an overhead shot of garlic and fennel bagels on a white backdrop. a small bowl of fennel seeds is with them.

roasted garlic and fennel bagels

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It’s been a while since I’ve had a new recipe to share so, while I work on developing some recipes based on my pastry school projects (icymi, last month I completed my courses at Cambridge School of Culinary Arts and earned my certification in pastry arts!), I thought I’d sneak back in quietly with this recipe for roasted garlic and fennel bagels. Yes, another bagel recipe. These never get old!

My plain 3-hour bagel recipe is one of the most popular on the blog, for good reason — it’s relatively quick for a yeasted bread, and bagels are a lot easier to make than you think. There are few things more satisfying than slicing into a freshly baked bagel and slathering it with cream cheese.

This recipe takes just sliiiightly longer than its plain cousin only because you need some extra time to roast the garlic and toast the fennel.

Instead of 2-3 hours, anticipate closer to 3 (maybe 3½) hours. Most of that additional time isn’t active, hands-on work, so it’s still a great project for a slow morning or easy afternoon.

You can also roast the garlic and toast the fennel up to a day in advance.

an overhead shot of a roasted bulb of garlic in a white ramekin

This particular flavor combo — roasted garlic and fennel — was inspired by an unforgettable bagel I picked up at The Kettle Black, a small bakery in Philly many years ago (if you’re in the Philly area, they’re doing pickup orders right now, please go support them!).

The roasted garlic is mellow and a little sweet, but still assertive and unmissable, and the fennel gives a really nice aromatic, kind of herbal anise-y vibe.

I know fennel can be kind of a divisive flavor — if you don’t like fennel, this recipe probably isn’t going to change your mind. But if you do like fennel, you will love love love it.

an overhead shot of a pile of garlic fennel bagels on a wire cooling rack

Never roasted a whole bulb of garlic before? Don’t let that stop you! I’ve got a blog post all about how and why to roast a whole bulb of garlic right here. You may want to wear gloves when you slide the roasted cloves out of the skin, unless you like when your hands smell of roasted garlic.

For these garlic and fennel bagels, I like to use whole fennel seeds that I toast in a dry skillet and grind with mortar or pestle or my FinaMill.

(Full disclosure: FinaMill sent me a PR sample to test out, but I was not obligated to post/share/recommend it, I only mention it because it’s genuinely perfect for this recipe, particularly for topping your finished bagels with additional ground fennel.)

You can also use an electric coffee grinder or just buy pre-ground fennel (though the pre-ground stuff is less great for topping your bagels).

As with all of my baking recipes, I’ve provided ingredient amounts by weight (grams) first, with volumetric (cups) measurements in parentheses at the end of each line. If you’ve never baked by weight before, I definitely recommend it.

You can get affordable kitchen scales on Amazon (I like this one) and they will make you a much better baker.

Why measure by weight? Depending on how tightly you pack 1 cup of flour, you might end up with 150 grams or 100 grams of flour, which can make a big difference in how your bagels turn out! Using weight measurements when baking is one of the best ways to get consistent results.

overhead shot of two bagels on a plate with a small bowl of garlic cloves. next to the plate is more bagels and a small bowl of fennel seeds.

Bagel dough is a low hydration dough, which means it’s got a low amount of water to flour by weight, making it really lovely to work with. It’s smooth and elastic with lots of stretch to it, which makes it a great dough for beginners.

Be gentle, but firm with your bagel dough, and if it ever starts fighting back or doesn’t want to work with you, just cover it with a damp cloth and let it rest for a few minutes. It’ll be in a much better mood after that. Stretch it, don’t tear it as you shape it.

Garlic can inhibit yeast activity, so it’s best to wait until the dough starts to come together before you add it. This gives the yeast a chance to get moving before you add anything that might slow it down.

how to shape a bagel

Divide your dough. If combining a few smaller pieces, stack them with the smallest on top.
Fold all the edges of the dough across the center creating a smooth surface against the counter.
Flip the dough smooth side up. In a cupped hand, slide it toward you. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat.
Flip the dough over and use flour-coated hands to poke a thumb through the “seam” at the bottom.
Stick your other thumb in and squeeze while rotating the dough to stretch it.
Stretch, don’t tear. The hole will shrink when it bakes. It should be ~1/3 the width of the bagel.
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recipe notes for garlic and fennel bagels

  • This recipe uses instant yeast (sometimes called “rapid rise” yeast). Instant yeast does not need to be proofed (or “bloomed”) in water before use. Add it directly to the dry ingredients and it will be activated when you add the water. Just don’t put the yeast right on top of or under the salt in your bowl — salt kills yeast.
  • Warm water is around 105-110F. If you don’t have a thermometer, you’re looking for water that is just slightly on the warm side of lukewarm.
  • If you want to make the dough at night and boil and bake your bagels in the morning, you can put the dough in the fridge for the first rise (bulk fermentation) before you punch it down OR after you shape the bagels. In either case, make sure the dough is covered so it doesn’t form a skin or dry out.
  • I test my bagel recipes with both all-purpose and bread flour. Which one you use is really up to you. Bread flour is more traditionally used for bagel making because it gives you a chewier, denser bagel, but if you don’t have bread flour, all-purpose will work just fine.
  • You can make this recipe without a stand mixer! Follow the same instructions, only replace every mention of “dough hook” with “a sturdy spoon” or “your hands.” Use a sturdy spoon to mix the dough in a large bowl. Once it starts to come together, turn it out onto a clean, lightly floured countertop and knead for 8-10 minutes until it’s smooth, slightly tacky, and elastic. Resist adding more water unless absolutely necessary.
an overhead shot of a single bagel on a white linen cloth. a small bowl of garlic cloves and a small bowl of fennel seeds are in the corners of the photo.

