14 Creative Ways To Use Leftover Bagels

There's nothing much more delicious than a bag of fresh bagels from the best bagel shop in your state. They're perfectly crispy, with just the right degree of shatter that breaks into pieces and will leave you with a big grin across your face. But the absolute worst thing about these carby delights is that they just don't taste the same on day two. The inevitable staleness creeps up on your bagels as they sit on your counter — and it's a fruitless effort to try to hide it with a quick plunk in the toaster or an obscene amount of cream cheese.

Instead of suffering through a bad bagel, you'll have to find a way to transform it into something new and creative. We've collected some of the best ways to use up your leftover bagels. For many of these tips, you can easily swap in your favorite type of bagel and even use store-bought varieties if you don't have a great bagel shop in your town. And the best part? You won't be relegated to eating your leftover bagels solely for breakfast. 

Make a batch of bagel crisps to serve with dip

A walk through a grocery store chip aisle will reveal every different flavor and style of chip possible. But rather than buy an expensive bag of bagel chips, which always seem to just taste like hearty pita chips, make your own with your leftover bagels. 

You can easily crisp up leftover bagels with olive oil and your favorite herbs. This will decrease the cost of this rather expensive snack and allow you to customize the flavors you add. For example, toss your bagel crisps with Italian herbs like dried oregano, parsley, and rosemary, or also spice things up with chili powder and paprika.

Start by grabbing your bagels and slicing them in half and then into smaller pieces if you desire. Cover in a coating of neutral oil and toss with spices before baking them low and slow in the oven. The temperature and long bake time are critical because you want to dry the moisture out of the pieces just enough but not burn them.

Whip up pizza bagels as a snack

There isn't a snack out there quite like a pizza bagel. But rather than taking a trip down the frozen aisle of your grocery store, turn to the bagel of bagels on your counter that have seen better days. The soft inside of the bagel is the perfect surface to pile high with your favorite grocery store pizza sauce, melty mozzarella, and toppings. 

One of the most common problems people come across when making pizza bagels is that some of the cheese or sauce always manages to dribble through the bagel hole. This can burn on the hot metal pan, releasing unsavory odors into your kitchen. Instead, a well-placed pepperoni slice ensures mess-free pizza bagels. All you have to do is place a piece of pepperoni on top of the hole before the rest of your toppings. Then, stack the rest of your toppings as usual (and with even more pepperoni), and enjoy your low-mess pizza bagels. 

Transform stale bagels into a breakfast frittata

Frittatas are one food that deserves a little bit more respect from the breakfast community. They're like a less carby and decadent version of a quiche since they forgo the pie crust. But that doesn't mean you have to skip all the carbs before 10 a.m. Instead, you can repurpose stale bagels by adding them to your frittata. 

You'll want to add your pieces to the frittata before the egg. Cook your onions in the pan with a bit of butter before adding them to the bagel. This buttery base will help cover each piece and prevent it from soaking up the egg like a French toast. The thing that is most loved about this recipe is that you can use almost any type of bagel. A pumpernickel bagel would be a hearty addition, while a plain or a multigrain would allow your toppings — whether spinach, tomatoes, cheese, or ham — to shine. 

Transform them into breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are one ingredient that you may not think twice about making yourself. After all, it's so easy to buy a container from the grocery store, toss in your favorite seasonings, and call it a day. But like so many other suggestions, grabbing seasonings and a bag of leftover bagels allows you to customize your recipe to whatever you'd like. 

You'll want to start by laying out your bagels on a baking sheet and drying them out in the oven on both sides. You can't skip this step when making homemade breadcrumbs, either with a food processor or by hand, because it will cause them to come out spongy rather than crispy. Once the tray is out of the oven, you can break it into small pieces so it can easily fit into your appliance. Or, you can put the chunks into a bag and hit it with a frying pan to ensure that it is broken up into uniform bits that can be seasoned to your liking. 

