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How to Soften Bagels: 5 Quick and Easy Methods for Freshness

When dietitians say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they mean it. Gobbling a delicious bagel sandwich is most Americans’ most popular breakfast choice. Yet, most people are still deciding whether to keep the other one in the packet for tomorrow morning.

The reason is that very few people know how to soften bagels without making them hard, chewy, and tasteless. For this reason, we have brought you a guide not only on how to soften bagels but also on how to keep bagels fresh so you can have a healthy and yummy breakfast before going to work!

What Causes My Bagels to Harden?

Staling occurs naturally in all starchy foods, such as bread, cakes, and buns. The starch components separate during baking, giving your bread a loosely soft texture.

Bread starts to harden when it comes out of the oven because starch molecules start to bind together to form a solid structure. Because of this, after cooling, it is simple to slice a loaf or bagels poppy seed when their texture gets firm.

5 Quick Tips – How to Soften Bagels?

1. Microwave Stale Bagels to Soften Them


Microwave Stale Bagels to Soften Them
Source: ohshecooks.com

Duration: 20–30 sec.

Rating: 6/10

Put a wet paper towel over the bagel.

Microwave for 10 seconds at a time or until soft and warm.

Consume right away.

If you don’t have a wet paper towel, lightly mist the bagel’s exterior until it’s fairly wet. Alternatively, place a glass of water next to the bagel in the microwave.

Although the 10-second intervals may seem brief, they ensure that the bagel will stay upright, which could be disastrous because it would turn tough. Additionally, moisture loss during microwave reheating of any bread-based item will cause the bagel to go stale as it cools quickly. Consume it as soon as you can!

Results: Although it could be better, I enjoy using this technique for a quick snack or breakfast. The bagel turned out somewhat chewy, even though it did get softer. After microwaving, put the bagel in the toaster for 30 seconds if you want a little crunch.

2. Utilizing the Oven to Soften Stale Bagels


Utilizing the Oven to Soften Stale Bagels
Source: seriouseats.com

Duration: 5 minutes

Rating: 8/10

Set the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C).

I don’t know why hot water works better, but run your bagel under hot water until the outside is entirely damp but not saturated.

The bagel should be heated for about five minutes in the oven while positioned on a wire rack.

Once the bagel is fluffy and soft, remove it.

In the oven, the bagel’s water will turn to steam, rehydrating and softening the bagel.

You shouldn’t be concerned about the water getting on your bagel. The outer crust will shield the bagel’s interior. However, if you’re still not comfortable running the bagel under the tap, try these alternative methods for producing steam:

While the oven is heating up, place a tray of water inside to create steam before placing the bagel inside.

To reheat, place the bagel in a damp paper bag.

To keep warm, moist the bagel with water and then cover it with foil. This will also maintain the soft outer crust.

Results: My bagels tasted almost fresh, despite the oven being a little slow. The outside of the bread had a slight crunch, but not too much, and the inside was soft.

3. Steaming Stale Bagels to make them Softer


Steaming Stale Bagels to make them Softer
Source: thedailymeal.com

Duration: 4–5 minutes

Rating: 9/10

As usual, assemble your steamer and bring the water to a simmer.

After spreading out the bagels, place a lid on the steamer.

For three to four minutes, steam.

Before serving, remove any extra moisture if needed. Or give the bagels a minute to air dry.

Note: The bagels will become chewy if you steam them for an extended period.

If you wish to try this method without a steamer, you can make a temporary steamer from a pan, a colander, and a lid.

Findings: I concluded that steaming the bagels was the most effective technique. The bagels were very soft with a tiny crunch on the outside, and it was done quickly. I was afraid they would be wet, but they weren’t.

4. Utilizing the Toaster to Soften Stale Bagels


Utilizing the Toaster to Soften Stale Bagels
Source: storables.com

Duration: 1–2 minutes

Rating: 7/10

Spray some water on the outside of your bagel, or run it under the tap, to moisten it.

Segment the bagel in two.

Toast for one to two minutes in the toaster.

When your bagel is in the toaster, pay special attention to it. It will become worthy of a crouton if left there for too long.

Bonus Tip: Toss in loose crumbs by tapping your bagel on the counter before toasting it. Thanks to this tip, it will vanish the smell of burnt bread pieces.

