Nothing compares to the feeling of biting into a chewy, golden, freshly-baked bagel on a fine morning to work.
Unfortunately, this euphoria can begin to dip if you constantly eat the same plain bagel over and over again.
But there’s good news; you can indulge in a complete range of delicious bagels to break the vicious cycle.
And we have listed 20 of our favorite types just for you!
So without further wait, let’s dig in:
Table of Contents
1. Plain Bagel
Crunchy, tasty, and highly versatile; nothing can beat the simplicity and options that come with the classic plain bagel. It is the most basic rendition of the bagel, yet ironically, it can be quite difficult to get right. A great plain bagel has a shiny golden exterior that reveals a soft yet dense chewy inside as soon as you bite into it. The flavor is similar to bread, except that bagels are slightly towards the sweeter side.
For bagels artists, a plain bagel is nothing short of a blank canvas. You can go crazy with toppings and fillings of your choice to make your very own customized bagel as you see fit. This bagel is also perfect for those that eat them around the clock. That way, you can quickly smother them with some cream cheese for a quick breakfast, experiment with meat and sauces for lunch, or top it with some chocolate spread for a before-bed snack.
2. Everything Bagel
When you’re in the mood for something simple, plain bagels will be there to accompany you. But on days when you can’t decide which flavor to try out, the everything bagel can be your savior. As the name suggests, this type of bagel has everything and every flavor in it. Most of these flavors come from a few hand-picked seasonings and spices: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic, onion, a dash of salt, and sometimes black pepper.
What this combination creates is a flurry of all the flavors from the different types of bagels. You can taste the nuttiness of poppy, the sweetness of sesame, and the spiciness of garlic and pepper.
According to claims, David Gussin is the mastermind behind the seasoning for the everything bagel, while others have credited its invention to Joe Bastianich, the famous former judge of MasterChef USA. Regardless of who invented it, one thing that no one can deny is that everything bagel is one of the most unique and flavorsome bakery goods that you will ever eat in your life!
3. Salted Bagel
It seems that almost every bakery item has its salted variant, and the same goes for bagels. However, you can’t imagine the wonders a dash of salt can do for a bagel unless you’ve actually tried one. These bagels are topped with salt crystals and are meant to be eaten separately or with deli meats and non-salted fillings.
The salted bagel can be a bit overpowering for newbies when eating separately, so your best bet is to pair it with some non-salted turkey, cream cheese, avocado, or tomatoes. But once you develop a taste for it, you will see how a bagel can provide you with the best of both worlds (savory and sweet).
On the other hand, if you suffer from high blood pressure or heart diseases, it’s best to avoid salted bagels and try the plain alternative instead. Even if you’re completely healthy, consuming too much salt isn’t very beneficial, so limit these bagels to only one every couple of weeks at best.
4. Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
Now that we’re heading into the flavored category, the first and most famous bagel we’d recommend you to try is the cinnamon raisin bagel. A good baker would nail the balance between cinnamons and raisins when making these bagels. The result is a crispy, scrumptious, and chewy delight that holds the perfect amount of sweetness and spiciness.
Many people are addicted to the flavor of raisins and cinnamon, and for them, this bagel will be a real treat. It serves as an excellent alternative once the flavor of other bagels starts to wear down from your taste buds. Plus, if you ever get bored of cinnamon raisin bagels, you have the option to toast them with butter or add cream cheese. And voila, you’ll have yourself another tasty breakfast snack to go for the next couple of weeks!
5. Chocolate Chip Bagels
We’ve all fallen in love with chocolate chip cookies and cupcakes at the bakery. But did you know that chocolate chip bagels exist too? For chocolate lovers, this might seem like a dream come true. But we suggest everyone to try this bagel at least once in their life. Because once you taste the chewy sponge of a bagel oozing with gooey chocolate chips, your only regret will be that you didn’t find out about them earlier.
If you’re feeling a bit adventurous or getting intense sweet cravings, you could also smother these bagels with your favorite chocolate spread or whipped cream for a quick after-dinner dessert. But on a late morning to work, you can simply toss these bagels in a microwave for a couple of seconds, enough to make the crust crispy and melt some of the chocolate chips for a delicious breakfast.
