Build the ultimate Bagel and Lox sandwiches and brunch bar with all your favorite toppings. From ingredient options, like gravlax, whipped cream cheese, cucumbers and dill, to tips for stress-free entertaining, this simple bagel lox recipe covers it all! Plan on 1 sandwich per person and serve up a fuss-free, customizable and delicious breakfast, brunch, lunch, or even dinner in 30 minutes or less!
Update: This recipe for a bagel and lox brunch spread was originally published in July 2014. I made updates to the post below to include more information about this rich bagel sandwich with cured salmon – you’ll never eat a plain bagel again!
About this bagel lox spread
The series on homemade gravlax continues with these lox bagel sandwiches. This post is more of a serving suggestion for a bagel brunch buffet or bagel breakfast sandwiches, rather than a specific recipe. However, this simple “guide” will help you create the perfect bagel lox breakfast sandwich or help you create a stunning DIY self-serve bagel station.
Looking for delicious brunch bar ideas? This lox bagel “recipe” is perfect for any gathering, from Sunday brunch with the family, to baby showers and bridal lunches! Take the pressure out of planning a formal sit-down meal and create a delicious breakfast bar that allows your friends to customize their their brunch.
Or, use this salmon and bagel guide to make the breakfast sandwiches of your dreams – the ultimate “anytime” meal! Start your day off right by having a hearty bagel sandwich for breakfast; pack one for lunch; or throw one together for an easy weeknight dinner.
Why this bagel lox recipe works
A classic bagel and lox is a brunch favorite! With sweet and smoky capers, thin-sliced salty lox, and rich cream cheese, you really can’t go wrong with this open-faced sandwich.
This recipe is:
- Made with quality ingredients. Capers and lox are subtle ingredients that elevate this bagel’s flavor.
- Quick and easy. You don’t even need a recipe for it, just place all the ingredients on top of your favorite bagel. Super customizable!
- Takes less than 5 minutes. Since all you are doing is arranging everything on top of a bagel, there is no cooking time to account for.
- Filling meal. Bagels will fill you up by themselves, but top the bagel with full-fat cream cheese and high-protein salmon, and you have a sandwich that becomes an entire meal.
- Brunch-friendly. This bagel and lox recipe looks fancy enough to turn heads at a fun little brunch.
Ingredients for DIY bagel lox recipe
You don’t need that many ingredients at all to make this gorgeous bagel and lox recipe. Here’s what to gather, along with any substitutions you can make:
- Bagels: If you are only offering one variety of bagel, I recommend using everything bagels for the best mixture of flavors. Be sure to pick up your bagels on the morning of the party for the best texture and fresh flavor!
- Substitution: Any type of flavorful bread will work too. Try this with English muffins, rye bread, pumpernickel bread, or even mini pancakes or crepes.
- Lox: Cured salmon that is thinly sliced is the star of the show on this sandwich.
- Substitutions: Instead of lox, try this idea with caviar or lump crab meat. It can also taste delicious with basic smoked salmon!
- Cream Cheese: For the richest flavor, use full-fat plain cream cheese and whip it yourself using a hand-held mixer.
- Substitution: Plain hummus or tzatziki sauce are both fantastic (and healthy) substitutes for cream cheese on a smoked salmon bagel sandwich.
- Capers: These little capers pack a huge flavor punch, so add them sparingly.
- Fresh Dill: Sprinkle some pieces on top of the lox; it has a sweet aroma and a little tangy bite to it.
Optional bagel and lox variations
Want to customize your bagel and lox sandwich even more? Check out below:
- Switch the proteins. Instead of lox, make a sandwich with either crispy cooked bacon, prosciutto, or sliced hard-boiled eggs. You could even add a combination of them to the sandwich.
- Add some veggies. You can skip the nova lox and make this a vegetarian sandwich or add more veggies. Make sure you slice your veggies thin so they are easier to eat. I love making this sandwich with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, avocado, and a leafy green lettuce. However, carrot, scallions, olives and nori (dried edible seaweed) are also wonderful.
