I’ve wanted to make bagels in my Ooni pizza oven since the day I got it. Crisp, fire-kissed rounds, tugging at my teeth with a whiff of wood smoke and a smear of cream cheese; that’s a baker’s dream. But I was afraid. This month, I finally decided to give it a shot. And then, a dozen more shots, perfecting the method until I was pulling beautiful bagels from the oven, rather than the charred rounds I made at the start of my experimenting. In short, I burned bagels so you don’t have to, and now I’m here to show you the way.
But first, a warning. If you’re looking for something with a little risk, and a big potential reward, this is the challenge for you. But the learning curve is no joke: At the start, you will burn some bagels. I did, too. But my step-by-step method will help you unlock Ooni Bagel: Level Expert in no time.
Before we get to the step-by-step, a few specific tips (don’t skip this).
Hot or not?
If you’ve made pizza or flatbreads, roasted meat, or seared fish or vegetables in an Ooni, you know it’s all about the heat: too much and you produce charcoal, too little and “hot” becomes “not.” The key is to find the right temperature zone. Let’s talk heat.
How hot for bagels? After burning more than I’d like to admit, I’ve found a sweet starting spot where the stone is around 600°F and the side wall temperature is around 800°F. (Use an infrared thermometer to measure.) (Heads up: At King Arthur, we only recommend the products that we, as bakers, truly love. When you buy through external links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.)
Once you’ve hit the desired temperature, immediately turn the gas to its lowest setting just before loading; for the wood- or pellet-fired models, let the flames fall to a low level, with just enough coals to keep a small fire going (use small sticks, adding bits at a time).
Baking with the receding heat gives the oven spring that we want initially, while the cooling oven supports the longer bake time required for maximum crispness and color. What I learned in testing was that I burned bagels when I didn't let the heat fall, though ultimately it's a balance. Not enough heat and they don't rise well or achieve the burnished crust of my dreams. So, start hot, then let the temperature fall.
For your best bake, rotate. With a strong heat source in the back of the oven (or back and side, as with the Koda 16”), it’s easy for one side of the bagel to become Florida tan while another is as pasty as my winter self. Turning the bagels as you would a pizza (remove with a peel, rotate with tongs) helps to ensure mahogany all over. No tan lines!
And don’t stop there: In addition to turning, sometimes I flip. Flipping bagels while they bake (literally turning them over like pancakes) is a practice used by the pros: At Russ and Daughters, they use bagel boards, baking on one side and then flipping to ensure a crisp crust. At Montreal’s St. Viateur, they leave the bagels on the baking peel for the first portion of baking, then flip and finish. If my heat is a little high, or if I see a bagel that is well-baked except for the bottom side, I use a pair of tongs to flip. So: Rotate, then flip if necessary.
More seeds, less sticking
Sure, I’ll eat a plain bagel. But only after all the seeded ones are gone. Good news for me and all the other seed lovers: Seeds not only make bagels taste better, but they also make baking in the Ooni easier.
As mentioned above, you need to rotate the bagels early in the bake to avoid burning. But because you’re moving them before the crust of the bagel has fully formed, the bagels may stick to the stone baking surface.
Adding seeds, however, prevents sticking. After boiling, drain the bagel briefly then dip into seeds, turning once to fully coat. I’m an *everything* person so I use our Everything Bagel Topping, but just sesame seeds or poppy can work too. (Fully coating is the move here, as the seeds cover the sticky spots of dough. And don’t worry, rotating and flipping will keep them from burning.) When the seeded bagels slide onto the stone, they don’t stick. If you’re really set on plain bagels, though, here are two additional tricks to ensure your bagels won’t stick.
First, use semolina or coarse cornmeal. After boiling, briefly set the bagels on a kitchen towel to remove some of the excess moisture, then place on a peel that’s generously sprinkled with coarse cornmeal or semolina. As with pizza, the ground grain will act as ball bearings, helping the bagel to float on the peel and oven stone so it can easily be loaded and then rotated and flipped.
