What To Do With Bagels?


🌟Life, Love, and Gastronomy 🍷

Delicious and soft bagels isolated on a checked cloth with honey.

Do you love bagels but are tired of the same old toppings? Are you looking for new and creative ways to enjoy this delicious bread? Look no further! In this article, we will explore various ways to use bagels for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack time.

Understanding Bagels Bagels are a type of bread that originated in Poland and are typically made with flour, salt, water, and yeast. They are boiled before being baked, which gives them their distinctive chewy texture and shiny crust. Bagels come in a variety of flavors, including plain, sesame, poppy seed, everything, cinnamon raisin, and more.

Bagel Varieties Bagels can be found in many different varieties, including mini bagels, bagel thins, and even gluten-free bagels. They can be purchased fresh or frozen, and can be found at most grocery stores and bakeries.

Key Takeaways

  • Bagels are a type of bread that originated in Poland and are typically made with flour, salt, water, and yeast.
  • Bagels come in a variety of flavors and can be found in many different varieties, including mini bagels, bagel thins, and gluten-free bagels.
  • Bagels can be used for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack time and can be topped with a variety of healthy and creative toppings.

Understanding Bagels

If you’re not familiar with bagels, they are a type of bread that originated in Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. They are typically round with a hole in the middle, and have a chewy texture and a slightly sweet taste. Bagels are usually boiled before they are baked, which gives them their distinctive texture and flavor.

Bagels are often made with wheat flour, but they can also be made with other types of flour, such as rye or barley. They can be plain, or they can be flavored with ingredients like cinnamon, raisins, or sesame seeds. Some bagels are also topped with various types of seeds or herbs.

When it comes to eating bagels, there are many ways to enjoy them. They can be eaten plain, or they can be toasted and topped with cream cheese, butter, or jam. Bagels can also be sliced and used to make sandwiches, or they can be served with various types of spreads and dips.

Overall, bagels are a versatile and delicious type of bread that can be enjoyed in many different ways. Whether you’re a fan of plain bagels or you prefer them with a variety of toppings and spreads, there’s no denying that bagels are a beloved food around the world.

The History and Origin of Bagels

Bagels, with their distinctive shape and unique texture, have a rich and storied history that spans centuries and continents. This section delves into the journey of bagels from their origins to their current status as a beloved food item around the world.

The Journey from Europe to America

The story of the bagel begins in the Jewish communities of Poland in the 17th century. Originally created as a gift for women in childbirth, the bagel quickly gained popularity and spread throughout Eastern Europe. The bagel made its way to America with the waves of Jewish immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly settling in New York City. Here, the bagel found a new home and began to evolve into the staple we know today.

Transitioning into the mid-20th century, bagels started to break out of their niche in Jewish cuisine and enter the mainstream American diet. This was in part due to the invention of the bagel-making machine in the 1960s, which allowed for mass production and distribution. As a result, bagels became more widely available and began to be enjoyed by people of all backgrounds.

The Evolution of Bagel Varieties

Originally, bagels were fairly uniform in flavor and toppings, typically served with cream cheese and sometimes lox. However, as their popularity grew, so did the variety of bagels available. Today, there are countless flavors of bagels, ranging from the traditional plain and everything bagels, to more innovative and unique flavors like blueberry, cinnamon raisin, and even jalapeño cheddar.

In addition to the diversification of flavors, the ways in which bagels are consumed have also expanded. No longer just a breakfast food, bagels are now enjoyed at all times of the day and in a variety of forms, from sandwiches to pizza bagels and beyond.

Bagel Varieties

Bagels are a beloved breakfast food that come in many different varieties. Here are some of the most popular types of bagels:

  • Plain: A classic bagel that is perfect for any topping.
  • Everything: A flavorful bagel that is topped with a mix of onion, garlic, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds.
  • Sesame Seed: A nutty and crunchy bagel that is topped with sesame seeds.
  • Poppy Seed: Similar to sesame seed bagels, but with poppy seeds instead.
  • Cinnamon Raisin: A sweet bagel that is flavored with cinnamon and raisins.
  • Onion: A savory bagel that is flavored with onion.
  • Blueberry: A sweet bagel that is flavored with blueberries.

