Bagels are delicious, especially if you toast them. However, what if your office pantry or break room only has a microwave around instead of a toaster? Is there a way to enjoy bagel pastry goodness even if you lack a toaster in your kitchen or home? Can a microwave double as a toaster?
If you want to know how to toast a bagel in the microwave, keep on reading to find out. Be aware that microwaves have limits when it comes to roasting and toasting that you have to accept, especially those that aren’t convection microwaves.
How Can You Toast a Bagel with Your Microwave?
You technically can’t. A microwave is incapable of toasting, crisping, or browning the outside of the bread or bagel to toasted perfection. In fact, microwaving a piece of bread or bagel can lead to it becoming soggy or as hard as a rock depending on the length of time used.
You can “crisp” a bagel though. Or if it’s hard as pizza crust due to its staleness, you can make it soft and warm again for delicious consumption. Here are the ways to do it.
Slice and Microwave
To microwave a bagel properly, you should slice the bagel in half then place it in a microwave-safe plate, dish, or Tupperware plastic container. Have to cut sides of your sliced bagel face upwards for optimum microwaving.
Add butter to taste if you so wish. You can also add toppings or cream cheese if you’d like. Just microwave the sliced bagel for 10 seconds and you should end up with something nice, warm, and crisp as the morning air.
Paper Towel Wrap and Microwave
Get your bagel and warp it with a paper towel. This way, you can heat up your bagel for an extended period of time longer than 10 seconds while preventing it from becoming soggy because the towel is there to soak up its moisture.
Put it on a microwave-safe plate (like something made of ceramic or thick glass) and then cook the bagel for 20 seconds on the highest power level or setting. Let the bagel cool for 30 seconds afterwards then enjoy your freshly microwaved baked good.
Heat a Cold or Frozen Bagel
To heat a frozen or cold bagel straight from the refrigerator, place it in a microwave-safe plastic bag like those from Ziploc. Afterwards, microwave the sealed bagel for 30 seconds. Don’t microwave it for more than that.
If the bagel remains cold, just microwave it for another 15 seconds. Limit your microwaving to 30 seconds and 15 seconds to prevent overcooking.
Using a Special Container to Reheat the Bagel
You can use items like the Reheatza Microwave Pizza Pan in order to crisp baked goods or other bread-based foods without turning them soggy, rubbery, or burnt by over-microwaving. The effectiveness of such products may vary.
Reheatza claims that it could crisp (not necessarily toast) your favorite foods like bagels, pizza, quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, and some such.
Steamy Bagel with the Microwave and Toaster Combo
To microwave, your bagel optimally, toss it inside the microwave without cutting it for 32 seconds. It should end up nicely steamy when done correctly.
Now you can cut it and put it inside the toaster for another 30 seconds. You should end up with something nice and crisp but has zero browning on it. It’s like having toast without the crust while recreating the freshly baked feel of the bagel.
Tips and Tricks
Don’t heat the bagel for too long. Don’t be too general with the microwave timer setting. Microwaving a bagel, a piece of bread, or a slice of pizza for more than a minute can lead to it stiffening.
If you have a stale bagel, add a few drops of water on top of it then microwave for 20 seconds to refresh or rejuvenate it.
Why Does Bread Become Soggy or Rubbery After Being Microwaved?
Starch is the reason why when microwaved at first, the bread on baked goods becomes soggy then microwaved further, it hardens like cement or day-old pizza crust. A microwave can heat up bread, and its water molecules so much it becomes soft again then hardens soon afterwards when cooled down.
It’s All About the Starch
Starch is composed of two sugar molecules. When one of those molecules reaches 212°F, it melts and softens the bread. Once that cools again, the molecule recrystallizes then hardens, thus making the bread become hard and chewy.
The starch on your baked good like cakes or bagel is like metal that’s heated to the point of melting, which should then harden when cooled down soon after. Or a soldering iron to soldering wire. It’s roughly the same principle.
Is Microwaving a Bagel Better Than Toasting It with a Toaster?
Many people would claim that toasting a bagel with a toaster is better than microwaving it. That’s a rather popular opinion. However, there are those who prefer the microwaved version. It’s an acquired taste for sure—like warm beer for Americans and American milk chocolate for Europeans.
The main thing people hate about microwaved bagels—they don’t brown or crisp on the outside at all—is what the pro crowd for microwaved bagels loves about them. Straight out of the microwave, the hot bagels end up doughy and nice, like they were freshly baked.
Some might even toast the bagel at the lowest possible setting to recreate the microwaved bagel effect. Like having your steak rare instead of well done.
Bagel preparation may seem quite simple enough on the microwave—don’t microwave it at all or use a convection microwave on convection mode to do it. However, there are actually multiple ways to go about bagel microwaving.
Although a toaster or toaster oven can give your bagel more texture and crispness to its taste, there are things you can do with a microwaved bagel. For example, if the bagel is too stiff or too stale, you can rejuvenate it with a trip to the microwave, in order to turn it warm and soft.
Follow the instructions outlined above as carefully as you can to prevent a bagel from becoming too hard or soggy though.
- “Toast in Microwave“, Instructables.com, Retrieved June 13, 2021
- Luisa Vergara, “How to Microwave a Bagel“, Leaf.tv, Retrieved June 13, 2021
- Danilo Alfaro, “Why Does Bread Turn Chewy When You Microwave It?“, TheSpruceEats.com, June 19, 2019