How to make perfect 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 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 pizzas 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 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 pizzas, 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, 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 BAGEL BITES FOR 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.
- 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 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.