Can you freeze bagels? Yes, you can! In this post, I provide a step-by-step guide for freezing bagels. You’ve probably been doing it all wrong, here’s the right way to freeze bagels so they taste freshly baked even when they come from the freezer!
There’s nothing better than fresh bagels straight from your favorite bagel shop. There are so many types of bagels. What’s your favorite flavor? Cinnamon raisin, sesame seed, garlic, onion, or are you a plain bagel person?
No matter what flavor you like the best, the challenge is that bagels go stale quickly! The shelf life of bagels, when kept in a paper bag, is only 48 hours. If you haven’t enjoyed them within that time frame, they will begin to harden. But, if you buy a dozen or more and don’t have time to eat them before they go stale you’ll end up wasting perfectly good food!
But not anymore! In this post, I will show you how to freeze, defrost, and reheat your favorite bagels so they never go stale again!
If this article interests you please check out my other articles about freezing foods including:
Can You Freeze Bagels?
Yes, you can freeze bagels. The challenge is that most people don’t freeze them the right way. Or they put them in the refrigerator so that they last a bit longer only to find that the bagels become hard and inedible. Simply placing bagels in a freezer bag and calling it a day will cause your bagels to get freezer burn, which will result in hard, inedible defrosted bagels that you will end up throwing into the trash.
If you’ve had fresh bagels for more than 2 days, it’s a good idea to freeze them to maintain their freshness before they go stale. Instead of wasting perfectly good bagels read on to learn how to freeze your favorite bagels the right way!
How Do You Freeze Bagels the Right Way?
While most people simply place their whole bagels in a freezer-safe bag it is not the best way to freeze bagels. The problem with freezing bagels in this manner is that they are not protected from freezer burn. The wonderful thing about bagels is that they have a crunchy outside, and a soft inside.
If your bagels get freezer burn they will lose that crunchy outer layer. In addition, defrosting a whole bagel takes longer than defrosting two halves. The simple, solution to a soft and chewy bagel is to cut the bagel in half and freeze each half. This also means you have the option of defrosting one half at a time if you don’t want to eat a whole bagel! Also, it’s impossible to slice a frozen bagel, so this way you can drop each half in the toaster without delay.
Step 1: Cut the Bagel in Half
Place your bagel on a cutting board lengthwise, and slice down the middle with a sharp serrated knife so that you have two halves. Alternatively, use a bagel slicer.
Step 2: Wrap Each Half In Plastic Wrap
Tear off a sheet of plastic wrap, and wrap it around each half to trap air and reduce moisture. When wrapping be sure that each half is sealed completely so that no air bubbles are present.
Step 3: Place In Freezer Bag
Place the wrapped bagels in a freezer-safe bag. Depending on how many bagels you are freezing, you may need an extra-large freezer bag.
Step 4: Label with the Date
Write the date on the freezer bag. This will help you know how long they are good for in the freezer. Typically bagels will be good for up to 4 months in the freezer.
Step 5: Place in the Freezer
Bagels are soft before frozen, so you don’t want to place them under anything heavy in the freezer or they will become dented and damaged. Find a safe spot in the freezer where they won’t be crushed during storage.
How Do You Defrost Frozen Bagels?
There are many options when it comes to defrosting frozen bagels. The method you choose will depend on how quickly you want to enjoy your bagel. Defrosting at room temperature is the best option, whereas defrosting in the microwave is the fastest option. Let’s review each method, the benefits, and the drawbacks.
Defrost at Room Temperature
Place your bagel on the countertop at room temperature for 2-3 hours to thaw. This is a good option if you need your bagel for another recipe such as a baked french toast, bread pudding, or sandwich. Defrosting at room temperature also allows for the bagel to slowly come back to its original form which results in the best taste and texture.
Defrost in the Toaster
Since your bagels are already cut in half, you can take them directly from the freezer and place them in the toaster or the toaster oven. The toaster will not only quickly defrost the bagel, but also warm and toast them nicely so that you get a crispy brown outer crust and chewy center.
If you choose to defrost your bagel in the toaster you will need to do so at a higher setting than you usually use. This is because bagels are thicker than regular sliced bread, and also it’s frozen. I recommend starting with a setting in the middle, for example, level 3 out of 6. Then add some more toasting time if it’s not yet completely defrosted. All toasters are a bit different.
Defrost in the Oven
No, toaster? You can defrost your bagel in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap the bagels from the plastic wrap and place them on a baking sheet face down. Bake for 3-5 minutes. Turn them over, and bake for an additional 3-5 minutes. They will be toasty brown and warm on the inside.
Defrost in the Microwave Oven
The microwave is my least favorite way to defrost bagels because it results in a hard and inedible bagel. Bagels are high in gluten which means if they are overheated, which is easy to do in the microwave, they become hard as a rock! Therefore, approach defrosting in the microwave with caution.
Step 1: Remove the plastic wrap from your bagel. Wrap it in a paper towel, and put it on a plate.
Step 2: Set your microwave to 50%, then set the time to 30 seconds.
Step 3: Flip the bagel, and microwave for an additional 30 seconds. Your bagel should be gently and perfectly defrosted.
Benefits of Freezing Bagels
- Load up on your favorite bagels
- Freeze the bagels you haven’t eaten after 48 hours
- Avoid bagels going stale
- Have an easy breakfast ready to go!
Cons of Freezing Bagels
- They won’t taste as fresh as the day you bought them
- Defrosting in the microwave can cause them to become hard and inedible
- You must take the time to slice and wrap each half individually before putting them in a freezer-safe plastic bag.
- They will lose some of their original flavors
This is somewhat of a debated topic. Some people say you shouldn’t slice your bagels before freezing them. They say that slicing them makes them dryer on the inside while keeping them whole will lock in the moisture. However, the challenge with keeping them whole is that you must defrost them at room temperature or in the microwave. Defrosting them at room temperature is fine, but it will take 2-3 hours. If you want a quick breakfast to pop in the toaster, having the bagels pre-cut makes it much easier to put them in the toaster and they will be ready to eat in minutes.
I do not recommend freezing bagels with cream cheese. The problem with freezing bagels with cream cheese happens when you defrost them. You can’t put a bagel with cream cheese on the counter to defrost since cream cheese is perishable. Also, you can’t stick it in the toaster oven, or the oven, as that would be a whole mess. Nor can you put it in the microwave to defrost because the cream cheese will melt, and make the bagel soggy. Do not freeze bagels with cream cheese already on them.
The best way to keep bagels from getting freezer burn is to wrap each half with plastic wrap ensuring that no air is trapped between the plastic wrap and the bagel. Then place the halves in a freezer-safe bag with all the pushed out. No air equals no freezer burn.
You can freeze bagels for up to 4 months, although, I recommend sticking to the 3-month mark or sooner. After 4 months, you’ll likely forget they are still in your freezer!
The best way to defrost a bagel is at room temperature. This method will allow the bagel to slowly return to its original state which will result in a crunchy toasted outer layer and soft and chewy center. However, this will take longer than putting the bagel in the toaster. If time is of the essence, then I recommend putting your bagel halves in the toaster. Just be sure you give them enough time to defrost and toast, but not too much time that they burn!
The best way to slice a bagel is to use a bagel slicer. You’ll get an even slice through the center. But if you don’t have a bagel slicer, use a large serrated bread knife. Hold the bagel on its side on a cutting board, be careful to keep your fingers out of the way, and slice down the center.