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The easiest Salted Butter Candy Cane Bagels…yes, double the salt and a little extra butter. A mix between a soft, buttery, salty pretzel and a slightly chewy bagel. They’re airy, perfectly salted, and every last bite is oh so buttery…the best of both worlds. These bagels are simple, made using only pantry staple ingredients, fun to make, and of course, extra festive too! The perfect addition to your Christmas Eve and or Christmas Day dinners!

overhead photo of Salted Garlic Butter Candy Cane Bagels

Happy day before Christmas Eve!! This is one of the most exciting days of the year. The days leading up to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day always feel so special. Everyone is getting every last thing in order and getting ready to slow down and spend time with family and friends come Christmas Eve. This year it’s just our immediate family and we’re minus a brother and a wife (Bren & Lyns, you guys are really going to be missed). So it’s a slightly smaller crew than usual, but we’re all feeling thankful to be able to spend the holiday together.

I love having my brothers and cousins (pretty much siblings) home and all together. There’s nothing greater than family. They’re always bringing a smile to my face and helping to bring my type A personality down a notch. With them, there’s never any stress, just fun times with the family, filled with plenty of good food.

And I really try to do up the food and make everyone’s favorite recipes, which lucky for me, don’t usually tend to be overly complicated. We all like things pretty simple and we love our traditions.

And these bagels? They’re a Christmas Eve dinner tradition that’s been going strong now since I was in middle school. Everyone loves a Candy Cane Bagel and it wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without them.

I actually shared this recipe back in 2012, but oh my gosh, that was a long while ago, so I wanted to give you all a shiny new recipe with pretty photos and much clearer directions.

And I’m excited, these bagels are my favorite…my mom and Asher’s also. And now that I think about it, every single brother too (well, maybe not Oslo). Oh, and my dad as well…and yup, my cousins too…the whole gang. As I said, these bagels are very much loved over here.

prep photo of rolling the bagels

The Story.

Before we moved to Colorado my mom would buy Einstein Bagels every week, stock the freezer full of bagels, and they’d be breakfast every day for my brothers and me. We all love a good bagel. During Christmas, Einstein’s used to sell Holiday Candy Cane Bagels. Maybe they still do?

My mom would order a whole three dozen for her annual Christmas Eve party and they were always gone within minutes. They’d come warm, and covered in way too much butter and salt…which made them every bit as delicious and addicting as they sound. Not to mention adorable and so festive!

They were a hit every single year, I mean how could they not be? Bagels, butter, salt, and shaped into candy canes? Absolutely nothing not to love.

When we moved to Colorado, the closest Einstein’s was in Denver. Much too far to order Candy Cane Bagels for Christmas Eve. So the second year we lived here, I made my own and I’ve done it every year since then. Got to keep those traditions alive and well!

prep photo of twisting the bagels

Here’s how you make these Candy Cane Bagels.

If you’ve never made bagels, I know they can be intimidating, but the truth is, they’re really pretty simple. Especially with this recipe. What’s really awesome is that these bagels require no fancy ingredients. Just water, yeast, honey, flour, salt, and butter… lots of butter and salt.

That’s it. And if you have a kitchen with anything stocked in it, then you most likely have these ingredients on hand. I will say that using pretzel salt can elevate your bagels just a smidge. But of course, you can also use a good Kosher salt or flaky sea salt. They’re all simply salt, just different sizes, so any type works!

bagels before baking

Now, mix and shape the Candy Cane Bagels

Start by mixing the dough. Once it’s mixed, you’ll divide it in half and add red food coloring to one half, then let both sets of dough rise. This takes anywhere from one to two hours, it just depends on how warm your kitchen is. Once the dough has doubled in size, shape the Candy Canes. Meaning, roll the dough into ropes, twist them together, then easily curve each twist at the top to create a candy cane.

The trickiest part about bagels is the boiling process, which actually isn’t tricky at all. Simply drop the bagels into the boiling water, a couple at a time, and boil until they float. Boiling the bagels before baking gives them that chew factor, and that classic “bagel” taste. Pretzels are cooked in the same way.

You might need to reshape the bagels into candy canes after boiling, but this is very easy to do.

overhead close up photo of Salted Garlic Butter Candy Cane Bagels

Onto the baking.

