Jerusalem Bagels

Jerusalem Bagels--A traditional bagel like the ones sold in Old Jerusalem I have been looking forward to this post for over a year. I thought that it would be fun to start my Christmas posts off this week with recipes featuring foods or main ingredients found in Israel. The recipes include Jerusalem Bagels, Pomegranate-Orange Ice Cream Floats and Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce.

This first recipe, Jerusalem Bagels, was somewhat of a challenge—one of the few things I have Googled and came away nearly empty handed. There are lots of pictures of them hanging out in cyberton, but I only came across two recipes. They were pretty similar, neither of them being too much different than the recipe that I use for a loaf of white bread. Sooooooo, after careful consideration and much thought regarding flavors and ingredients that I would find in Israel, I winged it.

When we were in Old Jerusalem last year I noticed an interesting bread product in some of the bakeries.  Our guide referred to them as Jerusalem bagels and then bought several for our group to share. I got one small bite of the bagel, dipped into za’atar, a blend of herbs, toasted sesame seeds, and salt.

A Jerusalem bagel is not like the bagels to which many of us are accustomed. They are more bread-like and somewhat lighter than traditional bagels. They are quite large and oval shaped—big enough to share! Interestingly these bagels are not boiled before baking. Often sesame seeds or sometimes, za’atar, are sprinkled on the outside of the bagel. Frequently za’atar is used as a ‘dip’ for the Jerusalem bagels.

Jerusalem Bagels--A traditional bagel like the ones sold in Old Jerusalem

Jerusalem Bagels--ZataarZa'atarAs I mentioned, Za’atar is a blend of herbs, toasted sesame seeds, and salt. The herb blend often includes oregano, marjoram, thyme, and sumac. I brought a bag of za’atar back with me from Israel, not knowing that I could actually make my own za’atar. I have included a few links for za’atar recipes at the end of this post. The only ingredient that may stump you is sumac. If you don’t have Middle Eastern market in your area, then it may be challenging to find sumac. Best advice—leave it out and add whatever puts a smile on your face. Stay with a Mediterranean flavor blend and you will be fine.


Links for Za’atar recipes:

This is a fun and very easy bagel to make. I’m thinking that it would be a great family project, something the kids could get their hands into and really enjoy making.

Jerusalem Bagels--A traditional bagel like the ones sold in Old Jerusalem
Just a little overhead distraction while I was photographing the bagels outside.

Print green and blue-1Jerusalem Bagels

Familiar to Old Jerusalem as a common street food, these bagels are simple to make and use basic ingredients. They are only baked without being boiled beforehand. Eat them plain, or dipped in olive oil and/or traditional za’atar.


  • 2 cups warm water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • pinch of white sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup powdered milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6-7 cups bread flour (If you do not have bread flour, all-purpose white flour may be used, but will give a somewhat different texture to the bagels.)
  • 1 egg + 2 teaspoons water, lightly beaten to make a wash
  • sesame seeds
  • za’atar (optional)


  1. Dissolve yeast and a pinch of white sugar in 1 cup warm water.  Allow to sit until yeast has activated (gets very bubbly and has risen).
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer put the activated yeast, the remaining cup of warm water, honey, olive oil, powdered milk, salt and 5 cups of flour.
  3. With dough hook attachment in place, begin mixing the ingredients. When ingredients come together, add 1 cup of flour a little at a time, allowing the flour to be incorporated. The dough will probably be cleaning the sides of the sides of the bowl, depending on the moisture content of the flour. Add just enough flour, a little at a time, to make a mildly stiff dough. It is better to ere on the side of having a softer dough than to have a heavy dough–you don’t want to make brickbats, right? The dough should be easy to handle and hold its shape well. It’s a dough thing…do your best ;).
  4. Allow the mixer to knead the dough until smooth and elastic (the dough, not the mixer).
  5. Gather the dough into a ball. Place in an oiled bowl, turn once so that the top of the dough is very lightly oiled. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Put bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to rise until double in bulk.
  6. Punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured counter-top. Knead dough a few times to work out the gas bubbles formed by the yeast.
  7. Divide dough into six equal portions. Gather each portion into a ball, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and allow to rest for 7-10 minutes.
  8. To form a bagel out of each ball, press your thumbs through the center of the dough ball. Pick the dough up and with it resting in your upward turned palms, fingers through the center hole and thumbs around the outside of the dough; enlarge the hole by gently pulling and squeezing the dough with your hands. Continually work your way around the dough while enlarging the diameter of the circle and pulling it, gently into an oval.
  9. Place the dough onto either a parchment-lined cookie sheet or an oiled cookie sheet, if you don’t have parchment paper. (Two half-sheet cake pans will also work well.) You will only be able to fit two bagels side by side on each cookie sheet with the long portion of the oval running lengthwise in the pan. The bagels should be nearly as long as the pan. There should be several inches at the widest part between the two sides of each oval. Be sure to leave space between the ovals because they will need room to rise.
  10. Brush each bagel with the egg wash, then sprinkle with sesame seeds (or za’atar). Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until approximately double in size.
  11. Uncover and bake in a 350-degree oven until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. If baking two pans at once, be sure to rotate them half-way through the cooking time. Remove from oven and allow to cool before eating.
  12. Serve with a little olive oil and za’atar for dipping. My son in-law ate these dipped in mustard, as you would do with a pretzel. Good idea.

