How To Soften Hard Bagels? Easy Techniques For Your Quick Breakfast

Bread products like bagels can become hard after a few days if you do not store them properly. Indeed, it is a stale bagel once it becomes hardened. But why does it become hard? Is it harmful when bagels become hard? And how to soften hard bagels?

Let’s find out more in our post below!

Why Do My Bagels Become Hard?

Why Do My Bagels Become Hard

Staling is a natural process in any starch included products like cakes, buns, or bread. When your bread is baked, the starch ingredients are separated, making a loosely soft texture.

As soon as it is taken out of the oven, a process of the starch molecules binding together to create a solid structure begins and results in hardening bread. Hence, this is why it is easy to slice a loaf or bagels when their texture becomes firm after cooling down.

As the staling process happens, a chewy and springy bread product becomes harsh, dry, and crumbly. It also loses the moisture content, certain alcohol smell, and flavor inside of the bread. So, it is best to learn how to soften stale bagels!

How To Soften Hard Bagels

It is ideal to consume store-bought bagels, multi-grain, white, or whole-grain within around 5-6 days. After that period of time, your 7 day old bagels will harden as they go stale. Still, you won’t need to waste a good batch of bagels if you know how to soften hard bagels!

Although your bagels have become stale and harsh with less flavor, it is still edible. As long as there are no signs of spoilage, white or black mold spots, you can eat these stale bagels.

How to soften bagels for a simple but nutritious daily meal, then?

As bread loses its moisture content due to the crystallization of starch molecules, we need to provide enough moisture and temperature in order for bagels to absorb and become soft again. Here is the simplest bagel technique that you can use for getting soft bagels:

#1. Soften Hard Bagels By Microwave

Soften Hard Bagels By Microwave

Microwaving food is a great way to reheat frozen food. But, can you microwave a bagel?

The answer is a big yes; it is also a simple method to soften any hard bagels. So, how to make a bagel soft?

  1. Put your day-old bagel in an airtight container. Then, you will need to sprinkle warm water on the bagel. The splash of hot water is there to avoid drying out the bagels during microwaving. You can use your fingers to flick onto the outside of the dry bagels.

Another way you can provide moisture to your bagels is by using a damp paper towel. Specifically, wrap the bagels with a towel and take them out before you microwave the bagels.

  1. Place the bagel container inside the microwave for 20 seconds first. Then, take it out to test its texture. Use your fingers or a spoon and press the dough. If it is soft and chewy, then the bagels are ready to be served.
  2. You can repeat this for 1-2 minutes until it is thoroughly heated and softened.

Note: It is recommended that you use the bagels right away instead of leaving them out at room temperature for hours, as the staling process will kick start again.

Soften Hard Bagels By Oven

Soften Hard Bagels By Oven

Another effective way you can use to soften bagels without drying them out is using an oven. It has been used for many bread products like baguettes and cakes, so why can’t bagel in oven work?

You can have amazingly soft, chewy, and hot bagels with a regular oven or

a toaster oven as if they are freshly baked. So, how do you make toasting bagels in oven?

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Take out a baking sheet and place the dry bagels on it. Next, you need to moisturize the bagels by adding warm water with a pastry brush. Dip the brush inside and gently coat the bagels with water. If you don’t have a pastry brush, you can also sprinkle water onto these hard bagels with your wet fingers.
  3. Once you have dampened the bagels, it is time to put the baking sheet inside the oven. The time for toasting bagel in oven is a total of 5 minutes.
  4. After that, take out the baking sheet to check if they are ready. If your bagels become puffier clearly, it is a sign of soft and tasty bagels. Now, you should use them as soon as possible before the staling process starts again.

#3. Soften Hard Bagels By Toasters

Soften Hard Bagels By Toasters

If you want a quick way to soften hard bagels, this is a great technique for toaster owners. Depending on your toaster settings and efficiency, the temperature can be varied. However, it should always be higher than what you normally set for regular toast.

So, to soften hard bagels with toasters, simply slice the bagel into half and put it in the toaster. Set the relevant temperature and wait for that ting sound!

What To Do With Leftover Hard Bagels

Maybe you still have a batch of Montreal-style bagels, or you forget to use them after reheating? Then, what to do with stale bagels besides softening them?

There are always ways to work on these leftover bagels in an appetizing way!

Bread stuffing

Stale bagels are hard and crumbly pieces of bread that are awful for raw eating. However, it is a perfect stuffing bread for any sauces, salads, and eggs. You can cut the whole bagel into half and scoop out the dough inside. Especially, the hard crust becomes a bowl that you can use for many baking recipes.

You can also use stale bagels for stuffing with bacon for an iconic Thanksgiving dish. Indeed, this savory bacon and crunchiness of stale bagels will give you an interesting tasting experience.


Another great way you can utilize a batch of stale bagels is by making a homemade crouton out of them. The bagels are hard already, so you don’t even need to cook them. With diced bagels, just add some olive oil and seasonings to make a tasty crouton dish.

Bread pudding

Maybe you love some tasty dessert? You can also transform dull, stale bagels into amazing and mouth-watering bread pudding. As your stale bagels are broken down into small pieces and mixed with a creamy mixture of sugar, cinnamon, milk, and eggs, you won’t be able to spot any off-taste and harsh texture in your bread pudding.

How To Store Bagels

If you cannot consume them right away, it is best to store fresh bread to slow down the staling process. Freezing bagels is a common way to keep your bagel fresh for a long time. The storing time can be from 6 to 12 months, depending on your needs.

To prepare frozen bagels, slice the bagels into smaller portions so you will be able to eat them at any time.

Moreover, you can take a bread knife or a mechanical slicer to make beautiful and even bagel slices. It also saves you a lot of time and effort than a regular kitchen knife. Make sure you wipe the knife’s blade whenever you switch to another bagel with a different flavor, so there is no influence on taste among the bagels. Indeed, it would be a weird experience to have onion bagel taste on a strawberry bagel.

Once you have your sliced bagels, use aluminum foil to avoid them from freezer burn. Subsequently, wrap each bagel thoroughly to prevent moisture loss inside of the bagel dough.

Once you’ve finished, put them all inside a freezer-safe plastic bag. You can also use several bags if there is a large number of bagels. After that, put them in the freezer for 6-12 months. Whenever you need to use them, simply refreeze them like refreeze bread.


Fresh bagels are only crunchy and chewy in a short period of time. Once they are out of the oven, the staling process will gradually wear out the bread texture, making it hard and crumbly.

Therefore, it is best to learn how to soften hard bagels so you can utilize them in many dishes without wasting a whole bunch of tasty bagels.

Kevin Richard

Hi all! I’m Kevin. I spend plenty of time in the kitchen every day because I love cooking healthy and delicious foods for my family and friends. Cooking gives me a chance to be creative and fun. It’s also one of the most meaningful ways to express my love and take care of my little family.

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