Have you ever had a chonga bagel from Starbucks? It was originally named chonga for the toppings: CHeese, ONion, and GArlic. I was way too impressed by this clever little fact that I just learned. This bagel is essentially topped with everything seasoning + cheddar cheese. That’s actually exactly what Starbucks calls these bagels now, “Everything & Cheddar Bagel”. You don’t have to go to Starbucks for one of these incredible creations though. Instead, make these Soft & Chewy Bagels right at home and enjoy the freshest bagel you’ll ever sink your teeth into.
These are just as the name implies, soft and chewy which perfectly balances the slightly crusty, golden brown exterior. These bagels stand strong on their own but add the “chonga” toppings for a burst of flavor. First, there’s a nice even layer of salty, garlicky everything seasoning, then a blanket of sharp cheddar cheese melts over which together creates the flavorful, cheesy chonga bagel. So let’s go over what you’ll need to make these.
Ingredients for Soft & Chewy Bagels
Water + Yeast: I always like to use instant yeast because there is no need to activate it before adding the other ingredients. You can use active dry yeast instead but you will need to activate it with the water first, which takes about 10 minutes. Make sure that your water is between 90 – 110 degrees F if using active dry yeast so it activates properly.
Bread Flour: You’ll want to use bread flour to get the chewy, dense texture of a classic bagel. All-purpose flour has a lower percentage of protein which means that it will produce a much softer texture. You need the higher protein content from the bread flour which creates more gluten and a more elastic dough. This equals the ideal chewy bagel.
Brown Sugar: A little bit of brown sugar adds a touch of sweetness.
Salt: Every bread recipe needs some salt for flavor.
Water + Honey Bath: Don’t skip this step! Boiling the bagels in a water bath before baking creates the crispy crust and the honey helps achieve the perfect dark golden brown exterior during baking.
Egg Wash: This will help the toppings stick to the bagels, especially any seeds or seasonings. It also gives them that shiny, golden finish while baking.
Everything Seasoning: A classic bagel topping that you can buy or make yourself. Traditionally this mix is made up of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, and sea salt.
Cheddar Cheese: I use a good quality extra sharp cheddar cheese and recommend buying a block of it and shredding it yourself. It’s a little less expensive this way and there are no extra additives like the pre-shredded cheeses which don’t melt as well either. I personally think it always tastes better when you grate it yourself fresh and saving a little money doesn’t hurt either.
What to Top Your Bagels With
You can’t go wrong with a good plain bagel or my chonga copycat but the possibilities of toppings you can add are endless. Here are a few more of my favorite toppings to add:
- Sesame Seeds
- Flaky Sea Salt
- Pepperoni and Cheese
- Pickled Jalapenos and Cheese
- Asiago Cheese
- Cinnamon Sugar
For any seeds or seasonings, I find it easiest to pour these out onto a small plate so you can dip the top of the bagel right in after brushing on the egg wash. However, for salt, I would just do a light sprinkle. For cheeses and heavier toppings, you’ll want to press these gently onto the bagel while it’s on the baking sheet. When adding cheese, I use around ½ cup for each bagel. This may seem like a lot for one bagel but you want to make sure to have a nice layer covering the surface. Play around with the combination of toppings to find your favorite!
Best Ways to Eat a Bagel
My favorite way to eat these soft, chewy bagels is sliced in half, toasted to golden perfection, and smeared with heaps of cream cheese. Then I sandwich the sides back together so the warm cream cheese ever-so-slightly melts and oozes out the sides when you take that first big bite. This is something I could eat daily and never get tired of. Here are several other ways to enjoy these bagels that are quite delightful too!
- Toasted with butter
- Add a flavored cream cheese
- Breakfast Bagel Sandwich
- Turkey Bagel Sandwich
- Avocado Bagel Toast
- Pizza Bagels
More Bread Recipes You’ll Love
Soft & Chewy Bagels
- 1 ⅓ cups (328mL) water
- 2 teaspoons (7g) instant yeast
- 4 cups (520g) bread flour
- 1 Tablespoon (12g) brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons (10g) salt
- 2 quarts water
- ¼ cup (85g) honey
- egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water)
- everything seasoning (optional)
- cheddar cheese, grated (optional)
- Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, add the ingredients in this order: water, yeast, flour, brown sugar, then salt. Mix on low speed until combined then increase to medium speed and mix until dough is strong, smooth, and forms into a ball, about 10 minutes. The dough will be on the dry side.
- Form the dough into a ball and place it in a large bowl greased with cooking spray or oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise in a warm spot, or at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Shaping: Once the dough is ready, remove it from the bowl and gently press out any air bubbles. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. You can eyeball this but I like to use a kitchen scale. Weigh the entire dough ball and divide that number 8 to get the weight that each portion needs to be.
- Roll each piece of dough into a ball making a smooth top and any seam on the bottom. Then to form the bagel shape, simply stick your thumb right through the middle of the small dough ball. Form a bagel shape, while making the opening in the center about 1½ inches in diameter.
- Place the shaped bagels on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment or silicone mats. Cover loosely with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out and allow the bagels to rest while preparing the water bath.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Water Bath: Bring the 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Stir in the honey. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Gently add each bagel to the water bath in a single layer. Boil the bagels for one minute on each side. You may need to boil the bagels in a few rounds, to avoid crowding the pot. Move the bagels back to the baking sheet as you pull them out of the water bath.
- Topping & Baking: Brush the egg wash on the top and sides of the bagels using a pastry brush. Immediately dip the top in your desired topping or leave plain. For the chonga bagel, dip it in everything seasoning, place back on the pan then generously sprinkle on the cheddar cheese.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown, turning halfway through.
- Allow the bagels to cool before slicing or enjoy them warm with butter or your favorite cream cheese!