When it comes to toppings, the possibilities are endless. Here are some popular bagel toppings:

  • Cream Cheese: A classic topping that comes in many different flavors.
  • Butter: A simple and delicious topping that pairs well with any bagel.
  • Lox: A savory topping made from smoked salmon.
  • Avocado: A healthy and flavorful topping that is packed with nutrients.
  • Egg: A protein-packed topping that can be scrambled, fried, or boiled.
  • Bacon: A salty and savory topping that adds crunch and flavor to any bagel.
  • Jam or Jelly: A sweet and fruity topping that is perfect for cinnamon raisin bagels.

No matter what type of bagel you prefer, there is a topping out there that will make it even more delicious. Experiment with different combinations to find your perfect bagel.

Selecting the Perfect Bagel

4 Perfect Bagels on a table

Selecting the perfect bagel is an art form, a delicate balance between texture, flavor, and freshness. Whether you’re a bagel connoisseur or a casual enthusiast, understanding the nuances of what makes a great bagel can significantly enhance your eating experience. In this section, we’ll delve into the key considerations and tips for choosing the best bagel to satisfy your cravings.

Freshness and Texture: Key Considerations

First and foremost, the freshness of a bagel is paramount. A fresh bagel should have a slightly crispy exterior, giving way to a soft, chewy interior. The texture is a critical component, as it distinguishes a good bagel from a great one. When selecting a bagel, give it a gentle squeeze. It should feel firm yet springy, indicating that it’s fresh and ready to be enjoyed.

Moreover, pay attention to the surface of the bagel. It should have a glossy sheen, which is a sign that it has been properly boiled before baking—a crucial step in the bagel-making process. The boiling creates the signature chewy texture that bagel lovers crave. If the bagel’s surface looks dull or feels too hard, it might be stale or not made using traditional methods.

Flavor Profiles: Finding Your Favorite

Once you’ve assessed the freshness and texture, it’s time to consider the flavor. Bagels come in a wide variety of flavors, ranging from the classic plain and sesame to more adventurous options like cinnamon raisin, blueberry, or everything bagels. When selecting a flavor, think about the toppings or spreads you plan to use, as they can complement or enhance the bagel’s taste.

If you prefer a savory breakfast, a plain, sesame, or everything bagel might be your best bet. These flavors provide a neutral base that pairs well with cream cheese, lox, or egg and cheese. On the other hand, if you have a sweet tooth, a cinnamon raisin or blueberry bagel with a smear of honey walnut cream cheese could be the perfect treat.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to try whole wheat or multigrain options. These bagels offer a nuttier flavor and can be a healthier alternative, providing extra fiber and nutrients.

Classic Bagel Toppings and Spreads

Bagels have been a beloved breakfast item for decades, and while there are endless ways to top them, there’s something undeniably satisfying about the classics. In this section, we will explore some of the most traditional and cherished bagel toppings and spreads that have stood the test of time.

Cream Cheese and Lox: A Timeless Combo

homemade bagels with cream cheese

When it comes to classic bagel toppings, it doesn’t get more iconic than cream cheese and lox. This combination of smooth, tangy cream cheese and salty, rich smoked salmon is a match made in heaven. The cream cheese provides a creamy base that complements the oily richness of the lox, while capers and red onions can be added for an extra zing. This topping is not just a breakfast favorite; it’s a culinary classic that has been enjoyed for generations.

To perfect this classic combo, start with a high-quality, freshly baked bagel. Toast it to your liking, and spread a generous layer of cream cheese. Top with slices of lox, and if desired, add capers, red onion slices, and a sprinkle of fresh dill. The result is a bagel that’s rich in flavor and texture, and utterly satisfying.