Brush each bagel with a beaten egg. This will give them a nice crust.

Then the next step is KEY. Bake the bagels, but about halfway through cooking, remove them from the oven. Brush each bagel generously with melted butter, and then sprinkle the salt. That’s the salty component, and honestly? It’s the best part.

Return the bagels to the oven and minutes later you’ll have hot, buttery, salty Candy Cane Bagels all ready to be eaten. And yes, your kitchen will smell better than your local bagel shop, trust me. Hints of butter, soft bread baking…somehow you can almost smell the salt in the air.

It’s a wonderful thing that’s perfectly fitting for the most wonderful time of year.

And then, if garlic butter is your thing, I recommend adding some. This is optional, but OH SO GOOD, and extra special for Christmas. Golden browned butter with caramelized garlic. And when drizzle over each candy cane? Delicious. I’m talking eat all the bread before you even look at dinner, kind of delicious. Dramatic, but true.

These bagels disappear quickly. If you want to have leftovers to freeze, I’d recommend doubling the recipe. Make a dozen for this week and a dozen to serve next week for New Years’!

And lastly, these are insanely delicious right out of the oven served warm with that garlic butter. Or…try a smear of cream cheese for breakfast. But over here the way we REALLY love them most…served with our Christmas Eve dinner. Yep, you guys should definitely give them a try.

So what do you all think? Candy Cane bagels for Christmas!?

Please say yes! And to help entice you even more, I’m making them on Instagram tonight to give you the full how-to!!

Salted Garlic Butter Candy Cane Bagels

Looking for other easy Christmas bread recipes? Here are my favorites: 

Pull-Apart Garlic Butter Bread Wreath

Buttery Parker House Rolls

Easier Extra Flaky Homemade Crescent Rolls

Pull Apart Parmesan Sage Butter Brioche Rolls

Lastly, if you make these Salted Butter Candy Cane Bagels, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Salted Butter Candy Cane Bagels

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Resting time 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Servings: 1616 Bagels
Calories Per Serving: 4 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.


Garlic Butter (optional)


  • 1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water, yeast, and honey. Let sit 5-10 minutes, until bubbly on top. Add 5 cups flour, the salt, and 2 tablespoons of softened butter. Knead until the dough comes together, about 1-2 minutes, adding the additional 1/2 cup flour as needed.
    2. Divide the dough in half and place one half of the dough in a large bowl. Cover and set aside. Return the other half of the dough to the mixing bowl and add the red food coloring. Knead the dough until the red is mixed throughout and there are no streaks. Cover and let both dough balls sit in a warm place for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.
    3. Preheat the oven to 425°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
    4. Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and place it on your counter, using a little more flour if needed to prevent from sticking. Divide each dough into 16 pieces, about 1 ounce each if using a kitchen scale. Roll both the red and white dough into ropes, about 8 inches long. Take one white and one red rope and twist them around each other. Shape the twists into a candy cane and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining ropes. Cover the baking sheets with a damp kitchen towel and let the bagels rise 15-30 minutes.
    5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the baking soda. Lower 2-3 bagels at a time into the water. Boil for 3 minutes then flip to the other side and boil for 1-2 additional minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bagels from the pot letting the water drain. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat until you've boiled all of the bagels.
    6. If needed, reshape the bagels back into candy canes. Brush each bagel with the beaten egg. Make sure there is no water piled up next to the bagels. Transfer to the oven and bake 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the remaining 4 tablespoons melted butter over each of the bagels. Generously sprinkle each bagel with salt. Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until the bagels are golden brown. Slice, toast, eat whole, slathered with butter, cream cheese or garlic butter (below)!
    7. To Make the garlic butter, heat the butter and the garlic in a small skillet over medium heat and cook the butter until it begins turn very light brown and the garlic is fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the thyme. Drizzle or dip the rolls with garlic butter. Enjoy warm!


