Are Flagels Really Better Than Bagels?

These days, not a week goes by in New York without some good bagel chatter.

Last week it was the mufgel, the week before that it was the stuffed bagel hole, and this week it’s a NY Daily News writer telling us that flagels are best. The flattened bagel, or flagel (flay-gul), has been a popular bagel option here in New York since the mid-’90s, mostly among the “low-carb” crowd.

Is the flattened bagel superior, though? NY Daily News writer Meera Jagannathan praises its mouthfeel (if you like crust more than the doughy inside, this is the bread for you) and larger surface area (perfect for making sandwiches). She also portends that it’s easier to eat, which is particularly important for “small-mouthed humans, who need no longer strain their jaws chomping down on those towering, unwieldy bagels.” This I’ll agree with.

Left out are the downsides, which might be apparent if you buy a flagel and bring it home for dinner. They’re quite difficult to slice through, and they become stale rather quickly.

Another downside, depending on who you are: While the flagel might appear to be thinner and therefore made with less dough, NY Daily News confirms that it weighs the same as its plumper counterpart. This is because they’re made exactly the same way that bagels are made, except they’re smooshed down before they get baked.

The flagel definitely isn’t the only flattened circular bread game in town. Simit is a Turkish bread, rolled in sesame seeds with a larger hole in the middle. It’s baked, not boiled, and much less dense than the flagel. And then there’s Jerusalem bagels (below) which are like breadsticks wrapped into circles, and covered in sesame seeds. In Lebanon, there’s kaak, a flat, ring-shaped bread just as common there as the bagel is here.

Beigels in Carmel Market (Tel Aviv)
Beigels/Bagels in Carmel Market (Tel Aviv)

While the merits of a flagel are still up for debate, we can all agree on one thing — the way the word sounds. In the words of Jagannathan, “’Bagel’: Snooze. ‘Flagel’: Hilarious every time.”

Planning to make them from scratch? Just flatten your bagels after you boil them and before you bake them.



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