20 Delicious Types Of Bagel Toppings That Aren't Just Cream Cheese

Bagels rank pretty high in the bread hierarchy. They are full of texture and flavor. But more importantly, bagels are versatile. Bagels can do anything bread can do, including bookend an array of sandwich toppings or serve as an open-faced snack. And because its range stretches from sweet to savory, there are no excuses why this can't become a go-to.

While we love bagels for breakfast, with a bit of creativity, they can easily break out of their box and become something you reach for any time of day. There's an exact science to getting the bagel texture spot on, which comes down to the boiling technique, explains NPR. So once you've tracked down your perfect bagel, you can top it with the standard cream cheese, which is delicious in its own right. But if you've been getting bored with cream cheese, why not mix it up a bit? To help jog your inspiration, we've put together 20 bagel toppings that aren't cream cheese. May it encourage you to mix up your morning routine and reach for a more exciting snack.

Smoked Salmon

Salmon is and will forever be an absolute classic when it comes to bagel toppings. If ever you're overwhelmed with the 30-plus topping options in a bagel shop, the one you can't go wrong with is the smoked salmon, also called Lox. This smoked salmon develops a silky and more solid texture during preservation. Lox packs a fair amount of salt, which gives the fish an almost briny aroma and taste. This flavor bomb works very well with the yeasty and warm flavors of the bagel, making it a perfect pairing.

Scandinavia created and perfected the art of smoked salmon. Although it was originally used as a method of practicality — to keep fish edible for longer — it would eventually become a culinary delight.

It was never intended to go on a bagel, but it quickly became a go-to combination once introduced in New York City in the 1960s. Smithsonian Magazine describes it as a bagel and topping creation that is 100% New York. If you have not tried this tasty staple from the biggest city in the world, make sure to do so on your next journey to the Big Apple. You will not regret it.

Bacon, Egg and Cheese

This combination of salty and rich creamy flavor and textures of a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich is undoubtedly an American staple. And although the sandwich works well on many iterations of bread — rolls, slices of bread, waffles, biscuits — using a bagel takes it to a new level. NBC New York describes the bacon, egg, and cheese as a city staple, and you can be confident the same goes for other cities because who does not love bacon, egg, and cheese? The bacon is salty and crispy, the egg fluffy, and the cheese is creamy and rich.

It is a flavor trio that is tough to beat, and the bagel makes a perfect vehicle for it. When toasted, its surface prevents the cheese from soaking through the bagel. And the fluffy inside adds the perfect texture the topping is missing. We love that you can't go wrong with any bagel flavor. Everything, poppyseed, sesame, etc., are all viable (and might we add, delicious) options for a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich.

This is a bagel and topping combination that can do no wrong. And while it's a quintessential breakfast food, no judgment from us if you want to eat it for lunch, dinner, or a late-night snack.


How can you go wrong with just a simple layer of smooth and creamy butter on your bagel? You can't, but if you're a butter lover, you probably already knew this. Pairing such a delicious ingredient with a tasty roll, crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, is a match made in heaven. According to The Daily Beast, the first mention of humans putting butter on bread dates back more than 500 years to 1496. And clearly, it was love at first sight because, unlike other concepts, this one has managed to keep its staying power. No matter the type of bread or roll you prefer, the butter will never be a bad choice. But bagels have undeniable chemistry with butter.

The ever so subtly sweet, yeasty flavor of the bagel makes the perfect compliment to the rich aromas of the butter. Butter actually intensifies the profile of the bagel. This is the simplest way to enjoy a bagel and a prime example of how less truly is more.

Pizza Style

Something is comforting about the fact that you can go to nearly any city in the United States and grab a slice of pizza. It is one of the world's most popular foods, and according to The Washington Post, 350 slices of pizza are sold each second in the United States alone.

Pizza is more than just food. It is a staple of Italian cuisine and the backbone of American street food. Margherita pizza contains four ingredients: dough, tomato sauce, cheese, and basil. This recipe is the foundation of every great pizza you know and love. And the same ingredients that are mouth-watering on pizza dough also work well on a bagel. The toppings are bolstered and united by the tomato sauce, and when the cheese melts, it doesn't destroy the integrity of the bagel, which sometimes happens with your favorite slices. This amalgamation of crunchy, fluffy, and stringy is a delight for the senses. We're picturing this as the perfect 15-minute dinner, but it may come together even quicker if you have an air fryer. Buon appetito!

