How to make perfect Pizza Bagel Bites at home and freeze them for later use. Featuring miniature bagels, sauce, melty Mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni. Great for game-day snacks, kid-friendly dinners, or make-ahead lunch box ideas!
Surely if you are an American born within the last 35 years, you are well aware of those mighty, miniature pizzas known as pizza bagel bites. As the children of hardworking parents with very demanding jobs, my brother and I were no strangers to pre-packed/frozen meals, especially in the summertime.
With mom and dad hard at work, we were left to fend for ourselves come lunchtime, and it was a fairly steady rotation of turkey or grilled cheese sandwiches, Ramen Noodles, and those once beloved bagel bites.
Fast-forward a couple of decades later, and a feeling of summertime nostalgia took over whilst I was strolling past the freezer section of the grocery store.
That bright red box full of childhood memories caught my eye, and I couldn’t resist throwing a package in the cart. However, the emotions that followed could only best be described as a disappointment.
These little pizza bagel bites were once one of my favorite lunchtime treats, and now the only feeling that had remained same was the burn-your-mouth, lava-hot sensation that inevitably comes after taking a bite of those little devils directly out of the microwave/oven. Truth be told, for the most part, the pre-packaged meal era of my life is pretty much over.
Once I got into the kitchen and started experimenting, working mostly with fresh, real ingredients, the desire for frozen entrees is long-gone, because I know I can undoubtedly create a better product for myself, and especially for my family within the confines of my own kitchen.
Made from scratch is best, but if time just won’t allow, surely we can get pretty darn close. So how do you make bagel bites at home? It’s really quite simple.
But first, let’s talk bagel bite ingredients.
WHAT ARE PIZZA BAGEL BITES MADE OF?
STORE-BOUGHT MINIATURE BAGELS
They are exactly what one might think they would be: Miniature bagels, marinara/pizza sauce, grated cheese, and toppings. Most large grocery chains sell miniature bagels, and they can be found alongside their cousin, the regular-sized bagel.
MARINARA OR PIZZA SAUCE
Next, the sauce. I make my own sauce, as it is easy and simple to make. If time doesn’t allow for this, simply purchase a bottle of your favorite good ol’ fashioned marinara at the store.
TOPPINGS (E.G. CHEESE & PEPPERONI)
Now, on to the cheese: For these little pizza bagel bites, any white, mildly flavored cheese will do. Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and Fontina are all excellent choices.
As far as toppings go, the possibilities are just about endless, but for simplicity’s sake, I went with tried-and-true pepperoni for this recipe.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE BAGEL BITES
To make a really great pizza bagel bites, the first thing you have to do is toast the bagel.
This is not a step one should skip, as it is essential in not only ridding of an overly-chewy texture but also will help to prevent the top of the bagel from becoming too soggy from the sauce.
After the bagel is toasted, you add a dab of sauce, a pinch of freshly grated cheese, a sprinkle of toppings and bake. I know some of you may find it irresistible not to dive right in, but take it from me, allow them to cool slightly, and at least give the roof of your mouth a fighting chance.
You will taste the difference in these homemade bagel bites, and my guess is, there will be no going back to the boxed version after this. Please enjoy.
HOW TO FREEZE, THAW & REHEAT PIZZA BAGEL BITES
Pizza bagel bites are perfect for all kinds of occasions like school lunches, make-ahead game day starters, and quick-fix dinners. Once your homemade bagel bites have cooled, you can either serve right away or transfer them to a rimmed pan and place in the freezer. After a couple of hours, transfer the frozen bagels to a freezer-safe, zip-top bag.
If planning to send in your child’s lunch, simply pull out the miniature bagel bites the night before, and place them in a plastic container in the refrigerator to thaw overnight.
If using as a make-ahead game day snack or dinner, simply preheat the oven to 350°, transfer the frozen bagel bites to a sheet pan and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until heated through completely.
MORE NOSTALGIC CHILDHOOD DINNERS YOU’LL WANT TO TRY
Pizza bagel bites aren’t the only freezer-aisle childhood classic we’ve taken to the next level. Chicken Pot Pie is done up right in this homemade rendition with a buttery, made-from-scratch pie crust and a creamy chicken pot pie sauce.
When I was a kid, leftover pot roast was always dished into the center of two measly slices of bread and slathered with a schmear of mayonnaise. The roast beef sandwich gets a major upgrade in this New Orleans style Hot Roast Beef Po’ Boy Sandwich with French bread and the toppings piled high.
Remember the days when Shake’n Bake was king? Now, these Oven Baked Breaded Pork Chops with a crispy, homemade Panko breading are ruling the roost. And, that’s not the only Panko makeover. Classic, kid-friendly chicken tenders are transformed into a dippable rendition of chicken Parmesan in these Parmesan Chicken Tenders. Don’t forget to serve them alongside marinara sauce!
Let us not forget the classic, baked BBQ chicken. No more rubbery skin, please. In this recipe, Baked BBQ Chicken get’s a quick sear to add more flavor and texture to this All-American dinnertime classic.
And the ultimate comfort food made by mom, but often times, sadly, missing the mark — meatloaf. Trust. This Italian version of meatloaf will most definitely not be missing any marks any time soon. It’s loaded with big flavor in the form of melty Fontina cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and fresh Italian herbs, topped with a balsamic ketchup sauce. Yes, please.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28 ounce) can fire-roasted, crushed tomatoes
- 1 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch of red pepper flakes optional
- 10 miniature plain bagels
- Non-stick canola oil cooking spray
- 12 ounces 1 1/2 cup marinara or pizza sauce
- 8 ounces (about 2 cups) freshly grated Mozzarella, Monterey Jack or Fontina Cheese
- 2 ounces (about 6 slices) pepperoni, diced
Add olive oil to a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute 2-3 minutes, add the garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add in the tomatoes, sugar, pepper and red pepper flakes and stir to combine.
Allow to rapidly simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered, stirring often. Remove from the heat.
Using an immersion blender, blend until the sauce is a smooth purée. If you do not have an immersion blender, transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender. Remove the feed tube from the lid, and cover with a kitchen towel. Blend until sauce becomes a smooth purée. Set aside until ready to use.
For the pizza bagel bites, preheat the oven to 350° and have ready one or two sheet pans lined with aluminum foil.
Cut the miniature bagels in half, and transfer to the sheet pan, using two if necessary as to not overcrowd the pan. Spray generously with cooking spray and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Smear about a tablespoon of sauce across the surface of each bagel, add a generous pinch of cheese and scatter the pepperoni evenly amongst them. Transfer back to the oven and bake for 12 minutes longer. Allow to cool slightly and serve.
For freezing, thawing and reheating instructions, see section above.