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New York Style vs. Montreal Style Bagels

Is there anything more satisfying than a cream cheese bagel to start your day? While some might argue in favor of other breakfast choices, many along the Atlantic Coast of the US and Canada, particularly those who adore New York Style vs. Montreal Style Bagels, would passionately disagree. Montreal and New York have become synonymous with bagels, each city boasting its distinct version with golden crusts and soft, chewy centers.

This bagel fascination, as highlighted by USA Today, isn’t just a modern trend but a legacy passed down by Old World immigrants. Exploring the bagel’s rich history, as The Atlantic details, takes us back about six centuries.

The exact origin of the bagel is shrouded in mystery, with no definitive inception point. Instead, we find various stories from the soft German pretzels known as obwarzanek in the 14th century to the lenten meals of Queen Jadwiga of Poland and even an Austrian baker’s stirrup-shaped dough creation, aptly named a “beugel”.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, what stands clear is the pivotal role Eastern European immigrants played in introducing the fundamentals of bagel making – the art of shaping, boiling, and baking – to North America.

On these new shores, the bagel began to take on regional identities, evolving into the distinct styles we know today. The most notable among these are the New York Style vs. Montreal Style Bagels, each with its unique recipe and fan base, reflecting the humble bagel’s rich cultural heritage and culinary evolution.

Comparing New York Style vs. Montreal Style Bagels

Beyond mere preference, there’s much to appreciate in the savory dispute of New York Style vs. Montreal Style Bagels. Knowing the differences between Montreal and New York bagels is significant whether you’re firmly in one group or the other or you’re still unsure. Let’s get into the key differences between these two well-known bagel variants.

To make our research more accessible, we’ll categorize the comparison. We’ll compare the New York bagel’s texture, size, ingredients, baking method, and variety against the Montreal bagel. This allows us to appreciate the distinct traits that each type brings to the table, providing a deeper understanding and a fresh perspective on these cherished doughy rings. Get ready for a delightful journey into the world of bagels, whether you’re from Montreal, New York, or anywhere in between.

The New York Style Bagel


The New York Style Bagel
Source: nospoonnecessary.com

New Yorkers adore bagels, which have a particularly crunchy and soft feel. The New York bagel is distinguished by its shiny, glaze-like crust and chewy, delicious white core. According to the New York Times, the first bagels debuted in New York City around the turn of the nineteenth century, in the hands of Jewish immigrants. Bagels were smaller and rougher back then than they are now.

According to Reader’s Digest, the current New York bagels have a distinct texture due to the state’s “soft water.” The distinction between hard and soft water demonstrates how minor adjustments can significantly impact baking.

Because New York’s tap water has a low mineral concentration, the yeast in the bread will ferment more slowly, and the gluten will activate with less vigor, baking the inner dough unusually soft. Reader’s Digest also mentions the multilayer cooking procedure for New York bagels, which involves boiling them to seal in the moisture and then baking them to get that characteristic crispy exterior.

The Montreal Bagel


The Montreal Bagel
Source: sidechef.com

Like New York, Jewish immigrants from Poland and other Eastern European countries brought bagels to Montreal. According to Montreal, who brought the bagel to Montreal is fairly debatable. Although Chaime Seligman is credited with inventing the Montreal bagel in 1900, some feel that Isadore Shlafman and Jacob Drapkin were the first to do so in 1932. Reports differ, and, as with much history, there has yet to be a conclusive answer about how the bagel came to be.

The similarities between New York and Montreal bagels start with their shape and finish with their pre-boiling time. Despite being donut-shaped like most bagels, the Montreal bagel is distinctive. The Bagel Time states that what distinguishes the Montreal bagel is that it is typically handmade and cooked in a wood-fired oven.

This bagel is always warm and fresh. Another distinction between the Montreal and New York bagels is that the dough in Montreal is denser and sweeter than the New York’s. This sweetness is enhanced when the bagel is boiled in honey water and coated with poppy or sesame seeds for added crunch.

In a Nutshell

Simply put, the New York Style vs. Montreal Style Bagels debate goes beyond regional preference. It explores the depths of rich cultural histories and distinct baking traditions. New York bagels are renowned for their chewy texture and iconic glossy crust, which reflects the city’s rich culinary legacy. Meanwhile, Montreal bagels have a unique flavor and texture due to their wood-fired baking process, offering a distinctively sweet and dense alternative.

Both styles capture the essence of bagel-making traditions introduced to North America by Jewish immigrants and have become cherished essentials in their respective cities. Whether you prefer the soft, chewy New York bagel or the sweet, crunchy Montreal variety, every bite provides a delightful taste of these iconic cities’ rich history and character.

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