. Try beating the aquafaba until foamy with a whisk before adding it to the dough.

In place of the egg wash on the outside of the bagels, try using melted butter or cream!

Tapioca starch/flour

There is no other starch that I can recommend as a perfect substitute for tapioca starch/flour. It provides structure, stretch and a smoothness to the dough that I’ve really come to rely upon in many bread recipes.


With a crisp outside and chewy inside these boiled gluten free plain bagels are more than just a roll with a hole. No fancy ingredients required!

Plain bagels in brown basket, raw boiling in water, and sliced in half with cream cheese

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 8 bagels


2 3/4 cups (385 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter; click through for full info)

1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/2 cup (72 g) tapioca starch/flour, plus more for sprinkling

1/4 cup (40 g) milk powder (nonfat or whole milk)

1 tablespoon (9 g) instant yeast (See Recipe Notes)

2 tablespoons (24 g) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 egg white (25 g), at room temperature

6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons (11 fluid ounces) warm water (about 95°F)

Molasses bath (6 cups water + 1 teaspoon kosher salt + 1 tablespoon unsulphured molasses)

Egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, beaten)


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the flour, xanthan gum, tapioca starch/flour, milk powder, instant yeast, and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the salt, and whisk again to combine. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the egg white, butter, and warm water, and mix to combine well. Place the bowl in the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed. The dough will clump at first. Once it begins to smooth out, increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough takes on a whipped appearance. Transfer the dough to a container with a lid, cover, and chill for about 30 minutes (and up to 2 days) to make the dough easier to work with.

  • When you’re ready to shape the rolls, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, spray it lightly with cooking oil spray, and set it aside. Sprinkle a surface lightly with tapioca starch, and turn out the chilled dough onto it. Sprinkle again lightly with more tapioca starch, and turn the dough over a few times to smooth the surface. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, divide the dough in half, then each half into 4 equal pieces to make 8 pieces total. Working with one piece at a time, sprinkling very lightly with additional tapioca starch to prevent sticking, press the dough into a roughly shaped round, pinching together any cracks. Shape the dough into a round by placing it flat on the shaping surface and moving a cupped hand around in a circular motion to coax it into a round. Sprinkle the top liberally with more tapioca starch and poke a floured finger into the center. Move that finger in a circular motion to create a hole about 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Place the shaped dough on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.

  • Cover the baking sheet with lightly oiled plastic wrap, and set aside to rise until the bagels are about 150% of their original size. Rising could take as little as about 40 minutes, or it could take much longer. It depends upon the environment in your kitchen. If you see the surface of the bagels begin to become very uneven, with craters forming, stop proofing immediately. Preheat your oven to 375°F.

  • As the bagels are nearing the end of their rise, place the ingredients for the molasses bath in a heavy-bottom saucepan and bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. Place as many of the bagels in the bath as you can fit without crowding them at all, and boil for about 45 seconds total, turning the dough over for even boiling. Remove the bagels from the bath with a slotted spoon or strainer, and return them to the baking sheet. Brush the bagels generously with the egg wash.

  • Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet in the oven and continue to bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown all over and a thermometer inserted into a bagel reads 180°F. For a thicker crust, increase the oven temperature to 400°F and bake for another 7 or 8 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the bagels to cool until they’re no longer too hot to handle before serving.


Comments are closed.

  • Cyna A Gilden
    January 30, 2021 at 6:18 PM

    many of us are lactose intolerant, so can we just use some almond milk instead of water or is the casein somehow magical.???

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 31, 2021 at 9:16 AM

      Please see the Ingredients and substitutions section, Cyna.

  • Cheryl Caplan
    January 14, 2021 at 11:32 PM

    I don’t advise substituting coconut milk powder for the powdered milk. I tried that tonight as I’m lactose intolerant and the bagels came out soooo soft. I couldn’t scoop them up off the proofing pan and when I dropped them into the water, they fell apart. Sigh. I weighed all the other ingredients out so it must have been the subbed milk powder. I’m baking dough blobs and pieces instead of bagels.

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 15, 2021 at 8:45 AM

      There’s only 1/4 cup milk powder, Cheryl, so although that may have affected the result a bit, it’s not likely that it’s entirely responsible. I’d have a look at your flour blend, as well, and whether you made other substitutions (ex: tapioca starch/flour).

  • Phee
    January 3, 2021 at 9:35 AM

    I don’t have regular tapioca starch, but do have the modified tapioca start that you use in your other recipes. Can I use this tapioca starch instead?

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 3, 2021 at 10:31 AM

      They are not interchangeable. They are completely different ingredients.