Recipe by Terri @ that’s some good cookin’

Jerusalem Bagels--A traditional bagel like the ones sold in Old JerusalemAfter the dough has risen its first time, punch it down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it a few times to work out the large gas bubbles formed by the happy yeast.

Jerusalem Bagels--A traditional bagel like the ones sold in Old JerusalemDivide the dough into six portions. Gather each portion into a ball. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rest for 7-10 minutes. This is important because it gives the dough time to relax which makes it a much easier dough with which to work. Kind of like people after a little R&R.

Jerusalem Bagels--A traditional bagel like the ones sold in Old JerusalemPress your thumb(s) through the center of each dough ball.

Jerusalem Bagels--A traditional bagel like the ones sold in Old JerusalemEnlarge the opening by pulling gently with both hands while working your hands around the dough circle.

Jerusalem Bagels--A traditional bagel like the ones sold in Old JerusalemPlace the bagels on a cookie sheet or a half-sheet size cake pan lined with parchment paper. If you do not have parchment paper, oil the pan well. Continue to gently stretch and squeeze the dough into an oval shape.

Jerusalem Bagels--A traditional bagel like the ones sold in Old JerusalemMix the egg and water together in a small bowl.

Jerusalem Bagels--A traditional bagel like the ones sold in Old JerusalemBrush the bagels with the egg wash.

Jerusalem Bagels--A traditional bagel like the ones sold in Old JerusalemSprinkle with sesame seeds (or za’atar). Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, then put in a warm place to rise until double in size. Bake in a 350-degree F oven for 20-30 minutes until the bagels are golden brown.

Jerusalem Bagels--A traditional bagel like the ones sold in Old JerusalemI dressed one bagel with sesame seeds and the other one with za’atar.

Jerusalem Bagels--A traditional bagel like the ones sold in Old Jerusalem

This post is linked to and was featured on:

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage: Full Plate Thursday


You may also like:

Pomegranate-Orange Ice Cream Float
Pomegranate-Orange Ice Cream Float
Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce
Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce



  1. says

    I’m glad I stumbled upon your post here today. I learn something new from bloggers from all corners of the world. At first I thought your photo at the very top of this post was a pretzel, then I realized you were talking about a Jerusalem bagel, which I’ve never heard of or tasted. So thanks for sharing this one!

  2. says

    YUM, Terri! I think I could live off of bread…and your Jerusalem bagels look marvelous with their sprinkling of sesame seeds!

    PS..I’m happy to accept your “See and Drool” award…and you need to give yourself one, too 🙂

  3. says

    Wow.. these bagels look outstanding. I’m not a baker by heart. I want so badly to be though. I’m getting over my fear of making scratch made cakes, but still need a little help with cookies. Now breads… I’m totally afraid of even trying to make. You make it so doable with your step by step photos. I will definitely need to come over here again to check out more recipes. 🙂 Thanks for visiting curry and comfort. ~ Ramona

    PS.. I read your bio… how fun that you have traveled all over the world. I have my bucket list of places to travel to and hope I get there someday. 🙂

  4. says

    Lizzy–I could live off of bread, too, and be perfectly happy.

    Feast on the Cheap–Thank you! My daughter is a chef and I am…well…a foodie, I guess. So, we are just the opposite of you and your daughter! Thanks for dropping by.

    Curry and Comfort–Good for you on making cakes from scratch! They still scare me. I feel comfortable with breads, but I’m the same as you about cookies. And by the way, always keep your bucket list full–if you take something out, make sure you put something else in. 😉

  5. says

    What a wonderful post!!
    Yes, these bagels are great, we all love them and they’re quite easy to make.
    BTW we also have here sesame with zaatar together, and I use it when I make pita=bread

    Again – wonderful post
    Winnie (from Israel)

  6. says

    Winnie–Thank you so much for dropping by and leaving a comment! I’m so happy that you like the post and give it your stamp of approval, particularly since you are from Israel. By the way, if you have a different ‘authentic’ recipe for these bagels, I’d love to have it!

  7. says

    Hi Terri,
    I am so glad to see you today and that you have brought this very special recipe to share with us. I could hardly wait to get over here to check out your Jerusalem Bagels. Now I can hardly wait to make them. This is a wonderful post! Have a wonderful week end and thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  8. says

    Miz Helen–I hope you enjoy the bagels. They are actually quite easy to make–I really liked dipping them in the olive oil and then into the herbs, so good. If you decide not to take the olive oil and herb route, honey butter would work well with this, too.

    • says

      Jayne–Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment on this recipe. I’m so happy that the bagel recipe worked well for you! These bagels bring back good memories for me. We had spent a beautiful day touring Jerusalem and ended the tour in the evening at the wailing wall. Afterwards we all shared some bagels like the ones in this recipe. It is a fond memory that always makes me smile.

  9. MaryAnne says

    Had these whilst studying in Jerusalem. We don’t see them in Australia (well, not in rural areas), and I have been drooling over the memory of them since 1989. I can’t wait to try your recipe. Thanks so much for posting it!

    • says

      Eek, MaryAnne, I hope the recipe can match your memories. I have to tell you, there are only a couple of things on my bucket list, but going back to Jerusalem is one of them. I would definitely take the opportunity to pack in some Jerusalem bagels. YUM. ~Terri

  10. Mary Glasse says

    I have recently returned from a Pilgramage to the Holy Land with a group from my church. Our guide, Iyad Qumri, introduced us to the Jerusalem Bagel & za’atar 😋
    I made it today & am so thrilled to say, it’s the real deal!


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