Not Sad Desk Lunch

How to Make Lunch Out of Stale Bagels

January 19, 2016

Bagels get the short-end of the office stick: After they're stuffed and transported in stifling brown paper bags, the chosen few are slathered with cream cheese and eaten as respite from conference calls, while the rest sit patiently, often until the end of the day, when someone will decide they're past their prime, and toss them.

This is not the fate the bagel deserves—not to mention it's wasteful! Instead of tossing stale bagels at the end of the day, save them. Here's how to turn them into excellent (not-stale-at-all) lunches tomorrow:

1. Store the bagels properly:

The first thing you need to know about the bagel is why they harden at the end of the day. According to Serious Eats, this hardening is the reaction of both dehydration and staling. To slow both processes, the best thing to do is get them in the refrigerator in a plastic zipper bag as soon as possible. If you're planning on enjoying them for longer than an additional day, and have access to a freezer, store them there instead. Bagels can last for months in the freezer—so you can completely forget about them until you need a grab n' go lunch.

2. Choose your reheat option:

According to Kenji Lopez-Alt, there are three primary ways of reheating bagels to maximize their freshness and taste the next day.

  1. If you prefer a warm and crispy bagel, classically toasted bagel: Cut it in half and toast it as you would bread.
  2. If you're looking for a bagel with a chewy interior but slightly dried-out exterior: Place an entire defrosted bagel in the oven at 375° F for 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. If you think the inside of the bagel is the best part: Run the bagel directly under warm water for 15 seconds, then place it in the oven at 375° F for 4 to 5 minutes.
Photo by James Ransom

3. Choose your ideal Lagel (a.k.a. Bagel Lunch):

There are several benefits to having a bagel for lunch: They're more filling than bread and sturdier, too, so you can pile more things on them: Marinara sauce and cheese! An egg! All of the leftovers in your fridge! It's all fair game. Once you choose your favorite topping, you'll have days and days of care-free bagel lunches ahead of you.

What's your favorite way to prepare bagels for lunch? Tell us in the comments below!

Listen Now

Join The Sandwich Universe co-hosts (and longtime BFFs) Molly Baz and Declan Bond as they dive deep into beloved, iconic sandwiches.

Listen Now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I eat everything.

1 Comment

Allie January 19, 2016
Asiago bage toasted and rubbed with garlic clove, topped with fresh picked garden tomato slice, fresh basil, grated asiago, drizzle a tad of olive oil, broil. Ahhh.