How to Revive Stale Bagels

Epic BLT Bagel Board

Walking into a bakery and smelling fresh bagels is intoxicating. Picking up a dozen early in the morning, taking them home, slicing one and slathering it in cream cheese is the best way to enjoy them. But what happens if you and your family don’t finish all of your bagels in one day? As long as you store them properly (read more about that below), you can enjoy them the next day or even a few weeks later if you freeze them. All is not lost if you don’t store them in time and they go stale.


Whether you prefer Montreal or New York style, don’t toss out those stale bagels and try these handy tricks that restore them to almost freshly-baked perfection.

Related: How to Make Montreal-Style Bagels

Bagels on a black serving plate


How do you make bagels soft again?

There are several different ways to bring a stale bagel back to life using things you already have in your kitchen. An oven (or toaster oven) is the most effective way to soften a bagel that’s slightly past its prime. While the methods can vary, the key is to keep it whole rather than slicing it in half.

For a soft, fluffy bagel, preheat your oven to 350°F, either run the stale bagel under hot water until the outside is damp or soak it briefly in a bowl of hot water, then place the bagel directly on the wire rack in the oven and heat it for five minutes. For a bagel that keeps its slightly crispy exterior while the inside remains soft, preheat your oven to 350°F, soak the bagel in hot water (either directly under the tap or in a bowl), loosely wrap the wet bagel in aluminum foil and then place it on a baking sheet before heating in the oven for five minutes. Carefully remove it from the foil, slice it in half, and dress it up with your favourite spread or fillings.

The simplest and quickest way to soften a stale bagel is in the microwave, but it might take a bit of trial and error to find the method that works best for you. One option is to place the bagel in the centre of a microwave-safe dish, add anywhere from 8-10 drops of water around the outside edge of the plate, and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Another method is to wrap the bagel in a wet paper towel and microwave for 15 seconds. The third way is to place the bagel on a microwave-safe dish, sprinkle or spritz water over the top of it, cover it with a damp paper towel, and then heat it in 10 second intervals until warm.

A third way to revive a stale bagel is in your air fryer. Simply wrap the bagel in aluminum foil, pop it into the air fryer basket, and heat it at 400°F for five minutes. Again, be sure to carefully remove it from the foil before serving.


You might also like: Celebrate With These Mini Bagels (and Epic BLT Bagel Board!)

A bagel sandwich with smoked salmon, lettuce and tomato on a wooden cutting board


How do I reheat fresh bagels?

If they haven’t gone stale yet, here is the best way to reheat fresh bagels:

First, make sure you’re storing your bagels correctly. When you get them home, place them in a zip-top bag and refrigerate them immediately. If you don’t plan to eat them within a day, freezing them is the best option. Just make sure you’re using freezer-safe bags and that you’ve removed as much of the air from the bag before sealing it to prevent freezer burn.

Reheating fresh bagels depends on how you like to enjoy them. For a warm, crispy finish, cut the refrigerated bagel in half and pop it into the toaster before slathering it with butter or your favourite cream cheese. If you prefer a crisp exterior and chewy interior, place the whole bagel into the oven at 350-375°F for 4-5 minutes. For a softer, fluffier interior, run the bagel under warm water for 10-15 seconds or spritz it with warm water before placing it in a 375°Foven for 4-5 minutes.

A microwave can be used in a pinch to reheat a bagel, but there are some down sides. You’ll end up with a much chewier texture, and if you overheat it, the bagel will become too tough to eat or even to cut through.

Pizza bagels topped with sauce, cheese and pepperoni ready to go into the oven


Can you eat stale bagels?

Just because a bagel is stale doesn’t mean it’s ready for the compost bin. In addition to the tips suggested above to revive a stale bagel, they’re great as is for dipping in soups, stews or chilis. You can also use them to make breadcrumbs, bagel chips or croutons. Then there’s the ultimate treat: the pizza bagel, and a stale bagel is the perfect canvas for all of that tomato sauce and cheese!

Related: How to Revive Stale Baguette Bread With One Easy Trick!