Too Many Cooks

Too Many Cooks: What's on Your Bagel?

August  9, 2013

You'll be hearing from the staff at Food52 every week in Too Many Cooks, our group column in which we pool our answers to questions about food, cooking, life, and more.

Bagels on Food52

We thought our team had strong opinions about sandwiches, but it turns out we may have even stronger opinions about one particular type of sandwich: the bagel. (We are based in New York, after all.) One thing we all seemed to agree on is that bagels make the perfect blank slate, ready to be topped with whatever our hearts desire. This week, we asked our team:

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What is your bagel order?

Do you like it toasted or untoasted? Do you go for everything or plain? Cream cheese or butter? Do you make your own? Tell us in the comments!

Bagels on Food52

Merrill: Plain bagel with olive cream cheese!

Bea: Poppyseed bagel with smoked salmon from Russ and Daughters, sliced cucumbers, red onions, capers and light smear of cream cheese cut in 1/2!

Kenzi: Don't look now, but you all have poppy seeds in your teeth. Sesame bagel, toasted, cream cheese, lox, tomato, capers. (Or dripping in butter and salt, a la Brette.)

Amanda: Okay, so it has to be a sesame bagel, but not just any old sesame bagel, and definitely not one of those bloated ones. It should be flat, dark, the crust a little bubbled. Sliced and toasted, and spread with salted butter and blueberry preserves.

Allen: Sesame bagel with bacon, egg, and tomato.

Sarah: Sesame bagel, hot from the oven, ripped open in chunks, and sprinkled with salt.

Avocados on Food52

Hannah: Toasted everything bagel, sliced avocado, and salt -- à la Maggie and Amelia at lunch the other day.

Amelia: My go-to order is an everything bagel, toasted, with cream cheese and lox. Or, as Hannah pointed out, topped with avocado. But the everything bagel is the most important part of the order. 

Marian: My order is obviously an everything bagel with plain cream cheese.

Karl: Toasted everything bagel with cream cheese.

Allison: Toasted everything bagel, cream cheese, capers, lox, red onion, and tomato, piled up in that order. Yum!

Michael: Whole wheat everything with schmear, lox, red onions, capers, spritz of lemon. Egg with whitefish salad. Toasted cinnamon raisin with honey-walnut schmear.

Gabriella: Whole wheat everything toasted with vegetable tofu spread (sorry I'm not sorry), plus sliced tomato.

Bryce: Everything bagel, cream cheese, sliced tomato. If it's for lunch, add to that pepper turkey. Boom.

Ryan: There is a bagel shop literally below the floor of our apartment, so I wake to the smell of everything bagels every day. (I guess they're the only ones with a strong enough scent?) When I'm feeling sweet: cinnamon raisin with walnut-raisin cream cheese. Feeling savory: everything with scallion cream cheese. 

Better than Everything Bagel Spice on Provisions on Food52 Better than Everything Bagel Spice on Provisions on Food52

Christina: Toasted everything bagel (maybe I should make my own with the Better Than Everything Bagel Spice that we're selling in Provisions), plain cream cheese, lox, and thinly sliced red onion.

Amanda Li: +1 to Christina's order.

Brette: I have many -- my order is a very specific calibration of season, mood, company, and occasion. Plain bagel, toasted, drenched in butter and salt. Everything bagel with cream cheese, smoked salmon, red onion, and a squeeze of lemon. Everything bagel, scooped, toasted, with cream cheese and smoked salmon. (Don't judge -- the scoopage leaves room for more salmon.) Cinnamon raisin with cream cheese. Cinnamon raisin with butter and lots of salt. If the bagel is super fresh and chewy and awesome: NOTHING. Unsliced. Broken off in hunks.

Lauren: +1 scooped everything (for crunch), very well toasted, with just a little cream cheese and lox.

Jennifer: Whole wheat everything bagel (scooped) with tuna salad, sliced red onion and lettuce -- and a half sour pickle on the side.

Kenzi: Here's the thing about scooping a bagel: it's utterly sacrilegious.

Jason: I agree with Kenzi -- all this scooping is madness!

Lindsay: What is all of this talk of scooping?! You're removing the bagel's bagelness. A toasted Zingerman's Enough Already bagel (a.k.a. the best everything bagel of all time) with plain cream cheese -- no skimping.

Maggie: I get a lot of flack for this at school, but I toast a plain bagel, schmear it all over with cream cheese, and eat one half of it with red onions and the other half of it with raspberry jam. It's lunch and dessert, brought to you by one bagel!

Tomatoes on Food52

Emma: Toasted everything, plain cream cheese, lox -- maybe a tomato and thinly sliced red onion if I'm feeling fancy. Always open faced. (When I was little I used to order a toasted chocolate chip bagel with lots of melted butter. Now that's dessert.)

Jason: Cinnamon raisin, toasted, with cream cheese.

Peter: I don't eat a lot if bagels but if within 100 miles of Montreal, then a proper Montreal bagel from Fairmount. Otherwise -- and this makes me a bad Jew -- nothing beats my standard Sunday morning bagel order from my college days: Cinnamon raisin. Split. Toasted. Heavily buttered with salted butter. A generous dose of cinnamon sugar.

Maddy: Everything lightly toasted with cream cheese, super thinly sliced red onion, capers, and smoked salmon (+1 on Russ and Daughters). Cinnamon raisin with plain cream cheese. +1 on cinnamon raisin with butter and cinnamon sugar, but I do it untoasted, load on the butter and cinna-sugar, and then broil open face so the sugar caramelizes a little. 

Stephanie: Team Fairmount forever! St. Viateur is for people with no tastebuds.

