Toasting makes a fresh bagel nice and crispy, a frozen bagel ready to eat, and even a stale bagel edible again. A toaster can do all that in just one to two minutes! However, what are you supposed to do if you don’t have a toaster?
Luckily, you have many ways to get the crispy bagel of your dreams. If you don’t have a toaster, you can put your bagel on a rack in the oven or in a nonstick pan over medium heat. You can use other appliances such as an air fryer to toast your bagel. If you’re outside, you can put bagels on a grill rack over the open fire.
All these methods have their benefits and drawbacks. Here is everything you need to know about toasting your bagels so you can find the best way to get nice and crispy breakfast sandwiches—no extra appliances needed.
How to Toast a Bagel Without a Toaster
1. Toasting Bagels in the Oven
If you have an oven in your home, you can get crispy bagels without needing a toaster. Your oven can help you perfectly toast a fresh bagel and even revive a stale bagel.
There are actually two methods for using your oven to toast your bagels. One is to preheat your oven to 350 degrees and then slow-roast the bagels for 7–10 minutes, flipping halfway through to ensure they are evenly toasted. This method uses slow heat to warm up and toast the bagel, which can also help thaw a frozen bagel. However, it’s not the most time-efficient method if you’re hungry and want a bagel immediately.
Another way you can use your oven to toast bagels is if you have a broiler. Preheat the oven and the broiler to 350 degrees. Arrange the grill rack right under the broiler and place your bagels cut side up underneath. The broiler should toast your bagels in one to two minutes.
The downside of putting your bagels in the oven, regardless of which method you use, is that you have to be careful with your bread. If you leave it in the oven for too long, the result will be a charred hunk of dough, not a perfectly toasty bagel. Even if it doesn’t burn, the outside might dry out, so keep a close eye on your bagels.
2. Toasting Bagels on the Stovetop
The stovetop method is probably the easiest way of toasting your bagels because you can do it in pretty much any kitchen, no matter how poorly equipped. All you need is a nonstick pan and something to heat up the pan, including a regular stovetop or a hot plate.
Cut the bagel to help it toast faster and put it in the pan. If you have a lid, put it over the pan, as it will help the bagel heat up faster. Even without the lid, toasting the bagel in a pan should yield toasted bagels in just three to four minutes—not as fast as a toaster, but still pretty speedy.
The pan is also a great way to thaw frozen bagels since it distributes heat slowly and evenly.
For best results, many people recommend cutting the bagel in half and buttering it before adding it to the pan. The great debate is whether you should put the butter side facing downward or upward in the pan. In most cases, it’s better to put the bagel cut side down in the pan as the heat will melt the butter and soak it into the bread. However, if you are planning to add toppings to your buttered bagel, flip it butter-side-up to avoid messing up the base.
3. Toasting Bagels in an Air Fryer
If you only have space for one appliance in your kitchen, and that spot was already claimed by your air fryer, don’t worry—your air fryer can act as a toaster too! Use your appliance to get warm, crispy bagels in just two to three minutes.
The trick is to pick the right temperature setting. Most people recommend preheating your air fryer to the maximum setting, then lowering it to 310 degrees Fahrenheit right before you put your bagel in. Another tip is to add a bit of cooking oil or butter to the basket if you want the exterior of the bagel to be crispy.
The air fryer method is great because these appliances evenly distribute heat, meaning that your bagel will be toasted evenly throughout (with some advanced models, you won’t even need to flip it). They are quick, and you don’t have to babysit the bagels as you do in the oven or on the stovetop. However, if you’re short on space or money, getting another appliance is not always practical.
4. Toasting Bagels Over an Open Fire
Just because you’ve gone camping doesn’t mean that you have to abandon your creature comforts, including toasted bagels! Bagels are delicious when toasted over a campfire.
The best way to toast bagels when using an open flame is to position a grill rack over your campfire. If you don’t have a grill rack, you can just put your bagel on a stick, although it will not toast as evenly. Hold the bagel over the fire for less than a minute, and it will be fully toasted!
The drawbacks of this method are obvious—after all, you can’t exactly light a fire in your kitchen every time you want toasted bagels. However, when you’re building a backyard bonfire or a campfire, toasting bagels over the fire is a quick, fun method.
Even if you don’t have a toaster, you can still have toasted bagels. If you have an air fryer, just put your bagels in the basket. You can also use regular kitchen equipment such as your oven, broiler, or stovetop—just be careful not to burn your bagels.