Learn how to make Japanese style bagels with this easy to follow recipe! They’re soft, chewy and the perfect base to make filled bagels and sandwiches.

I’ve been promising to share Japanese style bagels for a long time, apologies for the delay 🙇🏻‍♀️ but we’re finally getting started! I went to Japan in March for bagel research and tasted so many amazing bagels from different shops across Tokyo. I was able to talk to the owners and learn more about bagels in Japan and their story behind their bagel store. I came back incredibly inspired, I could write a whole book about Japanese style bagels, so I can’t wait to share as many bagel recipes here!

We’re starting off simple with plain Japanese style bagel which is the base to any filled bagels and bagel sandwiches.

japanese twisted bagel on wire rack

Japanese Style Bagels

Japanese-style bagels, are a variation of traditional bagels that incorporate elements of Japanese cuisine and flavours. These bagels typically have a softer, fluffier and chewier and compared to their Western counterparts with a thin crisp exterior. This is thanks to the use of natural yeast such as Hoshino yeast and other homemade wild yeasts such as fruit yeast water. Additionally, they often feature a filling throughout the bagel or are sandwiches with Japanese ingredients. We’ll get more into this throughout this bagel series.

You can ready more about Japanese style bagels in my full Japanese Style Bagel Guide.

Ingredients

Japanese style bagels require the same ingredients as New York or Montreal style bagels:

  • Bread Flour (more on that below): It contains a higher protein content which is one factor that makes them chewy.
  • Sugar: Adds a slight sweetness to the bagels.
  • Salt: For flavouring the bagels.
  • Yeast: More on this below. For hoshino yeast, use active amount that has been in the fridge overnight.
  • Water: For hydrating the dough. Use water that is 21 – 22 C / 70 – 72 F . The % greatly affects the chewiness of the bagels but is also dependent on the type of flour used and environment. This will come with practice and experience. For this recipe, we’re using a hydration of 58-60% which helps create that extra chewy (not jaw breaking!) interior. For a bagel with a tighter crumb, you can go as low at 50-52%.
  • Malt powder: I use flour that already contains malt, but this ingredient is optional. It helps with the browning and flavour of bagels.
  • Oil: Not traditionally used but it helps keep the bagels soft on the inside and prevents them from drying out. Fats serve as tenderizers by restraining excessive gluten formation, thus preventing toughness. It also makes the dough a little easier to work with.
  • Molasses: This ingredient is added to the boiling water and is what gives bagels their chewy, shine and crust enhancing both flavour and texture.

What kind of flour to use for bagels

I could write a whole article about all the different types of flours and how it affects bagel dough! Protein content, gluten, where the flour is harvested, and so much more will impact the final outcome of bagels.

In general, you want to use a flour high in protein content (11.5% – 13%). All purpose flour is around 10.5-12%.

  • Bread flour: more protein content = more gluten formation = it’s elastic and will rise well.
  • All purpose flour: less protein = less gluten formation = doesn’t expand or rise as much as bread flour.
  • Rice flour: some shops even incorporate rice flour for a further chewy, more mochi-mochi like texture that suits Japanese taste. I’ll have a recipe for this kind in the future as well :).

Yeast for Bread in Japan

  • Hoshino yeast: The most commonly used type of yeast in Japan, Hoshino yeast is a rice-derived yeast developed from Japanese sake brewing method that slowly cultivated with wheat, rice, koji and water. It is grown in the winter and is sold in granules (dried). To active the yeast, water is added in a 1:2 ratio.
  • Natural yeast: Such as sourdough and fruit yeasts. I’ll be sharing recipes using these two yeasts in the future, stay tuned!
  • Active dry yeast: When using active dry yeast, only a small amount if added and proofed for a long period of time to mitigate a strong yeasty smell.