6. Onion Bagels
From the sound of it, Onion bagels sound rather ordinary. After all, the only way they are different is that their dough is combined with tiny bits of onions during kneading. But in reality, these bagels are no less than a marvel. In fact, many people place them right below plain bagels and love them for the bite and aroma they pack.
Plus, onion bagels are really easy to pair. Just place them in the microwave and spread some cream cheese, ham, and veggies to make a healthy sandwich. But if you want to savor the true flavor of onions, all you have to do is smear some butter and warm the bagel so it becomes crisp on the top yet soft and fragrant on the inside.
7. Whole Wheat Bagels
Just because you’re careful about your diet doesn’t mean you can’t have a bagel! You can relish the same crispiness and doughy taste with whole wheat bagels, but with extra dietary fibers and more micronutrients. Granted that using whole wheat results in a calorie boost, but the nutritional benefits are also unmistakable.
Unlike your typical refined flour bagels, these are richer in antioxidants and fibers that assist in digestion, prevent diabetes, and reduce cancer risk. Additionally, eating a diet rich in fiber also leads to lowered cholesterol, decreased inflammation, and better nutrient fulfillment. And contrary to what many believe, whole wheat bagels don’t taste much different than plain bagels either. You can easily pair them with a salad or spread some butter to enhance their taste further.
8. French Toast Bagels
Who said only bread could be toasted the French way? Bagels are just as suitable for this dish, and surprisingly, make a lip-smacking breakfast for people with a sweet tooth. All you have to do is slice a plain bagel in half, dip it into the mixture, and toss it over the pan with some oil.
If you’re in a hurry, just roll the bagel into some tissue for a quick snack on your commute. Or, you could smother it with whipped cream cheese, sliced strawberries, and chocolate syrup on a late Sunday breakfast. The chewy consistency of bagels and sweet custard make a perfect combination to break the cycle of eating the same boring breakfast every day.
Useful tip: If you’re not in a hurry, soak the bagel in the mixture and let it rest in the refrigerator for a few hours before toasting it. This allows the sponge to absorb the custard completely so that you can enjoy a stronger flavor in every bite!
9. Asiago Bagels
We all know how bagels and cream cheese are a match made in heaven. But once you experience the melting sensation of asiago cheese with a crispy bagel, your taste buds will enter a new realm of pleasure! Most people assume that asiago bagels taste like regular cheesy bread. But in reality, this exotic cheese is actually much creamier and melts as soon as you take a bite.
When served on top of toasty bagels, the combined flavor and texture become sensational. You can have them on their own or stuff them with some turkey and lettuce to create a delicious sandwich. Asiago bagels also look mouth-watering with their golden-brown color and can proudly be served in front of guests at a party or dinner as starters.
10. Blueberry Bagels
Everyone loves cheese and chocolate in their bread. However, none of them come even close to blueberry bagels. Not only do blueberries add an extra layer of nutrition and flavor to the already scrumptious bagels, but their rich blue color also produces beautiful swirl designs inside the sponge. This also makes them easily distinguishable among other types of bagels.
Moreover, blueberry bagels sport a lovely tarty aroma, especially when they’re fresh out of the oven. They also add a ton of character to plain bagels with their sweet and slightly acidic flavor. If you love snacking on fruits or eating them for breakfast, blueberry bagels might be just what you’re looking for.
11. Egg Bagels
Most people that try egg bagels either love them or hate them. There’s no in-between. And that’s because both types have vastly different textures, consistency, and even flavor. Egg bagels are fluffier, softer, and less chewy because of the addition of egg yolks. They also lack the typical crisp exterior but make up for it with a dash of sweetness.
However, this doesn’t take away the ability of these bagels to be coupled with toppings, deli meats, and other sauces. You can easily whip them up into a sandwich with some fried bacon, butter, a slice of cheese, and even a fried egg on top for extra nutrition. But if you’ve never had an egg bagel before, we recommend you to savor their true flavor first and then experiment with the different variations later.
12. Garlic Bagels
Garlic bread was one of the finest bakery items to come out of Italy. Luckily, someone infused this vegetable with bagels too. As a result, what we got was one of the best savory bagel flavors of the modern era. These bagels pack the same spicy zing as onion bagels, but are crispier and have a stronger flavor than garlic bread due to their density.
Baking garlic bagels is also quite simple; you can directly add some chopped cloves or powder to the dough while kneading, or brush them with some garlic-oil mixture after they’re done. To give the bagels extra flavor, you can also sprinkle some oregano or chives over them and spread cream cheese in between.
