Did you know you can make breadcrumbs from bagels?
I’ve kept my old bagels from going to waste by turning them into the egg in the hole or bread puddings, but reinventing my bagels as crispy breadcrumbs were totally underneath my radar! I guess it was the bagel’s chewy texture that kept me from ever thinking they could be turned into breadcrumbs, as normally I’d make these with crustier bread.
Turns out, leftover bagels are great for turning into breadcrumbs. Not only do they crisp up beautifully, but the wide variety of sweet and savory flavors can also kick your breadcrumb-coated dishes to a whole new level. Turning them into breadcrumbs also adds another week to their shelf life.
Savory flavors like onion, garlic, or that devilishly tempting everything bagel go great with soups, casseroles, deep-fried foods, and pastas, while the fruity flavors can add surprising accents to croquettes and fried meats. I think I’m going to try an everything bagel breadcrumb next time I make chicken karaage!
Join me as I show you how to make breadcrumbs from bagels, as well as other ways to use your stale bagels.
How to Make Breadcrumbs from Bagels
In general, the procedure’s of making breadcrumbs from bagels the same as for any other type of bread – it’s just dehydrating them in the oven. Choose savory or glazed bagels, but not bagels filled with soft ingredients such as blueberry. You can use stale bagels as long as they have no molds.
To turn bagels into breadcrumbs:
- Slice the bagels into evenly-sized pieces and arrange them on a baking sheet
- Bake at 250-300 F (120-150 C) until hard and crumbly
- This will take about 20 to 40 minutes; stir about halfway through
- Allow the bagel pieces to cool
- Blitz in a food processor or crush with mortar and pestle to the desired texture
- Crush them fine for Italian-style breadcrumbs, go for a coarser texture to make a substitute for panko
- You can jazz up the flavor by adding your own herbs and spices
Store the breadcrumbs in an airtight bottle or inside a ziplock bag. They’ll keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, two to three days in the pantry.
Another trick with breadcrumbs, this time from Namiko Chen’s Just One Cookbook blog, is to pre-brown your breadcrumbs in a little butter or olive oil when using them for baking.
With this technique, you can have beautiful golden-brown breadcrumb crusts on your oven-fried chicken or cutlets, without the extra oil content from deep-frying. Brown the breadcrumbs just before use.
Just imagine using everything bagels to make these baked croquettes!
How to Make Bagel Croutons
Making bagels into croutons is very similar to making bagels into breadcrumbs.
You just have to cut the bagels into larger pieces, about the one-inch square, toss them in a little olive oil with whatever herbs and seasonings you want, and bake at 350 F for around 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Pair the bagel croutons with any soup or salad that complements their flavor. This works best with onion, garlic, or everything bagels.
How to Refresh Stale Bagels
Did you buy bagels to have them the traditional way, with cream cheese and lox, but somehow forgot them? Relax, you can still renew those stale bagels.
To refresh stale bagels, rinse them in water for a few seconds, then pop them into an oven preheated to 300-325 F (149-163 C). Bake for about 10 minutes.
What magic is this?
It turns out that rinsing the bagel rehydrates it, and as it bakes again the water evaporates completely from the crust allowing it to regain its firmness, while water that’s soaked into the interior turns to steam, refreshing the crumb.
The trick will work not only on bagels but also on any whole-loaf bread. Sliced bread however is likely to end up too soggy.
You can also do this in the microwave. Wrap the bagel in a dampened paper towel and microwave on High for 30 seconds.
How to Make Bagel Chips
Stale bagels can also be given new, finger-licking good life as bagel chips, particularly savory bagel flavors such as garlic. Simply slice bagels thin, coat the slices in olive oil or butter mixed with whatever spices you want, and bake for 15-20 minutes at 325 F (163 C).
Check out this simple salt-and-garlic recipe for bagel chips, and if you like the heat, try tossing them in olive oil mixed with cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and chili powder before baking.
Sturdier than potato chips or nachos, bagel chips are ideal for pairing with heavier dips such as hummus and baba ganoush, and will also hold up better against soaking in salsa. Good news for game night, there’ll be less double-dipping when others’ heads are turned! They’re also good substitutes for crostinis in making canapes.
How to Make Bagel Egg in the Hole
What’s better than egg in the hole?
Egg in the hole using a pre-cut hole!
Bagels are perfect for this morning pick-me-up because they’re already shaped to receive the egg, and come in all kinds of flavors that go great with egg. Try this with onion, garlic, everything, or Asiago bagels.
To make basic-basic bagel egg in the hole:
- Cut the bagel into two half-toruses
- Melt a little butter in a skillet
- Place half a bagel in the skillet, cut side down
- Crack one egg into the bagel’s hole
- Season with salt and pepper
- Cover the skillet and cook the egg to your desired doneness
- Do the same with the other half of the bagel
And that’s it!
Of course, something this versatile and easy to make inevitably gets reinvented over and over by both professional and home cooks, so a quick Google search will turn up dozens of bagel egg-in-the-hole variants.
Feeling really lazy on a cold winter morning?
Try this ‘sleepy Asian needs to wake up’ variant by topping your basic bagel egg in the hole with Japanese mayo, pork fire floss, and chopped spring onions. You can find pork fire floss, also known as spicy pork floss or spicy sung, in Asian stores; look for the Singaporean brands.
How to Make Bagel French Toast
Old bagels also make a great French toast, as their soft and chewy crumb can absorb the egg yet retain their body, instead of going soggy as softer bread will. Cinnamon bagels are perfectly adapted for traditional French toast, and some stores even sell French toast-flavored bagels.
French toast-flavored French toast!
For a really hearty breakfast, however, it’s hard to beat the solid flavors of meats, especially bacon, cheese, and savory herbs.
You can adopt these savory French toast ideas from Chowhound to use bagels, especially bagels with complementary flavors. Yes, everything bagel, I’m looking at you. Again.
And for a full-blown savory French toast bagel breakfast casserole, check out this recipe from RecipeLion, or this one from Averie Cooks.
How to Make Bagel Bread Pudding
The chewiness of bagels also makes them great to upcycle as bread pudding.
This works well with sweet and fruit-flavored bagels such as cinnamon, blueberry, and apple. At the most basic you only need the bagels, milk, butter, and eggs. You don’t need to add sugar if you don’t want to.
More Ideas for Using Old Bagels
There are so many more ways to use old bagels, this is a really versatile bread. Try the following ideas:
- Use bagels to make mini-pizzas
- Use bagels as topping for French onion soup
- Use bagels as a substitute for lasagna noodles
- Hollow it out to use as a bread bowl for soup, egg salad, tuna salad, or chicken salad
- Use bagels in turkey stuffing
- Use the bagel as a blueberry cheesecake base
- Make a bagel-based strata
Of all these, however, the idea of making Japanese-style croquettes with everything bagel panko is really growing on my mind. Time to start slicing those bagels and boiling potatoes …