Texture of Bagels

There are many factors that determine the texture of bagels. In general, there are three textures that you’ll find if you try bagels in japan:

  1. Fuwa / Fuka (Fluffy): as the name implies this texture is more fluffy and closer to shokupan but with a chewier exterior and crisp crust.
  2. Mochi-mochi (Chewy): not just ‘chewy’ but chewy with an added chew… kind of like a chewy bread + the chewiness from something like mochi.
  3. Mugyu / Muchi (Tight): Mugyu means to squeeze or hold tight, which is kind of translates to a close tight crumb for bagels. It’s more similar to traditional New York bagels where they’re denser (but still soft and chewy). Muchi means it sinks in your teeth but doesn’t really bounce back as much as fluffy.

Based on the type of flour and yeast used, and the length of fermentation will determine the type of texture.

bagel split open on a white plate

Equipment to Make Bagels

You don’t really need any special equipment to make bagels. Bread machine and stand mix will help with the mixing the dough but it can be done by hand. If the hydration of the dough is low, it might even be better to mix by hand.

The only equipment I highly recommend having is a kitchen scale (love a rechargeable one). Everyone weights their flours and ingredients differently and a kitchen scale is the only way to keep it as precise batch to batch. I also have a precision scale for yeast. They’re incredibly cheap and worth it if you’re serious about baking.

You’ll also need a large pot to boil the bagels and any sort of slotted spoon (or you can use chopsticks and a spoon to carefully lift it out).

While In think steam ovens are superior for baking bagels for even browning, I just use my Condo oven and small toaster oven (lol) and they turn out great especially when re-toasted. Maybe one day I’ll invest in a nice oven 🙂

How to Make Japanese Style Bagels

Every step of the bagel making process affects the final outcome. From which ingredients are used, to kneading time, proof time, to the method of rolling, boiling and baking… I hope to cover these as we go throughout the series but for this recipe in particular, we are aiming for a chewy interior and exterior (but not jaw breaking), a soft slightly fluffy crumb and thin crisp exterior. To do so, here is the process:

  1. Make dough: mix the ingredients until dough comes together. Unlike other bread, it doesn’t need to be incredibly smooth or pass a widow plane test for this version thanks to the long rise in the next step. The dough should be about 26 C / 78 F.
  2. Primary proof: place the dough into a container or plastic bag. If using hoshino yeast, leave at room temperature for 8-12 hours. If using active dry yeast, place into the vegetable compartment of your fridge for 8-12 hours. 
  3. Divide: If using active dry yeast, remove from fridge and let the dough return to 17 C / 63 F. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions (about 120-122 g each). Roughly shape into a log and rest for 20 minutes to allow the dough to relax. 
  4. Pre-shape: Roll out the dough, about 15 x 18 cm in size* and then starting from the top, roll down and use the base of your palm to press down on the dough to keep the roll tight. Pinch the seams to secure. Repeat with all pieces and keep them covered with a damp cloth.
  5. Shape: Return to the first piece and shape the bagel (it should have rested for at least 5 minutes). Roll and stretch the dough with both hands and with the seam facing up, press one edge of the dough to flatten it with your palm or roller. Bring the other end to the flattened side and wrap, pinching the dough tightly to secure. If you want a chewy or tighter texture, twist the dough 1-2 times. The more twisted, the more tighter the texture (refer to blogpost). Place on a piece of parchment paper. Keep the pieces covered with a damp paper towel.
  6. Secondary proof: Proof for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours for hoshino yeast and 20-30 minutes for active dry yeast at 40 C or until it slowly spring back up when poked.
  7. Boil: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of malt syrup, molasses or sugar. Once boiling (or temperature of 85 / 185 F C) boil for 10-30 seconds on each side. The longer you boil, the chewier the exterior. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bagels and transfer to a prepared baking tray.
  8. Bake: Bake at 218 C / 425 F for 20-25 minutes or until deep golden brown. 