The second tip is to use parchment. Cut a piece of high-quality, heat-tested, half-sheet parchment in half crosswise (to make a rectangle roughly 8 1/4” by 12 1/4”). Place four to five bagels on it after boiling, then load the bagels — still on the parchment — into the oven using a baker's peel. At the 4-minute mark, rotate the sheet of parchment and bake for another 2 minutes, until the parchment begins to brown. Slide the bagels off the parchment and continue baking them for the remainder of time — about 4 to 6 minutes — directly on the stone. (If you don’t remove them from the parchment, it will blacken and burn.)
One note: Our parchment paper is rated for higher heat than many other brands. While the initial temperature of the oven is higher than the paper's rating, the short baking time and the removal of the paper after only a few minutes have proven successful in testing.
Dude, just chill
After forming your bagels, refrigerate the shaped pieces before boiling. Why? Chilling slows down the rate of rise, giving you time to get tools together, sufficiently preheat your oven, and bring the boiling liquid up to a good roll. Furthermore, chilling the shaped pieces firms them slightly, which makes for easier handling. Well-covered, the bagels can hold in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours or even overnight.
Your step-by-step guide to making bagels in the Ooni
Here’s my method. Try it, then adapt for your Ooni model and desired bake.
- Prepare the bagels: My favorite bagel recipe, Martin’s Bagels, is from my book. Another great option is our Ultimate Sandwich Bagels, the current Recipe of the Year; this recipe has the benefit of making only eight small bagels, a very manageable batch. The smaller size (80 grams versus the standard 115 grams or larger) fits well in the smaller Ooni models (like my Karu 12”).
- Chill until ready: After shaping your bagels, place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet sprinkled with coarse cornmeal or semolina. Cover and hold in the refrigerator until it’s time to boil.
- Preheat the oven and get the water boiling: When you’re ready to bake, set a pot of water to boil and heat the oven to a hearth temperature of 600°F. Prepare seeds, set out tools, etc.
- Boil and seed: When the oven is hot and the water is boiling, remove only the number of bagels you plan to bake at one time from the refrigerator. (Baking in batches gives the oven time to recover and allows you to focus on each aspect separately.) After boiling, remove the bagels with a slotted spoon or “spider,” add seeds (or not, if you prefer), place on a peel for loading, and turn down the boiling liquid (so it doesn’t over-reduce while you’re outside baking the first batch).
- Load: Before loading, turn the oven flame to its lowest setting or, with a wood-fired oven, let the flames fall to a low level. Rather than launching as you might with pizza, push the bagels off the peel, depositing them evenly onto the stone. A metal fish spatula or a similar tool works well to control their precise location, positioning as far from the flames as possible. (It’s easier to add heat than to remove burnt spots). Note: In my Karu 16”, five to six bagels will work at a time, loaded in two rows. In the smaller 12” Ooni Karu, a batch of four bagels is a better fit.
- Start baking: After loading, close the door (if your unit has a door) and set a 4-minute timer. While the timer runs, keep a close eye. If by the 3-minute mark you see too much color, skip to the next step.
- Rotate: After 4 minutes, rotate the bagels, swapping a darker side for the lighter side, then set another 4-minute timer. If during the first 4 minutes of baking the fire side of the bagels has darkened significantly, keep an eye after you rotate, maybe even checking at 2 minutes.
- Evaluate: After 8 minutes of total baking time, assess the situation. Look for dark spots, check the underside, and rotate or flip as necessary. At this point they will need a bit longer, about 2 to 4 minutes. Do not leave the oven. Stay, watch, shuffle, and bake until each bagel has the desired level of color. With the pellet- and wood-fired Ooni models, you may find the heat dropping more than you want. If so, add pellets or small pieces of wood, getting a little fire going to give enough heat to get you through the bake.
- Remove from the oven: After 10 to 12 minutes of baking, the bagels should be dark golden or even mahogany colored. If some need a couple more minutes, leave them in while removing the ones that have enough color. Once everything is out, bring the oven back up to temperature and prepare for the next round.
Maybe it's obvious, but in case I haven't said it explicitly or with enough volume: I love this oven. If you're new to the game, I wrote another piece with broad tips and tricks for getting started; be sure to check that out. If you're a seasoned user, stay tuned for more content, more crispiness, more crunch, more fire, and more fun.
Cover photo by Martin Philip.