Bagel Flavors Ranked From Worst To Best

Bagels are one of those food items that can get people really riled up. For those who aren't invested in the drama, it may seem odd to argue about things like cream cheese schmears or the exact kind of lox that should go on top, much less mysterious concepts like "chewiness" and baking soda baths. Those people, quite probably, have never had a good bagel.

If you've bitten into the deliciousness that is a perfectly cooked bagel, whether it's at a fast casual joint, a proper New York deli counter, or anything in between, then you understand. A really good bagel is a thing of pure joy. This also means that a subpar bagel is enough to send someone into a sour mood for a long time.

All of this rigmarole ultimately means that flavor matters. But how's a bagel fiend to pick the best one? Here are some of the most common bagel flavors in many shops, ranked from worst to best.

16. Salt bagel

Sure, it's possible that somewhere out there, a lucky eater will find a salt bagel that's actually good. Yet, it's pretty hard to believe. Why would you possibly want to consume a baked good that's only a plain bagel — alas, the most boring kind of bagel out there to begin with — that's been crusted over with a thick layer of salt?

Perhaps you're ready to argue that, no, your favorite bagel place surely hasn't committed this sin against breakfast carbs. Or else you've got the pretzel argument in your back pocket. Sure, pretzels classically come with a bunch of salt, too, but a bagel is no pretzel. All too often, the salt on these bagels is simply overpowering for any other flavors you've tried to add on top. At any rate, it can't be that all that salt is good for you. If you insist on consuming just such a bagel anyway, please remember to keep a big, tall glass of water nearby to deal with the inevitable dehydration.

15. Plain bagel

It's true that plain bagels have their fair share of advocates. They make a decent blank canvas for all sorts of flavors, whether you're going hard with the smoked lox, spreading some cream cheese on the bagel, or making a sandwich.

Yet, that feature is also the plain bagel's biggest bug. It's, well, plain. This bagel is the beige of bagels. It's an inoffensive canvas for plenty of other delicious bagels, sure, but there's nothing here that would help such a bagel stand up on its own. After all, who hangs a blank canvas up in an art gallery? Seriously, has anyone ever eaten a plain bagel without any toppings, just for the joy of the experience? Of course not.

If someone says that they have genuinely enjoyed a plain bagel, then surely you know in your heart that they are lying. Sadly, chances are good that they're also lying to themselves. Just give that poor soul a better bagel instead. Life is far too short for plain bagels.

14. Wheat bagel

Wheat bread carries a certain sheen of healthiness about it. It's  bit more rustic than white bread, with a nutty flavor that can be pretty pleasing, especially once it's fresh out of the oven. Even the most bread-averse can be persuaded by a beautifully crusty loaf of honey wheat that wafts its lovely, savory flavor across the kitchen as soon as it's done.

Then again, wheat bagels aren't all that exciting, right? They have a slight edge over their plain bagel compatriots, but not by much. They have a bit more color and perhaps a little more taste, but wheat bagels simply don't make it much further in the race to ultimate bagel deliciousness.

Honestly, when it comes to eating a bagel, there are few options for healthy food. If you feel truly guilty about consuming carbs, simply try to limit your bagel consumption to one or two days a week. There's no need to ease your guilt with an option that's really not all that healthier than its compatriots in the bakery and, if we must be frank here, is pretty darn boring. Instead, pick a better flavor and then plan to go on a jog later.

13. Rainbow bagel

While you probably won't find these bagels in your local bakery that has aspirations to high-class taste and aesthetics, there's a certain joy to be had with rainbow bagels. Unsurprisingly, rainbow bagels are nothing more than plain bagels with some food coloring added to the dough. There's also a bit of careful twisting and mixing of different strands of said dough involved to produce the rainbow effect, so you've got to have some respect for the baker's skill. And, surely, there is at least a small part of us that's still able to draw upon the joy of our childhoods, when we would be most susceptible to the visual charms of a colorful rainbow bagel.

Alas, a plain bagel is still pretty plain, regardless of its hue. Dump all the food coloring you want into the dough, but we still know that a rainbow bagel is a plain one with a fancy but ultimately insubstantial dress on. If you must, snap a picture of the rainbow bagel in your local shop and post it on Instagram. Then, skip the hype and go for something with more flavor.

12. French toast bagel

For those bagel fiends with a true sweet tooth, there's always the French toast bagel. Your particular bakery may not have it available, but chances are good that you'll come across this ultra-sweet confection at some point in your bagel-eating adventures.

Should you go for it? That depends. A French toast bagel is packed full of sugar from the added sweetness of the dough to any swirls to a further sprinkling of powdered sugar on top. As reports, French toast bagels are also typically softer than their more classic bagel cousins, which will naturally change the texture of your bagel. There's also a chance that you'll be buying these little treats at a premium.

