Our trained tasters tried eight plain bagels and four with “everything”: onion, garlic, sesame seed, poppy seed, and other toppings. They also tried Thomas’ Bagel Thins, which cut calories and let you eat a bagel sandwich without unhinging your jaw. Per bagel, prices ranged from 31 cents to $1.44 (for a gluten-free bagel).
Taste. Bagels should have a slightly crispy crust, notable “pull” when bitten into (like good Italian bread), chewy innards, and a freshly baked flavor. Plain bagels from Dunkin’ Donuts (fresh), Lender’s (frozen), and Costco’s Kirkland Signature (packaged, at room temperature) and an everything bagel from Dunkin’ Donuts were all very good overall.
After rating the bagels untoasted, we toasted them and tasted again. Toasting sometimes changed the texture. Lender’s Original Plain, for example, lost some desirable chewiness, but Udi’s Gluten Free Plain improved: Its crust became less tough, and its crumbly texture became chewier. For others, toasting sometimes reduced off-flavors such as bitterness. Scroll down the page to find our Ratings.
Nutrition. It varies with size (Dunkin’ Donuts bagels were biggest; Lender’s, smallest) and with toppings (everything bagels tend to have more fat, probably from seeds). The full-sized bagels have 260 to 350 calories, usually 1 to 4.5 grams of fat, 330 to 660 milligrams of sodium, and 2 to 5 grams of fiber. Thomas’ Bagel Thins have 110 calories per bagel, 1 gram of fat, 210 milligrams of sodium, and 4 grams of fiber, more than most full-sized bagels.
Did you know?
A proper bagel isn’t just bread with a hole in the middle. It’s chewy (because of high-gluten flour) and dense (because of a low percentage of water). Malt or sugar, yeast, and salt may be added. The dough usually rests for a long time and then is most often boiled, which creates a glossy crust and helps the bagel keep its distinctive shape in the oven, where it is usually baked at temperatures higher than is used for most other breads.