The build-your-own bagel bar at our bachelorette brunch from this morning was such a major hit, I wondered why I hadn’t done this setup at countless gatherings before. It couldn’t have been simpler to put together, required zero cooking time (a major plus when the weather’s as hot as it is in Austin right now), and apparently, everyone loves bagels. There are even loads of gluten-free versions on the market for your guests that opt for a GF diet. Keep reading for a few tips on making your bagel bar feel special enough for a party while keeping it effortless on the host.
- Bagels should be as fresh as possible. Pick them up on the morning of the party from a spot that you know makes them fresh daily. Get a variety: I opted for plain, everything, and cinnamon raisin to please all palates. You can certainly go for the full-sized bagels, but I loved how our mini versions let people try a variety of different topping combinations.
- Toast them just before serving. I split bagels and placed them cut side up on a sheet pan under the broiler for about a minute just before serving. You want them lightly toasted — make sure to keep an eye on them under the broiler so you don’t end up with blackened bagels.
- Go crazy with toppings. Here are the accompaniments that I set out on our bar:
- a variety of cream cheese: plain, herbed and strawberry are popular choices
- sliced heirloom tomatoes
- cucumbers and radishes, sliced thinly (I used a mandoline)
- red onion, sliced thinly
- smoked salmon
- fresh herbs, like dill, chives, and basil
- lemon wedges
- coarse sea salt, like maldon (I sprinkled this over all the vegetables on the serving platter, too)
Most importantly, have fun with it! This is a party menu that requires zero kitchen skills, so just buy great ingredients and go to town with styling a pretty buffet setup using a big cutting board and mismatched bowls and platters. Set out the mimosas and maybe a fruit salad, and you’ve got all the makings for the ultimate brunch.
*photos by Wynn Myers