How to Defrost Bagels in the Microwave for a Quick Breakfast

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Nothing beats the taste and texture of a fresh bagel straight from a bakery. But we don’t always have time to make a special trip first thing in the morning. That’s where freezing bagels comes in handy.

With a stock of frozen bagels, you can enjoy a delicious bagel breakfast anytime without the hassle. But first you’ll need to defrost them properly to restore that just-baked goodness.

Defrosting frozen bagels using your microwave is the quickest and easiest way. Within minutes you’ll have a bagel ready for all your favorite toppings and spreads. So read on to become a microwave bagel pro!

Why Defrost Bagels in the Microwave?

Freezing bagels allows you to enjoy fresh-baked taste without running to the bakery every morning. But why choose the microwave over other defrosting methods?

Benefits of microwaving frozen bagels:

  • Speed – Microwaves defrost much faster than the fridge or countertop. Bagels can be ready in under a minute!
  • Convenience – No waiting around for the oven or toaster. Just pop it in the microwave.
  • Texture – Microwaves evenly heat bagels, preventing gummy spots from developing.
  • Flavor – Unlike sitting out, microwaved bagels won’t stale or develop an odd taste.
  • Moisture – The humidity inside a microwave keeps bagels from drying out as they defrost.

So if you’re rushed for time in the morning, microwaving is clearly the best option for enjoying a quick bagel breakfast.

Step-by-Step Guide to Microwaving Frozen Bagels

Follow these simple steps for perfect microwave bagel results every time:

1. Remove Bagels from Packaging

It’s important to take bagels out of any plastic, cardboard, or paper packaging before microwaving. These materials can melt, burn, or leach chemicals when exposed to microwave heat. Plastic and cardboard packaging can even catch fire in the microwave!

To be safe, unwrap fully and place the bare frozen bagels directly on the microwave-safe plate. Discard any packaging or labels so there is no risk during microwaving.

2. Wrap in Damp Paper Towel

Before heating, wrap each individual bagel in a damp paper towel or paper napkin. Choose paper products that are microwave-safe and free of dyes or bleaches.

The towel should be moist but not dripping wet. Wring out any excess water first. Wrapping provides gentle steam that prevents the exterior crust from drying out as the interior defrosts.

Make sure to wrap each bagel fully so all surfaces are protected. If bagels are very large, you may need to use two overlapped paper towels to completely cover.

3. Arrange on Microwave-Safe Plate

Place the wrapped bagels spaced apart on a microwave-safe plate. Ceramic, glass, or high heat-resistant plastic plates all work well. Do not use metal plates which can damage the microwave.

Leave at least 1 inch of space around each bagel to allow steam to circulate while heating. Avoid overcrowding or the bagels may steam unevenly. If needed, microwave in batches for the best results.

4. Microwave in Short Bursts

Microwave the wrapped bagels in short 10-second bursts until thawed. The times will vary based on your microwave wattage and number of bagels:

  • For 1 bagel – Microwave for around 20-30 seconds total
  • For 2-3 bagels – Microwave for 30-45 seconds total

Pause to flip and rearrange the bagels halfway through for even exposure. Check frequently and do not over microwave. Bagels should be defrosted but still cool, not hot. A bit of icy crystallization inside is fine.

5. Let Stand 1-2 Minutes

After microwaving, let the bagels stand on the plate for 1-2 minutes before unwrapping. This standing time allows trapped heat to gently finish defrosting the interior.

The carryover cooking gives you the optimal texture – defrosted exterior and steamed, chewy interior. Now your bagels are ready to slice, toast, and customize. Enjoy!

Handy Tips for Microwaving Frozen Bagels

Follow these handy tips for best results when defrosting bagels:

  • Adjust microwave times based on your specific appliance wattage. Higher watts require less time.
  • Slice bagels in half before microwaving to speed up defrosting.
  • Fluff with a fork halfway through for even heating.
  • Don’t overcrowd the plate or bagels may not defrost evenly.
  • Double wrap extra large or dense bagels to prevent drying.
  • Use defrost mode if available for optimal, gentle thawing.

Creative Ways to Dress Up Your Defrosted Bagels

Now for the fun part – time to transform those plain defrosted bagels into a delicious breakfast!

Savory Bagel Topping Ideas

  • Cream cheese, smoked salmon, red onion, capers, and dill
  • Peanut butter, banana slices, and honey
  • Avocado, bacon, tomato, arugula, and fried egg
  • Hummus, roasted red peppers, feta, and basil
  • Ricotta cheese, grilled chicken, roasted veggies, and balsamic glaze

Sweet Bagel Topping Ideas

  • Cinnamon sugar, pecans, and maple syrup
  • Fresh fruit like strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries
  • Nutella or cookie butter spread
  • Vanilla or chocolate yogurt with granola
  • Mascarpone cheese and orange zest

You can also turn bagels into sandwiches by slicing them horizontally and adding fillings like deli meat, lettuce, and cheese. The options are endless!

Comparison of Defrosting Methods

Microwave1-3 minSoft, chewyRetains moisture
Room temperature1-2 hoursStale, dryLoses moisture
Refrigerator8-12 hoursDense, gummyLoses some moisture
Toaster oven10-15 minCrispy exteriorDries out interior
Number of BagelsMicrowave Time
120-30 sec
2-330-45 sec
4-545-60 sec


Have more questions about defrosting bagels in the microwave? Here are answers to some common FAQs:

How long do frozen bagels last?

Properly stored frozen bagels will maintain quality for 3-6 months. To maximize shelf life, store in airtight packaging with minimal air exposure.

Can you microwave bagels from frozen?

Yes, microwaving frozen bagels is safe, quick, and effective. Just follow the defrosting technique in this article. Do not microwave bagels still in packaging.

Is it better to toast or microwave thawed bagels?

This depends on your texture preference:

  • Microwaving makes bagels soft and pillowy inside.
  • Toasting makes the exterior crispy and brown.

So microwave for a classic chewy bagel or toast for added crunch.

Related: Quick and Easy Microwave Bagel Toasting Guide

Why do my microwaved bagels turn rubbery?

Overheating is the culprit. Defrost bagels at short 10-second intervals, flipping occasionally, until just thawed. Letting them sit too long makes the texture rubbery.

How do you freshen a thawed bagel?

To revive a thawed bagel’s texture, sprinkle the cut sides with water. Wrap in foil and “steam” in the oven at 300°F for 5 minutes. This restores moisture and softness.


With hectic mornings being the norm, finding time to pick up fresh bagels can seem impossible. That’s where frozen bagels prove to be an easy, convenient solution for on-the-go breakfasts. By stocking up and storing bagels in the freezer, you can enjoy your favorite varieties anytime the craving strikes.

Defrosting those frozen bagels quickly and perfectly is crucial though. As we’ve discussed, using the microwave is the ideal method for speedy, delicious results. In just 60 seconds or less, you can restore frozen bagels to their fresh-baked taste and texture. No waiting around for ovens or counters.

Follow the simple microwave techniques outlined above like damp paper towel wrapping, short cooking bursts, and standing time. Incorporating creative toppings and fillings will take your defrosted bagels from boring to gourmet fast. So don’t skip out on your beloved bagels just because mornings are rushed. With freezer stocking and swift microwaving, you can savor fluffy, wholesome bagels whenever the mood strikes.

By Rosie Elliott

I’m Rosie. I’m a professional chef with experience in Western, Mediterranean, and Italian cuisine. I’ve been cooking for over 15 years, and I have two daughters that keep me busy!

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