Looking for a fun idea for St Patrick's Day breakfast, unicorn birthday party, or a colorful addition to your pride brunch? These rainbow bagels are fantastic!
... and sometimes, I like to get a bit more weird with it, and make bright colored, beautiful bagels. Those colorful bagels would be things like my Christmas Bagels, Red Velvet Bagels, and bright pink Heart Shaped Bagels.
Today’s bagel recipe may be a plain bagel *in flavoring* (and that’s adaptable, more on that in a bit!), but these are no ordinary bagels!
No, today I’m sharing my rainbow bagel recipe!
These colorful rainbow bagels are a bit of work - kneading 6 different colors into the dough - so they’re more of a special treat than an everyday recipe.
That said, they’d be a huge hit for certain birthday party themes, St Patrick’s day, and Pride month brunch festivities.
No worries, though - it’s all fairy simple techniques, that even beginner bagel makers will have no problem with. Just have a littl patience and trust the process!
Rainbow Bagel Backstory
While I’d love to take credit for the invention of rainbow bagels - I’ve taken every opportunity to rainbow-up anything I can, since I was a toddler - these have apparently existed in some form LONG before I ever developed my own recipe.
According to a quick search, the inventor was Scot Rossillo, who’s known as a “world premier bagel artist”, and is owner of The Bagel Store, a bagel shop in New York City.
Looks like it closed down last year, shame. Sounds like the guy had an indelible impact on the bagel industry - proudly straying from normal bagels, and turning out all kinds of gorgeous, colorful bagels.
Why do I never hear about such things, till they’re gone?
Oh well - I’ve never even been to NYC, so having heard of him earlier wouldn’t have changed much, I guess!
Anyway, on to that recipe!
This is a super basic bagel recipe, and uses really simple ingredients. For the most part, you’re likely to have it all in your pantry... and anything you don’t, will be super easy to find in any grocery store.
You will need:
All Purpose Flour
Active Dry Yeast
The less common ingredient? Food colouring.
Liquid food coloring: Generally found in the baking aisle at the grocery store.
Paste food coloring: Usually Wilton brand, you can find this style in craft supply stores and cake decorating supply shops.
Gel food coloring: Comes in a few brands, also found in the larger craft supply chains (sometimes), and in cake decorating shops.
I always use gel colors, as they give the most vibrant colors, without adding a ton of liquid. This is especially important when dealing with bagel dough.
At the very least, you’ll need Red, Yellow, and Blue food coloring - Orange, Green, and Purple can be mixed using these primary colors.
That said, you’ll have an easier time if you just use premade orange, green, and purple food coloring.
I didn’t realize I’d run out of purple when making this batch, and had to mix it from red and blue. As you can see, my purple isn’t quite as pretty as the premade colors.
Sweet Rainbow Bagel Variation
As is, this rainbow bagels recipe makes regular bagels, good for making breakfast sandwiches, etc with.
If you’d like a sweet bagel, you can add an additional 1 cup of granulated sugar - mix it in with the flour, not the yeast.
When doing sweet bagels, I like to add a bit of flavouring, at the beginning of mixing the dough together.
Adding 1 tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract is my go-to, as a fairly neutral flavour that will go well with any sweet cream cheese blend spread on it.
That said, feel free to have fun with it!
Lorann Flavor Oils come in all sorts of fun flavors - cherry, grape, cheesecake, blueberry, green apple, mango, and more.
As an example, if these bagels are intended to be party of something like a unicorn themed birthday party, you can even make cotton candy bagels - just add 1 - 1 ½ teaspoon Lorann Cotton Candy Flavor Oil when you first mix the dough ingredients together!
When making sweet bagels, it can be fun to spread the cut bagels with cream cheese, then scatter some rainbow sprinkles over it - or mix up a funfetti cream cheese!
Be a little extra - they’re rainbow bagels, after all!
How to Make Rainbow Bagels
The full recipe is in the recipe card at the end of this post, here is the pictorial walk through:
Make the Dough
Measure warm water into a glass measuring cup or small mixing bowl.
Stir in sugar and yeast, allow to stand for 10 minutes – it should get very bubbly.
Pour in yeast mixture, stir well to combine and form a rough dough.
Dump dough out onto a floured surface, knead until soft and elastic, 5-10 minutes.
Once dough is fully kneaded and is a smooth ball, place it on a clean work surface. I like to use a silicone pie mat, as pictured- but a clean, lightly floured work surface also work.
Note: use very little flour. Too much flour will dry out the dough!
Divide into 6 equal pieces.
