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Montreal Bagel Recipe

Montreal bagels are, hands down, the best bagels anywhere. (Full disclosure – I’m an ex-Montrealer.) This Montreal bagel recipe  – authentic except for the wood oven part – comes from St.-Viateur Bagel which has been operating in Montreal for over 60 years. In about 1 hour, you will be feasting on soft, warm, slightly sweet and chewy bagels covered in seeds. 

Bagels are not difficult to make with clear step by step instructions. After the first time, you’ll be a pro. Shmear on the cream cheese, toast them or eat them plain. All delish!

montreal bagels piled on cutting board

I learned to make Montreal-style bagels from Chef de Volpi of McGill University. He was demonstrating a traditional lox and bagel spread for a McGill fundraiser. The bagels came out great – ahem, all 3 times I made them in the past month 🙂

Bagels originated in Jewish communities in Poland. They were traditionally formed by hand, boiled then baked, just as they still are at St-Viateur Bagel. 

Think about it. Fresh hot bagels right out of the oven.

FAQ

What kind of bagels are there?

Bagels are made and sold worldwide in a wide variety of flavors. The most popular (about 85%) are sesame seed bagels. A distant second are poppy seed, also called black seed bagels. Then you have various seasoning blends such as ‘everything bagel’, onion, garlic and the specialty bagels like gluten free, cinnamon raisin, chocolate chip and pumpernickel. Did I miss a few? Probably. 

What is the difference between a Montreal bagel and a New York bagel?

A Montreal bagel is hand-rolled, smaller, thinner, chewier, sweeter (they are boiled in honey water), have a bigger hole and are wood-fired. New York bagels are puffier, softer, doughier, mostly machine-made and baked in a traditional oven.

How do you eat a bagel?

That depends on where you come from and who introduced you to bagels. New Yorkers typically love their bagels sliced, warm, fresh and shmeared with a thick layer of cream cheese. No toasting! Montrealers also like their bagels plain and fresh, but out of the wood burning oven – sometimes with cream cheese (and lox) too. Am I the only one who loves a bagel toasted and slathered with butter?

Are bagels healthy?

Not exactly. The size is usually the issue since one bagel is equivalent to 3- 31/2 slices of bread, making them pretty high in calories and refined carbs. If you control the portions (eat half or a mini bagel), there’s nothing wrong with indulging once in awhile.

What do you eat with bagels?

Typically, people eat bagels with cream cheese or toasted with butter. They are also fantastic served with smoked salmon/gravlax/lox, tomatoes, capers and red onions – along with the cream cheese of course.

Tailor To Your Taste

  • You can leave out the egg if you can’t eat eggs
  • For the honey water (to boil the bagels), you can substitute brown sugar which is cheaper.
  • Toppings: Use sesame seeds, poppy seeds, no seeds or all dressed e.g. everything bagel seasoning blend (homemade) or store-bought which you can buy at Trader Joes or Amazon.

Make Ahead Montreal bagel recipe

  • To store: Cool bagels and keep in sealed container or bag for a few days at room temperature.
  • To freeze:
    • Once cooked: Cool bagels, then freeze them for up to 3 months. Tip: I slice them before freezing so I can toss the frozen halves right into the toaster. 
    • When raw: After shaping the dough into bagels, freeze them. When ready to use, defrost them, boil and bake as per instructions. 

Other homemade bread recipes you might like

How to make homemade bagels Montreal-style

flour, sesame seeds, water, sugar, salt, yeast, egg, maple syrup, water, brown sugar
Flour, egg, yeast, sesame seeds, water, sugar, salt, maple syrup, oil, brown sugar (or honey)

baked bagels on pan
Bake for 14-16 minutes, turning once half way through, until golden brown
sesame seed bagels piled on cutting board p1
toasted split bagel with butter
Eat with cream cheese or toast and spread with butter
montreal bagels piled on cutting board
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Montreal Bagel Recipe

