Here's How You Can Toast Stale Bagels To Make Them Taste Fresh

Bagels are the ultimate all-purpose breakfast food, and it's not even close. Hear us out, here. Cereal and toast are sure to be convenient, but they can feel dull and empty, especially day after day. On the other end of the spectrum, more substantial breakfasts like pancakes, waffles, and omelets are more exciting and filling, but they're not the kind of meal you can whip together on an average weekday morning. Bagels, on the other hand, can go either way. You can make a quick bagel breakfast with a simple smear of cream cheese, or you can go all out with a loaded lox bagel. Best of all, you can buy them in bulk and stash them for the whole week.


There is a caveat to that last point, though. Like all bread products, bagels are destined to go stale after a couple of days, which is obviously a turn-off. Thankfully, your toaster oven is there to save you. Now, loyal fans of the New York City bagel will tell you it's a crime to toast your bagel, and if it's fresh, you really shouldn't need to. But buying a fresh bagel every single day isn't really realistic, is it? Fortunately, there's a simple toaster oven trick you can use to bring that fresh taste back.

To save your bagels from a stale fate, toast them whole

The most straightforward way to toast a bagel is the one you've probably been using for years: Cut it in half, drop it in the toaster, and wait for it to pop back out. This method works okay, but it has a couple of drawbacks. Firstly, cutting bagels can be a surprisingly risky business under any circumstance. New Yorker Bagels once reported that some 2,000 Americans end up in the ER annually after cutting themselves while slicing a bagel. But this danger is amplified when the bagel is stale. Furthermore, toasting a bagel in two separate halves ruins the soft, chewy interior that bagel makers work so hard to achieve.


The best way to toast a bagel is actually to keep it whole. Of course, you can't cram an unsliced bagel into the tiny slots of a toaster, so for this method, you'll need a toaster oven. If you don't have one of those, you can use a regular oven in a pinch. Pop the whole bagel in there at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about five minutes, and it should come out with a nice, crispy exterior and a soft, chewy crumb. If the outside of your bagel has gotten dry and hard, you can revive it by bathing the bagel in hot water, being sure to hit every inch, before popping it in the oven.

You'll have more success toasting bagels if you store them correctly

To get the very best results from your bagel-toasting efforts, you need to set yourself up for success by storing them properly. Leaving your bagel exposed to the elements will cause it to dry out and turn rock hard in a hurry, and the water bath method can only help recover them to an extent. You'll have far greater success if you store your bagels in a paper bag (which they probably came in to begin with) or a bread box. This should keep your bagels viable for two to five days.


For long-term storage, your freezer is your best friend. As soon as you get home with your bagels, set aside a few to eat in the next day or two, then wrap the remaining ones in plastic wrap before popping them in the freezer. They should last in there for about three to four months, and when you're ready to eat them, just thaw them out. If you know you'll want a bagel for breakfast the next day, you can pull one out of the freezer and let it defrost at room temperature overnight. If you decide you want one at the last minute, you can quick-thaw it in the microwave for a minute or so, then use the whole-toasting method to freshen it up.