How To Soften Day Old Bagels


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In the interest of never tossing an awesome bagel just because you couldn’t eat them lightning fast, here’s my little hack for steaming day old, stale bagels at home, using just a sprinkling of water!

Quick Tip: How To Soften Day Old Bagels - Barefeet In The Kitchen

While in Canada, we have eaten more pastries, bagels, and other awesome baked goods, than I can recall eating before in my life.

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There are two prominent bagel shops here in the Mont-Royal neighborhood of Montreal. Fairmount Bagel and St-Viateur Bagel are both known for their piping hot sesame seed bagels served 24 hours a day.

Locals and tourists alike debate which one is best, so naturally, I felt the need to sample both. Twice.

Leading to many bagels eaten out of hand while wandering the neighborhoods, and many extra bagels purchased to go as well, because you never know when the craving might hit again.

Montreal's Fairmount Bagels vs St-Viateur Bagels ~ which one is better?

First and foremost, Montreal’s bagels are absolutely amazing, and I do mean AMAZING when you first carry them out of the shop; piping hot, nutty and crisp on the outside, chewy and slightly sweet inside.

They bear little resemblance to the big, fluffy, New York style bagels I’ve eaten in the past. Montreal bagels are much thinner and not nearly as doughy as their American counterparts.

For what it’s worth, I had a very hard time choosing a favorite. I loved the hint of sweetness with the Fairmount bagel, but the slightly thinner St-Viateur was my favorite straight out of the oven.

If you are planning to keep them overnight, I found that the Fairmount bagels were softer the following day, but really? If you are in Montreal, just go back to the shop in the morning. It’s worth the walk!

What To Do With Stale Bagels

When we bought bagels this past weekend, I brought a few extra bagels back to our loft to enjoy with breakfast the following morning.

Let’s just say that 24 hours later they were sadly lacking in chewiness. Lucky for me, that was easily fixed!

Did it bring them back to exactly the same fresh-out-of-the-oven-awesomeness? No, not entirely, but it was very very close!

We happily finished the bagels and decided that moving to Montreal just for the ability to add more carbs in our life really could be a reality. (Not really, but it was a lovely little dream.)

Quick hack for steaming day old, stale bagels at home, using just a sprinkling of water! - Barefeet In The Kitchen

How To Soften Stale Bagels

  • Place the hard bagel on a plate.
  • Sprinkle the plate around the bagel with 8-10 drops of water.
  • Microwave for 30 seconds.
  • Pause and wonder at the awesomeness of a once again soft bagel.
  • Enjoy!


Want to see more of our Montreal vacation? Check out Montreal’s Botanical Garden, Montreal-Style Poutine, and Street Art in Montreal.

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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19 Comments Leave a comment or review

    Rate & Comment

    • Mary Younkin says

      Just long enough to eat it, Nicole. This is a great method for softening bagels that have gone stale, but it isn’t going to make them last any longer.

  1. stevenp says

    much better to sprinkle a stake bagel with water, then bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes. just microwaving doesn’t get the right texture. try it!

  2. Skyla says

    No. This made it unbelievably chewy. I couldnt even bite through it. yes it was soft, but i bit down and it just made teeth marks and i have to like pull away from the bagel with my mouth. not the right texture. not a good method.

    • Mary Younkin says

      That’s very weird, Skyla. The bagels I’ve reheated this way have all worked nicely. It’s a last-ditch effort to save a stale bagel, but I’m still sorry to hear that it didn’t work for you.

  3. bob says

    thank you very much for the HACK….
    A NOTE: for sure, this trick softens the bagel; however, I do not think it regains that original – sutle textures that you feel in your mouth and tongue-
    so I toast it immediately after the micro wave trick——–yummy!!!!!


    • Mary Younkin says

      You are 100% correct that it isn’t the same as when bagels are freshly made. But this method definitely makes a stale bagel soft again and it sounds like toasting it made it perfect for you.

  4. Grace says

    This is awesome! Just did this method for my Montreal bagel 🥯 and it worked great! Thank you 😊