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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  • capers
  • 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

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Comments (33)
  1. 1
    Valerie August 11, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    I love that idea! Looks so colourful and pretty <3

  2. 2
    Megan // F Yeah! August 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    A bagel bar is genius, and I just had a “Why didn’t I think of that?” moment. Thanks for sharing, Camille!

  3. 3
    Noelle August 11, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Adorable idea! 🙂

  4. 4
    Rose Tinted Home August 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Build your own bagel bar. It sounds like my dreams. I love the savory items and unexpected items you put out on your spread. How about a few things for those with a sweet tooth? Fresh sliced strawberries or blueberries. Apple butter. French vanilla cream cheese. You could even make a yummy coffee cake crumb topping for guests to sprinkle over the top of their bagels.

    Can you tell I have trouble with dieting?

    Hope it was a success!

    xo Rachel

    • Camille Styles August 11, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      Haha, LOVE these ideas. I would definitely slather a cinnamon raisin bagel with apple butter and that crumb topping. So decadent and delish!

  5. 5
    Vanessa @ Living in Steil August 11, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Great idea! This just made me want to have a summer brunch ASAP!

  6. 6
    Kiri August 11, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    What a fantastic idea! I love the combo of savory and sweet – something for everyone.

  7. 7
    Kali // 204 Park August 11, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    WHAT…. a great idea! I love me some bagels and of course some good toppings to match. Crowd pleaser for sure.

    xoxo, Kali

  8. 8
    Yellow Peaches August 12, 2014 at 12:24 am

    oh my goodness! I am totally doing this at my next party – love it xx

  9. 9
    McKenzie August 12, 2014 at 1:39 am

    It looks lovely! Bagels aren’t obvious, but everyone likes them – perfect for an event like this.

  10. 10
    arielle August 13, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    genius! definitely doing this for our next get-together! thanks so much for the inspiration!

    love, arielle
    a simple elegance

  11. 11
    Sarita August 16, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Love the idea! good excuse to have my friends over soon!!

  12. 12
    Andrea Sexton September 17, 2014 at 7:07 am

    Hi, Camille–I love your site! Washington, DC’s first Bagel Bar, Bullfrog Bagels, is opening tomorrow ! My daughter, Abby Sexton is co-owner. I’m so proud! You are welcome to visit anytime.

  13. 13
    Leah Cabardo (Leah Marie Paper Co) October 29, 2014 at 9:56 am

    I love bagels. Definitely on board with the smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers. This is a beautiful spread!

  14. 14
    Jenn Price December 2, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Great ideas for a bagel bar setup. I’m thinking of picking up one of these, probably in the 3 or 4 rod version. These would work great for bagels and donuts.