Kristen: The Melt was one of the first Genius Recipes I ever came across, from Bagel Cafe in Isla Vista, CA. Bagel of choice (egg or sesame was my choice), split, layered with cream cheese, then a slice of tomato, then a slice of sharp cheddar, broiled. Lemon pepper from a giant shaker at the end. Served on a sheet of foil. There's also a deluxe version, but why be fancy at a moment like this?

Tell us: what's your order? Or do you DIY?

Top two bagel photos by Eric Moran; all other photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • walkie74
  • Rob Nichols
    Rob Nichols
  • ChefJune
  • MomMom
  • OmniumGatherum
Emma Wartzman

Written by: Emma Wartzman


walkie74 August 16, 2013
Toasted sesame with lox and cream cheese. Or apple cinnamon with strawberry cream cheese.
Rob N. August 11, 2013
Interested bagel bakers want to know: what's your definition of "everything". Seasame & Poppy seeds for sure. After that some combination of fennel, onion, garlic, salt, flax and caraway. I've seen lots of combinations; what's the classic and/or preferred mix?
ChefJune August 12, 2013
sesame, poppy, onion, garlic, salt, caraway. afaik. Oh and I forgot to mention I never eat a bagel closed. Has to be open faced. I can't get my mouth around it as a closed sandwich.
ChefJune August 11, 2013
Okay, I'll play. Untoasted Everthing bagel with scallion cream cheese, lox (not smoked salmon) and a slice of ripe tomato (this time of year).
MomMom August 11, 2013
Onion bagel, a light shear of cream cheese, lox, capers, red onion - oh, yes and toast the bagel even if it is freshly baked!
OmniumGatherum August 10, 2013
toasted pumpernickel with whitefish salad and sliced tomato.
lisina August 10, 2013
sesame or whole wheat, very well toasted, plain cream cheese, sliced tomato.
RespectThePastry August 10, 2013
Salted Bagel from Bialy's not toasted or sliced! With a side of cream cheese, butter and sea salt to lightly dip fluffy bagel chunks into. Yum :D
dreonrice August 10, 2013
Onion bagel with peanut butter. Hope you don't get stuck in front of me in the bagel line. It's been known to cause some consternation when the orders get crossed...but seriously, it's really good, brave eaters please try!
Diana P. August 9, 2013
OK for nostalgia purposes, it's gotta be a Northeast NJ bagel. With two older brothers I had to make do with whatever bagel I could grab out of the bag, so I don't discriminate and am happy with sesame, plain or everything though I must say poppyseed was always a disappointment. Anyway, got to hollow out just the tiniest amount to make room for a good slab of cream cheese, thinly sliced (so it is see-through) lox, in-season slices of tomato, the thinnest slice of red onion and voila, the perfect bagel!
darksideofthespoon August 9, 2013
Ditto Amelia. Always an everything bagel, first and foremost. Cream cheese, yes. Lox YES. Mmmmmmmmmmm.
boulangere August 9, 2013
Bagels are one of my hands-down favorite things to make because THEN I can make bagel sandwiches!
Aliwaks August 9, 2013
Just remembered a fab late night bagel sandwich my dad would make sesame bagel scooped and liberally buttered w Dijon mustard thick slices of , Hebrew national salami & jarlsberg cheese ... open faced & broiled in toaster oven perfect w a garlic pickle !!!!
Jenna S. August 9, 2013
Everything or sesame bagel with light cream cheese. But was a huge fan of this sandwich in my college town called the Wham-O that had turkey and avocado on it, with sprouts. So freaking amazing. I miss that.
maeveoh August 9, 2013
In the words of my local bagel lady, "Sometimes you just need lox spread."

Whole wheat toasted everything with lox spread. OR Whole wheat toasted everything with scallion & lox. m m m m m
Diana P. August 9, 2013
Hilarious! Your local bagel lady is right on.
HalfPint August 9, 2013
I like my sesame bagel with a light smear of cream cheese, 2 tomato slices, and a tablespoon of capers. On occasion, add 2 slices of bacon.
fiveandspice August 9, 2013
A fresh - no toasting necessary - sea salt or sesame bagel from Scratch Bakery (Portland, ME) with gratuitous amounts of cream cheese, lox, and a slice of tomato; or a lightly toasted plain bagel with bacon, cheddar, a fried egg; or, and this may be a habit particular to my family, but it's surprisingly good, a well toasted plain bagel with a lot of melted salted butter and paper thin slices of salami.
ann L. August 8, 2013
everything, toasted with goat cream cheese, crispy bacon and sliced tomato....
Emma W. August 9, 2013
I've always wanted to try goat cream cheese!
ZombieCupcake August 8, 2013
Whole wheat bagel with peanut butter, banana and egg my favorite pre run meal.
Aliwaks August 8, 2013
Ahh I miss New York...
So I have many bagel moods, but never blueberry, never egg, poppy seed, plain or salt.

Warm but not toasted Sesame bagel, butter & spicy brown mustard (maybe muenster cheese & iceberg lettuce if its meal )

Toasted Everything bagel ripe perfect tomatoes, cream cheese & bacon (alt cucumber for tomatoes if they are not perfect or for bacon if feeling chubby)

Warm Pumpernickel bagel, butter on one side, scallion cream cheese on the other, nova lox (sliced thin) Jarlsberg cheese or capers but not both & Butter lettuce

Warm Everything bagel from Ess-a-bagel with Sweet Breakstones butter

Cinnamon raisin toasted till almost burnt w salted butter on one side cream cheese on the other, one do they don't touch.

Toasted till almost burnt Bialy whitefish salad, scallion cream cheese (or dill/scallion/caper cream cheese if avail ) lemon, cucumbers

And there you have the history of the sunday mornings, after school snacks, lunches & breakfasts of my life in bagels.

Amanda H. August 8, 2013
Hey Aliwaks -- great to hear from you!