13. Pumpernickel Bagels
Taking inspiration from the German pumpernickel bread, this dark and delicious bagel is often a subject of curiosity. Unlike your typical bagels, these are made of ground rye instead of wheat. This is what gives them their signature chocolate brown color. In addition to that, these bagels are also denser and have a hint of sweetness to them.
Nutrition-wise, pumpernickel bagels are healthier as they’re partly made from whole rye flour. Compared to wheat bagels, they contain more fiber but fewer carbs and thus lesser calories. One version of them has onions, which produces a stronger flavor with more earthiness. Pumpernickel bagels also pair wonderfully with cream cheese, deli meats, and butter, so you’re open to options when it comes to customization.
14. Poppyseed Bagels
Sprinkling poppy seeds over baking items is a common practice in most of Europe. Luckily, these delicious seeds have also made their way over to bagels. Besides making them even crunchier than before, poppy seeds also add a subtle yet refreshing fruity/nutty taste. Their dark blue color brings out the already beautiful golden shade of bagels and makes them seem more exotic.
You can also smear them with various spreads and toppings without taking away their crispiness or true flavor. Some of the favorite ones recommended by bagel lovers include lox and cream cheese, salmon, tuna, or just butter. Just make sure you don’t have a drug test afterward, as poppy seeds can sometimes trigger a false positive for opioids.
15. Sesame Bagels
The thing we love about sesame bagels is that no matter what you stuff or spread them with, they keep getting tastier! Much like plain bagels, the addition of sesame gives them a hint of nuttiness and sweetness with a crispier top. A toasty sesame bagel can be filled with cream cheese, pastrami, butter, or cheddar for a yummy savory snack.
But if you have a sweet tooth, this bagel will go just as well with Nutella, peanut butter, or Greek yogurt and fruit slices. Just remember to pop them in the microwave before eating so the crispy top can come back to life!
16. Cheddar Bagels
If just hearing the name of cheddar bagels doesn’t make your mouth water, we don’t know what will. This is one of those bagels that taste just as good on their own as they do with multiple toppings. You can turn it into a cheesy sandwich by adding some ham and mayo or enjoy its natural crispiness and strong flavor separately.
We also highly suggest that you try the jalapeno version of cheddar bagels if you love savory snacks. They taste closer to pizza than cheesy bread, yet still pack a ton of punch and spicy goodness in them.
17. Marble Rye Bagels
Other bagels might take the lead in taste and versatility, but none come even close to the double-shaded marble rye bagel in terms of appearance. Their spectacular swirling design is made using two types of dough; one made from wheat and the other made from rye. The use of two flours also gives the bagel a hybrid texture that can be described as chewy.
Traditionally, these bagels are used for making the famous North American ‘Reuben’ sandwich. All you have to do is fill them with some pastrami, swiss cheese, mustard, dressing, and you’re good to go. Though on its own, the bagel can be a bit overpowering due to its chewy sponge.
18. Oat Bran Bagels
For the fitness freaks and dieters, we have another option to fulfill the craving for crispy bagels with healthy carbs. That’s right, we’re talking about the oat bran bagel. Like any other whole grain, these bagels also offer the same benefits like reduced risk of heart diseases, better control over blood sugar, and much higher fiber intake.
In contrast, these bagels are a bit chewier because of the use of oat bran. However, it’s nothing you can’t sacrifice for your long-term health, right? If you want to make this bagel even healthier and tastier, sprinkle some banana slices and blueberries in between, or fill it with Greek yogurt.
Even though a bialy isn’t a bagel, it shares many similarities and is too good to pass for this list. For one, bialys were also invented by the Jews in Poland, the same people and place where bagels come from. But instead of having the typical hole in the middle, a bialy consists of a dimple in the center filled with chopped onions, poppy seeds, and sometimes garlic.
Moreover, they are directly baked, unlike bagels that have to be boiled in water before. Even though both of these differences seem minuscule, they can make a huge difference in flavor and texture. Bialys are crunchier on the outside and feature a sharp/fruity taste. Much like onion bagels, they pair quite well with cream cheese and butter. However, devotees of bialys prefer to enjoy them on their own.
