Here's Everything You Need To Throw The Ultimate Bagel Brunch

We have a tradition here at BA: The morning after a staff party, when we’re all feeling a little worse for wear, the test kitchen lays out a spread of bagels, cream cheese, and all the fixings.

It gets us back on our game and gives us a chance to recount the previous night’s karaoke highlights, all without any actual cooking.

We asked the folks at San Francisco’s modern Jewish deli Wise Sons for a few ideas, like an easy, kicky horseradish schmear, to help impress.

Turns out it’s time for some new traditions.

The Ultimate Bagel Buffet

You can pull this off without a single homemade ingredient. Here’s what we like to buy for a party of eight. Set up your toaster near the sliced bagels: To toast or not to toast is a very personal decision.

Bagels: Obviously. Get a dozen; be sure to offer a variety (but go big on Everything, the superior bagel). Buy them the morning of.

Cream Cheese: Buy 8 oz. plain cream cheese to serve alongside the doctored cream cheese here. Let it soften at room temperature and transfer to a plate or bowl — never serve it straight from the package.

Smoked Salmon: Get 1 lb. smoked or cured salmon from a Jewish deli or specialty grocer.

Other Smoked Fish: Round out the spread with an additional 1 lb. smoked fish. Try a mix of the classics — smoked whitefish or sable — and some less traditional picks like smoked trout or smoked mackerel.

Cucumber and Radish: Thin slices of cucumbers and radishes (you’ll need a hothouse cucumber and a handful of radishes) add refreshing crunch.

Capers: For salty, briny punch; we love Delicias brand, a BA Seal of Approval winner.

Onion: Thinly slice 1 small red onion.

Dill: Any fresh tender herb will do, but dill is especially good with salmon.

Tomato: Slice a couple beefsteak tomatoes — but only when they’re in season!

Lemon: Cut a lemon into small wedges for squeezing over a dressed bagel.

Salmon Roe: It is a party, after all. About 4 oz. should do it; nestle the tin into a bowl of crushed ice to keep it cool.

If you’d rather go the homemade route, here’s your complete menu.

Horseradish Dill Schmear

Throw this spread together a day in advance — the flavours will meld and intensify as it sits.


8 oz. whipped cream cheese (about 1 cup)
½ cup finely chopped fresh dill

¼ cup prepared horseradish Kosher salt


Mix cream cheese, dill, and horseradish in a small bowl; season with salt.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Salad with Mint and Hazelnuts

Strawberries and rhubarb are a power duo in pie; here raw rhubarb plays a tart counter to sweet strawberries.


½ cup blanched hazelnuts
2 rhubarb stalks, thinly sliced on the diagonal

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon Cointreau or fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 pounds strawberries, hulled, quartered

¼ cup torn fresh mint leaves

Preheat oven to 350°. Toast hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 8 — 10 minutes. Let cool, then chop.

Meanwhile, toss rhubarb, sugar, Cointreau, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Let sit until rhubarb is slightly softened and releases its juices, about 30 minutes. Toss with strawberries, mint, and hazelnuts.

24th Street Spritz

An herbaceous, refreshing — and alcoholic — take on Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda.

4 celery stalks, chopped

1 cup sugar

¼ cup celery seeds

1½ cups gin

⅓ cup fresh lemon juice

Seltzer or club soda

8 celery heart stalks (from 2 bunches)

8 lemon wedges


Cheesecloth (optional)



Bring celery, sugar, celery seeds, and 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer until celery is soft and liquid is reduced by half, 30 — 35 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pressing on solids. Strain celery syrup again, if desired, through cheesecloth-lined sieve (to make liquid clearer). Syrup can be made 2 weeks ahead. Cover and chill.


Stir gin, lemon juice, and 1 cup celery syrup in a large pitcher. Divide among glasses filled with ice and top off with seltzer. Garnish with celery stalks and lemon wedges.

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