Exactly How to Soften Hard Bagels

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Maybe you’re about to make a delicious breakfast bagel or want to prepare something easy for lunch, so you’ve headed to the cupboard to grab your leftover bagels and – oh no!

The bagels left in the pack have gone hard!

You’re still craving the perfect bagel, so now you’re wondering how to soften stale bagels.

Thankfully, there is a way. 

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The perfect bagel is soft, chewy, and delicious.

But like most bread products, it only takes a day or two after opening for your bagels to go hard.

Unfortunately, many of us buy a pack of bagels hoping they will last a few days.

In this article, we’ll look at how to soften hard bagels, hoping we won’t have to throw them away again!


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Why do bagels go hard?

Fresh bagels usually stay at their best for around two days, though they should stay usable for up to 5 days if you store them correctly.

Check the storage instructions on your pack of bagels to make sure. 

Unfortunately, if they’re left out a little too long or not sealed correctly, bagels can get dehydrated and stale.

sliced bagels
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Once the bagels have lost their moisture, they will feel hard – you’ll need to add water back into hard bagels if you want them to be soft again. 

Although it’s possible to salvage a stale bagel, double-check it’s safe to eat before trying the below tips.

Mold can appear as a soft white fuzz, white spots, or even green!

And once you see mold on a bagel – or any bread product – it means the whole item is likely moldy, even the sections where you can’t see mold.

So don’t try to eliminate mold by cutting it off or heating it!

Instead, it’s best to throw these away. 

Ways to Soften Hard Bagels

Now we know that bagels get hard from a lack of moisture.

So, it makes sense when examining how to soften hard bagels; a vital consideration is adding the water back in again! 

Steam your bagel

If you have a steamer, this effective method of softening bagels can get them almost back to normal!

Set your timer for 3 minutes, and they should be ready, or place them back inside for a further minute if they still feel a little too hard.

Take the bagels out of the steamer and allow them to dry for a minute, or pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel. 

Set your steamer to a simmer.

Once the water is simmering, place your bagels inside the steamer and cover the steamer with its lid.

Bagels on a cooling tray
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Using a steamer to soften hard bagels is the best way to do so if you want them to mimic their original fresh taste and delicious texture! 

Microwave your bagel

While microwaving a stale bagel might not take it back precisely to its initial, fresh, and yummy taste, it can get pretty close!

And if you are wondering how to make bagels go soft again quickly, this is the quickest way.

Firstly, pop your bagel onto a microwave-safe plate and sprinkle the dish with a few drops of water.

Placing hard bagel in microwave
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Next, microwave it for around 30-seconds.

And that’s it; now the bagel should be soft again!

Allow the bagel a few moments to cool so you can safely take it out of the microwave and add all your favorite fillings or toppings to it!

While the new softness won’t last for long, this is a good and quick way to save your bagel if you’re short on time.

For example, if you want to wolf it down for breakfast!

However, there are better methods than this if you are preparing your bagel for later in the day, for instance, taking it to work to eat for lunch.

Once your bagel has cooled down, it may go hard again, so microwaving is an effective but short-term solution. 

Bake your bagel

Baking your bagel is one of the best ways to soften it!

The first step is to add moisture to your bagel again.

The easiest way to do this is to run the hard bagel under the tap – only do this for a few seconds, as you don’t want it to get soggy or saturated!

This method works best with bagels that aren’t already cut in half, as the crust protects the fluffy inside from becoming too wet.

Baking bagels in oven
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Once you’ve preheated your oven to 350 degrees F, place your bagel onto the wire rack and allow it to bake.

Usually, it will take a few minutes until your bagel is soft again, so check the oven after 5 minutes, and your bagel should be ready to eat!

Baking in the oven might be the best way to soften hard bagels for taste and texture.

While it’s not as quick as the microwave, baking allows bagels to taste fresh and soft again, while the crust should be slightly crunchy.

More ways to use hard bagels

Finally, you can also repurpose hard bagels to make the most of them without throwing them away!

Toasting hard bagels won’t make them taste the same as freshly-baked ones, but they’re an excellent way to still enjoy the toasted bagels with dips or on the side of soup.

Alternatively, once the bagels are toasted, you can cut them up into croutons and use them to top a soup or salad.

Want more baking tips?

Interested in learning more to turn your kitchen fails into successes? Here are some handy guides!

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