Transform Your Stale Bagels Into A Brand New Snack With Your Air Fryer

Chewy, doughy, and delicious, bagels are a quintessential breakfast food that combine convenience with tastiness — simply pop one in the toaster, and add your favorite schmear for the perfect morning meal or mid-day snack. But what happens when they go stale? Do you toss them or feed them to the ducks? Get creative instead and transform them into a whole new snack — deliciously crisp bagel chips.

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Bagels have been around for what seem like forever; historians have traced the origins of the annular bread rolls to 13th-century Jewish bakers in Poland, created as a smaller, handheld version of a bread called obwarzanek. Although timeless in their popularity, it's true that a bag of bagels doesn't last too long before going stale, around three to five days at room temperature (avoid refrigerating bagels since it can cause them to go stale faster). 

Of course, if you don't freeze your bagels (which will keep them fresh for up to three months), there's a good chance you've thrown out a bag of stale bagels that you couldn't finish. However, next time, think twice before tossing them when they go stale and throw them in your air fryer to make a batch of tasty, crunchy bagel crisps.

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Tips for air frying bagels

As bread sits at room temperature or colder, the starch molecules that form the bread's structure start to lose the water that makes it soft. These starch molecules crystallize, forming a rigid network that results in hard, stale bread. Bread goes stale faster in the refrigerator because colder temperatures (unless it's freezing or below) speed up the crystallization process.

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The good news is, stale bread isn't harmful to eat. So, if there's no sign of mold, repurpose your bagels into another yummy snack with the help of your super handy air fryer. For bagel chips that are uniform in shape and look store-bought, leave the bagel whole and make 1/8th cuts around the roll, similar to slicing a banana into pieces. Alternatively, you can slice the bagels in half (if they aren't pre-cut) as you would before sticking them in the toaster, then cut or tear them into smaller, chip-size pieces (they don't have to be perfect) so they fit nicely in your air fryer. 

Next, spray or brush your bagel pieces with olive oil and add seasonings like garlic and onion powder, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper. Grate some parmesan cheese over the chips for extra nutty, savory flavor. Place them in the air fryer (preheated to 350 degrees) so that they're in a single layer, although some overlapping won't hurt. Cook for just a couple of minutes, shake the basket or flip the bagel chips, then cook for a couple minutes longer. 

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Another way to toast your bagel chips

Using an air fryer isn't the only way to toast your bagel chips. While air fryers work perfectly to make your bagel chips extra crispy, if you don't own an air fryer or feel like hauling it out, use your oven instead. Another benefit of using an oven is that you can toast a large batch of bagel chips at once. (In fact, whether you're making chips or just want a toasted bagel, using an oven is a great way to make stale bagels fresh again.)

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Prepare your bagel chips just as you would if you were using an air fryer, also spraying or brushing oil on a baking sheet to make sure they don't stick. The drawback is that they will take longer to crisp up in the oven than they would in an air fryer — in an oven preheated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, they'll need to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes (compared to the five to seven minutes in an air fryer). 

Of course, bagel chips aren't complete without a yummy dip, whether your whip up your own or buy one like Trader Joe's popular hummus. Or you can always stick with your favorite schmear or make your own, like an irresistible NYC deli cream cheese. Whatever you dip them in, they're sure to be a crowd-pleaser at your next get-together, not to mention saving you the expense of buying a bag. 

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