Turkey and Swiss

If there were a lineup of the most incredible sandwiches in the world, it'd be challenging to pick the top 10. But without a doubt, turkey and swiss would end up somewhere in the ranking. Why? Well, this classic combination is the ultimate go-to for sandwich lovers. And when you take the traditional sandwich ingredients and put them on a bagel, it's just as good and different enough to perk up your palate.

Today, more than 700 types of Swiss Cheese are produced in Switzerland, and they can range anywhere from spreadable to hard, according to My Switzerland. We suggest you opt for a slightly softer variation and break out that panini maker you got as a birthday present a few years back because turkey and swiss are made for melting. Add some lettuce and tomatoes and turn this into a full-blown sandwich if you want, but no need. Because on its own, turkey and swiss is one of life's simplest pleasures. The lean turkey makes the perfect partner to the cheese. The flavors compliment rather than overpower. And prove that traditional deli-style sandwiches will never go out of style.

Tomato, Salt, and Pepper

One of the most versatile foods is tomato. It works cold or warm, sliced or squashed, hot or cold, solid or juice. This once tropical plant has found a home in practically every country in the world, explains Illinois Extension, and there's something special about wandering in a farmers market and spotting different shapes, sizes, and colors of the fruit.

A much-loved use of tomato is to put it on a slice of bread, sprinkled with olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. And using a bagel instead of bread is no exception! It is such a simple topping but delicious enough that you'll be hooked once you have tried it. A bagel topped with tomato tastes juicy and fresh and instantly transports you to the Mediterranean.

Seasonings like salt and pepper intensify the flavor of the tomato and encourage the natural juices to emerge, making this an even more spectacular experience. The bagel holds up very well against the juice, providing the perfect vehicle for tomato. Add some basil or balsamic vinegar to the mix to bring out even more flavor.

Avocado and Fried Egg

Does it even count as brunch if there's no avocado? This fruit has been much hyped in recent years and has earned its spot as a brunch essential. Every restaurant offering breakfast or brunch has either avocado in a bowl or on toast. As the BBC explains, millennials are crazy about the fruit, with imports nearing $5 billion.

And to be honest, what is not to like about it? The avocado is always delicious, sliced, cubed, charred, or mashed, and its creamy texture and healthy fats make it a great add-on to every savory breakfast option. On a bagel, for example, it is just divine. And now imagine combining it with a delicious, still-runny egg served on a fresh bagel.

The avocado is rich but not heavy and forms a perfect symbiosis with the egg. The fats and protein fill and fuel your body, which makes this topping relatively healthy. The crispy and spongy textures of the bagel make a great compliment to the avocado and egg. This topping may sound simple, but it is anything but ordinary. And sometimes the most simple things in life are the most delicious. Give it a try next time when you have a bagel.

Egg Salad

Putting an egg on a bagel may not be news to you. Omelets, sunny side up, poached, are all pretty run-of-the-mill ways to get a quick carb and protein jolt. You've probably had them all and enjoyed them very much. But the egg's versatility doesn't end here. This is why we're championing the underdog of the salad world — egg salad!

Originally served on a piece of lettuce in the early 1900s, according to Taste Atlas, it quickly found its way to sandwiches. The egg is boiled, cut, and mixed with mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and sometimes pickles. This easy-to-make mixture packs many rich flavors and gives excellent contrast in texture to the bagel. The bread-like quality of the bagel pairs very well with the egg salad and provides a perfect sandwich and a great alternative to other creamy, more traditional bagel spreads such as cream cheese.

Another thing we love about an egg salad bagel is that it works for any time of day. The egg also provides a fair amount of protein and, combined with the bagel, will keep you full for quite a long time, making it a great lunch break option.

Peanut Butter and Banana

We already know a bagel can work well as sweet or savory, and anything you can imagine that works well on its own or a different style of bread will probably work on a bagel. This versatility is what makes bagels so darn amazing. When you like to dance between sweet and salty, peanut butter may be one of your favorite spreads. And just like the iconic sandwich, primarily famous due to Elvis Presley's fondness for it, peanut butter and banana are a great combination and amazingly delicious on a bagel.

The banana and peanut butter meld into a wonderful mash of sweet and salty, and the salt in the butter emphasizes the sweetness of the banana. There is just a great combination of texture on a toasted bagel, which gives some crunch but stays fluffy on the outside.

On Southern Living, the former personal chef of the king of rock and roll says she believes these peanut butter and banana sandwiches surely helped him put on a few pounds. We love this snack but because it's so rich, consider this a treat that you can enjoy only sometimes. But if you have this bagel only now and then, you will probably enjoy it even more.


