Loaded Lox Bagel Recipe

Bagels and lox are a classic combo, but what, exactly, is lox as opposed to smoked salmon? Recipe developer Michelle McGlinn explains that while these two foods are closely related, "Lox is cured in salt, whereas smoked salmon is smoked." She does say that you can really use either one here, although notes that, unsurprisingly, "Smoked salmon will have a smokier flavor." Whichever type you go with, McGlinn advises, "You'll want the thinly sliced salmon, packaged in thin packages, not the filet of salmon on planks."

In addition to the salmon, McGlinn likes to load up her bagels with a cream cheese spread and then pile on onions, capers, and dill. As a final touch, she then garnishes these open-faced breakfast sandwiches with homemade quick cucumber pickles. If you'd rather skip this step, though, she allows, "You don't have to pickle the cucumbers, nor do they have to be ribbons." Plain circle-cut cucumbers will work if that's your preference or, for what McGlinn calls a "cuter topping," you can use skinny Persian cucumbers, instead. Needless to say, there are quite a few ways to dress-up or dress-down your loaded lox bagel, but if you want one that looks just like McGlinn's, then following this recipe is a sure-fire way to get it.

Assemble the ingredients for the loaded lox bagels

In addition to lox (or smoked salmon) and bagels, you'll need all of the aforementioned toppings. To make the pickles, you'll be using cucumbers, water, distilled white vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seed, peppercorns, and fresh dill. For the cream cheese topping, you'll need cream cheese, crème fraîche, lemon juice, and some brine from a jar of capers. You will also need a red onion for the bagel sandwiches, and you might want some extra dill and some capers to add to the garnishes, although these last two additions are optional.

Make the cucumber pickles

Pour the water and vinegar into a pot and add the sugar, salt, mustard seed, and peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolve. Put the cucumbers into some kind of vessel deep enough to hold them and pour the vinegar mixture over them. Add the fresh dill, and push the cucumbers and dill down until they're submerged. Let them sit and pickle until the bagel sandwiches are built and it's time for that final topping.

Make the cream cheese schmear

Combine the cream cheese with the crème fraîche, lemon juice, and caper brine. "If you can't find crème fraîche," McGlinn says, "Don't sweat it, just use cream cheese or stir in a little Greek yogurt." Sour cream makes a great crème fraîche substitute, as well. McGlinn also notes that if you skip the capers, and thus have no caper juice to add to the mix, you should add a pinch of salt in order to compensate for the missing brine. Whatever combination of ingredients or substitutes you wind up with, beat the cream cheese mixture until it looks smooth, light, and fluffy, then spread this creamy fluff onto each bagel half.

Load up the bagels

Add the salmon and sliced onion to the bagels. If you don't have a full pound of salmon, McGlinn says it's okay to skimp, but admits "I prefer more salmon to bread," which is why she likes to go heavy on the fish. She also likes 2 thin slices of onion per bagel. The capers and/or dill go on next, if you're using either or both — McGlinn says her preference is for three dill sprigs and four or five capers on each, but you can use as much or as little as you like. She also says it doesn't matter what type of bagel you use, although onion, everything, or asiago would probably work better with salmon than cinnamon raisin would. If you want a slightly crunchier base for your open-face sandwich, you can also toast the bagel, but it's not necessary to do so.

While this recipe only calls for 2 bagels, McGlinn says, "I find one bagel half to be plenty for one serving since it will hold all those toppings." She goes on to say "It's a pretty full breakfast/brunch on its own," but notes that you can, of course, serve the sandwiches with eggs or other breakfast items if you wish.

Loaded Lox Bagel Recipe
5 from 21 ratings
This loaded lox bagels comes complete with the works: salmon lox, onion, a cream cheese blend, and even some homemade pickles.
Prep Time
Cook Time
bagel with lox and cucumbers
Total time: 20 minutes
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled into ribbons
  • 4 fresh dill fronds
  • ¼ cup crème fraîche
  • ½ cup cream cheese
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tablespoon caper brine
  • 2 bagels, halved
  • 1 pound sliced salmon lox
  • ½ red onion, sliced
Optional Ingredients
  • capers, for garnish
  • fresh dill, for garnish
  1. Start by making the pickles. Bring the water, vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seed, and peppercorns to a simmer over medium heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar and salt dissolve.
  2. Put the cucumbers and dill into a bowl or jar and pour the vinegar mixture over them.
  3. Press the cucumbers down until they're submerged in the vinegar and let them sit until it's time to top the bagels.
  4. Beat the crème fraîche, cream cheese, lemon juice, and caper brine until the mixture is smooth, light, and fluffy.
  5. Spread the cream cheese mixture onto the bagel halves.
  6. Layer the salmon lox and sliced onion on top of each bagel.
  7. Top the bagels with the pickled cucumbers.
  8. Garnish the bagels with additional capers or dill, if desired.
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