20. Jalapeno Bagels
Jalapenos taste great on a cheddar bagel. However, there’s a bagel especially infused with this chili pepper right from when it’s kneaded. If you can handle the heat, jalapeno bagels might just become your favorite savory snack. They pack a ton of spiciness and have a unique flavor, making them a love-hate kind of bakery item.
Paired with deli meat or a Mexican omelet, the bagel makes an excellent breakfast to kickstart your endorphin factory. For anyone fond of spicy food, a jalapeno bagel is no less than a blessing.
What are bagels?
When someone mentions bagels, we usually imagine a coffee shop in New Jersey or New York selling these scrumptious delights. In reality, though, the invention of bagels can be traced back to the Polish Jews of the 17th century. At that time, the locals traditionally baked this bread-with-a-hole item to gift to new mothers.
The earliest records suggest that this item was called a ‘bajgiel,’ which translates to ‘bracelet’ in German. Soon after, the bajgiel became a staple in parts of Germany and spread across Europe. This was when different varieties started to emerge, particularly those topped with sesame and poppy seeds.
However, it was still the original founding fathers of bagels (Polish Jews) that brought them over to the USA. During the 1900s, some immigrants introduced this bread in New York, after which it spread like wildfire. New Yorkers started combining the bagel with a combination of cream cheese, lox, onions, and capers, giving birth to the famous ‘bagel brunch’ sandwich.
Today, many bakeries have adopted bagels as a regular on their menu. Some have further refined and enlarged the original bagel, while others have created unique varieties with chocolate chips, garlic, and other customizations.
How are bagels made?
With all this talk about bagels and their taste, you might wonder how they are actually made? Fortunately, it’s a very straightforward process that an average baker can get down in a few tries. Here’s a detailed guide on how bagels are made (and how you can make them yourself at home):
1. Prepare the dough
Making dough for a bagel may seem like an easy task. But in reality, it’s the part where most beginners make mistakes and ruin their final product. You can go about making dough in two ways; hand-kneading or a mixer. Most industrial bakeries use mixers to prepare the dough, and so can you. But if you want to be fully immersed in the process and are confident with your kneading skills, you can make the dough with your hands to begin with.
You should ideally choose bread flour or some other high-protein flour so you can get that dense and chewy texture bagels are known for. All-purpose flour works too, but it won’t be as dense. If you’re going for a whole wheat bagel, now’s the time to exchange it with bread flour.
To make bagel dough, start by mixing your leavening agent (preferable active yeast) with some warm water in a bowl and let it rest for around 5 minutes. Once that’s done, add your flour, salt to taste, and some sweetening agent such as brown sugar or barley malt syrup to that bowl and start your mixer.
After the mixture starts clumping together, lay it out on the shelf and begin kneading it with your hands by spreading the dough outwards with your palm. This is the time where you can add whatever flavorings you want, such as:
- Chocolate Chips
- Chopped Onions
- Chopped Garlic/Garlic Powder
- Chopped Jalapenos
For egg bagels, you must add egg yolks while the dough is still in the mixer to avoid making a mess. After adding your flavorings, knead the dough for 10 to 15 minutes, and you’ll have a smooth, stretchy batch of dough ready for rising.
2. Let the yeast do its magic
For the next step, all you have to do is oil your bowl, place the dough inside it, and leave it to rest on the shelf for an hour so the yeast can begin its magic. What yeast does is it feeds on the natural sugars inside the dough and releases two by-products; ethanol and carbon dioxide.
This carbon dioxide is what causes bagels to become fluffy and spongy, while the ethanol evaporates while baking. After an hour has passed, take the dough out of the bowl and give it a few taps to release excess carbon dioxide.
3. Make the bagel shape
Now that the dough is ready to be shaped, the first step is to cut the batch into several pieces. Ideally, you should have around 8 to 10 pieces if you used 500g of flour for the dough.
Next, roll up each piece into a ball with your palms. As you’re doing it, poke a finger between the center to create a small hole that’s no larger than 2 inches. Smoothen out any imperfections by rolling the dough a few more times so you have a round and even bagel in your hands.
4. Boil the bagels
Giving your bagels a water bath is crucial to get a golden and shiny crust. To do this, heat some water in a pot till it starts boiling, and gently lay the bagels into the water. Let one side boil for a minute, turn it over, and boil the other side for a minute as well. Once all bagels have been in the water bath, lay them out on a tray to cool down.