Montreal bagels are, hands down, the best bagels anywhere. (Full disclosure – I'm an ex-Montrealer.) This Montreal bagel recipe  – authentic except for the wood oven part – comes from St.-Viateur Bagel which has been operating for over 60 years. Feast on homemade soft, warm, slightly sweet and chewy bagels covered in seeds. 
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
rest time20 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Breakfast, brunch
Cuisine: Jewish, Montreal
Servings: 12 bagels
Author: Cheryl, Two Kooks In The Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (350g/118ml) warm water (about 95-100F/ 35-37.8C)
  • 1/4 cup (60g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 g active dry or instant yeast (1 package)
  • 1 egg (you can leave this out if you want)
  • 2 tablespoon oil canola or vegetable
  • 4 cups (700g) all purpose or bread flour, Note 1 plus an extra 1/2 cup/62g as needed

For boiling and baking

  • 12 cups (3L) water
  • 1/2 cup (300g) brown sugar or 1/2 cup/500g honey
  • 1 cup (142g) sesame seeds or poppy or everything bagel seeds

Instructions

  • HEAT OVEN TO 425F/217C. [for mini bagels, heat oven to 450F/232C]. Line a large pan or two smaller ones with parchment paper.
  • MAKE DOUGH BY HAND: To use mixer instead, Note 2. In large bowl, mix warm water, sugar and maple syrup. Add yeast and let sit for 5 minutes. It will froth up a bit. Stir in egg, oil, salt and flour until dough begins to come together. Pull dough onto a sheet of parchment on the counter or a cutting board, lightly dusted with flour. Begin kneading, adding up to an extra 1/2 cup/62g of flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Knead for about 12 minutes. Here's a video on how to knead dough. The dough will lighten up a bit in color.
  • REST DOUGH: Cover smooth dough with a bowl and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  • SHAPE BAGELS: Cut dough into 12 equal parts for regular bagels (or 24 for mini bagels). Roll each piece on a lightly floured surface into a log 8-10 inches long (20-25cm). Curve each log into a bagel shape, overlapping 1-2 inches (2.5-5cm). Roll the overlapped part on the counter to smooth it or just pinch the dough together. No need for perfection – mis-shaped bagels are just fine. The dough will puff up when boiled.
  • LET BAGELS REST FOR 10 MINUTES. While they are resting, put sesame seeds in a bowl. And Fill a large pot or frying pan with about 2 1/2 to 3 liters of water, add brown sugar or honey and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer.
  • BOIL BAGELS: Put in 3-4 bagels at a time and boil for 45 seconds. Flip over and boil another 45 seconds. Remove to drain on a paper towel.
  • DIP IN SEEDS: Don't wait too long to dip each bagel in seeds (top, bottom, sides) and place them in a single layer in the prepared pan(s).
  • BAKE: Bake bagels for 8 minutes. Turn over, then bake another 6-8 minutes until a light golden brown. A total of 14-16 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is. If doing a second batch, they will bake quicker. Cool on a rack. For mini bagels, Note 3.

Notes

  1. Flour: you can use half white flour and half whole wheat flour. Let the dough rise for 20-30 minutes before cutting and shaping it. 
  2. To knead the dough in a stand mixer, place warm water, salt, maple syrup and yeast in the mixer bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and knead with the dough hook for 10 minutes, starting slow, then speeding up (to about medium). Add flour as needed until the dough is firm and smooth and not sticky. 
  3. To bake mini bagels, place in 450F/232C oven for a total of 12 minutes, turning half way through. 
  4. Make ahead:
    • To store: Cool bagels and keep in sealed container or bag for a few days at room temperature.
    • To freeze:
      • Once cooked: Cool bagels, then freeze them for up to 3 months. Tip: I slice them before freezing so I can toss the frozen halves right into the toaster. 
      • When raw: After shaping the dough into bagels, freeze them. When ready to use, defrost them, boil and bake as per instructions. 
 
Nutrition values are estimates for one regular bagel. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Montreal Bagel Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 307 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 14mg5%
Sodium 398mg17%
Potassium 132mg4%
Carbohydrates 49g16%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 14g16%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 21IU0%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 140mg14%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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