How to Defrost a Bagel

by Elizabeth Harding

Best eaten fresh, straight from the oven.

Lather it with butter and lots of cream cheese with a bit of dill. Can life get any better? Sometimes we have bought a dozen or so bagels, and it becomes impossible to eat them all. What do we do to preserve them for as long as possible? Stick them in the freezer.

When it comes to thawing, there are a few techniques to get it back to the original freshly-baked feeling. We cover how to avoid soggy bagels and achieve crispy crusts when it is time to take one out of the freezer.

Many think getting your bagel to room temperature faster would be better, but this is not always the case. It depends on if the bagel was ready-to-eat before freezing or if it was still in its doughy to slow-cooked state. 

The microwave method is easier to do. All you must do is thaw your bagel in the microwave and heat it on low power for 1-2 minutes but in 20-second intervals. Take care not to overheat the bagel else it will dry out.

You have to practice the methods before deciding which one is best for you. If they are soggy or undercooked, try heating them again for a longer duration. Your eyes will tell you when your bagels are ready. 

Our Preferred Method

The most effective method in our view is to leave it sitting on the countertop for 2 to 3 hours. We try to keep it in the original brown paper bag that it (usually) came in as it thaws out. If you do not want to defrost bagels fast and do not want to wait that long, then read on.

What is a Bagel?

A bagel is a bread usually shaped like a ball with a hole in the centre. It is generally leavened, with either plain or pumpernickel flours. 

Can You Heat a Bagel Straight from the Freezer?

It depends on what method you are using. Most will opt for the toaster or under the grill. You will lose some freshness and it may be gooey in the middle, especially if it wasn't cooked before freezing it.

Bagels left to sit at room temperature for a few hours will take less time to defrost using a toaster or grill.

In our opinion, using a preheated skillet or cast iron pan works well if you do not want to defrost it. Follow these instructions:

  1. Heat the skillet or cast iron pan on a medium flame.
  2. As the pan is heating get a bread knife to cut the bagel down the middle. It might be a bit tough, but you will have to persist.
  3. Sprinkle a bit of cold water on both pieces. It gives it a bit more moisture meaning it does not dry out. Remember not to overdo it. Whatever you do, do not run water from the tap over the bagel; it becomes a mess. You do not want a hot and soggy bagel.
  4. You will have to flip the bagel pieces over 3 or 4 times while the skillet is on the flame. It will ensure that it is properly cooked.
  5. Take it off the pan and get that butter on it!

Can I Defrost a Bagel in Microwave

Yes, it is the method most people use.

If you are not able to hold out for a few hours and want to munch on that bagel in no time, then use this method.

What you will need: 

  • a microwave
  • parchment paper
  • A microwave safe plastic container.

If it is pre-cooked, cut it in half and pop it in the toaster for 1 minute. Easy!

If it is an unbaked bagel, you are better using the skillet method we describe above.

If not, use the toaster again for around 2 minutes but on a lower heat setting. The same goes for the grill if you prefer to use one. It is important to remember you want the heat to get to the middle, so it is best not to go with the highest setting.

Otherwise, you will have a nice brown outer crispy section but a soft uncooked middle. Patience is the name of the game here.

Whichever method you use, do not forget that frozen bagels have a good shelf life in the freezer. But, it will not last forever. Try to eat them within 6-9 months from the buy date as this is the duration they will keep most of the freshness.

About Us

At, we look at anything and everything to do with defrosting all edible items from the obvious to the obscure. Follow us on our journey to masterfully thawing out frozen items to perfection.