If you're desperate for a sugar fix, then the French toast bagel isn't quite so bad. Yet, for the rest of us who want something more than a mound of sugar with some spices and a bit of bagel in the mix, we'll have to pass.

11. Asiago bagel

If sugar isn't your thing, perhaps you'd prefer a savory bagel. There are plenty of options here, so you may need a minute to get your bearings and decide what, exactly, will be the best bagel for you at this singular moment in time.

It could be that your eye falls across the asiago bagel. It's pretty eye-catching, as this bagel often presents a wide swath of bubbly cheese right on top. As Thrillist reports, asiago bagels like those on offer at popular fast food chain Panera are tempting. The cheese is flavorful and often crispy, making for an interesting textural experience when you finally bite into it.

Is the asiago bagel worth it, however? Nothing about the cheese-laden bagel is offensive, really, and it certainly can't be called boring in the same way that a truly forgettable plain or wheat bagel must be. Yet, neither is the eating experience ever as exciting as you hope it will be. You certainly shouldn't be shamed if you select an asiago cheese bagel as your next sandwich base, but for the true seekers of bagel glory, there are more interesting options out there.

10. Blueberry bagel

You may have admitted to yourself that the intense sweetness of a French toast bagel really is too much for your palate and your pancreas to handle. Good for you! However, you still have to admit to a certain craving for sweet things. Perhaps, even, if you are being honest with yourself, you wouldn't mind a bagel that has an interesting color. You won't go so far as to order the food dye extravaganza of a rainbow bagel, but your eyes could use a treat as much as your stomach can, too.

Enter the blueberry bagel. Spoon University wants you to believe that these fruit-rich bagels have what it takes to be your number one pick every time. That's assuming that these bagels are classically chewy in the middle, with a pleasing crunchy texture to the outside that lets you know this is a genuine bakery bagel and not some sad mass-produced offering out of a plastic bag.

Then again, fruit additions are pretty controversial in the bagel world. Some people can't stand the sight of the little blueberries in the midst of their bread. Plus, some locations go hard on the mixing and may even add a bit of juice or food dye to make the dough downright purple. If the thought of biting into a fruity violet bagel isn't your thing, kindly skip ahead to another option.

9. Pumpernickel bagel

As you stand in front of the great glass case full of bagels in your local bakery or restaurant, you may still find yourself wanting something more subtle than most options. You don't want to be so boring or self-flagellating as to pick a plain bagel, but neither do you want the wild and crazy flavors of an everything bagel to completely overwhelm your palate.

Consider the seemingly humble pumpernickel bagel. As My Jewish Learning points out, it's a more complex take on simple flavors. Oftentimes a striking dark brown color, pumpernickel is a little more subtle, to be sure, but don't dismiss it out of hand. If you want a bagel that plays well with the flavors of a strong smoked lox, for instance, you probably won't go wrong with selecting a pumpernickel bagel to carry and complement that delicious nosh. Pumpernickel would probably also pair well with similarly intense flavors, like pastrami or a well-seasoned egg salad.

8. Multigrain bagel

Do you say you still want wheat bagels? You want at least the illusion of healthy food while also conveniently ignoring the exact carbohydrate levels in an individual bagel? Okay, sure, sometimes you're just in a crunchy mood when you're at the bakery. Maybe you want a bagel that makes you feel like you could wander barefoot into the woods and commune with nature while strumming on a guitar.

If that's the case, then ask for a multigrain bagel. This flavor plays well with both sweet and savory additions. It also typically lends a new textural element to your meal, thanks to the seeds, oats, and other add-ins baked into the dough. That also means you hopefully won't have to deal with the dreaded bagel topping shed, wherein you watch as all of your tasty toppings flake off the bagel and onto your plate. You could certainly do far worse than a multigrain bagel.

7. Egg bagel

Don't be fooled by the outward appearance of the egg bagel. Yes, it may look like yet another plain Jane option, but don't skip ahead just yet. For, inside this unassuming bagel lies what may be your new favorite bagel flavor experience.

Consider that egg bagels have a pretty dedicated following, according to My Jewish Learning. Many argue that these breakfast options are criminally underrated, mostly because of their appearance. Yet, if you were to bite into an egg bagel, you might be surprised at the richness within. Most bakeries make egg bagels like an enriched dough, which are typically elevated with ingredients like sugar, butter, and, yes, eggs. This means that egg bagels are a little sweeter and softer than their cousins. Those flavors, while still admittedly a bit too subtle for some, can pair quite nicely with a classic cream cheese spread or any other topping with a prominent salty flavor.

6. Poppyseed bagel

Ah, the somewhat controversial poppyseed bagel. We've all heard the stories, right? A friend of a friend or, well, maybe it was someone's second cousin living in another state chowed down on just such a bagel as part of a relatively well-rounded breakfast, only to fail a random drug test later in the day. Said unfortunate is an upstanding citizen, of course, so it only leaves one true culprit: the poppyseed bagel.

