How long do bagels last and how to store them?

I’ve bought a couple more bagels than usual, and I’m wondering how long they have until they get stale. How long do the buns last?

Or maybe you are wondering what is the best method to store them so that they stay fresh for longer. How are bagels stored?

If either of these sounds familiar to you, this article is for you. In it, we are going to talk about

  • the shelf life of bagels, depending on where you store them
  • storing bagels at home: should you leave them on the counter (at room temperature), put them in the fridge, or freeze them?
  • know if your rolls are finished and should be thrown away

You want to know more? Keep reading.

While I’m focusing on store-bought bagels in this article, the same rules apply to homemade bagels.
bagel in hand

How long do the buns last?

Counter Fridge Freezer
bagels 23 days 3 – 7 days 3+ months

Most fresh bagels retain their quality for 2-5 days if left on the counter unopened. If you put them in the fridge, you get an extra day or two of shelf life, but they tend to go rancid more quickly. Finally, the bagels that you freeze retain their quality for at least 3 months.

These estimates are pretty safe and will work for most types of bagels. Of course, some bakeries make rolls that last as long as 10 days ((ODD)), but the typical roll will start to harden after 2-3 days of storage.

Your personal preferences are at least as important as the above guidelines. If you like the crispy crust or chewy interior of a freshly baked bagel, but don’t particularly enjoy ones that sit on the counter for more than a day or two, try freezing your leftover bagels and see how it goes.

Just like with bread or baguette, in addition to knowing the approximate shelf life of bagels, you also need to know how to store them properly.

closeup of a bagel with sesame seeds

How to store the buns

You can leave the rolls in their paper bag if you are going to consume them in a day or so. If you want to keep them for several days, put them in a plastic bag. You can also refrigerate the rolls, and for this you need to use an airtight bag or container to keep them closed.

For longer storage, putting the rolls in a resealable bag (such as a freezer bag) is one of the most popular options.

Although storing your donut in a plastic bag keeps it from going stale for a few more days, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. That bun can gradually lose its crust and become breaded ((NB)). Test yours to find out if it keeps well in that bag or not.
Close up of bagel

Another option is to leave it unlocked (and let it go stale) and then revive the bagel by sprinkling it with a dozen drops of water ((NB)) and toasting it whole. This should restore its smoothness. If you toast your bagels anyway, try this method.

If you decide to refrigerate the rolls, make sure they are tightly closed (for example, in a freezer bag or an airtight container). An airtight seal prevents them from drying out and absorbing strong odors. The same applies to similar baked goods, such as focaccia bread.

And if you don’t quite like your bagels after a few days in the fridge, toast them in the toaster before eating.

Last but not least is freezing. Freezing bagels is a super easy way to preserve them. It only takes a couple of minutes, and if you freeze buns or hamburger buns, you already know how to do it.

Many bakeries recommend freezing bagels that you won’t eat for 2-3 days. It’s worth a try if you haven’t already.

Honey Bun Halves

Do the buns go bad? How do you know if your bun has gone bad?

Buns, sooner or later, develop mold. Those without preservatives can go moldy within a week, while others stay safe for longer. But most bagels go stale after only 3-4 days in storage, and that’s when most people throw them away.

Of course, even after hardening, the buns are fit to eat ((ODD)), assuming there’s no mold or any other visual or olfactory changes. The problem is that stale bagels taste mediocre at best, which is why stale baked goods often end up in the trash can.

Bagel sandwich with chicken lettuce and sauce

There are two ways to refresh your stale bagels:

  • toast them. You can toast the buns in a toaster oven or use a regular oven. Preheat to 375°F (or 190°C) and leave them there for 4-5 minutes. If they’re especially dry, spray a few drops of water on them (or even soak them in hot water) beforehand. If you want to know more, here’s a great guide on how to toast bagels on the Serious Eats website.
  • Microwave them under a damp paper towel. This is another option to soften up that hardened dry ((ODD)) bagel. Start by microwaving the bagel for 20 seconds and see how it goes. If you need more time (or moisture), continue in 10 second increments.

If you often end up with stale bagels, try these two methods and see what works best for you.

If you need a fresh bagel for breakfast on a busy weekday morning, reviving your stale bagel in the microwave is worth a try.
bun with honey

Frequently Asked Questions About Bagels

Do bagels need to be refrigerated?

Definitely not. It only makes sense to store bagels in the fridge if it’s hot and humid (for example, in the height of summer) where you usually store them. That combination speeds up the hardening of the bagels, and storing them in the fridge solves the problem.

How long do bagels last in the fridge?

Although bagels will keep for 3-7 days in the refrigerator, most bakeries advise against chilling bagels in the refrigerator. Although the low temperature slows down the growth of mold ((ODD)), the bun tends to go stale more quickly. Toasting those bagels can be a must to get decent quality.

Bagel with lettuce and baked chicken


ODD – FAQ – Odd Bagel
NB – FAQ – Nate’s Bagels
MBB-FAQ | Modern Bread & Bagels

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