One of the best and most simple sweet toppings you can spread on your bagel is Nutella. According to the brand's website, this chocolate and hazelnut spread has been around for over 60 years and is known and enjoyed around the globe. The recipe itself is simple, but the ratios and exact production methods remain a secret to Ferrero, the company that invented this irresistible spread.

People around the globe eat so much Nutella that the amount produced by the brand each year weighs as much as the Empire State Building, explains the South Florida Reporter. Imagine how many bagels you would need to use all that Nutella! The bagel makes the perfect vehicle because its distinct flavor compliments the Nutella well without overpowering it. It takes away a little bit of the sweetness but amplifies the aromas of the hazelnut. The Nutella may melt ever so slightly on a warm bagel, and the effect is even better. Instead of your toasted bread in the morning, take a bagel and put some amazing chocolatey spread on it. You will never go back.

Tuna Salad

Tuna salad deserves more respect in the culinary world. While it's often relegated to a quick lunchtime snack, we think it's due time tuna salad is seen for what it really is! This easy, cheap, delicious protein-packed salad is a meal all on its own but when you add it to bread, it takes it to a whole new level. If that bread just so happens to be a bagel, then you've got yourself one of the best snacks in town.

As with many of our favorite cheap eats, tuna salad was created as a way to pinch pennies, explains Smithsonian Magazine. Instead of throwing away scraps of food, home cooks would mix chicken or fish with mayonnaise. Somewhere along the line, a rudimentary relish of celery and pickle scraps became a must-add. And as socialization grew, these sandwiches skyrocketed in popularity.

And thank goodness for the ingenuity of a few clever minds, because this salad lives on today as a perfect pairing for bagels. If you want to take this sandwich to new heights, add cheese, place it under the broiler and you have a tuna melt.

Jelly and Butter

If you've never had a bagel with jelly and butter, let us prepare you. The flavor combination is already a home run on regular toasted bread. So when you combine the savory notes of butter with the sweet jelly but add in even more bread, it's undeniably delicious. It's impossible not to gravitate towards this bagel topping for all it brings to the table.

Jelly and preserve making dates back to at least the 11th century and has a spot in the world's oldest known cookbook, according to The Nibble. Since then, jellies have been carried into modernity, with it once costing so much that only nobility could afford them.

Butter and jelly is the ultimate breakfast indulgence. It's a lighter choice than cream cheese, which can sometimes be dense and filling. And butter is low enough in lactose that it might be passable (via Prevention) for those who may be lactose intolerant. If your bagel is perfectly toasted, you may even experience a rush of textures and sensations with the crunch of the bread and the gooeyness of the jelly and butter. It works because it plays on sweeter breakfast options like danishes and donuts. Consider this a sophisticated breakfast food that's somehow still downright delicious.


The world of deli meats is a microcosm of its own. There are variations in thickness and different crusts and coatings. There are numerous cuts to choose from, and even the same types may have various varieties. Pastrami is no exception. Pastrami is smoked and cured beef, seasoned with numerous spices such as coriander, pepper, and mustard seeds, cut into thin slices, and usually served on sandwiches. Its flavor is full of spices, and the smoke lingers on your palate. You can combine pastrami with numerous other ingredients, which makes it perfect for serving as a topping.

Pastrami cures the body and soul, whether for lunch, in between, or after a long night out with your friends.

This deli meat has a long history, dating back to the 19th century and beyond. Meat Poultry Nutrition explains that the first time pastrami was served in New York in 1800. And since then, it's become an evergreen sandwich topping. If you're already a pastrami fan, then you'll probably fall fast for pastrami on a bagel!

Whitefish Salad

Whether whole or in the form of a salad, Whitefish brings some rich sea flavors to your palate. When paired with onions, dill, and mustard and put on a golden fluffy bagel, there is something fish lovers would line up for! You can sprinkle some lemon juice on top of it to emphasize the flavor and give it another layer, making it even more delicious. Whitefish feel lighter than Lox and are not nearly as smoky or salty. It does not overpower the other ingredients, including the bagel, but instead plays nicely and allows each component to shine.

As mentioned on Food Republic, it may be unorthodox to put fish besides Lox on a bagel, but Whitefish is a hit. If you're looking for a brunch option that will be enjoyed by your health-conscious cousin, picky aunt, and your foodie friend, don't overlook whitefish salad on a bagel!

Burger Style

This next topping may be controversial but hear us out. Burgers do indeed work well with bagel buns. It may take some figuring — the burger bun shouldn't be too thick, and it definitely shouldn't be too thin – but there is something magical here.