- Fresh herbs. I used fresh dill, but this bagel and lox would also taste delicious with some fresh chives, fresh basil, or a spritz of fresh lemon juice. Remember, fresh herbs always taste better than dried ones.
- Roasted or grilled veggies. Try this sandwich with roasted red peppers or grilled tomatoes!
- Butters, jellies and jams. Don’t forget about the condiments! Nut butter, strawberry or blueberry jelly, and honey are a must for kiddos!
Bagel breakfast sandwich idea
Below is my basic go-to lox bagel breakfast sandwich is case you are looking for an idea.
- Fresh bagel (I typically use whatever we have on hand, such as everything, sesame seed, poppy seed and asiago cheese bagels.)
- A slather of chive flavored cream cheese
- Thick slice of tomato
- Hothouse cucumber rounds
- Cured salmon
- Thin slices of pickled shallots
- A sprinkling of fresh dill and capers
- If I’m feeling fancy, I like to top the cream cheese with smashed avocado. Then, top the tomato with crispy bacon and finish everything off with sprouts. So extra and so good.
But, feel free to make these your own creation. There are no rules. Add all the things you have hanging out in your fridge and pantry to your lox bagel. Because the more, the merrier (and tastier)!
FAQ: bagel with lox and cream cheese
Is lox the same thing as smoked salmon?
Both lox and smoked salmon are very similar. Lox is a filet of brined (salted) salmon that is raw and cured. It may or may not have been subjected to a smoking process.
Smoked salmon is also raw fish that is cured in salt, but it is always smoked too.
Another difference between the two things is that lox is always cut from the belly of the salmon. Smoked salmon might include other parts of the fish, not just the belly.
They taste very similar. Although, you might be able to taste a smokiness to smoked salmon that you won’t notice in lox.
Is lox a healthy breakfast?
Yes, since lox is basically salmon, it still has all the same health benefits as cooked salmon. It’s a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids and a lean source of protein.
If you choose to eat a whole wheat bagel, it will give you plenty of dietary fiber. While cream cheese is a wonderful source of calcium.
Do you toast a bagel with lox and cream cheese?
This is entirely up to you. I love toasted bagels and think that the crunch of the toast mixes really well with the soft and tender salmon and cream cheese. It’s an enjoyable salmon sandwich, toasted or not!
Serving: bagel bar brunch
A bagel bar is an easy and budget-friendly idea for hosting breakfast or brunch for a crowd – quickly! Below is everything you’ll need to set up a basic DIY brunch bar in under 30 minutes.
- Serving Board: Use a wooden cutting board, charcuterie board or large serving platter for arranging bagels, lox (smoked salmon), cream cheese and spreads, vegetables, herbs and garnishes. Alternatively, you can simply cover your kitchen counter with parchment paper or butcher paper for easy setup and cleanup!
- Ramekins or Small Dishes: Don’t forget you’ll need plenty of small bowls for holding topping options and spreads.
- Beverages: I like to offer an array of beverages, from juices and sodas for the kids, to Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas for the adults.
- Serveware: You’ll need to set out plenty of plates, napkins and utensils so everyone can help themselves.
Storing bagel lox and cream cheese
Since this lox bagel recipe isn’t labor-intensive, I suggest storing all the ingredients separately up until you are ready to serve it. All it takes is a few minutes to add the cream cheese, lox, capers, and dill (or any other toppings).
If you make too many sandwiches and don’t eat them, then I suggest trying to deconstruct the sandwich and storing the ingredients separately, if you can. That way, all of the ingredients stay fresh!
Comment below and let me know your favorite way to build a bagel sandwich. I’m always looking for inspiration!
Until next time, cheers!
More salmon and lox recipes!
If you love salmon, try these fresh and fabulous recipes next:
- Easy Salmon Dip (made with two types of salmon!)
- Gravlax Salmon Egg Roll (super fancy, yet seriously easy!)
How to make the best bagel lox and cream cheese sandwich 👇
Bagel Lox Brunch Spread (Build-Your-Own!)
