How To Toast A Bagel Without A Toaster – The Best Ways

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Bagels are best served toasted and there is nothing like a lightly crisp and warmed-up bagel in the morning! 

If you are someone who is looking to toast a bagel without using a toaster then this guide is just for you.

How to toast a bagel without a toaster? Luckily, there are several methods for toasting or warming a bagel. You can toast them using a stovetop, an oven, an air fryer, or even a pot. Essentially, bagels can toast well on anything with a constant hot surface!  

But what is the best alternative method for toasting bagels?

Read below to learn more about how to properly toast a bagel, some great alternatives, and an excellent recipe for making fresh bagels that you can toast using any of our recommended methods!

Toasted Bagels

Since bagels are a bread product, they can be used and heated in similar ways as bread.

Bagels are usually cut in half and then added to toasters, just like bread slices, but in this case, the general idea is to gently warm or lightly toast the bagels on each side.

Bread slices are usually thinner because they are cut straight while bagels have a concave surface due to their donut-like shape.

This means that the bagels will slightly protrude and fill up the toaster grill more—this will lead to unevenly toasted surfaces or an improperly heated bagel.

This is why we highly recommend that you try out different ways of heating and toasting a bagel than just stuffing it in the toaster. 

Please keep in mind that toaster manufacturers build their products for a variety of purposes, but for people who own a smaller toaster, heating bagels perfectly can be an uphill battle. 

To force the bagels into the toaster, some people may prefer to flatten it out using their hands or by squishing it with another flat surface—this strategy may work for the short term but it can completely ruin the texture and shape of the bagel.

So, what is the best alternative to toasting bagels? Here are a few great suggestions:

Oven Toasting 

Oven toasting is by far the best method for lightly toasting the bagel. However, there are a few downsides to this method too.

The benefit of toasting a bagel in the oven is that you can cover a much greater area of the bagel without compressing it.

Just preheat the oven to 365°F and lightly toast the bagel using the top rack for about 5-8 minutes or until the desired texture

You can flip the bagel at the 3–4-minute mark to get an even toast on both sides.

The reason why this method works well is that the bagel is slowly introduced to heat from the heating element above. This superficially and internally heats the bagel from the outside in.

Another way to quickly and efficiently toast a bagel is to cut it in half. This way you can get a double-toast on each side and enjoy the bagel with spreads, jams, or more! 

But there is also a disadvantage to this method: you may dry out the surface of the bagel. Remember, since the bagel will spend more time in the oven (under direct heat) it may dry out if it is not monitored properly. 

This is why we highly recommend that you keep an eye on the bagel and not toast it for more than 8-10 minutes unless you intentionally want a deeper color on the surface

Another downside to this method is that it requires a bit more time and prep work too.

For instance, preheating the oven is a necessary step for this method because if you keep the bagel in from the start then it will have considerably dried out by the time the oven reaches the desired temperature. 

Also, once you put the bagels in you will have to manually flip them to toast them on both sides.

The toasting time shouldn’t be that big of an issue because once you get a hang of this method, you will know exactly when to flip and when to take out the bagel. 

Here are some easy step by step instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Either cut the bagel in half or toast the bagel whole for 5-8 minutes. Flip the bagel after the 3–4-minute mark when toasting a whole (uncut) bagel.
  3. Allow to cool and enjoy! 

How To Make it Better

The best way to get the most out of the oven toasting method is to lightly brush the bagels with plain water or just a bit of oil.

The water and oil will create a very thin insulation layer that will protect the bagel from drying out too much. 

Just make sure you don’t use a lot of either liquid as it may overly soak the bagel which may interfere with the toasting process.

Stove Top

The stovetop method is quick, easy, and convenient. It doesn’t require a lot of time and can precisely toast bagels within minutes.

To toast bagels over a stovetop, simply heat a non-stick pan over medium heat until warm, and then put the bagel over the surface while gently pressing down on it without overly squishing it.

Pressing down on the bagel will make sure that all of the surfaces are in contact with the pan.

Do not heat the pan too much! The idea here is to just get it warm enough to lightly toast the bagel. If you notice smoke from the pan, then that would indicate an overly hot surface. 

Allow the pan to cool down before toasting the bagel or the bagel might only sear on top without getting adequately warm on the inside. 

A toast time of around 3-4 minutes on each side should suffice but if you want a deeper color on the bagel then you can add 2-3 more minutes too!

Here are the detailed steps:

  1. Preheat the pan to medium heat. Do not overheat the pan or the bagel might get charred! 
  2. Add the bagel to the pan while gently pressing down on it for about 5-10 seconds.
  3. Flip the bagel after 4 minutes and then toast the other side using the same method. 

How To Make It Better

The stovetop method is very straightforward but there are a few things that you can do to make it better.

For example, before toasting the bagel try spraying a bit of PAM over the surface of the pan to create a protective barrier for the bagel

Also, to get beautifully toasted bagels, try adding a bit of flat weight over the bagel as they toast.

This will cause the surface of the bagel to slightly flatten out and toast equally. Trust us, once you try this method, you will always want to toast bagels this way! 

Pot Toasting 

The pot toasting method has two advantages:

  1. It quickly toasts the bagel.
  2. It can soften and warm up the bagel from every side at the same time! 

This method involves a deep pot and bagels. That’s it!

