Want to enjoy a perfectly chewy, yet light bagel without feeling like you've carb-loaded for a marathon? This Air Fryer Whole Wheat Bagel is your answer! We're putting the Instant Pot and the Air Fryer to work today – you're gonna love this recipe!
In high school, my friends and I made daily trips to the grocery store for lunch to grab a giant blueberry bagel with strawberry cream cheese and a pack of peanut butter cups. Those were the days when I could actually eat like that on a daily basis and get away with it . . .
My now older and wiser self merely looks at a bagel and instantly needs a nap and a dose of Miralax (don't pretend you don't).
So I got to work, testing, testing, testing, refusing to give up until I figured out the perfect whole wheat bagel recipe to please my entire family.
Little did I know that the secret for a light, whole wheat bagel was my Air Fryer.
I've owned a couple of different Air Fryers and my current favorite is this Instant Pot version. It has sufficient room for everything I've cooked in it so far and the rectangle shape takes up less room than my previous spaceship-looking air fryer (which I still loved and passed on down to my sis).
This was my first time baking bread in the air fryer, and I was squealing with delight when 4 minutes later I had a pile of warm, chewy, soft bagels on the table. That's from dough to done – 4 minutes! That's faster than a toaster toasts sliced bread!
What's more, we're using the Instant Pot here as well to raise this dough in no time so we can make Whole Wheat Bagels without a ton of time or fuss.
Are you excited about this? I've helped devour 8 batches of these babies in the past month and I'm still getting excited!
Note: If you don't have an air fryer or an Instant Pot, you can still make these. More on that in a sec.
WHY YOU WILL LOVE AIR FRYER WHOLE WHEAT BAGELS
- THE TEXTURE: Instead of that heavy, “sit in your gut for 48 hours” texture, these bagels are soft and light with still a bit of that bagel chew that we all know and love.
- WHOLE WHEAT: Not just 10, 20, or 25% whole wheat. These babies are 100% whole wheat and still come out soft and delicious by using WHITE whole wheat flour, wheat gluten, milk, and eggs. It's magic.
- FREEZEABLE: Freeze them after they're cooked or freeze the dough – either way, your freezer can be stocked with bagel goodness for days! Details on this coming up.
- EASY: If you're familiar with the yeast bread making world, you'll appreciate that these come together in a snap in a mixer and have a short and sweet rise time with the help of the Instant Pot. The hardest part is rolling them out and cutting them, which is still easier than making a sheet pan of rolls.
HOW TO MAKE BAGELS IN THE AIR FRYER
- Use a stand mixer to mix up the dough (I've never tried this by hand, only with a mixer)
- Place dough on a piece of parchment paper and place dough inside the Instant Pot on the YOGURT LESS mode
- Let rise until puffy and doubled (will take 20-25 minutes)
- Flatten dough with your hands and use a 3 inch and 1 inch cutter to cut out the bagels
- Set bagels on a sheet pan, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled
- Preheat air fryer
- Place bagels in air fryer basket and spray with a little nonstick oil spray
- Cook for 4 minutes, until golden brown. Repeat with remaining bagels and bagel holes
- Place on a cooling rack and enjoy hot!
SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR DETAILED COOKING INSTRUCTIONS
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- WHITE WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR: I always use white whole wheat flour which is lighter in taste and texture than red whole wheat. I'm sure all-purpose white flour would also deliver amazing results. If you try this, you can omit the wheat gluten.
- WHEAT GLUTEN: I do consider this to be a vital ingredient for the best whole wheat bagel texture. If you omit it, the bagels will be a bit more dense. If you want to try making them without the wheat gluten, I would substitute half or all of the flour with all-purpose white flour.
- AVOID OVER FLOURING: The exact amount of flour needed will vary. Start with 2 cups of flour, then while the dough mixes, add 1 – 2 cups of flour, just until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Adding too much flour will make the bagels dense and dry.
- BAGEL THICKNESS: I prefer bagels on the thinner side. If you prefer them thinner or thicker than what's pictured here, simply adjust how thick you pat your dough out. From my experience, the cook time stays the same regardless.