Can that really happen? Yes, according to the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, though there seems to be some variation depending on just how many poppyseeds someone has consumed in a single sitting. So, if you know you've got a job-mandated test coming up, consider skipping the poppyseed bagel for a little while. At the very least, you should save the store receipt, just in case.

If you don't have to worry about such things, then poppyseed bagels are a genuine classic of the bakery case thanks to their gentle crunch and lightly nutty flavor.

5. Onion bagel

Are you completely against sweet bagels? Does the mere idea of fruit or cinnamon sugar in your deli confection make you want to turn out the door and run? If you are so utterly horrified by such notions or, more prosaically, you just want something with a bit of funk to it, ask for an onion bagel.

Onion bagels aren't really for the faint of heart. HuffPost calls them "bold and unforgettable," and it's easy to see why. The tiny, dried onion flakes that dot the tops of these bagel specimens pack quite the punch for their miniature size. Certainly, once you bite into them, there's no mistaking the flavor of the bagel.

Of course, you'll want to think carefully about toppings, as the onion flavor will make itself very well known even against other strong ingredients like lox. Yet, for all those who quail before the taste of the onion bagel, there are many more fans who will let you know that this intense flavor is a personal fave and a deli classic.

4. Chocolate chip bagel

We all have bad days sometimes. Maybe you just got an email from an ultra-demanding boss, you're sweating over an impending interview, it's a gloomy day, or you simply woke up on the wrong side of the bed. As you enter the deli and consider your options, you realize that you could really, really use a pick-me-up.

It could be the chocolate chip bagel has come to your rescue. Is it the most mature flavor in the world of bagels? No, not really. But, done right, it can be pretty delightful nonetheless. Think of it like a somewhat more mature older sister to the twee color explosion of the rainbow bagel.

This flavor definitely has some very dedicated fans. The blog Twentysomething Vision embarked on a quest to eat a whole range of Panera bagels over the course of 30 days and frankly raved over the chain's chocolate chip offering, demanding, "Chocolate chips, get in my belly!" With the right bagel, you could be saying just the same thing.

3. Cinnamon raisin bagel

Hold on just a minute. You may have spotted the word "raisin," but don't allow any preconceived notions about gnarled school snacks to steer you away from what can be good bagel experience. You can also banish any thoughts of disappointing cinnamon raisin cookies, too. You probably thought those were chocolate chip cookies and were disappointed, but don't worry here. You know exactly what you're ordering with the cinnamon raisin bagel, and you won't be disappointed.

For many, the cinnamon raisin bagel is the apogee of sweet bagel flavors. A good representative of cinnamon raisin bagels will have complex flavors and nuanced sweetness from the raisins, balanced out with the warming, mouth-watering spice of cinnamon. This isn't some bagel reserved only for people tragically missing their taste buds, to be sure. The next time you're looking for something sweet in a bagel but with a flavor that's actually meant for grown-ups, get the cinnamon raisin bagel. Though, could we gently suggest you don't eat them as Cynthia Nixon does, with lox and capers?

2. Garlic bagel

Are onion bagels too milquetoast for the likes of you? Do you want something with a higher funk factor that may require a round of tooth brushing after you consume it? Then little else will satisfy you than a truly stinky garlic bagel.

Apparently, some people don't like the flavor of garlic, but they're really missing out. There's the flavor, of course, with its vampire-fighting properties, but there are also the crunchy texture of those little bits of dehydrated garlic sprinkled all over the surface of your bagel.

Not convinced yet? What if an entire state agrees with this judgement? As boldly proclaims, "There's no such thing as too much garlic, especially in Jersey." Arguably, New Jersey as a whole has a pretty good lock on bagels, as do their New Yorker neighbors to the north. With garlic bagels as a reliable deli standby in both states and beyond, how could you go wrong? Just remember to bring some gum if you've got a meeting later in the day.

1. Everything bagel

Some people are minimalists. That's fine, especially if you like to have an uncluttered house and a clean desk. There's a certain appeal to the uncomplicated lines of a minimalist existence. But, when it comes to bagels, you've really got to try and be a maximalist for once. How else can you truly appreciate the wonder of an everything bagel?

Everything bagels are truly a gift from above for indecisive bagel aficionados, along with people who know exactly what they want. These bagels have, well, everything. They boast the full flavor of garlic, onion, poppyseed, and salt bagels combined, and then some. These little rounds of chewy carbohydrates also offer a panoply of textures, from the chew of the bagel itself to the crunch of all the different seeds and dehydrated alliums on top.

When done right, the flavors of an everything bagel play together in a beautiful, satisfying symphony. Yes, like its garlic and onion cousins, an everything bagel may leave you with a distinct odor until the next time you reach for a toothbrush, but it's worth it for the galaxy of flavor contained all within one singular bagel.