How to Shape Bagels

There are many methods to shaping bagels. Rolling (New-York style), poking method and then sealing method (which has 3 ways). In Japan the sealing method is most commonly used and personally my preferred way as well. It’s important to allow the dough to rest a bit before shaping or they tend to unravel when proofing, boiling or baking. Be sure to securely seal all the ends as well. Please watch this video for visuals 🙂

  1. No twist: Bring the end to the other end that has been flattened and seal. This will allow more air to rise in the dough and create a fluffier texture.
  2. One twist: Seam side up, it’s rolled once and then sealed onto the other side. This creates a further chewy texture.
  3. Two twists: This is similar to the rolling method. The more twisted, the tighter the crumb because the air isn’t able to expand as much.
bagels with blisters on a black wire rack

How to Serve Bagels

Just like in New York, schmear or a cream cheese is commonly slathered on. Of course the classic bagel with lox and bagel with butter and jam is also popular. What differs in Japan is they they also incorporate Japanese ingredients and have many variations of dessert bagels, which might sound like too much at first but after trying many during my time there, I understand the popularity.

Japanese-Style Bagel Serving Suggestions

  • Bagel with cream cheese: either plain cream cheese, or your flavoured cream cheese! You could mix in seasonings, jams and more.
  • Bagel with butter and jam: Simple is best.
  • Bagel with lox: cream cheese, lox and additionally some red onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and capers.
  • Tamago bagel sando: Either tamagoyaki (Japanese omlette), scrambled eggs or Japanese egg salad (recipe for those will follow!)
  • Katsu bagel sando: Japanese cutlet with cabbage and tonkatsu sauce.
  • Ebi Sando: Crispy fried shrimp (ebi) coated in panko breadcrumbs and served with lettuce, tartar sauce, and sometimes shredded cabbage.
  • Japanese Fruit Bagel Sando: Whip cream plain or with cream cheese with fresh fruit! You can even add a bit of anko (sweet bean paste).
  • An Butter Sando: Sweet red bean paste with salted butter or cream cheese. The sweet and salty combination is so good.
  • Cheesecake sando: This might have been one of my favourite sandwiches I tried. It makes sense because technically cheesecake is made out of cream cheese… which is the ultimate spread to pair with bagels. It’s just a slightly sweeter and richer combination. I’ve even had it with other desserts such as sponge cakes, purin, brownies and if done right, it works surprisingly well.
How do I store bagels?

If bagels are not eaten within the day, freeze them in air tight bags for up to 2 months. Do not keep them in the fridge as they will get dry and hard.

How do I reheat bagels?

If frozen, allow it to come to room temperature. There are a few ways to reheat bagels! My preferred way is to steam for 2 minutes and then toast if you want a crispy crust. It recreates that freshly baked texture. If pressed for time, you could wrap with a damp paper towel, microwave for about 15 seconds until warm and then toast if desired. You could also quickly run water on the bagel and then toast immediately (creates steam in the toaster).

Can I make bagels without a bread machine or standmix?

Yes! Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. With it comes together, place on a clean work surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it you’re able to form a smooth dough ball.

Do I have to rest the dough overnight?

I highly recommend resting the dough overnight for the best flavour and texture, however you can make it using the straight method (same day method) if using dry yeast. Increase the amount to 5.5 grams of yeast (about 1 1/2 tsp). Proof at room temperature until double in size, about 1 hour and then proceed with the rest of the recipe.

How do I calculate water temperature for bagles?

Aim for a dough temperature of about 26 F (78 F). Here is the formula to calculate water temperature for most bread doughs which can be aimed by using water that is about 21-22 C / 70-72 F. This will vary depending on the weather and environment, please adjust accordingly using this formula:
Water temperature = 70 – room temperature – flour temperature
ie. 70 – 22 (room temp) – 22 (flour temp) = 26 (water temp)

More Japanese-Style Bagel Recipes

Enjoy!! If you make this Japanese Style Bagel recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rating and if you decide to share it on socials, tag me on instagram @Okonomikitchen. I’d love to hear from you 😁!

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japanese twisted bagel on wire rack

Japanese-Style Bagel Recipe


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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Lisa Kitahara
  • Total Time: 10 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 pieces 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Learn how to make Japanese style bagels with this easy to follow recipe! They’re soft, chewy and the perfect base to make filled bagels and sandwiches.