  • Rose
    December 21, 2020 at 2:23 AM

    I do like your recipes but i can’t have yeast of any sort so how do i make yr bagels can i make them the same as yr bread wth egg whites

    • Nicole Hunn
      December 21, 2020 at 8:32 AM

      I’m afraid there is no substitute for yeast in a yeast bread recipe, Rose.

  • Val Brown
    December 17, 2020 at 12:22 PM

    I’ve made this recipe 3 times already (once everything bagel style, once montreal-style with a honey bath instead of molasses, and once pretzel-bagel adding 1/4 cup of baking soda to the molasses bath, because I deeply miss good pretzels). Turned out amazing every time! Crazy question though, do you think it would work to replace the milk powder with regular whole milk and decrease the amount of water? Not a word of a lie, this recipe has changed my life for the better.

    • Nicole Hunn
      December 17, 2020 at 12:46 PM

      Hi, Val, it sounds like you were well past due for a real bagel. So happy to oblige! No, I’m afraid you can’t do that swap. You need the milk powder. I have a separate recipe for soft pretzels, and one for pretzel rolls, so you should try those, too! Imagine what your life might be like then. ?

  • Ryan
    December 10, 2020 at 10:43 AM

    The first time I made these, I was half asleep and accidentally made them with arrowroot instead of tapioca. I think I had tapioca in the flour, but all the extra was arrowroot. They were delightfully chewy! However, that much arrowroot well… my GI system didn’t appreciate it. I’ve made them since with tapioca properly, and today I’m going to try them with half arrowroot and half tapioca.

  • Jody
    December 8, 2020 at 10:51 AM

    Can you suggest any dairy free alternatives? Unfortunately I am allergic to all animal milks and the derivitives. .

    • Nicole Hunn
      December 8, 2020 at 10:54 AM

      Please see the Ingredients and substitutions section of the post, Jody, for all the information I can offer!

  • Jim Stoutamore
    November 10, 2020 at 6:41 PM

    Most people with egg alergies can use duck eggs with no problems. Also because of an A1 milk protien allergy, we substitute powdered goat milk. For whey protein isolate, would goat milk whey protein isolate work? We love your website thank you for all the hard work

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 11, 2020 at 9:27 AM

      Powdered goat milk is fine in place of powdered cow’s milk, Jim. I’m honestly not sure about goat milk derived whey protein isolate, but since it’s still casein, I imagine it should work if it’s actually a protein isolate, not concentrate. This recipe doesn’t call for whey protein isolate, though.

  • Sara Restivo
    November 9, 2020 at 5:46 PM

    What would make the yest aggressive in this recipe? I weighed everything by grams, and after 24 hours in the fridge, the 4 qt container exploded.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 9, 2020 at 5:55 PM

      I’m afraid I have no idea, Sara! If you made any ingredient substitutions, or overmeasured the yeast or even the water. Too much moisture creates too high a hydration ratio, which makes the rise too intense. That’s my guess. Water can be measured by weight easily, as it’s the only liquid that has the same weight as volume. 1 fluid ounce of water = 1 weighted ounce (28 grams).

  • Haley
    November 8, 2020 at 11:51 AM

    Hi Nicole, I am making your bagels, and I have made your sandwich bread before and I always run into the same problem: my dough never gets a thick consistency in the stand mixer like yours does. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong because I follow your recipe and measure by weight! I’m hoping you can help me out. Thank so much and I love your recipes!

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 8, 2020 at 11:54 AM

      There are only two things I can think of, Haley: 1. Are you using one of my recommended flour blends? They are far from created equal! 2. Are you ingredients the proper temperature? If some of the ingredients are cold, they will not combine properly. Without knowing more, I’m afraid those are my only guesses!

  • Plamena
    November 7, 2020 at 2:42 AM

    Made these with dry coconut milk rather than milk powder and they turned out beautiful. I will definitely make them again, as they most likely won’t last. Thank you Nicole for another easy and yet delicious recipe. You make my GF life so much easier.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 7, 2020 at 8:54 AM

      I’m so happy to hear that, Plamena. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, and for the kind words!

  • Jayne Granter
    November 6, 2020 at 10:16 PM

    I’ve tried this recipe once from your GFoaS recipe book but they weren’t quite right, more bread-like and softer outside rather than I’d hoped BUT there are may tips here where I might improve. Still a novice GF baker.