Storing: Bagels will keep for 4-5 days in a sealed storage bag. But you may prefer to freeze them, as the salt on the bagels will begin to make them soggy.
Freezing: Bagels can be frozen for up to 4 months in a freezer-safe container. 
To Use Instant Yeast: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water, yeast, honey, flour, salt, and 2 tablespoons softened butter. Knead until the dough comes together, about 1-2 minutes. Follow the directions as listed for the remainder of the recipe. 
To Make Gluten Free: Use an equal amount of your favorite gluten-free flour blend in place of the all-purpose flour. I recommend Cup4Cup gluten free flour
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    1. Hey Nica,
      Sure, that should be okay to do! Please let me know if you give the recipe a try, I hope you love it! xTieghan

    1. Hi Katie,
      They are a combo of both:) I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  1. 5 stars
    Hi! Im planning on making this recipe as a Christmas present for my brothers but Im trying to test the recipe today in my apartment and don’t have a standing mixer. Do you think I’ll be able to do it with a handheld mixer?

    Thank you and thank you for all your recipes, they are my absolute favorites!


    1. Hey Eliza,
      Instead of a handheld mixer, because those really don’t have the correct hook attachment, I would mix with a wooden spoon and knead by hand. Please let me know if you give the recipe a try, I hope you love it! xTieghan

  2. 4 stars
    Turned out okay. Taste great but mine did not keep that same bright red coloring. More like brown and pink candy canes. Any ideas how to keep the coloring?

    1. Hey Samantha,
      Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try, sorry to hear about the coloring! I would try a different brand of food coloring next time. xTieghan

  3. Hi Tieghan, I just made this and they were a pretty large fail for me, aesthetically speaking. I’m assuming I did something wrong, maybe it was even just too warm in my house? After the candy canes sat for about 20 minutes (step 4), they were so sticky that when I placed them into the boiling water there was zero chance of them retaining any semblance of candy cane shape. They look like they belong on an episode of Nailed It! How did you transfer them to the water without them getting all crazy misshapen? And once they came out of the water there was zero chance that I could manipulate them back into candy canes, their fate was sealed in the water. But they taste amazing! Would love some advice!

    1. Hey LeeAnn,
      I am so sorry you had issues with the bagels. Was there anything you may have adjusted in the recipe? Please let me know how I can help! Happy New Year! xTieghan

  4. Hi there! Made these for christmas and planned to make exactly as written (obviously because your recipes always come out perfectly), but ran into a hiccup and my oven wouldn’t work!
    After panicking for a bit I ended up boiling the pretzels as instructed, and “baked” them in my slowcooker that also has a brown/sautee function at 400 degrees (the hottest it goes) and blasting them under the broiler afterwards. They still turned out well – flavor was great and the texture of the bagel really worked! Our rendition was served as a breakfast sandwich with bacon, egg, and cheese! I definitely want to try to make these again with a working oven, but just wanted to say thanks for reposting the recipe to make the 2020 holidays more festive!

    1. Hey Christine,
      Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try, I am so glad they ended up working out for you! Happy New Year! xTieghan

  5. So cute for Christmas! Just curious…what kind and/or brand of food coloring to get such a beautiful deep red color without affecting the recipe?

    1. Hey Rhonda,
      The gel food coloring seems to work best! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! Happy Holidays! xTieghan

  6. If I want to get them started the night before, do I let the dough rise overnight? Or, would I boil and leave on baking sheet until morning. Thanks!

    1. Hey Eileen,
      I would boil and bake them, but leave the salt off. Then in the morning, brush with butter, sprinkle with salt and bake at 325 for 10 minutes to warm through. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! Happy Holidays! xTieghan

  7. If I don’t have a stand mixer with the bread attachment, is there an alternative way?? I really want to try this recipe but don’t have the mixer you mention in the recipe.

    1. Hey Erin,
      You can go ahead and mix this with a wooden spoon and then knead by hand. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! Happy Holidays! xTieghan

  8. As I was reading your post you said the word salt so much, that I thought I could almost taste salt in my mouth!! LOL! Thank you for such a great post! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!

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  10. Thank you for sharing this. What a wonderful idea! They look great and I bet they are very yummy. I love Christmas!!!

    Merry Christmas.

  11. We have made homemade bagels and they were really good, better than the store definitely. I’ve never considered making anything as festive and fun as these, though! They would be so great for breakfast on Christmas!