The Beauty of Butter: Simple yet Satisfying

toasted bagel with a pat of butter melting

Sometimes, simplicity is key, and when it comes to bagels, butter is as simple as it gets. A warm, toasted bagel with a pat of butter melting into its nooks and crannies is a thing of beauty. The key to this classic topping is to use high-quality butter and to spread it while the bagel is still warm, allowing it to melt and soak into the bread.

For those looking to elevate this simple pleasure, consider using flavored butters, such as garlic or herb butter. These add an extra layer of flavor that can transform a plain bagel into something special.

Gourmet Bagel Creations

Embarking on a culinary adventure with gourmet bagel creations can transform your breakfast, brunch, or snack time into an extraordinary experience. Gourmet bagels are about elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary, combining unique flavors and high-quality ingredients to create something truly special. In this section, we will explore some delectable ideas and tips to help you craft your own gourmet bagel creations at home.

Avocado and Egg: A Modern Twist

bagel toppings of Avocado and Egg

One of the most popular and trendy gourmet bagel toppings in recent years is the combination of avocado and egg. This pairing not only offers a delicious taste but also provides a powerhouse of nutrients. Start with a freshly toasted bagel of your choice, though a whole wheat or everything bagel works exceptionally well for this combination.

Slice a ripe avocado in half, remove the pit, and scoop out the creamy flesh. Mash the avocado with a fork, adding a pinch of salt, pepper, and a splash of lemon juice to enhance the flavor. Spread the mashed avocado generously over the cut sides of your bagel.

Next, cook an egg to your preference. Whether you like it poached, fried, or scrambled, the egg adds a rich, savory element to the bagel. Place the cooked egg on top of the avocado spread. For an extra gourmet touch, sprinkle some chili flakes, fresh herbs like chives or cilantro, or a drizzle of high-quality olive oil over the top.

Gourmet Cheeses and Fresh Herbs

A wooden cutting board topped with a bagel, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and fresh chives.

Elevate your bagel experience by experimenting with gourmet cheeses and fresh herbs. Start by selecting a bagel flavor that complements your choice of cheese. For example, a plain or sesame bagel pairs well with almost any cheese, while a more flavorful bagel like onion or garlic can enhance the overall taste experience.

Choose a high-quality cheese, such as goat cheese, brie, or gorgonzola. Spread a generous layer of cheese onto your toasted bagel. The warmth of the bagel will slightly melt the cheese, making it even more delectable.

To add freshness and a burst of flavor, sprinkle chopped fresh herbs over the cheese. Basil, thyme, or rosemary work wonderfully, but feel free to use your favorite herbs or a combination of several. If you’re feeling adventurous, add some sliced fresh fruit like strawberries or pears for a sweet and savory contrast.

Bagel Dips

A white plate topped with bagel rings and a bowl of delicious-looking bagel dip.

Bagels also offer a wonderful canvas for a variety of dips, turning them into delightful finger foods for parties or a unique snack. Whether you’re hosting a gathering or simply looking to enjoy a flavorful snack, consider these ideas for bagel dips:

Savory Dips: Slice your bagels into bite-sized pieces, toast them for added crunch, and serve them with savory dips like spinach and artichoke dip, hummus, or a creamy garlic aioli. The combination of the bagel’s chewy texture and the savory dip’s flavors is sure to be a hit.

Sweet Dips: Bagels can take on a sweeter role as well. Slice them into smaller pieces and pair them with sweet dips such as chocolate fondue, peanut butter, or fruit-flavored spreads like raspberry or strawberry. This transforms your bagels into a delightful dessert or a sweet afternoon snack.

These bagel dip ideas offer a creative twist on how to enjoy bagels, making them a versatile option for any occasion. Whether you prefer savory or sweet, bagel dips are sure to be a crowd-pleaser.”

Sweet Bagel Delights

Transforming your bagel into a sweet delight is a delightful way to indulge in a treat that satisfies your sweet tooth while still enjoying the unique texture and taste of a bagel. Whether you prefer fruity flavors, chocolatey goodness, or a combination of both, there are plenty of ways to turn your bagel into a delectable sweet treat. Let’s explore some scrumptious options for creating sweet bagel delights.

