How to Throw the Ultimate Bagel Brunch

Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen, photo by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

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. This year, we swiped the menu for a Mother’s Day party (keeping things low-stress when you’re hosting Mom is always a good idea, right?). 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
In addition to the recipes above (or, frankly, instead of them—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.

The Menu:

You can substitute whitefish or hot-smoked salmon for the trout.


  • ¼ small red onion, finely chopped

  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped

  • 8 oz. smoked trout, skin and bones removed, flaked

  • ½ cup mayonnaise

  • ½ cup sour cream

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives, dill, or flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Mix onion, celery, trout, mayonnaise, sour cream, chives, and lemon juice in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper.

See more from Bon Appetit:
27 NON-Boring Chicken Recipes
18 Fresh, Springy Salads with Seasonal Produce

16 Recipes to Use Up Leftovers, Clean Out Your Fridge