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The Internet Is Loving "Air-Fried Bagels" These Days, So To Understand The Hype, I Tried It Myself — To Be Honest, It Genuinely Surprised Me

Hope you like your cream cheese puffy.

Hello, there. I'm Shelby, and like many other millennials before me, I finally broke down and bought an air fryer (a Ninja Digital Air Fry Countertop Oven, to be exact). And lemme tell you, I haven't looked back.

Woman pointing to an air fryer with the text "me and bae"
Shelby Heinrich / BuzzFeed

Leftover pizza? Air fryer. Veggies? Air fryer. Pretty much anything I'm too lazy to cook in the actual oven? Air fryer.

Something that truly never occurred to me as an option, though, was bagels. That is, until I saw this mega-viral cinnamon bagel recipe from TikTok user @whatsmomcookin:

In the video, which has been viewed over 11 MILLION TIMES, @whatsmomcookin — whose real name is Carman — slathers her bagels in cream cheese, throws on a dash of cinnamon, and pops them in the air fryer.

@whatsmomcookin / Via

What emerges looks like two disks of crispy, crunchy, gooey deliciousness.

Bagel halves on top of an air fryer with cinnamon and cream cheese
@whatsmomcookin / Via

Then she tops them with some honey, and voilà!

Honey being poured onto bagel halves
@whatsmomcookin / Via

Carman explained to BuzzFeed that she's been developing recipes and sharing them on TikTok for about a year and a half. One day she decided to try putting her bagels in the air fryer, and she loved it. "I had been eating them every day for about a week when I decided to do the video," she said.

I just so happened to have all the necessary ingredients on hand, so I decided to try out the recipe for myself.

A countertop with honey, whipped cream cheese, cinnamon swirl bagels, and cinnamon
Shelby Heinrich / BuzzFeed

Note: Carman seemed to use plain bagels in her video, but I only had cinnamon raisin bagels. I figured it went well with the cinnamony theme, so that's what I used! Plus, I feel like this will work with any kind of bagel you'd like to try.

Also, I used whipped cream cheese from Trader Joe's, so results may vary if you decide to use traditional cream cheese.

Carman didn't give any specific measurements for the recipe, so I basically went with what my heart told me for the amount of cream cheese. Once the bagels were sufficiently covered, I popped them in the air fryer at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes*.

Two bagel halves covered with cream cheese on a rack
Shelby Heinrich / BuzzFeed

*I used this temp and cooking time because that's what Carman said she used, but she also made a point to say that all air fryers cook differently, so this could vary based on the kind you own.

When my bagels emerged, they looked A LOT more burnt than Carman's, and I realized I forgot to put the cinnamon on beforehand! Rookie mistake.

Two bagel halves looking burnt
Shelby Heinrich / BuzzFeed

But I wasn't about to be deterred! I tried again with a new bagel slice, making sure to dust it with cinnamon and lowering my cooking time by one minute. This is what it looked like:

One bagel slice with cream cheese and cinnamon
Shelby Heinrich / BuzzFeed

Immediately, I noticed that the cream cheese looked raised, almost as if it had been aerated. Eager to finally try it, I threw on some honey and got to tasting.

One bagel slice with cream cheese, cinnamon powder, and drizzles of honey on a plate
Shelby Heinrich / BuzzFeed

My first impression: pretty dang yummy! The bagel was toasted on the outside but still very fluffy on the inside, and the cinnamon-honey combo was DIVINE.

Woman holding a piece of bagel
Shelby Heinrich / BuzzFeed

By far the most interesting and probably most divisive aspect of the recipe was the cream cheese. Just like the bagel, it had a fluffy texture on the inside, and almost a crisp outer shell. And, just as I suspected, it rose quite a bit, thanks to the air-frying. I didn't mind the texture but wasn't sure how I felt about the super-warm cream cheese. Still currently debating.

A bit of cream cheese with cinnamon on it held on a finger
Shelby Heinrich / BuzzFeed

I know that not everyone has access to an air fryer, so I decided to also try out Carman's recipe in the toaster oven to see if it would have the same effect. Since my air fryer is multifunction, I simply switched it to the "bagel/toast" setting and toasted it under "medium darkness" for about five minutes. We love an appliance that can multitask!

Air fryer panel with "toast bagel" selected for crisp control and "dark," and 3:28 left for the time
Shelby Heinrich / BuzzFeed

This is what the toaster oven bagel looked like — IMHO, pretty similar, although not QUITE as crispy-looking.

A bagel slice with cream cheese and cinnamon on a wire rack
Shelby Heinrich / BuzzFeed

Here's a side-by-side comparison:

Two very similar-looking bagel slices, one from an air fryer, one from a toaster oven, on wire racks
Shelby Heinrich / BuzzFeed

Taste-wise, it was...decent, but not quite as good. The bagel wasn't as toasted (although you could probably toast it for longer to get more of a crunch), and the cream cheese was severely lacking. While the air fryer method seemed to really aerate the spread and make it fluffy, toasting it sort of melted and flattened it, giving it a kind of curdled/gritty texture that I didn't like at all.

Close-up of the interior of a bagel slice with cream cheese
Shelby Heinrich / BuzzFeed

So, to get the full effect of this recipe, you'll probably need an air fryer.


Overall, I loved how the air fryer perfectly toasted the bagel (MUCH better than the toaster oven), and the cinnamon paired with honey was super decadent and comforting. I think that if you aren't sure about warm, aerated cream cheese — like me — a hack is to apply the cream cheese after air-frying your bagel (just know that the flavor/texture won't be exactly the same as the original recipe).


What do you think of this recipe? Would you try it? Where do you stand on aerated cream cheese? Tell us in the comments!