How to Make a Perfect Panera Cinnamon Crunch Bagel at Home

This recipe for sweet Cinnamon Crunch Bagels will bring Panera to your kitchen. It's time to get your crunch on!

Few decisions in life are as stressful as bagel selection at Panera. OK, we might be exaggerating a bit, but when you’re faced with choices like chocolate chip, blueberry and Asiago before 8 a.m., it can get overwhelming.

When in doubt, we think a Panera Cinnamon Crunch Bagel is always a great choice. There’s something magical about that crunchy, cinnamon-sugar topping once it’s toasted and slathered with a smear of flavorful cream cheese. Delicious!

Re-create a bit of that bagel magic at home (and avoid bagel decision stress) with this copycat Panera Cinnamon Crunch Bagel recipe, complete with that addicting crunch topping. Keep reading to learn how to whip up a batch of homemade bagels that are better than the bakery.

Panera Cinnamon Crunch Bagel Recipe

This recipe makes 12 heavenly bagels.

Ingredients

Cinnamon Crunch Bagels Panera ingredientsLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

  • 2-1/4 cups (530ml) water, between 105-115°F
  • 3-1/4 teaspoons (10g) instant or active dry yeast
  • 6 cups (720g) bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons (19g) light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3 teaspoons (18g) salt
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/4 cup (60g) honey
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water

Cinnamon Crunch Topping:

  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup (134g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (8g) ground cinnamon
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons (20g) all-purpose flour or bread flour

Editor’s tip: While all-purpose flour can be used in a pinch, we don’t recommend it. To achieve the right chewy bagel texture, stick with a high-protein flour, like bread flour, for the best results.

Directions

Step 1: Make the dough

Make the dough Cinnamon Crunch Bagels Panera 041921 Toh 02Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, combine the warm water and yeast and allow to proof for 5 minutes. Next, add the flour, brown sugar and salt, and mix for 2-3 minutes on your mixer’s lowest setting.

You should end up with a stiff, sticky dough.

Make the dough Cinnamon Crunch Bagels Panera 041921 Toh 03Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Step 2: Knead by hand

Knead by hand Cinnamon Crunch Bagels Panera 041921 Toh 04Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead with lightly floured hands for 5-6 minutes. The dough should be firm and rather tough.

Editor’s note: Sorry, you’ll have to knead this chunk of dough by hand. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a powerful commercial stand mixer, this dough is likely much too tough for even the best KitchenAid.

Step 3: First rise

First rise Cinnamon Crunch Bagels Panera 041921 Toh 05Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Shape the dough into a smooth ball and place into a clean, lightly greased bowl. Turn the dough over a few times in the greased bowl to coat all sides with oil. Then, cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough proof at room temperature for 60-90 minutes or until it has doubled in size.

Step 4: Make the cinnamon crunch topping

Make the cinnamon crunch Cinnamon Crunch Bagels Panera 041921 Toh 07Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour until well combined. Set aside.

Editor’s tip: We like to make the crunch topping while the bread proofs so that the mixture has time to meld together. As it sits, the butter will solidify a bit and the mixture will become crumbly—like wet sand. For best results, this is the consistency you’re looking for when topping your bagels.

Step 5: Shape

Shape Cinnamon Crunch Bagels Panera 041921 Toh 09Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

After the first rise, punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (about 4 ounces or 110g) and then form each piece into a smooth ball. Next, shape each ball into a bagel by poking your index finger through the center of the ball while gently stretching the dough into a chubby ring.

weight dough Cinnamon Crunch Bagels Panera 041921 Toh 10Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Arrange the bagels on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let rest for 10-15 minutes.

putting hole in bagel by hand Cinnamon Crunch Bagels Panera 041921 Toh 11Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Editor’s tip: For cinnamon crunch bagels, we recommend creating a smaller hole in these bagels than you may be used to seeing. A smaller hole will allow more of the crunch topping to sit on top of the bagels rather than drip through the holes and possibly burn under the bagels as they bake.

Cinnamon Crunch Bagels Panera raw dough bagel shapesLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Step 6: Water bath

Cinnamon Crunch Bagels Panera Water bathLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Preheat the oven to 425°. Then, place a large pot on the stove over high heat. Fill with 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Whisk in 1/4 cup of honey and reduce the heat to medium. Gently drop 2-3 bagels into the water bath at a time, making sure they have enough room to float around freely. Cook for 2-3 minutes, turning after about a minute. Remove using a slotted spoon, draining any excess water, and return to the parchment-lined baking sheets.

Make sure the bagels have plenty of room to bake. Limit each baking sheet to 4 bagels.

Editor’s tip: You may be tempted to skip the water bath, but don’t—it’s part of what makes New York bagels so good.

Step 7: Bake

Bake Cinnamon Crunch Bagels Panera 041921 Toh 14Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Whisk together the egg white and water and then brush the egg wash over the tops and sides of each bagel. Spoon a generous amount of the crunch topping over each bagel.

Bake Cinnamon Crunch Bagels Panera 041921 Toh 15Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway and pushing away any of the sugar that has fallen off the bagels using a spoon. The bagels are ready once they’ve turned a deep golden brown color and the crunch topping has caramelized.

Remove from the oven and allow bagels to cool completely on the baking sheets. Serve sliced and smeared with our Test Kitchen’s preferred cream cheese.

Bake Cinnamon Crunch Bagels Panera 041921 Toh 16Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

How to Make Bagel Dough Ahead

If you want freshly baked bagels at brunch but don’t want to wake up at 4 a.m., you can make the dough the night before. Simply make the dough through Step 3, but let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, when you’re ready to bake, let the dough come to room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping and proceeding with the final steps.

How to Store Cinnamon Crunch Bagels

Cinnamon Crunch Bagels Panera 041921 Toh 17Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

These bagels are best enjoyed within 24 to 48 hours after baking. To store leftovers, let them cool completely and then store in a large paper bag. A bag, as opposed to an airtight container, will let the bagels breathe and let moisture slowly escape. This will help the crunch topping remain crisp rather than become soft and sticky.

If your topping does get a bit soft upon storing, you can bring it back to life by warming the bagels in the oven at 375° for 5-8 minutes.

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.