Fruit and Nut Butters: A Healthy Indulgence

Starting with a base of fruit and nut butters is a fantastic way to add natural sweetness and creaminess to your bagel. Opt for a whole wheat or cinnamon raisin bagel for an extra layer of flavor. Toast the bagel to perfection, ensuring it has a crispy exterior while remaining soft on the inside.

Spread a generous layer of almond or peanut butter over the bagel halves. The nut butter provides a rich, creamy texture that pairs wonderfully with the bagel’s chewiness. For an added sweetness and fruity flavor, top the nut butter with sliced bananas or strawberries. The freshness of the fruit complements the richness of the nut butter, creating a balanced and satisfying treat.

To elevate this creation even further, drizzle a bit of honey or maple syrup over the top and sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon or chia seeds. This not only adds an extra layer of sweetness but also introduces new textures and flavors to the mix.

Sweet Spreads and Toppings

If you’re in the mood for something indulgently sweet, there are plenty of spreads and toppings to choose from. Cream cheese is a versatile base that can be sweetened and flavored in numerous ways. Consider mixing cream cheese with a bit of powdered sugar and vanilla extract for a sweet, creamy spread.

Apply the sweetened cream cheese generously to a toasted blueberry or plain bagel. From here, the topping options are endless. You could go for a classic strawberry or raspberry jam, creating a bagel version of a cream cheese and jelly sandwich. Alternatively, sprinkle mini chocolate chips or crushed graham crackers over the cream cheese for a dessert-inspired treat.

For a truly decadent experience, try spreading Nutella or another chocolate-hazelnut spread over your bagel. Add sliced bananas or strawberries on top, and you’ve got yourself a dessert bagel that’s sure to satisfy any sweet craving.

International Bagel Inspirations

Bagels are a versatile canvas, ready to be adorned with a variety of toppings. While classic spreads like cream cheese and lox are timeless, why not take your taste buds on a global adventure? In this section, we explore international inspirations that will bring a world of flavors to your bagel.

Mediterranean Flavors: Olives and Feta

The Mediterranean diet is renowned for its health benefits and delicious flavors, making it a perfect source of inspiration for bagel toppings. Start with a generous spread of hummus on your toasted bagel, adding a rich and creamy base. Top with chopped Kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese, and a sprinkle of za’atar spice for a burst of flavor. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to bring all the flavors together. This combination creates a savory and tangy bagel topping that is both satisfying and nutritious.

Asian Fusion: Teriyaki and Sriracha

For those who enjoy a bit of heat and sweetness in their meals, Asian fusion bagel toppings are a must-try. Begin by spreading a thin layer of cream cheese on your bagel to create a creamy base. Top with grilled chicken or tofu glazed in teriyaki sauce, adding a sweet and savory element. Add sliced cucumbers for a refreshing crunch, and drizzle with sriracha sauce for a spicy kick. Garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds for an extra layer of flavor and texture. This combination creates a bagel topping that is both bold and exciting, perfect for those looking to spice up their breakfast routine.

Bagels for Lunch and Dinner

Who says bagels are just for breakfast? These versatile rounds of deliciousness can be transformed into hearty and satisfying meals for lunch and dinner as well. With a bit of creativity and the right ingredients, you can elevate your bagel experience to new culinary heights. Let’s explore some enticing ways to enjoy bagels for lunch and dinner.

Pizza Bagels: A Fun and Easy Meal

Pizza bagels are a classic and beloved way to turn your bagel into a savory meal. They are quick to make, customizable, and absolutely delicious. Start by preheating your oven to 375°F (190°C) and selecting your favorite bagel variety. Plain, whole wheat, or onion bagels work particularly well for this dish.

Slice the bagel in half and place it cut side up on a baking sheet. Spread a generous layer of your favorite tomato sauce over each half. The sauce acts as the base, infusing the bagel with rich, savory flavors.