Keep the dough balls covered as you work, spray each coloured ball of dough with a bit of nonstick spray when you’re done kneading the colouring.
Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel, and let the dough rise in a warm place for one hour, or until doubled in size.
Assemble the Bagels
Once dough has doubled in size, flatten the red dough out into a rectangle about 5 x 7" in size.
Flatten the orange dough out to the same size, stack it on top of the red dough, stretching and pressing to uniformly cover the red piece.
Finally, flatten the purple piece out and stack it on top of the blue dough.
Press the whole stack down firmly to flatten & even out a bit, and adhere the layers of dough.
Using a sharp knife, cut the loaf of stacked dough strips into 8 equal strips.
Secure the ends of this spiral log together, repeat with remaining strips of dough.
Then I flip it upside down and apply pressure while I roll the dough a few times to secure, while my hand maintains the bagel hole. I hope the pictures show what I mean!
Cover with plastic wrap, set bagels in a warm place to rise for another 20 minutes.
Boil and Bake
Preheat oven to 350F, and bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Turn heat down a little, allowing water to simmer rather than boil. 2 or 3 at a time, drop your bagels into the barely boiling water.
Boil bagels for 1 minute, then flip each and allow to cook for another minute.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the bagels from the water, drain well, and place on a lined baking sheet.
If any of the bagels have come undone, gently re-form them. If the dough is touching, it’ll bake together!
Remove bagels from oven, place pans on a wire rack to cool for at least 2-3 minutes before cutting.
(The bagels are much easier to cut after cooling to room temperature, though!)
Once cooled to room temperature, leftovers can be transferred to an airtight container.
They’ll keep at room temperature for 3 days or so, or up to 5-6 days in the fridge. They’ll be fine a week or more in the fridge, they just won’t taste as fresh!
Best served reheated.
More St Patrick's Day Recipes
Looking for more fun, tasty recipes to serve on St Paddy's Day? Here are a few fun Irish - and Irish-inspired - recipes to try:
Share the Love!
Also, be sure to subscribe to my free monthly email newsletter, so you never miss out on any of my nonsense. Well, the published nonsense, anyway!
Finally, if you love this recipe, please consider leaving a star rating and/or a comment below, and maybe even sharing this post on social media!
- 2 Baking Sheets
- Parchment Paper
- 1.5 cups Warm - not hot - water
- 3 tablespoon Granulated Sugar
- 4 teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
- 3 ½ cups All Purpose Flour
- 2 teaspoon Salt
- Red Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Purple Gel Food Colors
Make the Dough:
- Measure warm water into a glass measuring cup or bowl.
- Stir in sugar and yeast, allow to stand for 10 minutes – it should get very bubbly.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Pour in yeast mixture, stir well to combine.
- Dump dough out onto a floured surface, knead until soft and elastic, 5-10 minutes.
- Alternatively, use a stand mixer with a dough hook for about 7 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic.
- Once dough is fully kneaded, place it on a clean work surface. Divide into 6 equal pieces.
- One piece at a time, knead in some gel food coloring, until smooth, even, and intense colour is achieved. You can do this by hand or in a stand mixer, just be sure to wash the surfaces between dough colours.
- Keep the dough balls covered as you work, spray each coloured ball of dough with a bit of nonstick spray when you’re done kneading the colour ing.
- Place each in a separate, lightly greased bowl, or spaced out on a large pan lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.
Assemble the Bagels:
- Once dough has doubled in size, flatten the red dough out into a rectangle about 5 x 7" in size.
- Flatten the orange dough out to the same size, stack it on top of the red dough, , stretching and pressing to uniformly cover the red piece.
- Repeat with yellow, green, and blue dough pieces.
- Finally, flatten the purple piece out and stack it on top of the blue dough. Press the whole stack down firmly to flatten & even out a bit, and adhere the doughs.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the stacked loaf of dough into 8 equal strips.
- One strip at a time, twist the dough to form a candy cane-like spiral, then roll to form the dough into a smooth log.
- Secure the ends of this spiral log together, repeat with remaining strips of dough.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, place formed bagels on the prepared baking sheets.
- Cover with plastic wrap, allow to rise for another 20 minutes.
Boil and Bake
- Preheat oven to 350F, and bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Turn heat down a little, allowing water to simmer rather than boil. 2 or 3 at a time, drop your bagels into the simmering water.
- Allow to cook for 1 minute, then flip each and allow to cook for another minute. Drain well, place on a lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 35-38 minutes, until lightly golden brown.
- Remove bagels from oven, place pans on a cooling rack for at least 2-3 minutes before cutting. (The bagels are much easier to cut after cooling to room temperature, though!)