- 1 Cutting Board
- 1 Chef's Knife
- Assorted Breads (bagels, English muffins, soft rolls, sandwich rolls, rye bread and/or pumpernickel bread)
- Blini (mini pancakes or crepes)
- Salmon (cured salmon, smoked salmon, canned salmon (drained), leftover cooked salmon (flaked))
- Lump Crab Meat
- Crispy Cooked Bacon
- Hard Boiled Eggs - sliced or smashed
- Cucumbers - sliced
- Tomatoes - sliced
- Red Onions or Shallots - sliced
- Radishes - sliced
- Avocado - sliced or smashed
- Capers - drained
- Greens (arugula, frisée, baby spinach, sprouts, micro greens)
- Fresh Dill - chopped
- Fresh Chives - snipped
- Fresh Basil - thinly slice
- Lemon - sliced
- Cream cheese - room temperature
- Whipped Butter
- Jams, Jellies and/or Preserves
- Nut Butter
- Flakey Sea Salt (such as Maldon)
- Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
- Everything but The Bagel Seasoning
- Sriracha Seasoning
- Breakfast Sweets (Muffins, Croissants, Cinnamon Rolls, Donuts)
- Breakfast Drinks and Brunch Cocktails (Coffee, Juices, Champagne, Bloody Mary's, etc.)
- One to Two Days Prior: Grocery shop for MOST of the ingredients you’ll want to use on your brunch bar. Pick up the seafood/fish and any other proteins you may want to offer, such the lox and eggs. Grab all your fresh toppings, including vegetables, herbs, and garnishes, such as seedless cucumbers, beefsteak tomatoes and a bunch of fresh dill. Last, be sure to select all your spreads, sauces, and such, like regular cream cheese and bacon jam. (Helpful Tip: You are purchasing everything BUT the bakery goods!)
- The Day or Night Before: Prepare your toppings by slicing, chopping, or smashing your veggies, like cucumbers and radishes. If you are using bacon, cook it until crispy and store for later. (Tip: Prep everything you can except for perishable ingredients that oxidize, like an avocado, you must save that until just before serving. Pick your serveware, this should include everything from your serving platter, board or tray(s), bread baskets, small bowls for holding your toppings, spreading knives or small scooping spoons for condiments. And don’t forget napkins and plates for your guests! (Tip: Don’t forget to think about your drink options too! You may need coffee mugs, juice cups, champagne flutes, tall glasses for Bloody Mary’s, or possibly a punch bowl.)
- The Morning Of - Pick up the fresh baked goods. You’ll need plenty of bagels, along with whatever breads you may want to offer, such as soft, fresh brioche bread. It's best to wait until the morning of so your bagels are beautifully fresh. I recommend calling ahead and placing your order if it’s large. Also, ask them to pre-slice your bagels along with any other breads you want to offer up for sandwiches. (Tip: Balance your savory brunch spread by offering a sweet confection, such as chocolate croissants or homemade muffins!)
- Assemble Serving Boards or Station: For easy cleanup, line your serving boards or trays with parchment paper. Place all your toppings, condiments, and such into individual small serving bowls and assign each a serving spoon or knife. Arrange the small bowls on your serving platter and fill the spaces with lemon wedges, bagels, breads, or fresh herbs. Arrange the remaining bagels and breads in baskets. (Prepping-ahead? Assemble your platter without the breads and cover with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator. Remove 30 minutes before serving and add/arrange your bagels and breads.)
- Serve: Set out your lox bagel platter(s) with plenty of napkins and plates. Serve with fresh coffee, juices, mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, or your favorite brunch drinks. Encourage your friends and family to help themselves and enjoy! (Tip: Some people may want a toasted lox bagel sandwich or just a regular toasted bagel. Either have a toaster handy or preheat your oven to 350-degrees to easily toast a bunch of breads at once.)
- Rough Estimate Help: Plan on each guest having 1 bagel sandwich, with each consisting of around 2-3 ounces of lox, 2 tablespoons cream cheese or 1 tablespoon spread, plus toppings.
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