- EXTRA DOUGH: After you cut out the bagels, you can press the remaining dough back together and cut out more. These bagels won't be as smooth and pretty, but they taste great. Of course, you can always just make more bagel holes or roll the dough into long ropes and braid it, twist it, or shape it however you like (great project for kids!)
- COOK IN BATCHES: Depending on the size of your air fryer, it will take 2 or more batches to cook all of the bagels and bagel holes, but they cook fast, so this isn't very time consuming.
- ALTERNATIVE RISE METHOD: If you don't have an Instant Pot, or it's busy making sausage and egg patties to go with your bagels, you can rise the dough, covered with greased plastic wrap, on the countertop for about an hour.
- ALTERNATIVE COOK METHOD: If you don't have an air fryer, these can be baked in the oven at 350° F for about 12 – 15 minutes. The texture isn't quite the same, but we still love them.
- FREEZE THE BAGELS: The cooked bagels freeze remarkably well as does the uncooked dough. I often will make a double batch so I can stock my freezer. More details on how to do this below.
- DOUBLE THE RECIPE: Like I mentioned, this recipe doubles well. I suspect it would also triple, but I haven't tested that out yet. Simply double each ingredient in the recipe and follow the same directions.
- TOAST THE BAGELS: If you want to enjoy the most amazing, melt in your mouth, buttery bagel of all time, slice it in half and toast it until barely browned. You will die of bagel happiness!
HOW TO STORE, REHEAT, AND FREEZE
- Store: Cool bagels completely then store in an air-tight bread bag or ziptop bag. Press out as much air as possible.
- Reheat: If you prefer to eat bagels warm, slice the bagel in half and toast until barely browned – amazing! Seriously, you need to try at least one like this. You can also warm several bagels at a time by tossing them back into the air fryer for 1 – 2 minutes.
- Freeze: To freeze cooked bagels, wrap them each in plastic wrap and place inside a freezer-safe ziptop bag or container for about 3 months.
HOW TO FREEZE UNCOOKED BAGELS
I love this trick because it means hot fresh bagels with very little effort the next time.
- Cut out bagels then place them on a parchment-lined sheet pan. It doesn't matter if they're close to each other since they won't rise once we place them in the freezer.
- Freeze until solid, 1 – 2 hours (I don't cover them while they're freezing but you can if you like).
- Place frozen bagels in a freezer-safe ziptop bag. Press out as much air as you can. Freeze for 1 – 2 months.
HOW TO COOK BAGEL DOUGH FROM FROZEN
- Place frozen bagels on a parchment paper lined sheet pan (give them room to rise).
- Cover with greased plastic wrap and let them thaw and rise to double at room temperature. This will take about 3 hours.
- Proceed with the air fryer directions below to cook them.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH BAGELS
- CREAM CHEESE: We love to buy sweet or savory whipped cream cheese because it spreads on so smoothly. Try this Skyr Cream Cheese.
- BUTTER: Spread of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. Mmmm . . .
- MORE SPREADS: Jam, honey, peanut butter, almond butter, hummus, etc.
- FRUIT: Orange slices, berries, watermelon, fruit smoothies, etc.
- EGGS: Fried eggs, scrambled eggs, Sausage Egg Patties, Mason Jar Breakfast Casseroles, Poached Eggs, Hard Boiled Eggs, Egg Bites, etc.
- BAGEL SANDWICH: Fried egg with bacon, avocado, and tomato is my favorite. Also perfect for tuna salad, egg salad, chickpea salad, etc.
- EVERYTHING BAGELS: Sprinkle each bagel with Everything Bagel Seasoning before air frying.
- BLUEBERRY BAGELS: Fold in freeze-dried or dried blueberries before cutting out bagel shapes.
- CINNAMON RAISIN BAGEL: Fold in raisins before cutting out bagels and top with cinnamon sugar.
I can't wait for you to experience this recipe! I wish I could have a bagel brunch bar and invite you all over to party. One day . . .
Enjoy your light/soft/chewy bagel! Leave me a message below telling me your favorite way to eat a bagel. I've got a freezer full of bagels just dying to be devoured.