Results: This technique is quick and gives the bagel a nice crisp, but it loses its chewy interior texture and becomes toasted all over because it is cut in half.

5. Using a Skillet


Using a Skillet to Soften Stale Bagels
Source: cookingwithanadi.com

Duration: 1–2 minutes

Rating: 7/10


Slice the bagel in half and heat some butter in a skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the bagels, and cut side down. After applying pressure from above, heat the bagels for 60 seconds.

The finished bagels will be incredibly delicious and rich.

How to Keep Bagels Soft?

Proper storage is often the key to keeping bagels soft. Store them at room temperature in a resealable bag or bread bin. Consider freezing bagels as soon as you buy them or after they’ve cooled down from the oven, then reheating them for extended storage.

How Can Stale Bagels Be Used?

There are other uses for stale bagels besides softening them. You can repurpose hard bagels for your family’s enjoyment in several practical ways, from making them into bread crumbs or croutons to making a delicious bread pudding or bagel chips.

2 Simple Tips to Handle Extra Hard Bagels

Whether you’ve forgotten to use your bagels after reheating them or you still have a batch, here are the following things that you should do with your stale bagels:

1. Make Croutons

Making homemade croutons with some of your stale bagels is a great way to put them to use. The bagels don’t need to be cooked because they are already hard. Simply combine chopped bagels with seasonings and olive oil to make a delicious crouton dish.

2. Make Bread Pudding

Additionally, you can make delicious and mouthwatering bread pudding out of boring, stale bagels.

What are Lox and Bagels?

One of the best Jewish deli classics is bagels and lox, typically made up of an open-faced or ring-shaped piece of bread called a bagel topped with lox, cream cheese, briny capers, and thinly sliced red onions.

A lox bagel is a breakfast dish that usually consists of both bagel and lox. Tasteful and nourishing, bagels and lox is one of the most iconic and well-known meals in the United States. This delicious salmon dish is served at most restaurants and Jewish delis for brunch or breakfast, like Brent’s Deli.

Fact Check: Did you know that the smoked salmon in bagels and lox contributes significantly to their nutritional value? As a result, it’s a great snack that you can quickly make and enjoy whenever you want.

Read more: What are Bagels and Lox?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why do bagels get tough?

When pushing the upper bounds of the proof time, be cautious because bagels can appear tough instead of chewy due to the loss of air and extremely long fermentation.

How do you make bagels less chewy?

If your dough is overly moist, it will develop big holes in its crumb, giving your bagels a fluffy interior and more of a French bread texture. Instead of being crisp and chewy, bagels turn dense, hard, and tough when too much flour is kneaded in,

Why do we boil bagels?

Breads such as bagels and pretzels that have been boiled work well to set the crust before baking. The starch on the outside quickly gels and forms a barrier, preventing the water from actually penetrating very far into the bread. Usually, bagels are boiled for 30 to 60 seconds on each side.

Does boiling bagels make them chewy?

Were you aware that bagels require boiling prior to baking? In addition to giving them their distinctive chewy, glossy coating, it prevents them from overpuffing and losing their holes in the oven.

Should bagels be toasted?

Whether a bagel is going to be buttered, topped with cream cheese, nova, or both, it must first be toasted if it is not immediately out of the oven and is at least six hours old. It will be too difficult otherwise. When a bagel is revived after slicing and frozen, it must be toasted.

How to keep bagels fresh?

Bagels can go stale more quickly if they are kept in the refrigerator. Store your bagels in a paper or zip-top bag on the counter, or freeze them for longer storage.

How do you keep bagels from hardening?

Refrigerating your bagels will cause them to stale faster, despite what many people think. They should be frozen right away or kept at room temperature in plastic bags. When placing your bagels in bags, make sure they are not still warm, as this could cause them to become soggy.

Final Thoughts

By the way, if you ever find stale bagels in your kitchen, consider utilizing this simple trick to ensure that you always have fresh bagels.

When we first get home, we cut the bagels in half. Next, we put two halves of a bagel inside a freezer bag.

Those halves end up in the freezer. Then we take it out of the freezer and decide we want a bagel or half a bagel.

We simply toast that frozen half for a little while longer than usual by throwing it in the toaster.

We don’t thaw it beforehand. We simply switch from freezing to heating.

A frozen bagel may taste a little stale if you let it defrost on the counter.

On the other hand, they taste flawless and fresh when heated from frozen.

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