Next, sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over the sauce. The cheese will melt and bubble in the oven, creating that irresistible pizza-like experience. Feel free to add any toppings of your choice—pepperoni, vegetables, or even a sprinkle of crushed red pepper for some heat.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Once done, remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Your pizza bagels are now ready to be enjoyed!

Bagel Sandwiches: Not Just for Breakfast

Bagel sandwiches are another fantastic option for lunch or dinner. The dense and chewy texture of the bagel provides a sturdy base for a variety of fillings. Start by choosing a bagel that complements your desired fillings. For example, a sesame or everything bagel pairs well with deli meats, while a pumpernickel or rye bagel can add an extra layer of flavor.

Slice the bagel in half and start building your sandwich. Layer on your choice of deli meats—turkey, ham, roast beef, or even smoked salmon for a luxurious touch. Add a slice of cheese, such as Swiss, cheddar, or provolone, and don’t forget the veggies. Lettuce, tomato, onion, and cucumber all add freshness and crunch to your sandwich.

For condiments, consider a smear of cream cheese for creaminess, or mustard and mayo for a classic sandwich flavor. Once your sandwich is assembled, you can enjoy it as is, or toast it in a panini press or oven for a warm and melty experience.

Healthy Bagel Alternatives

Bagels are a beloved breakfast staple, but they can sometimes be heavy on calories and carbs. For those looking to enjoy this delicious treat while maintaining a balanced diet, there are plenty of healthy alternatives and toppings to choose from. In this section, we explore nutritious options that will satisfy your bagel cravings without the guilt.

Whole Wheat and Gluten-Free Options

Choosing the right bagel can make all the difference when it comes to health. Whole wheat bagels are a fantastic option, as they are made from whole grains that provide essential nutrients and fiber. This not only makes them more nutritious but also helps to keep you fuller for longer.

For those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, gluten-free bagels are readily available in most grocery stores. Made from a variety of gluten-free flours, these bagels offer a safe and tasty alternative. However, it’s important to read the labels, as some gluten-free products can be high in sugar and fat.

Veggie-Loaded Bagel Toppings

One of the easiest ways to make your bagel healthier is to load it up with veggies. Start with a base of low-fat cream cheese or hummus, and then pile on the veggies. Sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, and bell peppers all make for delicious and nutritious toppings. For an extra boost of flavor, add some avocado slices or a sprinkle of chia seeds.

Not only do these toppings add a variety of textures and flavors to your bagel, but they also provide a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals. Plus, the added fiber from the veggies will help to keep you satisfied throughout the morning.

Bagel Baking and Cooking Tips

Mastering the art of bagel baking and cooking can transform your kitchen into a haven of delightful aromas and delicious treats. Whether you’re baking bagels from scratch or simply looking to perfect the toasting of a store-bought bagel, these tips and tricks will guide you to bagel bliss. Let’s dive into some essential bagel baking and cooking tips to enhance your culinary experience.

Achieving the Perfect Toast

Toasting a bagel can make all the difference, turning a good bagel into a great one. The key is to achieve a crispy exterior while maintaining a soft and chewy interior. If you have a toaster with a bagel setting, use it. This setting typically toasts the cut side of the bagel while warming the outside, preserving the bagel’s unique texture.

If you’re toasting a bagel in an oven or toaster oven, preheat it to 350°F (175°C) and place the bagel halves cut side up directly on the oven rack. Toast for about 5-7 minutes, keeping a close eye to ensure they don’t burn. The goal is a golden-brown crust and a warm interior.

For an extra touch of flavor, consider spreading a thin layer of butter on the cut sides of the bagel before toasting. This adds richness and helps achieve an even crispier crust.

Creative Cooking: Bagel Pizzas and More

Bagels provide a versatile base for a variety of creative cooking endeavors beyond toasting. One popular option is the aforementioned bagel pizza, but the possibilities don’t stop there.

Try using bagels as the base for a quick and easy breakfast sandwich. Toast the bagel and layer it with scrambled eggs, cheese, and your choice of breakfast meat. It’s a hearty and satisfying meal that comes together in minutes.