This is the step that differentiates bread from bagels. When you boil the bagels in water, the starch on the outside surface starts to gelatinize and gives them their trademark shiny crust. Additionally, the dough becomes firmer and holds its shape during baking so you get fuller bagels.
5. Sprinkle some seasonings (optional)
For many people, this is the most fun and entertaining part of making bagels. You can sprinkle a bunch of stuff, such as cheddar cheese, sesame, poppy seeds, or all of them at once. It’s all up to your taste and imagination; either choose predetermined flavors or experiment with different seasonings as per your liking.
But first, we have to make sure that the seasonings actually stick to the bagel. For that, you can either sprinkle them directly after the water bath when the bagels are wet. Or, you can whip up an egg wash, brush it on your bagels, and then place the seasonings on top.
6. Bake them in an oven
All that’s left now is to pop the bagels into the oven and let them bake. Remember to place a baking sheet on your tray so the bagels don’t stick. Preheat your oven at 425°F (218°C) and stick the bagels in for 20 to 25 minutes.
Keep an eye on them as they rise, and rotate the tray once so each bagel gets cooked equally. Once you see the beautiful golden crust, that’s your cue to take them out and start snacking on your fresh, crispy homemade bagels.
Tips for buying the best bagels
Hunting fresh bagels can be a difficult task if you’re a beginner or live outside New York and New Jersey. Unlike bread, bagels taste best when they’re straight out of the oven and cannot be stored for long periods.
Luckily, we have some tips for you to scour the best bagels in your town and fully indulge in this delicious snack. Let’s take a look below:
1. Always buy from a renowned bakery
It’s no surprise that Jewish bakeries tend to serve the freshest and tastiest bagels. After all, they were the ones that first invented and brought bagels to the USA. You can also take recommendations from your friends and family on which bakery stores the highest-quality goods in your city.
In most cases, small-scale bakers have the best bagels as they usually prepare a fresh batch every day instead of selling frozen batches as mainstream franchises do.
2. Inspect the bagels before buying
Some visual and physical details can give away whether the bagels are freshly made or stale. A fresh bagel will always have a hard, shiny, golden crust with a soft and chewy inside. If it has a matte appearance and feels dense and heavy for its size, you can probably get better-quality bagels from somewhere else.
Also, check the bagel’s softness by gently squeezing it with your fingers. If it feels stiff and spongy or has a dull appearance, the shop is probably selling leftover or stale bagels to you. Fresh bagels always retreat to their original shape when pressed.
3. Never buy frozen or toasted bagels
Freshly baked bagels will never require toasting and would taste best by themselves. But in just a few hours, their natural flavor and texture will start to die down. In that case, you can always pop your bagels in the toaster to bring them back to life.
However, if a bakery urges you to toast your bagels at the store before you eat them, they are likely selling pieces from a frozen batch. Always request bagels from a fresh batch that have been pulled out from the oven no more than 3 to 6 hours before.
What are New York bagels so famous?
New York is known as the bagel capital of the world for two reasons. For one, it was the first city in the USA where bagels were introduced by the Polish Jews and later on became famous. Secondly, the water in New York is softer and has fewer minerals than other cities that helps in producing softer, chewier bagels.
Can you store bagels overnight?
You can store freshly made bagels for 1 to 4 days at room temperature if they’re sealed in an airtight container away from sunlight. Otherwise, we recommend freezing them in a plastic bag to elongate their shelf life up to 3 to 4 months.
Should bagels be toasted before eating?
Fresh bagels taste best 4 to 6 hours after being baked, but toasting them can ruin their true flavor and texture. You should only toast bagels if they were in the freezer so that you can get some of the softness back. Still, a toasted bagel will never taste like one that has been taken straight from the oven.
How much should you knead bagel dough?
A perfectly kneaded bagel dough will be smooth, elastic, and firm. It will stretch when pulled and won’t break immediately. If your dough feels clumpy and gooey, chances are it’s under-kneaded and still has room for the gluten to work. Similarly, if the dough feels stiff and breaks when pulled, it has been over-kneaded. This dough should be discarded, otherwise, your bagels will turn out very hard.
Are bagels healthier than bread?
No, bagels provide the same nutrients as white bread. An average bagel contains nearly 3 times the calories as a slice of bread. However, you can make them healthier by choosing whole grain, blueberry, or seeded options.