Bought a couple more bagels than usual, and wondering how much time you have until they get stale? How long do bagels last?
Or maybe you’re wondering what’s the best method of storing them so that they stay fresh longer. Do you refrigerate bagels?
If either sounds familiar, this article is for you. In it, we’re going to talk about:
- the shelf life of bagels, depending on where you store them
- storing bagels: should you leave them on the counter, put them in the fridge, or freeze them?
- telling whether your bagels are okay to eat
Sounds interesting? Read on.
While this article focuses on store-bought bagels, the same rules apply to homemade bagels.
How Long Do Bagels Last?
|Bagel||2 – 3 days||3 – 7 days||3+ months|
Most fresh bagels keep quality for 2 to 5 days if you leave them sealed on the counter. If you put them in the fridge, you get an extra day or two of storage, but they often go stale sooner. To extend the storage time to 3 months and beyond, you can freeze your bagels.
Those estimates are pretty safe and work for most types of bagels. Of course, some bakeries make bagels that last even 10 days, but your typical bagel will start to stiffen up after 2 to 3 days of storage. Plus, as usual, the fresher the bagel, the better it tastes.
Your personal preferences are at least as important as the guidelines above. If you love the crisp crust or chewy interior of a freshly-baked bagel and don’t particularly enjoy ones that sit on the counter for more than a day or two, try freezing any excess and see how it goes.
Like with bread or a baguette, besides knowing the rough shelf life of bagels, you also need to know how to store them properly.
Related: How Long Does Bread Last?
Related: How to Store a Baguette?
How To Store Bagels
You can leave your bagels in their paper bag if you’re going to eat them within a day or so. If you want to keep them for several days, transfer them into a plastic bag. You can also refrigerate bagels, and that requires a bag or an airtight container to keep them sealed.
Leaving bagels on the counter in a half-open paper bag isn’t the best storage method, but it works okay if you’re going to eat that bagel the day it was baked.
For longer storage, chucking your bagels in a resealable bag (e.g., a freezer bag) is one of the most popular options.
While storing your bagel in a plastic bag keeps it from going stale for a few extra days, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. That bagel might gradually lose its crust and become bready. Test yours to know if it keeps well in that bag or not.
Another option is to let it sit unsealed (and go stale) and then revive the bagel by spritzing it with about a dozen water droplets and toasting it whole. That should bring back its softness. If you toast your bagels before eating, try out this method.
If you decide to refrigerate your bagels, make sure they’re sealed tight (e.g., in a freezer bag or airtight container). A tight seal keeps them from drying out and absorbing any strong smells. The same applies to similar baked goods, such as focaccia bread.
Related: How to store focaccia bread?
And if you’re not quite fond of your bagels after a few days in the fridge, toast them in the toaster before eating.
Last but not least, there’s freezing. Freezing bagels is a super simple way to preserve them. It takes only a couple of minutes, and if you freeze bread or freeze hamburger buns, you already know how to go about it.
Many bakeries recommend freezing bagels that you won’t consume within 2 to 3 days. It’s worth a try if you haven’t already.
Do Bagels Go Bad? How To Tell If a Bagel is Bad?
Bagels go bad by growing mold or getting stale. Those preservative-free ones might go moldy after a week or so, while others keep safe for longer. But most bagels become stale after only 3 to 4 days of storage, and that’s when most of us discard them.
Of course, even hardened bagels are okay to eat, assuming there’s no mold or any other visual or smell changes. The issue is that stale bagels (just like stale and chewy croissants) taste so-so at best, and that’s why stale baked goods often end up in the trash can.
There are two ways you can freshen your stale bagels:
- Toast them. You can toast bagels in a toaster oven or use a regular oven. Preheat it to 375°F (or 190°C) and leave them there for 4 to 5 minutes. If they’re particularly dry, spritz some water on them (or even dip them in hot water) beforehand. Here’s a great guide on toasting bagels by Serious Eats if you want to learn more.
- Microwave them under a damp paper towel. That’s another option to soften that dry and hardened bagel. Start by microwaving the bagel for 20 seconds and see how it goes. If it needs more time (or moisture), continue in 10-second increments.
If you often end up with stale bagels, try both of these methods and see what works best for you. You can use these to freshen hamburger buns and hot dog buns too.
If you need a fresh bagel for breakfast on a busy weekday morning, reviving your stale bagel in the microwave is definitely worth testing out.
Frequently Asked Questions about Bagels
Bagels don’t require refrigeration. It only makes sense to keep your bagels in the fridge if it’s hot and humid where you usually store them. That combination accelerates the hardening of bagels, and storing them in the fridge instead helps avoid the issue.
While bagels keep for about 3 to 7 days in the refrigerator, most bakeries advise against chilling bagels in the fridge. While the low temperature slows down any mold growth, the bagel often gets stale even faster. Toasting those bagels might be a must to get decent quality.