Hamburgers are far from a new invention. They've been enjoyed, in some form or another, since the late 1800s, according to History.com. German immigrants brought their top-notch meat and inspired an early form of ground beef, spurring the United States' love affair with burgers.

When you consider that most hamburger buns are topped with sesame seeds, which is also a common topping for bagels, it is no surprise that the connection is hard to ignore. Try making your own bagel to get just the right consistency. But if your only option is store-bought bagels, they may work well by smashing them a bit first. Just add your meat and toppings, and enjoy!

Nutella and Strawberries

Those with a sweet tooth will find it hard to pass up a chewy bagel topped with Nutella and sliced strawberries. Not only is it filling, but because Nutella is so rich, you don't need much to brighten up your bagel. And with the sweet, slightly acidic tang of strawberries, this goes from dense, sugary overload to a well-balanced snack that comes together in seconds.

Nutella wasn't introduced into the United States until 1983, according to Spoon University, but since then, the chocolate and hazelnut spread has become a pantry staple among households. But we can't overstate the importance of strawberries here. They provide just the right amount of freshness! To get just the right ratio, keep the amount of Nutella and strawberries similar, so one doesn't overpower the other. As with many of the options on the list, we recommend toasting the bagel for an extra jolt of texture. There's something about the crunch of a toasted bagel that we can't get enough of!

Hummus and Olives

Hummus is an easy way to bring some international flair to your plate. There are so many iterations — Lebanese, Greek, Turkish — each with its own set of subtle changes. As Food Republic explains, Turkish cooks might replace olive oil with butter, for example. But all recipes have a chickpea and tahini base. That's good news if you're a fellow hummus lover. It means you can always opt for hummus, and rest assured that it'll satiate your palate, especially when it's spread over a bagel. We're loving this bagel combination's classic flavor of hummus and olives.

In a pinch, you can use a bagel as the bread and cut or rip it into bite-sized pieces for an appetizer plate when you have unexpected guests. But if you want a solo snack that will make you thankful for the flavors of the world, hummus generously spread on a bagel and covered in olives will do just that.

While we're champions of hummus and olives, you can go wild with the combinations. Hummus and sun-dried tomatoes. Hummus and pickled onions. Hummus and sardines. Check out that pantry and go wild!

Tapenade and Tomatoes

When thinking of Mediterranean food, you will likely imagine tomatoes, eggplants, lemons, fish, fresh bread, and pasta. Another thing that may be on your mind is olive oil. Whether in Italy, Greece, Spain, or France, you can find local olive oils that burst with flavor and are made from olives grown on stunning trees around the Mediterranean sea. This fruit can be used in numerous ways — one of which is making a beautiful and delicious paste called tapenade. According to Clifford A. Wright, the name comes from the caper plant, also known as tapeneï, and its edible part, tapeno.

But olives, particularly black olives, are the primary ingredient of this dish, providing its distinct fruity and briny flavor. If you like olives, you will love tapenade. Alongside olives, a traditional tapenade consists of capers, anchovies, and tuna. Invented in the south of France, it reached places across the globe like most Mediterranean food and remains a delicacy. Tapenade is made to put on bread and on a bagel; it is irresistible. Spread it or rip the bagel and dip it into the tapenade. It is salty, briny, fruity, and simply delicious.

Cinnamon and Sugar

If you thought a cinnamon and sugar donut was peak perfection, we're pleased to throw you a sweet and savory curveball. Cinnamon and sugar on a bagel are as delicious as it sounds. Because cinnamon and sugar are already an all-star duo, they don't need much to become even more delicious. Add them to a bagel, preceded by a healthy smear of butter, to create a treat that is equal parts satisfying and more complex than it appears at face value.

Spice producer McCormick dates cinnamon back to the 1600s when it was enjoyed as the cinnamon and sugar on toast that is still eaten today! We love that a food so simple has such deep historical connotations. This is one way to eat a bagel that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside, and all that's missing is a warm drink and post-meal nap.


There probably aren't many who need convincing to dig into a bacon, lettuce, and tomato confection. But just in case there's someone somewhere out there who's on the fence, here's the sign you've been waiting for! Salty bacon, crisp lettuce, and juicy tomatoes are only heightened when paired with a perfectly toasted bagel. It's a union made in foodie heaven.

We like that it gives a facelift to the long beloved sandwich. Not that it needs one, but there are certainly some palates that prefer a bit more bread with their BLT. That's where this combination shines. It's unclear when the BLT was first created, but according to Taste Atlas, its roots are British and it became an instant class in the United States after World War II. This sandwich draws on the classic flavor combinations of BLT and uplifts them with the bagel, creating quite the perfect pairing.