No deli worth their bread would be caught without at least two or three types of bagels behind the counter. But wait! Before you spread plant-based butter on that bagel or stack up a breakfast bagel sandwich, have you stopped to wonder: Are bagels vegan? What’s the best vegan cream cheese and toppings? Can I make my own vegan bagels? We’ll dive into this all in this vegan bagel guide because here at World of Vegan we love bagels.
Derived from the word “bracelet” in German, these plump rings made from yeasted dough are commonly associated with Jewish culinary traditions but are beloved worldwide. Once you sink your teeth into that crusty, dense, and chewy bread, it’s easy to understand why. Even if they don’t come from NYC where it’s said the water created an unparalleled texture, a properly baked bagel is a thing of beauty.
No two bakers make them the same way, but it’s easy to uncover the truth to these timeless savory treats. Roll up your sleeves and break out the flour; we’re going to uncover the “hole” truth at the center of bagels.
What Are Bagels Made From?
All bagels are made from a very simple dough composed of flour, water, yeast, and salt. What sets them apart from basic dinner rolls is that after they’ve been shaped into rings, they’re first boiled in a lightly sweetened water bath before being baked. They critical step creates the characteristically chewy crust and dense interior crumb. It works like magic but is based in pure science.
The water bath it typically sweetened with a tiny splash of malt syrup, or sometime molasses. However, in some very rare cases, artisan bakers may use honey instead. This typically isn’t disclosed if you’re purchasing directly from a baker or café, so it, a good idea to double check just to make sure.
Are All Bagels Vegan?
You’ll be delighted to hear that most bagels are vegan by default. There are a few specific varieties to watch out for that will contain animal products, though.
The following flavors should be avoided or regarded with caution:
- Egg bagels: These are made with egg yolks or whole eggs which gives it a distinctive yellow hue.
- Cheese bagels: Jalapeno-cheddar and Asiago bagels are just two of the most popular examples. Dairy-based cheese is typically sprinkled on top or mixed into the dough for added flavor unless it’s specifically made by a plant-based bakery.
- Chocolate chip bagels: In kosher delis, there’s a good chance these might be vegan since it’s forbidden to mix meat and dairy, but it’s highly possible that the chocolate may contain milk anywhere else. Always ask or read the labels.
Vegan Bagel Brands, Shops, & Options
- Alvarado Street Bakery (brand)
- Dave’s Killer Bread Bagels (brand)
- Sara Lee Bagels (brand)
- Thomas’ Bagels, including bagel minis (brand)
- Einstein Bros. Bagels (shop)
- Noah’s Bagels (shop)
- Bruegger’s Bagels (shop)
- Peet’s, Starbucks, most coffee shops, Panera Bread and Dunkin’ Donuts (cafes and restaurants)
- Trader Joe’s and most grocery store brand bagels (grocery store)
Vegan Cream Cheese Options
Cream cheese is the most classic schmear to top a bagel. Plain, veggie, chive, or strawberry are the most popular flavors, and there are plenty of vegan brands out there for instant satisfaction. The top options include:
- Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese in Original, Whipped, Garlic & Herb, and Herbs & Chive
- Miyoko’s Creamery Organic Cultured Vegan Cream Cheese in Classic Plain, Everything, Savory Chive, Fish-Free Lox, and Cinnamon Raisin.
- Violife Just Like Cream Cheese in Original, Strawberry, and With Chives
- Daiya Cream Cheeze in Plain, Strawberry, Chive & Onion, and Roasted Garlic & Herbs
- Follow Your Heart Dairy Free Cream Cheese
- Kite Hill Cream Cheese Alternative in Plain, Everything, Chive, and Garden Veggie
- Wild Creamery Dairy Free Cream Cheese
- So Delicious Cream Cheese Style Spreads in Creamy Original and Chive & Onion
- Moocho Cream Cheese Style Spreads in Just Plain Yum, Garden Vegetable, and Strawberry
You can make your own vegan cream cheese from scratch in just 5 minutes, starting with a base of cashews and dairy-free yogurt in this recipe from Nora Cooks.
When you want to switch up your avocado toast routine, pile it high on a toasted bagel for a more substantial bite. Avocado bagels, topped with an extra sprinkle of everything bagel spice, are possibly even better than the original toast.
Frequently Asked Questions About Vegan Bagels
Q: Are Panera bagels vegan?
A: Panera has four vegan bagel options: Plain, Everything, Blueberry and Sesame bagels are all plant-based options at Panera Bread. There are no vegan spread, but you can ask for sliced avocado on the side to make your own avocado bagel.
Q: Are Thomas’ Bagels vegan?
