Are bagels vegan? Find out if vegan bagels exist and where to find them in your favorite bakeries, grocery stores, or coffee shops! And have a look at some of our tastiest vegan topping recipes.
Every summer, the village of Monticello, New York welcomes thousands of bagel enthusiasts to their Bagel Festival. There is a bagel sculpture for selfies, a proud display of the first bagel-making machine, and visitors test their sleuthing skills in the bagel-themed scavenger hunt.
But the highlight is the bagel ‘triathlon’ where participants of all ages roll, stack, and toss these loveable, starchy rings around to win prizes.
If you think these bagel fanatics go home exhausted, vowing never to eat/roll/see another bagel again, you’d be wrong.
Did you know that over 202 million Americans ate bagels in 2020? That’s a lot of chewing!
We owe our bagel addiction to the early Polish immigrants who brought this delightful, ring-shaped bread to America in the 1800s. But it was only during the 1970s that it moved from traditional ethnic food to becoming a staple for the mainstream carb-loving population.
People realized it was a delicious, satisfying, and inexpensive meal. The bagels themselves came in all different flavors, with endless combinations of both sweet and savory fillings and spreads.
One Connecticut family capitalized on this unique bread by having the audacity to put their bagels in plastic bags and sell them in the freezer section of the supermarket. Lender’s Bagels may not live up to some bagel connoisseurs' rigorous bagel standards but they introduced us to convenience.
No matter where or how bagels are sold, the smooth, chewy, caramel-colored rolls show up at almost every staff meeting or family brunch.
And you had better not be the person who forgets to put out the vegan butter or cream cheese. Or raspberry jam!
But if you’re vegan, are you a part of the loyal bagel fanbase? Are you wearing the bagel pun shirts? And are you the one showing your teenager how to cut the bagel properly with a knife and not that ridiculous bagel slicer?
Maybe you could be.
Are bagels vegan? Let’s find out what’s in these addictive carb creations!
How are bagels made?
Let’s take a journey through the bagel-making process for the fully baked product.
First, the bakers start with a simple combination of high-gluten flour, salt, yeast, sugar or malt, and water. If it’s for specialty bagels like cinnamon raisin or blueberry, the extra ingredients would be added at this point.
Once the dough is ready, bagel shaping experts quickly form the bagels into soft hoops. Then, the raw bagels rest in a sealed area to allow the yeast to activate.
Next, they are boiled for about 30 seconds. This step gives the bagels their unique texture and appearance, similar to pretzels. The hot water cooks the outside of the bagels, sealing the dough on the inside.
Before baking, workers flip some of the wet bagels into tubs of toppings (e.g. salt, poppy seed, or sesame seeds).
Once they are baked, you end up with gorgeous, golden-brown bagels that have a firm crust and soft, chewy interior.
Most bagels, like other bread products, are commercially made in factories or local bakeries. They are either fully baked using the steps above or parbaked (partially baked, then frozen, to be thawed and baked at another smaller location.
What are bagels made from?
To figure out if bagels are vegan, we’re checking for ingredients that are animal-derived (e.g. milk, eggs, butter, cheese, honey or honey powder) or have been treated with animal products.
Let’s look at the main ingredients in a plain bagel:
Flour with a high-protein content will develop more gluten and that’s what gives bagels the springy, chewy texture we love. Most flour, including this type, are vegan.
Barley malt syrup
This starch-based sweetener is a natural product and vegan as well. It’s made out of the sprouts of barley during a slow, malting process and has a strong flavor. It’s less sugary than refined sugar, and even honey and maple syrup so it adds a subtle sweetness to bagels.
Yeast is essential for making the bagel dough rise. Even though yeast is a single-cell organism, it’s more closely related to mushrooms and is not considered an animal. Many vegans even enjoy nutritional yeast as a substitute for cheese.
These three vegan ingredients, plus salt and water, make a delicious batch of plain or regular vegan-friendly bagels.
But what about all the other fascinating bagel creations?
Here are some non-vegan ingredients to AVOID in your bagel:
There is a special egg bagel with a slightly yellow hue (possibly from food coloring) but it is made from eggs and should be avoided.
You will also want to stay away from bagels made with dairy products, such as:
- Cheddar cheese
- Chocolate chip
- French toast
This is a sneaky one because sometimes you won’t know unless you check the store’s website or read the ingredients on the packaging.
This amino acid is animal-derived (from human hair and poultry feathers) and some bakeries use it as a bagel dough conditioner. It is not part of a vegan diet.
Mono- and diglycerides
These food additives are used as emulsifiers in bagels and are sometimes animal-derived (and not vegan). As you will see below, some brands use the vegetable-derived version, which is vegan.
Which shops sell vegan bagels?
These are the bagels sold by each store’s in-house bakery under their own store brand (not made and packaged by other companies):
|BJ’s Wholesale||None||All contain eggs|
|Bruegger’s Bagels||Most||Asiago Parmesan, Jalapeno Cheddar, and Pretzel|
|Costco||Plain, Onion Everything, Cinnamon Raisin, and Sesame||Parmesan|
|Dunkin’ Donuts||Plain, Everything, Cinnamon Raisin, and Sesame||Multigrain (contains honey), White Cheddar Bagel Twist|
|Einstein Bros.||Most||Honey Whole Wheat, Asiago, Cinnamon Sugar, Cheesy Hash Brown, Green Chile, Jalapeno Bacon, Jalapeno Cheddar, Six-Cheese & Spinach Florentine|
|Panera Bread||Plain, Everything, Blueberry, and Sesame||Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Asiago, Cinnamon Swirl, Chocolate Chip (contain dairy), and Sprouted Grain (contains honey)|
|Starbucks||Plain, Everything, and Cinnamon Raisin||Everything & Cheddar|
|Trader Joe’s||Plain, Whole Wheat, Pumpkin, and Pretzel||Gluten-Free Everything|
You can visit each establishment's website to view the ingredient list for each type of bagel.
If you are visiting some local bagel shops, you can ask what ingredients they use in their bagels.
Which store-bought bagels are vegan?
Are your eyes blurry from staring at the ingredients list of every bagel package in the Bread aisle? Here’s a quick guide to a few popular bagel brands in your local grocery store:
* They contain Mono- and diglycerides but it is not clear if they are vegetable-derived.
**In their FAQ section, they state that they use vegetable-derived Mono- and diglycerides.
Always be sure to check the ingredient label on the package if unsure.
What can you eat with vegan bagels?
When you’re craving a bagel sandwich, most vegan options for toppings and fillings will probably be homemade. I have a wide selection of easy and delicious fixings for you to try aside from good 'ole vegan butter or vegan cream cheese.
Of course, peanut butter, or another nut butter, is also a winner when it comes to bagel toppings for your morning bagel.
Most bagels from your local bagel shop or grocery store are vegan, with a few exceptions. You also have a collection of delightful recipes for tasty vegan toppings or fillings for your next breakfast or brunch.
In fact, you have so many vegan bagel options that you might want to start practicing for your own bagel triathlon…or simply eat and enjoy them!
More vegan resources
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