Top 10 Bagel Flavors – Thursday’s Top Ten List

Created by Matthew J. Goldberg,

On my previous lists, I’ve ranked—among other things— Jewish baseball and basketball stars, Yiddish words that start with “Sh” and men, women and characters with the last name Goldberg. Now, it’s time to push the envelope of controversy.

It’s time to rank the Top 10 bagel flavors. Please permit a qualifier or two. All of the flavors must be somewhat common, so I can’t trumpet a brisket-cinnamon-apple bagel my aunt once made me. I am also not concerned with a particular store or chain or packaged brand. Well, I may favor the flavor of some, but not as far as this list is concerned.

In ranking the eligible types, I tried to envision eating one in four different ways: a) hot, fresh and topless; b) with lox and cream cheese; c) with a cold cut or as a basis for another type of sandwich; and d) toasted with butter.

A nameless and faceless focus group was not polled for this list, as these opinions are truly my own. I acknowledge that I may be influenced by a certain old-school mentality here. Back in my early days—growing up in a South Jersey suburb of Philadelphia—bagels were not nearly as prevalent as they are today.

As a kid, there seemed to be just one bagel shop within 12 or so miles of our home, and there was a fairly sizable Jewish community just a mile or so from our home. I don’t even recall if that shop supplied supermarkets with bagels, but I do know that you couldn’t get one from a Dunkin’ Donuts. Not that I really like D&D’s bagels today; please permit that tangent.

Back in the day, that bagel shop also did not carry all of the designer flavors that it does today. So, maybe this has influenced my bagelian taste buds. Who knows how these things work?

I’m done stalling for time. Here, in ascending order of goodness and greatness, is my current list of TOP 10 BAGEL FLAVORS. If you disagree, please sound off below—but please don’t toast me for too long. If you agree, please sound off and feel free to butter me up.

By the way, the following five did not even make my cut:

SALT – I’ve never understood this one. It’s like adding salt to watermelon, or maybe it’s an even viler act.

EVERYTHING – Love the concept, but the salt ruins it. If without salt, it’s a top five candidate.

CINNAMON RAISIN – I’m just not a raisin guy, whether we’re talking about raisin bagels, raisin challah or (nowadays) even isolated raisins. I do like the cinnamon part.

CHOCOLATE CHIP – Yes, I love chocolate chip ice cream, cookies, cake, macaroons, chocolate everything…with the possible exception of chocolate chip tissues…but chocolate chip bagels just don’t really work for me. It works if fresh, but not toasted or buttered or as a sandwich breading.

PLAIN – My taste in bagels may be bland, but plain? Meh.

10 (tie). CHOCOLATE

As is the case with its cousin, the chocolate chip bagel, chocolate works much better with foods other than the bagel. But, what other flavor was going to push it to Number 11 or worse? Honey oat? Salt? Egg? Well, maybe egg; I forgot about that one.

10 (tie). EGG

It may not have the thrill factor of chocolate, but an egg bagel is still an occasional delight. It toasts and butters well, and still makes for a good sandwich.


Half-plain and half-pumpernickel, this two-tone trickster is still a nice treat. It is, indeed, perhaps the best-looking bagel on the market.



I felt that my list needed one fruit entry, and this is the best of the bunch. It’s not my personal favorite, but it has earned my respect, if not my full admiration and adoration.



The onion flew under my own radar for a long time, but I now embrace it fully as a bagel that works great for either toasting-and-buttering or as a sandwich bread. I don’t like that the onions often come loose in the bag, and in a most annoying kind of way—unlike my top three bagel types.


You can’t find this one everywhere, but it’s worth a buy when available. I won’t call it the sour deli pickle of the bagel world, but that’s not too far from the pin.


5. RYE

A rye bagel is almost up there with a well-baked rye bread (seeded, of course). It is light, versatile and adds just enough of its own flavor to the mix.


I debated long and hard between rye and “pump,” but after several coin flips, went with this venerable flavor. Pumpernickel is almost the perfect mix of hearty and flavorful, and it also rhymes with bumper pickle. One can’t say that about any other bagel, even if that alone does not push it into the Big Three.


The poppy seed bagel was my Number One for many years, and it still occupies an enviable slot on this list. A poppy bagel is great toasted and buttered, yet I don’t find that it hangs with my top two as a sandwich bagel.


