As a proud New Yorker, bagels are the fabric of my being. There's nothing that makes me more nostalgic than Saturday and Sunday mornings filled with a good ol' bagel with cream cheese and lox from our local bagel store (which, by the way, I still think is the best bagel store in all of New York). But as I've grown older, I've come to find new bagel toppings that are even better than just cream cheese. From delicious sweet spread options to full-out sandwich fillings, here are some bagel topping ideas to up your breakfast or lunch that goes beyond the cream cheese we do know and love. 

1. Peanut Butter & Granola

Peanut butter is my one true love in life, and so obviously I love to slather the creamy spread all over my bagels. The granola adds an extra crunch with each bite and can elevate the flavors to be basically whatever you want. You can buy your favorite granola mix at Trader Joe's, or make your own delicious version at home

2. Smoked Salmon

Like all the classic Jewish delis out there will tell you, smoked salmon (or lox) was meant to be on top of a doughy bagel. It's just the way nature intended it to happen. Don't forget the onions, capers, fresh dill, and squeeze of lemon! You can also make vegan salmon, too. 

3. Avocado & Poached Egg

This one holds a special place in my heart, because it's essentially glorified avocado toast. Avocado is the perfect replacement for cream cheese because it's creamy and versatile. And an egg on top always makes everything taste better.

#SpoonTip: Did you know you can make bagels at home in your air fryer? You can! Check out this recipe

4. Nutella

Nutella tastes amazing on literally everything, and that includes a bagel. Make it an extra sweet treat by adding peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, banana, or anything else you want to pair with the choco-hazelnut liquid gold. 

5. Bacon, Egg & Cheese

A classic BEC needs a good bagel to go alongside it. Nothing screams 'hangover breakfast' more than melted cheese smothering eggs and crispy bacon, all in between two toasted bagel halves. I'm drooling at these bagel toppings.

6. Ham & Cheddar

New Jersyans out there will sternly tell you that the only ham that deserves to be on a bagel is Taylor Ham, but I'm not from Jersey so I don't really get it. Either way, ham and cheddar on a bagel is a delicious combo that even non-Jerseyans can enjoy. I personally like mine with a little honey mustard. Fancy, I know!

7. Pizza Bagel

Remember Bagel Bites? You can basically make your own by topping a bagel off with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni slices, and any other toppings you love. The adult-sized version is so much tastier, I would know. 

8. Tuna Salad

Unpopular opinion, but I am obsessed with tuna salad. I love to top a huge scoop on a nice toasted sesame bagel, or when I'm trying to be healthy, on a bed of arugula lettuce. But hey, this article is all about the carbs, so tuna salad bagels it is.

9. Pastrami 

Along the lines of the Jewish deli comes pastrami, a type of cured meat similar to the taste of roast beef, but it's rubbed with delicious spices that make it taste so much better. A slice of cheese, sauerkraut, and grainy mustard, and you've got yourself the perfect bagel sandwich.

10. The "Elvis"– Peanut Butter, Banana, and Bacon

Yeah sure, Elvis was popular for his music, but he has a special place in my heart for his love for peanut butter, banana, and bacon, all together. It's such a strange mix of flavors, sweet, salty, smoky, and creamy – but is one of the greatest combos out there. Try these bagel toppings ASAP, just do it.

11. Greek Yogurt & Fruit

I like to call this combo, "When You Can't Decide What to Eat for Breakfast," because it combines two essential breakfast foods: bagels and a yogurt parfait. This sweet bagel is everything you'll need for tomorrow's morning start. I love this on a blueberry or cinnamon bagel. 

12. Stuffed Egg & Cheese Bagel Boat

Emma Henzes

Stuffing your bagel with toppings like egg, cheese, and veggies and then baking it? It's like a bagel breakfast sandwich meets a frittata. Make this recipe for breakfast tomorrow and then you'll see the magic for yourself.

13. Bagel Burger

Why bother with buns when you can use bagels? Top off your favorite bagel with a burger patty (beef, chicken, turkey, or veggie patties work), cheese, and all the fixings for a breakfast-meets-BBQ meal. 

#SpoonTip: Use an asiago bagel for extra cheesy-ness.

13. Cookie Dough

Do I really have to explain this one? Whoever said you can't have bagels for dessert was so mistaken. Make your own edible cookie dough and stuff it in your favorite bagel, like right now. 

#SpoonTip: You can also opt to make cookie dough cream cheese.

14. Chicken Parmesan 

Everyone knows you need an order of bread to mop up all the extra marinara sauce from chicken parmesan, but when you just put it inside a bagel, there's no need. Add some extra melted mozzarella for added delicious effect.

15. Turkey & Swiss

Who needs slices of bread when you can have a bagel? Upgrade your usual lunch with a bagel stuffed with layers of turkey breast, Swiss cheese, and any other fixings you desire (I personally love alfalfa sprouts and Dijon mustard).

16. Mozzarella, Pesto & Tomato

There's no better flavor combo out there besides this Caprese-style bagel full of mozzarella, pesto sauce, and tomato. If you're feeling really fancy, try a hunk of burrata cheese to really seal the deal.

#SpoonTip: Easily make your own pesto at home with this recipe

17. Egg Salad

This one just makes plain sense. Egg salad is flat-out delicious, and even more so when it's in between two warm, toasty pieces of bagel (especially an everything bagel). Vegan? Try this avocado & chickpea salad instead.

Now that you know these 17 ways to build a better bagel, your options are unlimited. If you really want to amp your morning breakfast up, make sure to toast the bagel before adding toppings so it doesn't get soggy, or even place it in a panini press for extra deliciousness–especially if there's cheese!