Ingredients

Units Scale

Hoshino Yeast Version

  • 240245 ml 21 – 22 C / 70 – 72 F water
  • 13 g oil, optional
  • 432 bread flour
  • 1 tsp malt powder
  • 34 g active hoshino yeast*
  • 22 g brown sugar
  • 10 g salt

Dry Yeast Version

  • 260268 g 21 – 22 C / 70 – 72 F water
  • 13 oil, optional
  • 432 g bread flour
  • 2 g active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp malt powder
  • 10 g salt
  • 22 g brown sugar

Boiling Liquid:

  • water
  • malt syrup, honey or brown sugar

Bakers % (more on this in the blogpost)

  • Water: 50 – 60%
  • Oil: 3%
  • Bread flour / high gluten flour: 100%
  • Hoshino yeast: 6-10% or Instant yeast: 0.5%
  • Salt: 2-2.5%
  • Sugar: 5-7%

Instructions

  1. To a bread machine or standmix, add all the ingredients in the order listed. Be sure not to add the yeast and salt in the spot. If using a bread machine, use dough option and knead for 15-20 minutes. If using a standmix, use the dough hook and start with the lowest speed. Once the flour starts to absorb the water (about 2-3 minutes), increase the speed to the next lowest (2) and mix for 6-8 minutes, or until the dough comes together fully. This dough will not be super smooth nor pass a window plane test. The dough should feel moist to the touch but not so wet that it sticks to your hands. 
  2. Remove from bowl and place into a container or plastic bag. If using hoshino yeast, leave at room temperature for 8-12 hours. If using active dry yeast, place into the vegetable compartment of your fridge for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. 
  3. If using active dry yeast, remove from fridge and let the dough return to 17 C / 63 F. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions (about 120-122 g each). Roughly shape into a log and rest for 20 minutes to allow the dough to relax. 
  4. Roll out the dough, about 15 x 18 cm in size* and then starting from the top, roll down and use the base of your palm to press down on the dough to keep the roll tight. Pinch the seams to secure. Repeat with all pieces and keep them covered with a damp cloth.
  5. Return to the first piece and shape the bagel (it should have rested for at least 5 minutes). Roll and stretch the dough with both hands and with the seam facing up, press one edge of the dough to flatten it with your palm or roller.
  6. Bring the other end to the flattened side and wrap, pinching the dough tightly to secure. If you want a chewy or tighter texture, twist the dough 1-2 times. The more twisted, the more tighter the texture (refer to blogpost). Place on a piece of parchment paper. Keep the pieces covered with a damp paper towel.
  7. Proof for 1 1/2 – 2 hours if using hoshino yeast and about 20-30 minutes for active dry yeast at 40 C or until it slowly spring back up when poked. Towards the end, start pre-heating the oven to 218 C / 425 F. 
  8. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of malt syrup, molasses or sugar. Once boiling (or temperature of 85 C / 185 C) boil for 10-30 seconds on each side. The longer you boil, the chewier the exterior. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bagels and transfer to a prepared baking tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until deep golden brown. 
  9. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • *I used 7% for this recipe but you can use 6-10% depending on how fluffy you want the bagels to be. More on hoshino yeast in this blogpost.
  • **the longer you roll out the dough, the bigger the hole will be. I recommend not going any smaller than 14 cm for the width or it does become a bit more difficult for the roll to stay intact. 
  • Prep Time: 10 hours
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: bagels
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Japanese
Konnichiwa

About Lisa

I'm Lisa, a home cook, recipe developer and founder of Okonomi Kitchen. Here, you'll find a mix of classic and modernized Japanese recipes, and creative, plant-forward meal inspiration using seasonal ingredients. I hope to share more about Japanese cuisine and culture through food and recipes.


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2 Comments

  1. The instructions and tips were so helpful it was my first time making bagels and they came out perfect!






  2. I’m so glad I made these! My first time making bagels and thanks to the detailed instructions, they came out perfect 😀 It’s definitely a bit intimidating but the pictures and video on Instagram were helpful also. Thank you!