Poppy Seed Bagels


Science has proven that everybody in the world loves bagels–and even better than that are poppy seed bagels. Whether you’re a lifelong resident of New York City who eats bagels like they’re manna from heaven or a novice to the circular delights, nothing hits the spot quite like the sharp flavor of poppy seeds and the ever-so-slight crunch of toasted bread.

But say you’re stuck at home or don’t have a trusted bagel dealer nearby. What’s a poppy seed fan to do?

Thankfully, dear reader, you aren’t stuck in bagel-loving limbo. You, too, can make delicious poppy bagels at home–and this article will go through the ins and outs of making them!

What Is a Poppy Seed Bagel?

poppy seed bagel


In case you’re unfamiliar, here’s the lowdown on the poppy seed bagels, sometimes known as the poppy bagel. 

As their name suggests, poppy seed bagels are standard bagels scattered with poppy seeds. Although the origin of the poppy seed bagel isn’t clear, it emerged after 1610, when historians first noted the bagel’s existence.

Since then, the poppy seed bagel become one of the more popular variations. This influence is due in no small part to the sitcom Seinfeld, which featured a subplot in which Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) repeatedly tests positive on drug tests due to eating poppy seed bagels.

Why, you ask? Well, this entangles the dark origin of poppy seed bagels. The seeds come from Papaver somniferum, which is Latin for “sleep-inducing poppy.” As its name suggests, the poppy has purposes that go beyond the munchy, crunchy delights of a bagel: the plant is also the source of opium and oxycodone. This means that poppy seed bagels can influence drug tests.

Nonetheless, eating poppy seed bagels in moderation shouldn’t cause any problems. If you’re ready to dive into your bagel-crafting adventure, read on to start your adventure.

poppy seed bagel

Poppy Seed Bagels

As their name suggests, poppy seed bagels are standard bagels scattered with poppy seeds. Although the origin of the poppy seed bagel isn’t clear, it emerged after 1610, when historians first noted the bagel's existence.
Prep Time 1 hr 10 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 277 kcal


  • cups Warm water
  • 3 teaspoons Dried yeast
  • 3 Tbsp Sugar, divided
  • 4 cups Bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp whole milk
  • 3 Tbsp Poppy seeds


  • Combine warm water, yeast, and 1 ½ tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Add yeast mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  • If you have a stand mixer, add the mixture and turn the mixture to the lowest speed until the dough combines into a ball, about 8 minutes. If you’re working by hand, place dough on a floured surface and knead it assertively until it becomes a ball, between 7 and 8 minutes.
  • Grease a large bowl with cooking spray or oil and place the dough inside, then cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Place the dough bowl in a warm place, such as the proving drawer of your oven. Allow the dough to rise for between an hour and an hour and a half. It will be ready when the dough is puffy.
  • Prepare for baking: preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly greasing the paper.
  • Meanwhile, prepare a water bath: combine 8 cups of water with 1 ½ tablespoon of sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and bring to a simmer.
  • While the water comes to a boil, shape the bagel dough into twelve portions, rolling each into a smooth ball. Then, shape the bagels: use your finger to poke a hole in the dough, then twirl it around your fingers until it’s about one inch wide. Use your hand to flatten the balls slightly.
  • Gently add the bagels to the simmering water in batches, about 3 minutes per round; they should rise to the surface of the water within 30 seconds. Use a spider strainer or slotted spoon to remove the bagels from the water, then place them onto the lined baking sheet.
  • Whisk the milk and egg yolk together, then brush the mixture over each bagel. Immediately sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  • Add a baking sheet to the oven and cook for twenty minutes, or until bagels are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. When you’re ready to eat, cut the bagels in half and toast them.
Keyword poppy bagel, poppy seed bagel

Tips & Tricks for Poppy Seed Bagels

Want some extra tips to add that special something to your poppy seed bagel? You’ve come to the right place!

Do I need milk to make poppy seed bagels?

If you don’t have milk or eggs on hand or have a dietary restriction that makes it difficult to use those ingredients, don’t worry! Instead of using the egg wash, add the bagel seeds as soon as the bagels are out of the boiling water. This will ensure that the seeds still stick.

poppy seed bagel

Alternatively, you can swap out the milk and use a non-dairy alternative like oat milk or almond milk.

Do I need baking soda to boil my bagels?

Strictly speaking, baking soda is not essential for boiling your bagels–there is no single magic formula for making the perfect bagel, so methods vary. Here, we use sugared water, but another option is to add a tablespoon of baking soda into your bath to give your bagels a nice pretzel-like texture.

Do you need bread flour to make bagels?

Bread flour is a key ingredient in bagels because it imparts them with their signature chewy texture. In a pinch, you can certainly use all-purpose flour, but keep in mind that it will produce markedly less tasty bagels.

Nutrition Information of Poppy Seed Bagels

Calories: 277

Fat: 1.4 grams

Sodium: 443 milligrams

Carbohydrates: 55 grams

Protein: 11 grams


Although it might seem intimidating to make poppy seed bagels, the process couldn’t be simpler. Just follow along with the steps we outline here and you’ll be in bagel heaven in no time!

Join the Conversation

  1. 2mikes1nick says:

    Our family was split between “ok”, “good” and “great”.

  2. sjones123 says:

    I prepared this today and it was a hit.

  3. I made this. It was delicious.

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