A: You’re in luck! Most of Thomas’ Bagels are vegan, including the bagel thins and mini bagels. Their vegan flavors are Blueberry, Cinnamon Swirl, Cinnamon Raisin, Everything, Onion, Plain, Plain made with Whole Grain, and 100% Whole Wheat.
Q: Are Einstein Bros Bagels vegan?
A: Of all the national bagel chains, Einstein Bros Bagels is the best one for a hungry vegan to visit. They have far more than a baker’s dozen flavors to choose from, including Ancient Grain, Cinnamon Raisin, Cranberry, Everything, Garlic, Onion, Plain, Poppy seed, Pumpernickel, Sesame, Blueberry, Chocolate Chip, French Toast, Pretzel, Ancient Grain Thin, Plain Thin, Whole Wheat Thin, Apple Cinnamon, and Power Protein Bagel. To top it all ff, you can choose from hummus, peanut butter, or strawberry jelly.
Q: Are Noah’s Bagels vegan?
A: This California-based chain is owned by the same parent company as Einstein Bros Bagels, so all the vegan options above are available here too.
How To Make Your Own Bagels at Home
If you love baking or just want to try something new, making bagels from scratch is always an incredibly gratifying experience. Nothing compares to a fresh bagel, still warm from the oven, and made exactly to your tastes!
Chef Philip Gelb hosts private dinners and cooking classes in San Francisco’s Bay Area and has generously shared his secret formula for authentic NYC-style vegan bagels on BitterSweet Blog. Even if you’re not local, now everyone can experience the genuine article.
Gluten Free Vegan Bagels
If you or someone you love has celiac disease, don’t despair! The Banana Diaries has a fantastic gluten-free vegan bagel recipe, and even a variation that’s yeast-free, too.
Air Fryer Bagels? Oh Yes!
Air fryers can do anything, or so it seems. Yes, that means you can make vegan air fryer bagels, too, thanks to the super simple recipe on Healthy Helper. Best of all, these don’t even need to be boiled, which makes the process quick, easy, and much less messy.
Paleo Bagels & Keto Bagels
There’s a bagel for you, too! Meat Free Keto has the healthiest recipe you can find, all completely vegan, of course!Print
Ready to make the best vegan bagels you’ll ever try? This recipe is simple, loved by many, and will make your house smell amazing. This vegan bagel recipe comes from longtime vegan chef Philip Gelb. Philip has been teaching plant-based cooking classes in Oakland for many years, and has even taught bagel making classes! These delicious homemade bagels are a crowd favorite every time. And they’re absolutely perfect served up with some dairy-free cream cheese, plant-based butter, or a big heap of tofu scramble and melted vegan cheese!
1 Teaspoon of Active Dry Yeast
4 Tablespoons of Rice Malt, Barley Malt, or Agave, Divided
2 Cups of Warm Water (105 Degrees Fahrenheit)
1 Teaspoon of Salt
2 Cups of Whole Wheat Flour
3 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 1/2 Teaspoons of Baking Soda
Dried Garlic, Dried Onion, Sesame Seeds, Poppy Seeds, and/or Coarse Salt (Optional)
- In a large bowl, combine the yeast, 1 tablespoon of malt, and the warm water. Allow yeast to proof until the surface becomes foamy (this will take around 5 minutes). Whisk in the salt. Add the whole wheat flour and 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until incorporated.
- Place the bagel dough on a solid sturdy surface and slowly work in the rest of the all-purpose flour. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Coat the dough with olive oil, place in a bowl, and cover tightly with a clean dish towel.
- Allow to rise until the dough has doubled in volume; approximately 1 hour, depending on temperature and altitude. Time can vary significantly based on these factors.
- After your vegan bagel dough has doubled, knead it lightly for 1 minute. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts. Roll each piece into log and then fold it into a circle, firmly pressing the seam together. Place each bagel on a lightly floured surface, cover with a clean towel, and let rise until doubled; about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 500 degrees F and place a baking stone inside, if using. Otherwise, the bagels can be baked on a standard sheet pan. In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add the baking soda along with the remaining 3 tablespoons of malt. The baking soda is necessary to properly texture and brown the bagels.
- After the bagels finish their second rise, boil each bagel for 1 minute on each side, keeping the water at a consistent, rapid boil.
- Now your bagels are ready to bake. Top them with any desired seasonings, patting them gently into the top with your hands. Transfer carefully to your baking stone or sheet pan, and bake for about 15 minutes.
The bagels are best served within 15 minutes of emerging from the oven!
Keywords: breakfast, plant-based, baking, bagel
This vegan bagel recipe and bagel brands guide was written with support from Hannah Kaminsky. Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which supports our work at World of Vegan.