Ways you never thought to use bagels

If you only think of bagels in terms of breakfast and the occasional pizza, you're missing out on using a surprisingly versatile weapon in your kitchen's arsenal. Not only are there more things you can do with bagels than you're thinking, but their longer shelf life means they're not going to turn moldy a few days after you've bought them, and for those with a hectic schedule, keeping an extra sleeve of bagels in the kitchen cupboard can be a surprisingly useful kitchen hack: let's find out how.

Making French toast

There's nothing better than French toast for a lazy weekend breakfast, but getting it right can be tricky. If you use the wrong bread it can turn into something not-so-beloved pretty quickly. Use bagels instead of more traditional bread slices and you'll find the chewy, dense texture is exactly what you need to capture all the flavor of French toast and not turn it into a soggy mess.

Averie Cooks has come up with a delicious version of bagel French toast that finishes it off in the oven for a super-easy meal. For fans of cinnamon raisin bagels, there's a version for you, too, from Heartbeet Kitchen. Their cinnamon raisin bagel French toast is coated with a creme fraiche that makes this one look much more complicated than it is, and it's sure to be a hit on any morning. And, if you're looking for something more traditional, try this recipe from Kim's Cravings. Whip up a batch of this with a hint of cinnamon, some amazing egg custard, and whatever fresh fruit is in season, and you'll never use bread again.

As a secret ingredient in mac and cheese

You absolutely read that right, thanks to this ingenious recipe from The Food in my Beard. This mac and cheese recipe doesn't just use the same seasonings that give everything bagels their distinctive taste — things like poppy seeds and sesame seeds — but also actual everything bagels as a binder. They're the last thing to be added to the mac and cheese (and you can definitely use your own favorite recipe or cheesy combination) before it's baked for ten minutes to finish it off, giving the top of the cheesy, flavor-filled casserole a crispy brown crust. It'll be filled with bubbling cheese underneath and all the flavor of your favorite bagel. It'll change the way you make mac and cheese.

As croutons for your favorite salad or soup

Even if you regularly make your own croutons, you might just start using bagels as your go-to bread after you try this recipe from Patch. Not only is it super-easy, but it only takes about 15 minutes. Add in the fact that the flavor of whatever bagel you choose is going to turn into the perfect salad garnish, and you have a winning recipe that puts regular bread to shame. After just a few minutes in the oven, your shredded bagel pieces will crisp up as they cool, and your Caesar salads will never be the same when they're topped with croutons that started out as a red onion or an everything bagel.

There's a bagel that's perfect for every salad, and there's one for every soup, too. If you're in doubt, check out this recipe from In My Bowl for smoked tomato soup with sesame bagel croutons, and see if you agree that not only does this tomato soup hit the spot, but that croutons made from a sesame seed bagel are the perfect accompaniment.

Egg in a hole

Most traditional recipes for egg in a hole call for a hole to be made in bread, and even the earliest recipes (that Eater has been able to find) calls for using a cookie cutter to take out a hole in the center of a piece of toast. Rather than making a hole in a perfectly fine slice of bread, use the hole that's already in a bagel for a heartier morning egg.

If you're already updating this favorite by swapping in a bagel, you might as well go all the way with this recipe from Well Plated. Spread your toasted bagel with smashed avocado — seasoned just the way you like it — and then add your egg. Any recipe for traditional egg in a hole works on a bagel, like this one from Bon Appetit. It's a little less healthy than the avocado-filled breakfast, but with a dash of hot sauce, some cheddar cheese, and thick-cut bacon, it'll definitely start your morning off right.

An all-in-one quiche

This brilliant concept comes from Recipe Girl, and she's completely re-envisioned how you think of not only bagels, but quiche. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want, and the basics are easy. Just slice off the top of a bagel, pull out the extra bread inside to leave just the crust, then fill with eggs and whatever other ingredients strike your fancy, then bake.

She adds things like chopped vegetables and a dash of cheese, but the sky's the limit for this one. Add cheddar and jalapenos with a handful of crumbled chorizo for something spicy, or make a tasty breakfast quiche from some sausage, ham, bacon, and peppers. From start to finish this is only going to take you about half an hour to make — including a 20 minute bake time — and that makes it perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or those afternoons when you find yourself craving a quick snack.

A breakfast bake

It's no secret that mornings can be hectic, and hearty casseroles you prepare the night before can mean the difference between getting a good meal to start the day and going hungry until lunch. Inquiring Chef has this awesome breakfast casserole that's made from a base of bagels and filled with eggs, and since the bagels will stand up to the moisture they're absorbing overnight, they're ideal for this super-easy dish. Their version calls for seasonings like chives and black pepper with a whipped scallion cream cheese topping, but the versatility of the bagel shows here, too. Just check out this Mexican-inspired version by Buns in my Oven for some ideas on how flexible this idea can be.

Even better, this is an idea that can be totally transformed during the summer months, when you're looking for every opportunity you can find to use all that delicious fresh fruit. Over at 365 Days of Baking, find a blueberry bagel breakfast bake that's nothing short of amazing — and definitely doesn't have to be just for breakfast. Swap in blackberries, add a dash of whipped topping, or, if you want to make this into a dessert veryone will love, serve it with a side of ice cream.

For breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are a secret ingredient in so many dishes, and while you can definitely pick some up at the store, you can also use those aging bagels to make your own. Run Wiki found this to be a great way to make low-carb breadcrumbs, and it's a simple process. Just cut the bagels in half, bake (or toast) until they're starting to brown, then let them cool. A food processor will do the rest, and you'll not only have homemade breadcrumbs, but using everything or red onion bagels will give them a whole new flavor that you just can't get with breadcrumbs from the store.

There's no end to the use for these, either, especially if you use some of everyone's favorite everything bagels. With their unique flavor, they're perfect for adding a bit of extra depth to your meatloaf and meatballs, but don't stop there. Kitchen Konfidence found that everything bagel spice mix is great when those breadcrumbs are sprinkled over smoked salmon deviled eggs, and while they just mix the seasoning with breadcrumbs before adding to the eggs, there's no reason you can't skip the middle part and just use bagel breadcrumbs!

For making your own bagel chips

Chips can be a massive guilty pleasure, but there's nothing quite like them for sitting on the couch and binging on your favorite Netflix series. Next time you queue up a new show, plan ahead and make your own bagel chips. Not only is it going to be a welcome change to the usual potato chips, but this basic recipe from Baked by Rachel allows you complete freedom to experiment with whatever flavors strike your fancy. Use any kind of bagel you want, raid your spice cabinet for some complimenting flavors, and whip of a batch for cheaper than you could buy a bag. While you're waiting for them to bake — which only takes about 10 minutes — stir up some of your favorite dip to go with them.

Canapes

These go-to party finger foods are a great way to impress, and there are so many ways to serve them. While you might be tempted to use standard crackers, homemade bagel chips make the ideal base for canapes. They're crunchy, crispy, and firm, and not only does that mean they're not going to fall apart when you pick them up, but they're going to add a whole different level of texture to your one-bite appetizers.

Start by making your own bagel chips, then, go nuts! Remember, thicker bagel chips will hold up to the moisture of some canape ingredients, making them even more versatile than crackers. For a great example of a canape that might not work with a flimsy base, check out these beetroot and pineapple canapes from Healing Tomato. With rum-roasted pineapples, plenty of seasoning, and even some ice cream, these vegan canapes will please even the most steadfast meat-eater.

Making stuffing

When it's time to make stuffing, most recipes are pretty time-intensive. (Here's looking at you, Thanksgiving!) For a simpler method, try making it with bagels. Check out this recipe for a fairly traditional stuffing from Momtastic, and make it in advance if you're going to be pressed for time. It has all the familiar flavors with a new twist, and can be made to be either vegetarian or with an added bit of turkey flavoring. Either way, it's sure to be the talk of the table.

While everyone loves the traditional flavors of rosemary, celery, and onion, do you know what else everyone loves? Bacon. If that describes your family, try this recipe for everything bagel and bacon stuffing from From Away. With 12 slices of bacon and three or four bagels, this one is small enough — and tasty enough — that it's not just for a big meal like Thanksgiving. Since you always have bagels kicking around the kitchen, this is one side dish that's definitely not the same old boring thing.

For French onion soup

There's nothing quite like a hot bowl of soup on a cold, damp day, and if French onion soup is on your list of favorites, you know how important the bread is. Every cook knows just how important texture can be, and let's face it, the soggy, bread that's sometimes inevitable in French onion soup can be a turnoff for some. Yes, More Please has come up with a brilliant solution to that, and it's simply to cut your favorite bagel in half for a topping that's going to soak up all that onion flavor while staying slightly firm and just a little bit chewy. They chose pumpernickel bagels for their recipe, but it can be just as tasty with everything from a plain bagel to an onion bagel for an extra dose of flavor. As an added bonus, it's probably even the perfect size and shape for those stoneware crocks you keep just for French onion soup.

For bread pudding

Bread pudding is a great way to use up stale bread, but there's no reason you can't use slightly stale bagels. That's exactly what Feed Your Soul Too did, and they capitalized on the flavor of cinnamon raisin bagels for a delicious cinnamon raisin bread pudding. Use maple syrup and brown sugar for a sauce to drizzle over the top, and you'll have a new spin on a classic recipe.

There are a ton of variations you can do on this one, too, and Flour and Yeast suggests using muffin tins instead of the typical pan. Not only will you have bread pudding that's perfectly portioned for a single serving, but they're also easy to grab and throw into your lunch for an afternoon dessert. Speaking of dessert, there are plenty of ways to make bread pudding taste a little more like a sweet and traditional dessert. Devour has a brilliant recipe for blueberry cheesecake bread pudding, and for an extra dose of flavor, plan ahead and pick up some blueberry bagels. Add some powdered sugar, whipped topping, a bit of ice cream or a drizzle of icing for a dessert that's light, fruity, and not overwhelming in sweetness.

Bagel bird feeders

So, you picked up a package of bagels only to have them get pushed to the back of the cupboard and lost in the shuffle. They're stale beyond belief, well past their expiration date, and you just can't bring yourself to use them as croutons. There's no reason to throw them out, though, and the National Wildlife Federation recommends using them as part of a fun family project to feed someone outside your home: the birds.

Just smear the bagels with peanut butter, and roll them in bird seed. Thread some yarn or twine through the hole in the center, then hang from a nearby tree. When it comes to preparing meals, there's nothing that says your feathered friends outside need to be left out, and not only will they appreciate it — especially in the winter months — but it's a great way to help make sure nothing goes to waste.