Make a breakfast casserole with bagel halves

A good savory breakfast casserole, despite its name, can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Rather than just plopping your bagel inside of your casserole and calling it a day, though, you'll want to cut it into half-moon shapes to ensure a visually stunning breakfast casserole – and one that's good to eat, too. Start by adding your egg mixture to the bottom of your pan, like you would a frittata, But instead of just throwing it into the oven, you'll then want to add in your bagel pieces in an aesthetic ring on the top of the casserole. Alternate the bagel pieces with bacon (or substitute with sausage) and your favorite cheese slices. 

The texture of the bagels in this recipe is fantastic because the bottom is encased in the eggy mixture while the top is heated until crisp in the oven. You can use almost any type of bagel you'd like for this recipe and add an extra everything flavor with a sprinkle of seasoning. For a proper breakfast casserole, opt for a classic savory morning flavor, like cheddar jalapeño or Asiago bagels. 

Turn your stale bagels into croutons

Croutons seem like they're a catch-all when you realize you have a loaf of stale bread in your house. But that doesn't mean that bagels can't work just as well as a hearty baguette or crusty ciabatta. To make a batch of homemade croutons, you can either turn to your oven or your skillet. The former is much more hands-off and only requires that you toss your bagel pieces in a bowl with some oil and seasoning before transferring them to a baking sheet. The baking method will give you drier croutons that last comparatively longer than those made using the stovetop method. 

That being said, the stovetop method is preferred because the bread pieces will soak up the delicious butter (or oil) and seasonings and turn perfectly crisp and flavorful. Regardless of the method you choose, be sure to cut your bagel into uniform pieces so that they cook evenly and pair it with something flavorful, like a bowl of soup or a bed of fresh salad greens. 

Cube it up for a stuffing

No one at your Thanksgiving table will have to know that your bowl of stuffing was made exclusively with your leftover bag of bagels. Bagels are thicker and more bready than your standard sandwich bread, which can increase the volume of the stuffing you have to work with. Plus, they are typically a bit crustier, meaning they can hold up much better to the moisture in the pan. Toss your lightly toasted bagels into a baking dish with a bit of egg as a binder, along with whatever else you want to add, and you'll have a stuffing with discernable bread pieces in it. 

This is one occasion where it makes sense to use punchy bagel flavors, especially everything bagels. The seasoning blend is full of garlic and onion, which are both prominent flavors in a classic stuffing recipe. If you play your cards right and use a bagel that has a ton of seasoning already on it, you may not even have to go beyond adding simple aromatics like sauteéd onions to help round out the flavor and add extra moisture. 

Keep it sweet with a bagel bread pudding

One of the perks of bagels is that they venture from savory into sweet territory relatively easily. You can make your leftover bagels into a dessert by adding a custard base and your favorite sweet seasonings. This bread pudding can be made with almost any type of bagel, but you might prefer going with a blueberry, French toast, or cinnamon raisin variety. 

Bagels make extraordinary additions to a bread pudding because of how plush they are. Your standard sandwich bread couldn't stand the weight of the custard, let alone the sauce and any other flavorful additions you add to it like a bagel can. You'll want to break your bagels up into small pieces (about 2-inch chunks should suffice) and layer them in a single coating in your dish before adding your toppings. Dried fruit, like raisins or cranberries, always makes for a tasty addition. Or, you could take it up a notch with chocolate chips and a drizzle of peanut butter for a plain bagel bread pudding. Eat this as a hearty, sweet breakfast, or save it for a homestyle Sunday night dessert. 

Top your soups with leftover bagels

If the weather outside is cold and blustery, you'll likely find us curled up under a blanket with a bowl of hot soup. There's nothing to dislike about a good bowl of soup, but there are always ways to upgrade the flavors into something more delicious.

This includes integrating a bagel into your soup routine. And we're not talking about just serving a piping hot bowl with a raw bagel or tucking in a couple of bagel chips. Instead, if you're working with a soup with a ton of cheese on top (like a French onion), you can add a bagel as the buffer layer between the soup and the cheesy goodness. Not only does this prevent the grease from the cheese from altering the flavor of your soup, but it also gives you a delicious bagel bite to soak up all of that soupy goodness. Since you'll want the flavor of the soup to shine, it's best to use a plain, wheat, or even a pumpernickel bagel for this recipe or match the cheesy flavor of your bagel to other ingredients in your soup.