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an overhead shot of a single bagel on a white linen cloth. a small bowl of garlic cloves and a small bowl of fennel seeds are in the corners of the photo.

roasted garlic and fennel bagels

These roasted garlic and fennel bagels get their flavor from a whole roasted bulb of garlic and toasted fennel seeds. Best served toasted.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Resting time 1 hr 20 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 10 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American, Polish
Servings 8 bagels


  • 1 bulb garlic (small, about 8-10 cloves)
  • ½ TBSP whole fennel seeds (or 1 tsp, ground)
  • 500 grams all-purpose or bread flour (3½ cups)
  • TBSP sugar
  • tsp salt
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 300 grams warm water (1¼ cup, you may need an extra ⅛ cup/30g more if you're in a dry environment)
  • 1 egg (mixed with 1 tsp water for egg wash)
  • fennel seeds (optional, for topping)


Make roasted garlic and fennel mixture

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Roast garlic: Slice the top off a whole bulb of garlic, place it upright in a small ramekin or on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle generously with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. If using aluminum foil, wrap loosely, gathering the foil together in a teardrop shape around the bulb.
    Roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes until very brown and fragrant. Remove from oven and let cool.
  • Toast whole fennel seeds in a dry skillet over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Remove from heat and grind to a coarse powder.
  • Slide roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and mash with ground fennel in a small bowl. Set aside.

Make bagel dough

  • Mix flour, salt, and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and sprinkle in the yeast.
    With the mixer running on the slowest speed, pour the water into the center of the well. Continue on low, pausing occasionally to push more flour into the center of the well with a spatula.
  • When the dough starts coming together but there's still a decent amount of dry flour in the bottom of the bowl, add the mashed garlic and fennel. Once the dough has incorporated and no loose flour remains, Increase mixer speed to low-medium and knead for 6-8 minutes.
    If the dough looks dry, you may need up to an additional ⅛-¼ cup of water. Add it ½ TBSP at a time, kneading well between additions to give the water time to absorb. Resist adding water unless absolutely necessary. If the dough seems too wet, add more flour 2-3 TBSP at a time, kneading well between additions.
    You’re looking for a dough that is smooth and just slightly tacky to the touch. It shouldn’t cling to your hands or the bowl.
  • Shape the dough into a smooth round ball, and place it in a lightly oiled bowl (turn it once in the bowl to coat it with oil) and let it rise for an hour in a warm spot (70-72°F) until doubled in size.
  • Gently punch the dough down, knocking the air bubbles out of it. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
  • Preheat your oven to 425°F and fill a wide, shallow skillet with water about 2-3" deep. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  • Divide the dough into eight equal pieces (use a kitchen scale for precision). Gently flatten each piece of dough against a clean, un-floured countertop, then fold and tuck the edges up into the middle, pinching them together to form a smooth surface on the underside of the dough against the counter.
    Flip the dough over so the seam is underneath. Cup your hand around it, pinkie against the counter, and drag your hand towards your body. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat as needed to form a ball.
  • Starting with the first dough ball you shaped, coat your thumb in flour and poke it through the seam-side of the dough, pushing any extra edges into the middle. Slide your other thumb in and gently stretch the dough out until the hole in the middle is at least the same width as the sides. The hole will close as the dough rests and will close again as it boils and bakes, so better to stretch it wider here.
    NOTE: If you like a bigger hole in your bagel, stretch the dough out again before boiling.
  • Cover the shaped bagels with a damp paper towel or clean dish cloth and let them rest for 10 minutes.
  • Whisk together egg and 1 tsp water to make an egg wash while the bagels rest. Set aside.
  • Gently slide your shaped bagels into the pot of boiling water, top-side down. Boil for 1 minute per side.
    You can do this in batches of 2-4 at a time, depending on how big your pot is. The bagels will expand as they boil so don’t crowd them.
  • Remove the shaped bagels from the water with a wire spider or slotted spoon and transfer them to a silicone baking mat lined baking sheet.
  • Brush each bagel with the egg wash making sure to get the sides and centers. If you want to top your bagels with additional ground fennel seeds, now is the time to do so.
  • Bake them for 20 minutes, until golden brown on top.
  • Remove the bagels from the oven and transfer immediately to cool on a wire rack. Try to wait at least 15-20 minutes before cutting them open.


  • To test if your dough is ready after it rests for an hour, gently press into it with one finger. If it immediately fills in the indentation when you remove your finger, your dough needs more time to rise. If the indentation only fills in part way or fills in very slowly, your dough is ready. If it doesn’t fill in at all or the dough seems to collapse, your dough has overproofed.
  • Store in an airtight bag with a paper towel to absorb moisture. Stored properly, they will stay good for 2-3 days. They’ll get a bit hard after the first day or so, but soften up if you toast them. You can also run them briefly under water (!!!), then microwave them for 10 seconds, slice them, and toast them or put them on a rack in your regular oven for 10 minutes at 350°F.
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