We’ve heard the arguments: Bagels are the devil in the form of refined flour! A single bagel is the equivalent of four whopping slices of bread! Yadda yadda yadda. And we know, in this gluten-shunning, Paleo-preaching, keto-crazy world, bringing up the b-word is pretty ballsy.
But we’re gonna anyway, because a) a dense, chewy, delicious bagel once in a while never hurt anyone, b) there are whole grain varieties that provide fiber, and c) these 19 healthier bagel toppings are just too good to pass up. From vegan cream cheese to tomato tapenade, check out these ideas for how best to build—and enjoy—a better bagel.
Greek yogurt is usually the go-to substitute for mayo in an egg salad, but if you want to keep things totally dairy-free, opt for avocado. It goes super well with the lemon and fresh herbs. Plus, everyone is eating avocado with their eggs these days, so you’ll be right on trend.
Give your grilled cheese a sweet, savory, and spicy upgrade with the addition of turkey, apple slices, and horseradish mustard. The fact that these melts are open-faced also gives you all the bagel flavor without forcing you to commit to the carbs of an entire serving.
Pan-fry tofu until it’s crispy, then layer it onto bagels with a homemade Sriracha and nut butter spread, and you’ll even have the biggest soy skeptics salivating. It sounds (and looks) like a mouthful, but it’s actually incredibly easy to throw together.
This creation gives you a classic bagel and cream cheese and trendy avocado toast all at once but then adds chopped pistachios and a drizzle of honey so it really has its own thing going. It’s not a combination you may have thought of, but that’s all the more reason to give it a whirl.
Even if you don’t make your bagels from scratch like this blogger does, the topping recipe is an absolute must-try. All it takes is a blender to take the chickpeas, coriander, and tahini to nutty, garlicky goodness.
Even if you eat actual tuna, you need this vegan version in your life. Made with cannellini beans, hummus, chopped veggies, and fresh herbs, it’s an excellent, fish-free way to get in nutrients like protein and magnesium (minus the mercury).
You won’t miss the other half of the bagel in these open-faced breakfast toasts. With each one piled high with eggs, bacon, veggies, and cheese, it’s a fork and knife kinda meal.
Far from your run-of-the-mill, gloppy chicken salad, this one is all about fresh and clean flavors. The tangy Greek yogurt standing in for mayo, lots of cilantro, and even a sprinkling of chopped pistachios for added crunch make for a robust mixture that holds its own even when it’s sandwiched between dense bagel slices.
Sure, it’s extra festive during the holidays, but that doesn’t mean this bagel topper doesn’t taste just as good in the middle of July too. In fact, with all the berry action going on here, the “’tis the season” name may as well be referring to summer.
A thick slather of ricotta provides the smooth texture of cream cheese but with even more protein, while thinly sliced veggies add the necessary crunch factor. The flavors are subtle but refreshing, and the lemon and parsley brighten everything up.
With celery, black pepper, and dill weed, this tuna salad gives you the familiar taste of your school lunches, but a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan adds a little something special. It may be tucked into carby bagels, but the fish and cheese make for a super high-protein meal too.
With tangy sun-dried tomatoes, fruity olives, tart capers, and the salty goodness of anchovies, this tapenade fires on all cylinders when it comes to satisfying savory cravings. It doesn’t hurt that it also whips up after just one minute in the food processor.
Packaged soy cream cheese can come with unwanted ingredients like sugar and hydrogenated oils. Keep yours clean with this easy homemade recipe, and enjoy it as you would the regular kind: plain, mixed with scallions, kicked up with jalapeños… you get the idea.
We’ll admit it: Plain, unsalted almond butter can border on boring. Doctor it up with just a touch each of healthy additions like cinnamon, sea salt, and maple syrup, and you’ll transform it into a perfect-for-bagels spread that’ll give any store-bought jar a run for its money.
These homemade recipes let you jazz up your nut butter with sweet and savory seasonings, and boost your jam with heart-healthy chia seeds. What’s even better is that you can customize them as you like: Not a fan of honey? Use maple syrup. No strawberries in stock? Use grapes. Allergic to peanuts? Cashews or almonds work great too. Mix and match to your heart’s content.
If you’re going to layer your salmon on top of your spread anyway, why not cut out the extra step and just mix the two together? This recipe does just that, but swaps higher-protein Greek yogurt for some of the cream cheese and stirs in shredded cucumbers and dill for a Mediterranean-inspired twist.
Add some plant-based protein to your avocado bagel by blending up the fruit with a can of white beans. You’ll end up with a smooth spread that falls somewhere between hummus and guacamole—and what’s not to love about that?
With the easy addition of lemon juice and salt, you can turn cashew butter into vegan cream cheese. Stir in your favorite flavorings, slather onto a toasted bagel, and put the deli versions to shame.
Between the variety of nuts and seeds, plus the olive oil in here, this spread has got your good fats covered for the day. The recipe also has zero sugar in it, giving you something perfectly cinnamony but not too sweet.