For a fun twist on a classic sandwich, use a bagel instead of bread for your next grilled cheese. The bagel’s dense texture holds up well to the melting cheese, creating a deliciously unique version of this comfort food favorite.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try making bagel chips. Slice a bagel into thin rounds, brush with olive oil, and season with your choice of herbs and spices. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for 10-15 minutes, or until crispy. These homemade chips are perfect for dipping or snacking.

Storing and Reviving Stale Bagels

There’s nothing quite like the taste of a fresh bagel, but maintaining that freshness can be a challenge. Whether you’ve bought in bulk or simply couldn’t finish your dozen in time, understanding how to properly store and revive stale bagels is key. In this section, we’ll explore effective methods to ensure your bagels remain as delicious as the day you bought them.

Proper Storage Techniques

The first step in maintaining bagel freshness is proper storage. If you plan to eat your bagels within a day or two, keeping them in a paper bag at room temperature is ideal. The paper bag allows the bagels to breathe, preventing moisture buildup that can lead to mold. Avoid plastic bags, as these can trap moisture and expedite the staling process.

For longer-term storage, freezing is your best option. Pre-slice your bagels for convenience, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and then place them in a freezer bag. When stored properly, bagels can last in the freezer for up to three months. When you’re ready to enjoy, simply remove from the freezer and toast. There’s no need to thaw; the toasting process will take care of that.

Bringing Life Back to Day-Old Bagels

If you find yourself with a stale bagel, don’t despair. There are several methods to bring it back to life. One of the most effective is to run the bagel under running water for a few seconds, ensuring it’s evenly moistened. Then, place it directly on the oven rack in a preheated 350°F (175°C) oven for about 10 minutes. The steam from the water will rehydrate the bagel, while the heat of the oven restores its crusty exterior.

Another option is to microwave the bagel with a cup of water. Place the bagel on a microwave-safe plate, and put a cup of water in the microwave alongside it. Heat on high for 20 seconds. The steam from the water will help to soften the bagel. Be sure to eat it immediately, as microwaving can cause the bagel to toughen up once it cools.

Transforming Stale Bagels into Breadcrumbs or Croutons:

When your bagels start to go stale, don’t throw them away. Instead, you can repurpose them into breadcrumbs or croutons, adding texture and flavor to your salads and soups. Here’s how:


Simply take your stale bagels and break them into smaller pieces. You can use a food processor or a rolling pin to crush them into fine crumbs. Once you have your bagel breadcrumbs, you can season them with herbs and spices of your choice. These homemade bagel breadcrumbs are perfect for coating chicken or fish for a crispy crust or sprinkling over pasta dishes for added crunch.


For croutons, slice your stale bagels into small, bite-sized cubes. Toss them with olive oil, garlic powder, dried herbs, and a pinch of salt. Spread the seasoned cubes on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at around 350°F (175°C) until they turn golden brown and crispy. These bagel croutons can be a delightful addition to salads, adding both texture and a hint of bagel flavor.


What do you do with a bagel? Enjoy a bagel toasted with cream cheese, make a sandwich, or try unique toppings like avocado. Bagels are versatile and can be eaten for any meal.

What should you eat bagels with? Pair bagels with cream cheese, lox, butter, or peanut butter. For a meal, use them for sandwiches with deli meats, veggies, and condiments.

What can I do with a lot of bagels? Freeze extra bagels for later use, make bagel chips, or use them for various recipes like sandwiches, pizzas, or creative breakfast options.

Do you toast bagels? Yes, toasting a bagel enhances its flavor and texture, providing a crispy exterior while keeping the inside soft and chewy. It’s a popular way to enjoy bagels.


Bagels are a versatile and delicious option for any meal of the day. With a little creativity and a willingness to experiment, you can transform your bagels into a gourmet experience. From classic toppings to international inspirations, the possibilities are endless. So next time you find yourself wondering “What to do with bagels?”, remember that the only limit is your imagination. Happy bagel making!

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