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Can you put bagels in a regular toaster?

The short answer is yes, you can put bagels in a regular pop-up toaster. However, there are some things to keep in mind to get the best results and avoid potential issues.

The Challenges of Toasting Bagels

Bagels are thicker and denser than regular sliced bread, so they can be more difficult to toast evenly in a standard two-slot toaster. The main potential problems with toasting bagels in a regular toaster include:

  • Uneven toasting: The thicker center of the bagel toasts slower than the sides.
  • Burning: The uneven toasting can lead to burnt sides but an under-toasted middle.
  • Getting stuck: Bagels don’t always pop up when finished and can get jammed in the toaster.

These issues happen because regular pop-up toasters are designed for thinner sliced bread. The heating elements and slots aren’t ideal for heating something as thick as a bagel.

Tips for Toasting Bagels in a Regular Toaster

While not ideal, it is certainly possible to toast bagels to tasty perfection in a regular toaster. Here are some tips to help you do it right:

1. Adjust Your Toaster Settings

Since bagels take longer to toast, start with a lower setting than you would use for bread and keep a close eye on it. The exact time will vary based on your toaster but start around 3 for lightly toasted and up to 5 or 6 for a darker toast.

2. Toast Cut Side Up

Place the cut side of the bagel facing up in the toaster slots. This allows the inside to better absorb the heat and toast more evenly.

3. Toast Just One Half at a Time

Only toast one bagel half at a time. This prevents uneven toasting and allows you to better control the results. If one half finishes early, you can pop it up while the other continues to toast.

4. Preheat on a Lower Setting

Before toasting at your ideal setting, preheat the bagel halves on a lower setting of 2 or 3. This warms them gradually so the middle and sides toast more evenly.

5. Use the Defrost Setting

If your toaster has a “defrost” setting, try toasting bagels on that. It gently warms them before switching to full power toasting.

6. Avoid Double-Slotting

Never try to toast two bagel halves side-by-side in a regular toaster. This is a surefire way to end up with burnt edges and a pale middle.

7. Don’t Split and Toast Already Toasted Bagels

If you are toasting an already toasted bagel half, only toast the cut side facing up to avoid burning.

8. Butter Afterwards

It’s best to only toast plain bagels, then add butter or toppings after. The extra fat and sugar from spreads can burn quickly.

9. Use a Toaster Oven if Possible

You’ll get much more even results toasting bagels in a toaster oven. The hot air surrounds the bagel from all sides for better heat distribution.

The Benefits of Buying a Bagel Toaster

While you can make regular toasters work, purchasing a appliance designed specifically for bagels can make the process much easier and give better, more consistent results. Here are some benefits of bagel toasters:

  • Extra wide slots fit the thickest bagels
  • Optional dual independent controls for custom toasting
  • Designed for even 360° toasting
  • Settings optimized for bagels
  • Auto-centering guides align bagels
  • High-lift platforms bring bagels closer to heating elements
  • Removable crumb trays for easy cleaning

By using slots and settings tailored to bagels, these specialty toasters can toast them to perfection without any of the hassles of using a regular toaster. They ensure golden brown on the outside and warm, chewy interiors every time.

Top 3 Bagel Toasters

Here are 3 top-rated bagel toasters for home use:

Brand Model Key Features
Cuisinart CTB-100 Dual independent bagel controls, high-lift platform, 6 setting options
Breville BTA735XL Auto-centers and auto-lifts bagels, custom width slots, variable browning control
SMEG TSM01 Retro aesthetic, 6 adjustable browning levels, removable crumb tray


While using a regular pop-up toaster to toast bagels is not ideal, you can make it work with some added care and attention. Adjusting the settings, only toasting one half at a time cut side up, and using lower preheat settings can help compensate for a regular toaster’s design limitations. But for easy, consistently great results every time, investing in an appliance specifically designed for bagels is highly recommended. With their specialized slots, settings, and features, bagel toasters take the hassle and guesswork out of making tasty toasted bagels at home.