Bagel hacking

Duane brings out the big knives for no-mess bagels:

This one just dawned on me — I'm surprised I've been doing it wrong for so long.  My two girls will often split a bagel for breakfast (among other things).  Cream cheese for one, jelly for the other.  Neither is really adept at just picking it up and biting it,  so I have to cut them into pieces.  Usually I use the knife I just used to put on the cream cheese.  Bad idea.  Cream cheese all over myself as the less-than-firm bagel smooshes under the pressure and I basically end up ripping the thing into pieces with my bare hands.

Forget that.  While you're standing at the kitchen counter anyway, just grab your big butcher's knife, the one with the blade that is much larger than the bagel, and do it "pizza style".  Four cuts – in half, then half again, then half again twice more, bringing the big blade straight down on the bagel (using two hands to force it with equal pressure).  Don't slice.  Instead bagel bites.  No mess.

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  1. Scott Severtson says

    Haven’t tried it with bagels, but this hack warrents mentioning: Use a pizza cutter for most kid-releated slicing and dicing. Pancakes, waffles, sandwiches, (yes, and pizza) can be cut into bite-size chunks in seconds, with little mess. Take a look at Zyliss cutters (, which directs your applied force directly to the food, unlike the traditional handle-and-wheel models.

  2. Tim says

    A butcher knife should have a plain edge, which is not what you want to slice a bagel in half. You want a serrated edge… a bread knife. If you don’t have a long bread knife, use a knife that has mini-serrations. You need the saw-like teeth to get through the bagel without smushing it.

  3. Lea says

    Uh, oh—Scott beat me to it. It recently dawned on me, too, that a pizza cutter is much more efficient than a knife for all kinds of foods.

    I used one to cut peanut-butter toast strips just this morning.

    – L

  4. Duane says

    Actually we use the pizza cutter for cutting pizza into strips and/or bites, never thought about using it as a bagel. But the reason why a non-serrated butcher’s knife works is because you’re pressing straight down onto the bagel, you’re not sawing through it. And we’re not talking about the initial slicing through the bagel to make 2 halves, we’re talking about once it hsa been halved, chopping up the half into bitesize pieces.

  5. Duane says

    Using it *for a bagel* that is. Using a pizza cutter as a bagel would be the kind of thing you type after you’re up until 4:30 with a bronchial 2yr old :-/

  6. Tim says

    Call me old-fashioned, but one of the joys of parenting is seeing my kids with a cream cheese or jelly “mustache” made from biting into a sliced bagel.

    If you give the kids bagel bites, how are you going to get them to look like Jack Nicholson in Batman?

  7. Jill says

    Just hand it to them open faced, then they can lick off the cream cheese or jelly and ask for more, claiming to have never gotten any. Depending on the hour, sometimes I fall for it.

  8. Jon says


    My wife has a 1+ inch scar down the side of her thumb from the morning I watched her try to slice a bagel in two … the bagel slipped, the knife slipped, and the rest of the morning was spent in the ER getting stitches. :( For splitting bagels, please, please, please use a bagel slicer.

  9. Deborah says

    Skip the middleman (middlebagel) and just drop a plop of cream cheese, jelly or butter onto the plate or highchair tray. Keeps them quiet for MINUTES.

  10. Kate says

    This is all very well, but what if you can’t even FIND a decent bagel where you live? Grumble grumble. The Pacific Northwest has its charms, but authentic bagels aren’t among them.

  11. Carly says

    If you buy bagels at a bakery ask them to send one or two through the bread slicer. Violia! Instant kid ready bagel “strips”.

  12. Tim says

    Full disclosure: we buy the pre-sliced Thomas’ brand “bagels.” They taste almost but not quite entirely unlike bagels, but the kids don’t notice.