Make an open-faced egg in the hole

There are certainly mixed feelings about an egg in a hole. Not to be confused with the British toad-in-the-hole, which is made by submerging pieces of sausage in Yorkshire pudding, this American breakfast is made by cutting out a hole in a piece of bread with a biscuit cutter or a knife and plopping the egg inside to cook it. It seems kind of wasteful to cut a hole out of your bread when there is already a perfectly good breakfast carb out there with a hole in the center.

To make your bagel egg in the hole, start with a bagel half. You may have to pull at the edges a little bit so that you can comfortably fit an egg white in the center. Then, cook the bagel and the egg in a buttered skillet until the egg is set to your liking and the bagel is crisp. You might even consider adding an extra sprinkle of cheese or sliced avocado on top to count some extra healthy fats. 

Swap out your regular bread for an amazing grilled cheese

A savvy home cook knows that there are always creative ways to transform grilled cheese from plain to gourmet. The first ideas that might come to mind may include swapping out your standard slice of Kraft cheese with something more exciting from your local cheese counter or adding a condiment to bring an acidic flavor to your sandwich. But you should also consider the type of bread you're using for your sandwich as a source of inspiration. 

The benefit of using a bagel for your grilled cheese sandwich is that it's heartier and can withstand the weight of your toppings. That's why it's recommended to try an everything bagel grilled cheese. To prevent the seeds from falling off the bagel as it's toasted, you'll want to invert the slices. Consider using a mixture of Muenster and cheddar to make this sandwich, though you can also substitute it with whatever cheeses you have in your refrigerator. 

Use it as the base for your tuna melt

Tuna fish sandwiches are, no doubt, smelly and divisive. Some people who love the complement of the mayonnaise and the fishy base can appreciate this sandwich, while others tend to go for something totally different at the deli. If you're a big fan of canned tuna, specifically one that is coated with a piece of melted cheese, you'll want to try this hack. 

Bagels will give your tuna melt a hearty upgrade. The best types of bagels for this sandwich are relatively simple because you can use an egg, sea salt, everything, or really any savory bagel. Pair the ingredients in your tuna salad based on the flavor of the bagel you choose. For example, an onion bagel can go well with onion powder, while a garlic or an everything bagel can make garlic powder sing. Broil your sandwich open-faced with cheese to get the perfect sandwich. 

Soak them in custard for an out-of-this-world French toast

French toast is a classic breakfast food, but it's even better when made with bagels instead of plain bread. You can make this recipe using either super stale or fresh bagels, but note that the former tend to soak up the custard better and produce a better contrast of custardy filling for a crusty edge. Once your French toast has been soaked in a bowl of custard, transfer it to your skillet and cook it on both sides. 

Your first instinct will probably be to grab a sweet bagel for this recipe, like a blueberry or a cinnamon raisin. But an egg bagel is another variety that can transform your breakfast to new heights. The eggy flavor is preserved even after the slices have been coated in a drizzle of maple syrup and powdered sugar, which makes for a delectable breakfast that everyone at your table will love. You can also use mini bagels for a smaller bite or cut the bagels into pieces since they can be heavy to eat — especially when drenched in syrup. 

Freeze them for a later date

If there's one truth about bagels, it's that you can seemingly never eat them fast enough before they go stale. Even if you're going with a store-bought bagel brand that has preservatives, there will still be a point where your bagels are rendered rock hard for you to enjoy — and no amount of toasting will remedy the issue. 

The easiest way to keep your bagels fresh is to store them in the freezer. This method minimizes moisture loss, and the bagels will retain their soft, pliable texture for up to four months. Pre-slice your bagels so that when the craving hits, you can pop open the freezer bag and put them directly into the toaster or the microwave — no thawing required. Comparatively, freshly baked bagels that are stored in a bag at room temperature may only last three days, which means that you don't have long to enjoy a bagel and cream cheese at peak freshness.