The pot toasting method is novel but very practical. The idea behind using this method is to give the bagels a soft texture while also toasting them on the surface. 

Closing the lid with the bagels toasting inside will trap moisture and cause the bagel to soften or loosen. Be careful, though! Overheating a bagel using this method may result in a soggy or crumbly bagel!

While this method certainly isn’t for everyone, it is perhaps one of the best ways to enjoy any type of bagel at home—even in emergencies. 

Here are some detailed steps for this method:

  1. Add the bagel to the pot (no preheating required).
  2. Put the flame on the medium-low setting and let the bagel toast with the lid on for about 5 minutes on each side. 
  3. Open the lid and air out the bagel before moving it out of the pot. Put the bagel on a plate and allow it to cool for about 1-2 minutes before enjoying it!

How To Make It Better

Pot toasting requires a bit of practice and monitoring. Make sure that you keep a steady temperature within the pot for the best results.

You don’t have to be precise but the best way to get the most out of this method is to not let the pot smoke.

A great tip to rehydrate a very dry bagel is to spray the inside of the pot with a bit of water. The water will instantly create steam which you can then trap using the lid.

Turn off the flame and let the bagel sit for about 1-2 minutes before opening the pot and serving the bagel. 

Air Frying

If you have an air fryer in the kitchen then this toasting method is going to blow you away. That’s right, air fryers can be used to toast food too! 

Think of air fryers as small, portable convection ovens that cook food by blowing hot air over them.

The advantage these appliances have over toasters is that they can evenly toast the bagel from the surface—and all it takes is 2-3 minutes!

Air fried bagels can be toasted as is or if you like a slightly crispier surface, then we highly recommend that you add a bit of cooking oil to the basket and the bagel as well.

The cooking oil on the surface of the air fryer will keep the bagel from sticking while the oil over the bagel will lightly crispen it. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Preheat the air fryer at the maximum setting for 5-8 minutes.
  2. Cut the bagel in half, lightly coat with oil or water and put each half next to each other. Set the temperature to 310°F and toast the bagel for 2 minutes for a light toast, 3 minutes for a medium toast, or 4 minutes for a deep and dark toast!
  3. Carefully remove the bagel from the cooking basket, let it sit for a while, and serve warm!

How To Make It Better

We recommend adding a bit of butter to the bagels on either the top or both sides to get a nice light toast and buttery flavor! 

This method is excellent for toasting bagels because it won’t dry out the bagels and you won’t need to press down on the bagels to equally toast them because air fryers are designed to circulate hot air all around the cooking chamber.

However, if you don’t have a heavy-duty air fryer with an updated air-fin design then you can also flip the bagels after the halfway mark.

Open Fire Toasting

On a camping trip with a few bagels in the bag? Then why not toast the bagels over an open flame!

Bagels toast well over a campfire and you can even change things up by toasting marshmallows with them on the side too!

While not ideal, the open fire method will quickly toast the bagels on every side and will provide you with just the right char and crispiness on the exterior! 

Here’s how to toast a bagel over an open fire:

  1. Put the bagel on a stick. You can either use a full, uncut, or sliced bagel for this method. 
  2. Hover the bagel just over the fire to toast it. Be extremely careful when doing this. The bagel may burn if exposed directly to the fire. You should instead try to keep the bagel just above the flame to prevent it from burning. 
  3. Flip the bagel by sticking the other side using a thick cloth or spatula and repeat step 2.

How To Make It Better

An open flame is the quickest way to equally heat and toast a bagel. We recommend toasting both halves of the bagel at the same time to get an even better texture.

You can also stick in a marshmallow with the half bagel to create a gooey and delicious snack! 

Commercial Vs. Homemade Bagels

Want the best-tasting toasted bagels? Then there is no better place to start than homemade bagels!

Commercial bagels are made using the same techniques but with a considerable exception: they are loaded with preservatives, improvers, and additives

These ingredients may improve the overall texture and flavor of the bagels but may not sit well with many who want to opt for a more natural bagel. 

Homemade bagels contain simple ingredients, yet they can turn out miles better than store-bought bagels because the home-baked variety is made fresh and is tailored to your taste buds.

Also, because you have full control over the baking process, you get to decide what additional ingredients to add to your dream bagel!

Making bagels is easy and once you get into the habit of it, you may never want to go back to store-bought bagels again. Here is an excellent video to get you started!

Related Questions

Toasted bagels and a bit of cream cheese are all you need to turn your day around! Now that you know how to properly toast bagels, here are a few related questions:

Can you store toasted bagels in the fridge?

Yes, toasted bagels can be stored in the fridge for up to 2-3 days, provided that you used fresh bagels before toasting them to begin with! 

Stale bagels do not store well and while toasting the bagels may somewhat improve their resistance to mold (due to lack of moisture) it is still advised that you always use fresh bagels and consume the toasted ones within 24 hours. 

We wouldn’t recommend freezing toasted bagels as thawing them will just ruin their flavor and texture. 

Can you toast a bagel in a microwave oven?

Yes, but only if your microwave appliance has a grilling or convection feature. Plain microwaves wouldn’t toast the bagel; however, it is great for warming and softening a 1–2-day old bagel. 

Please refer to the manual for more information on how to use the grill function on your specific microwave to toast a bagel. 

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