As a wee lad, I never thought a garlic bagel would even crack the Top 10…if there were ten flavors back then…but I have grown up a little. Well, at least some of my taste buds have changed. I’m a fan of garlic, except when it emanates from someone else’s breath. It’s a terrific flavor. One exception: I’m not a huge fan of garlic pickles.


As a kid, I used to get bummed when we ran out of poppy seed and I had to settle for sesame seeds. I know: WHAT WAS I THINKING? Sesame has been my clear personal fave the last couple decades or so, and it will take an unforeseen act of miraculous baking to budge it.

What can I say? It’s amazing when toasted and buttered and it enhances every sandwich. Even the simple act of eating the loose seeds that plunge to the bottom of the bag (like a parakeet might) brings a certain joy.

That wraps up my list of the Top 10 bagels; if you have any observations or suggestions for this column or future lists, please comment below or send me an email.

Matthew J. (call him Matt) Goldberg will be presenting a Jewish-style Top Ten list every Thursday on this site.

For information about Matt’s books, sports columns, speaking events and requests for appearances and custom writing, please visit, or contact him via email. His new Facebook Fan Page (“to like, to like, l’chayim”) can be found here.

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Matthew J. Goldberg About the Author: An author, speaker and custom writer from Cherry Hill, NJ, Matt loves to entertain people through his writing and public speaking. Laughs, Smiles and just enough Wisdom reach his audience through the magic of his written and spoken words. More about Matthew

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  1. So, everyone agrees? No other preferences?
    Guess I’ll have to tackle Matzo in a few months.

  2. Dave says:

    No not everyone agrees!

    I think your pretty much right on with this list but you wouldn’t even list the plain on the Top 10? Plain happens to be my favorite because I actually eat a bagel for the taste of the BAGEL. If I wanted garlic or sesame or onion I could have those separate but its the actual Bagel that makes it what is is and therefore PLAIN should have atleast made the cut for Top 10.

    Just my 2 cents,

  3. Thanks for the read and reply, Dave. I was juts scanning this column and hadn’t noticed your comment previously.

    Maybe, I was too hard on “plain” and I see your point, but it is – after all – a subjective matter of taste. Hamentashen column coming March 1, with matzo just before Pesach…

  4. Jeff says:

    Consider me as one who likes salt bagels as my first choice, followed by poppy or plain (toasted, with butter or a quality plain cream cheese). Garlic and pumpernickel are a distant fourth/fifth, though you can’t get pumpernickel in my part of northern Florida.

    Salt on a bagel being like salt on watermelon? Well, I have to confess; when I first lived n the south and the Southwest (Alabama, Texas, New Mexico) and later California, many put a dash of salt on their watermelon slices. I learned to.

    Jalepeno, chocolate chip, blueberry, and sun-dried tomato (among others) are not bagels; they’re pastry.

    I remember once going into a new Einstein’s Bros.’ shop, their first day and seeing the various types of bagels on small signs posted in front of the bins. Included was “salt”, for which I ordered two, toasted with cream cheese and a cup of black no sugar.” The clerk told me they didn’t have salt bagels; I said I thought they did because of the sign (though the bagels in the bin didn’t look like salt bagels). He responded, “They’re not healthy for you. How about a blueberry or spinach Florentine?”

    All that said, there’s a bagel shop near where I am visiting in Jacksonville, Florida, about a two minute and several minute drive away, called “Let’s Nosh”, and presented as Jacksonville’s only only authentic Jewish style (key word, style) deli, getting their bagels from New York. I’ve given them the benefit of the doubt and have been there several times, hoping it would get better. First time there, they said they never heard of salt bagels, and they didn’t have poppy seed ones. To make matters worse, when I got my plain, toasted, with cream cheese, to go, I found that they didn’t really do “toasted bagels but they could microwave one for me,” and they served it to me, to go, in a styrofoam container with a small plastic cup/container, abut half the size of a very small lemon, of somewhat soft (mushy-type) cream cheese.

    On that note, cheers.


    • Jeff,
      Thank you for your reply; I enjoyed it very much.

      I really liked this line of yours: “Jalepeno, chocolate chip, blueberry, and sun-dried tomato (among others) are not bagels; they’re pastry.”

      I almost never go to Florida…go figure…and based upon your experiences, would not be frequenting that ‘authentic’ bagel shop in JAX, anyway. Perhaps, I’m way too old school when it comes to my bagels.


  5. Didier Ortiz says:

    I personally prefer toasted blueberry with cream cheese.

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