  • Jen N in Boston
    November 5, 2020 at 6:31 PM

    Why oh why didn’t I listen to you, oh flour whisperer? ? I used Bob’s One to One and couldn’t shape the bagels. I’m letting them rise and then will put them into the oven to see if they will be edible. Might try boiling a few of the rolls too. Going to read more closely which of your flour types I need for this. … for next time.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 6, 2020 at 7:50 AM

      LOL because you wanted to believe! I was where you are, many years ago. We all have to learn in our own special way, Jen. For me, as it may be for you, it’s often the hard way. Bob’s Red Mill flours are just not good quality, at least not consistently. Everyone in the industry knows it, too, but they still have their market share…

  • Gina Onushco
    November 2, 2020 at 6:47 PM

    I am assembling ingredients for this recipe. Is Instant Non-fat dry milk powder the same thing as the dry milk powder in the recipe?

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 3, 2020 at 7:56 AM

      You can use them interchangeably. That’s why I didn’t specify, Gina. :)

  • Suzy Hawley
    October 23, 2020 at 6:32 PM

    I plan on trying this recipe but I have a question about the flour mixture. I accidentally bought Better Batter flour blend which includes xanthum gum and tapioca starch. Your recipe says not to include the xanthan gum if the flour already contains it but what about tapioca starch? Do I still add the 1/2 cup? If not, should I just add an extra 1/2 cup of the flour blend?

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 23, 2020 at 6:46 PM

      Hi, Suzy, I don’t consider that an accident! Better Batter is my most recommended all purpose gluten free flour blend. Please see the flour blends page for full information (linked in the recipe). Not all flour blends already contain xanthan gum, which is why I indicate that you don’t add that as an ingredient if it’s already in your blend. The tapioca starch is different. That’s a separate ingredient, independent of the ingredients in your blend. I know it can be hard not to overthink things, but trust yourself! You’ve got it right, just as it’s written. :)

  • Jenelle
    October 20, 2020 at 9:50 AM

    I made these yesterday, I halved the recipe, but followed everything per weight measurements (used your better batter gf flour mix, and everything else as per written). They looked and smelled amazing! My only problem was after they came out of the oven, they deflated. They taste awesome, but they are more like thin bagel chips, vs what your pictures show. What could I have done wrong?

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 20, 2020 at 10:14 AM

      It sounds like they were underbaked, Jenelle! Baking times vary, which is why I provide an internal temperature. Other than that, you may have made a mathematical error in halving, and there are plenty of other ways to have deviated from the recipe as written and I’m afraid I can’t possibly know where!

  • Gina
    October 16, 2020 at 10:11 AM

    I made these bagels as written and they are spot on! Delicious, thank you for sharing!

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 16, 2020 at 10:52 AM

      I’m so glad, Gina! Thanks for sharing your success. ?

  • Tammra
    October 16, 2020 at 6:11 AM

    Can’t wait to try this!! Curious….have you tried any mix ins like seeds, onions: , etc?

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 16, 2020 at 8:09 AM

      I would not recommend mixing anything in to the bagel dough, Tammra. But definitely feel free to sprinkle anything you like on top before baking, after the egg wash!

  • Nancy
    October 13, 2020 at 2:51 AM

    Can I use fresh yeast instead of instant yeast?

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 13, 2020 at 7:44 AM

      I would imagine you probably could, Nancy, but I don’t know the conversion if there is a standard conversion, so I don’t have any advice, I’m afraid.

  • Mari Golden
    October 11, 2020 at 1:54 PM

    I miss H&H Bagels with a passion… I a SO excited to try this recipe!

  • Sandy
    October 11, 2020 at 12:20 PM

    These look enticing, but I have no stand mixer and no paddle attachment. Should I just find a different recipe?

  • Mary
    October 11, 2020 at 11:36 AM

    Is there a substitute for the sugar in this recipe?

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 11, 2020 at 3:32 PM

      No, Mary. There is nearly none in it. I recommend just using the small amount.

  • Wendy
    October 11, 2020 at 10:50 AM

    These look wonderful. However, I can’t tolerate xanthan gum. ?
    Do you know if there is a substitute that will work well in this recipe?

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 11, 2020 at 3:33 PM

      I’m afraid not, Wendy. You must use gums.

  • Amy
    October 11, 2020 at 10:30 AM

    Can you use aquafaba for the “egg wash”, also?
    Have you tried it?

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 11, 2020 at 3:36 PM

      I’m glad you asked, Amy, because I meant to mention how to replace the egg wash in the Ingredients and substitutions section! I recommend using either melted butter or cream in place of the egg wash if you can’t have eggs. I’ve added that to the text.

  • Katharine Ferguson
    October 8, 2020 at 4:10 PM

    Is there a substitute for the molasses in the water?K

    • Nicole Hunn
      October 8, 2020 at 6:45 PM

      Nothing will provide the same richness and color, really, but if you can find dark honey, that might be okay.

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