If you’re wondering how to toast a bagel in the oven, here’s your answer: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, put the bagel slices directly on the rack facing upwards, and bake them for four to five minutes.
There, now you can send this article to all your friends and rejoice in the fact that you didn’t have to scroll through my life’s story before getting to the actual recipe.
Because I’ll tell you, the first time I learned how to toast a bagel in the oven was in college. Three of my housemates all worked at the same bakery in Urbana, Illinois, which meant we consistently made entire meals from the leftover bread and bagels they brought home from work. But our brave little toaster died after about a week of this nonstop bagel-making, so we turned to the oven to do the heavy-lifting.
To be sure, there are a few different ways to toast a bagel in the oven. Because I’m a tasteless heathen from the Midwest, I like my bagels sliced and crispy. That’s exactly what the above process will get you, as the flat, sliced-side of the bagel will be exposed to more dry heat in the oven.
If you prefer New York style bagels — crispy outside, chewy middle — just throw them into the oven unsliced. “I toast bagels in the oven all of the time,” professional chef Martin Bayer writes in response to this question on Quora. “Sometimes I put the bagel in the [350-degree] oven whole, which gives it a nice crisp exterior and a warm soft interior.”
And while it’s not impossible to toast stale bagels in the oven, it adds another, trickier step to the process. Lucky for you there was no shortage of stale bagels back in my college bread-eating heyday, and I became the master of toasting stale bagels in the oven. It might sound antithetical, but take your stale-ass bagel and dunk it in a bowl of hot water (or run it under the faucet for a couple seconds).
Whisk off the excess water, then throw it (unsliced) onto the rack of your oven, which should be preheated to 350 degrees. In the three to four minutes it cooks, the water will moisten the bagel up a bit, before evaporating to give you a crispy outside and chewy inside. Some believe you should dunk the whole bagel before toasting it in the oven whether it’s stale or not, but that could give you particularly chewy bagels with less crisp.
Ultimately, if preheating your entire oven to cook a measly bagel feels like a waste of energy, here’s another freebie recipe: Preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees, throw your bagel — sliced or whole — into the basket, and cook it for three minutes (or longer for added crispiness). But if you’ve read this far, there’s a good chance your bagel’s already getting nice and crispy in the oven — and that’s great. You’ve learned how to bring your bagel to crisp perfection without a toaster, and that’s the kind of useful knowledge you’ll carry with you forever.