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Are Bagels Vegan?
Which Brands You Should Buy

Matt Miles
Published by Matt Miles
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: February 22, 2021

Many agree there’s nothing better than a warm bagel slathered with a vegan spread to satisfy your morning carb cravings. Choosing a vegan schmear is easy. But with so many bagel varieties, the inevitable question arises — are bagels vegan?

Here's all you need to know when choosing your next breakfast bagel!

"Too many people look at the holes in their life and miss the glorious bagel right in front of them." — Unknown

Vegan Vs. Non-Vegan Bagels

Traditional bagels are made from flour, water, salt, sugar, and yeast. Simple! But it isn't that simple.

Whether bagels are vegan depends on the ingredients, fillings, and toppings. And there can be quite a few varieties. So, let’s break down bagel ingredients!

Regular Bagels are Vegan

salt and yeast

S classic bagel is made from plant-based ingredients, such as:

  • Flour — typically, wheat flour is used to make bagels. It creates a glutinous, strong dough that has a chewy and dense texture.
  • Yeast — it ferments sugar in the dough and helps it rise.
  • Salt — regulates the yeast, adds flavor, and toughens the gluten strands.
  • Liquid — almost exclusively water, is used to bind the ingredients together and create moisture.
  • Sweetener — it can be from barley malt syrup, molasses, plain sugar, corn syrup, or malt extract.
  • Fat — some recipes use fat to enhance the crumb on the bagel. It usually comes from vegetable oil or shortening.

Traditional bagels can be plain or contain additional ingredients that enhance the flavor, color, and texture. Different seeds, fruits, grains, vegetables, nuts, berries, herbs, and spices can be used [1].

What Makes Them Non-Vegan?

Some store-bought bagels may include non-vegan ingredients. Some recipes may also require some non-vegan items. The most common ones are:

  • 1. Honey. Some recipes use honey or honey powder as a sweetener. Some vegans eat honey, but a great majority avoids it.
  • 2. Eggs. They’re used to add flavor and color. Sometimes an egg wash is used for glazing a bagel and giving it shine.
  • 3. Milk. Some recipes require milk instead of water.
  • 4. L-cysteine. This amino acid is used to soften the dough. It’s typically used in store-bought bagels. It’s derived from poultry feathers or human hair. However, there are some vegan production methods [2].

Also Read:

Toppings and Add-ins

A plain bagel is excellent, but topping and fillings make it the ultimate breakfast food. Any spread, schmear, topping, and filling that's not plant-based will make your bagel not vegan-friendly. The most common ones include:

  • 5. Dairy products — cream cheese, whipped cream, hard cheese.
  • 7. Meats — ham, beef, chicken, turkey.
  • 7. Fish — tuna, salmon, caviar.
  • 8. Eggs — boiled, scrambled, poached. But, be careful of sauces that contain eggs, such as mayonnaise or hollandaise.

How to Ensure Your Bagel is Vegan

Bagels on a plate

You can ensure your bagels are vegan-friendly in a few ways. Checking the product label for vegan ingredients is the simplest one. Or, you can contact the manufacturer for more info on the ingredients. You could also make your bagels.

Vegan-Friendly DIY Recipe

Most bagel recipes are vegan-friendly, so it shouldn't be too hard to find a good vegan bagel recipe. By making the bagels yourself, you can easily control what goes in the dough, whether the bagels will be gluten-free or use whole wheat flour.

There’s also an incredible variety of vegan ingredients you can add to enhance the flavor and mix things up.

You can improve the dough by adding spices, garlic, onions, seeds, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, grains, rye and oats, and fresh or dried herbs.

There are also tons of vegan topping, fillings, and add-ins. Instead of milk and animal products like cream cheese, egg, meat, and fish, you can opt for vegan versions. You can go for vegan cream cheese, avocado, nut butter, fruit slices, hummus, spinach, veggie patty, vegan butter, and so much more. The possibilities are endless.

Moreover, making your own vegan-friendly, gluten-free bagels is easy. So easy that you'll regret you ever wasted your time wandering through your grocery store looking for vegan bagels. Here's one of my favorite recipes.

How to Make Your Own Vegan Bagels

Cinnamon raisin bagels are one of my favorite flavors. The recipe is super easy, but it’ll take you some time. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 11 1/2 cups water, warm
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 4 tbsp coconut sugar, or sub maple, barley malt syrup or agave
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour (or any other flour of your choice, like sprouted grain flour or gluten-free flour)
  • 6 cups water, for boiling
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup, or sub barley malt syrup, agave, or coconut sugar

Fold into the dough after the first rise:

  • 1 cup organic raisins
  • additional cinnamon to taste

Add all of the water, sugar, and yeast to a large bowl. Stir until mixed and let it sit for some 10 minutes. Then add the salt, cinnamon, and flour. Stir with a mixer or a spoon until the ingredients are combined into a fluffy, light dough. Then, knead the dough for 2–5 minutes. And don't forget to flour the surface where you'll knead the dough.

Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with a dish towel. Put in a warm place, and let rise for 60–90 minutes.

After the dough has risen, rinse the raisins, sprinkle them with more cinnamon, and add them to the dough. Transfer the dough back to the surface with flour and knead the raisins in. then, divide the dough into 8–10 pieces, depending on how large you want your bagels to be.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 425℉. Fill a large pot with 6 cups of water and add the maple syrup. Set the heat to medium and wait for the water to boil.

Shape the dough into bagels, and when the water is boiling, turn up the heat to high. Drop 2–3 bagels at a time in the water for about 1–2 minutes.

Now, transfer all the bagels to your baking sheet and add the topping of your choice. Bake them for some 25 minutes or until they're browned and fluffy.

Cool the bagels on a cooling rack and enjoy plain or pair them with vegan cream cheese.

You can check out our blog for the best vegan bread recommendations.

Allergy Precaution and Cross-Contamination

Sometimes vegan-friendly bagels are made on shared equipment with dairy or egg products. If you’re very sensitive or have allergies, you should get all the possible info on possible cross-contamination.

FAQs

What kind of bagels are vegan?

Many brands offer vegan bagels, including Trader Joe's brand (sold at Trader Joe's), Trader Joe's Pita, Trader Joe's Whole-Wheat Lavish, Dunkin Donuts, Whole Foods, Thomas’ Bagels, Panera Bread.

What’s a schmear?

A schmear is a smear or spread, like cream cheese schmear.

Are Bagels Vegan? The Final Verdict

Yes, most bagels are suitable for vegans.

You should pay attention to the ingredients on the label if you're buying them in a store. Or you can make them yourself and control what goes in.

What’s your favorite bagel recipe? Share it with us in the comments.

References:

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9780470113554.ch15
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17021879/

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