MORE WHOLE WHEAT BREAD RECIPES
- Whole Wheat Bread Bowls
- Whole Wheat Breadsticks
- Whole Wheat Rosemary Asiago Crusty Bread
- Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread
TOOLS/INGREDIENTS USED TO MAKE AIR FRYER WHOLE WHEAT BAGELS
Air Fryer Whole Wheat Bagels
Whole Wheat Air Fryer Bagels are light and perfectly chewy. Perfect for breakfast sandwiches, cream cheese, butter and jam, and everything in-between!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours
- Yield: 10 1x
- Category: Breakfast
- Method: Air Fryer
- Cuisine: American
- 3 – 4 cups white whole wheat flour (see note)
- 3 tablespoons wheat gluten
- 2 ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup warm milk (about 100°F)
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add all of the ingredients with only 2 cups of the flour.
- Mix on low speed until combined. With the mixer running, continue to gradually add flour until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and forms a ball that is soft and slightly tacky. It shouldn’t be so sticky that it leaves wet dough on your fingers when you touch it. Knead for 5 minutes. The dough will be slightly stiffer than a dinner roll dough.
- Place dough on a piece of parchment paper. Use the corners of the paper to set it inside the pressure cooker pot.
- On the Instant Pot, select yogurt and adjust until it says “less”. Some models say 24:00 when in the “less” mode.
- Place the lid securely on top and allow it to rise for 25 – 30 minutes until puffy and almost doubled.
- Use the corners of the parchment paper to lift dough from the pot. Place dough on a lightly floured surface.
- Flatten it gently with your hands, then roll out to about ½ inch thickness. Cut out 9 – 10 bagels using a 3 inch round cutter and a 1 inch round cutter to remove the center.
- Place bagels on a parchment lined sheet pan. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and allow them to rise until doubled, about 30 – 45 minutes.
- Preheat Air Fryer to 350°F.
- Spray basket with nonstick oil spray. Carefully transfer bagels to the air fryer basket in a single layer – depending on the size of the basket, you’ll need to do this in 2 -3 batches. Spray bagels with oil spray and cook until browned, about 4 minutes.
- Transfer cooked bagels to a cooling rack and repeat with the remaining dough.
- If cooking the bagel “holes”, they only need 3 minutes of cook time.
- Bagels taste best fresh out of the air fryer.
- Cool leftovers completely and store in an air-tight container or bag.
- Try the bagels sliced in half and toasted – they melt in your mouth!
- I prefer to use white whole wheat flour instead of red wheat whole wheat flour because it is lighter in texture and flavor.
- I haven’t used all-purpose white flour before, but I suspect it would work wonderfully.
- The amount of flour can vary depending on several factors. Add flour just until the dough starts to pull away from the edges of the mixing bowl. Adding too much flour will make the bagels dense and dry.
- Adjust how thick or thin you roll out the dough if you prefer a thinner or thicker bagel.
- After you cut out the dough, the remaining dough can be pressed together and cut out again, the bagels just won’t be as smooth and “pretty”.
- If not using the Instant Pot to quick rise the dough, place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 60 minutes.
- Bagel dough can be frozen before cooking. After you cut them out, place bagels on a sheet pan and freeze until solid. Transfer to a freezer safe ziptop bag. When ready to cook them, place frozen bagels on a parchment lined sheet pan. Cover with greased plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature for 3 hours until they thaw and rise. Continue with cooking instructions.
- If you don’t own an air fryer, the bagels can be baked in the oven. They aren’t quite as light and airy, but they are still amazing. Bake at 350° for 12 – 15 minutes until lightly browned.
- Recipe doubles well.
Keywords: Whole Wheat Bagel, Easy Bagel, Air Fryer Bagel
Welcome! I’m Marci, wife to my motorcycle dream man and mother of 3. I have a passion for creating and cooking delicious masterpieces in my kitchen and am ecstatic to share my discoveries on TIDBITS! I like my food tasty, wholesome, memorable, and always, ALWAYS followed by dark, salty chocolate.