Ina Garten Cuts Her Bagel Into Thirds, And You Should Try It Too

No professional cook might be as adored on the internet as Ina Garten. The Barefoot Contessa has over a dozen fan-favorite recipes that have gotten plenty of love across social media like TikTok and Reddit — particularly for the way she brings out the best flavors in simple dishes like brownies or roast chicken. She recently went viral for a more than decade-old smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel tutorial — but not necessarily for its taste or the simple elegance Garten is known for. Instead, the internet has become obsessed, and certainly a bit divided, with the way Garten horizontally cuts her bread into thirds — not halves.

While this might seem incredibly odd at first glance, the Barefoot Contessa gives viewers plenty of reasons for her choice. On top of giving you bang (or bagel, as it were) for your buck, Garten says that cutting into thirds allows you to assemble a much smaller sandwich that feels easier to bite by turning two bagels into six sandwiches. She keeps her recipe pretty traditional from there, using dill, smoked salmon, and a hefty amount of cream cheese for the filling. If you're feeling a little adventurous, however, you can easily assemble your bagel like a double cheeseburger and get twice the amount of stuffing per serving.

Other unconventional ways to prepare bagels

Ina Garten isn't the only person who has gotten flak about the way she cuts into her bagels. For decades, people have argued about whether scooping the insides out of a bagel should be socially acceptable. The trend remains taboo in cities like New York, whose residents take pride in their historical love for a traditional bagel. But the few brave souls who openly admit to liking scooped bagels argue that their preferred method allows them to pack in more schmear without the risk of everything spewing out in one bite. They may not be more nutritious than regular ones, but they certainly give cream cheese lovers more room to work with.

Other methods are not as defended and certainly more perplexing. Mobius-strip bagels, which feature a spiral-like cut that doesn't fully separate the buns, allow you to spread more cream cheese proportionally per serving. Most people on the internet hated it as soon as they saw it, however, as this method is highly inconvenient to both cut and toast. Then there's the way St. Louis residents typically slice their bagels into thin vertical strips, almost like a loaf of bread. An equally perplexing way of eating a bagel, but it works as a way to make stuffed or bite-sized sandwiches.

Fillings are another way to spruce up your bagels

Getting creative with the fillings of your bagel allows you to experiment with its flavors and textures, especially when you go past traditional ingredients such as cream cheese and smoked salmon. Cheese, peanut butter, and even scrambled eggs are excellent toppings for a breakfast-themed meal (just maybe not all together) while avocado or tuna salad could work as a tasty midday snack. Bagel sandwiches are also a beast on their own, as they easily allow you to bring the flavors of a BLT or tuna melt into a doughier, sturdier bun.

While the internet fixated on the way Ina Garten slices her bagel into thirds, her actual recipe does have another great trick involving the filling of her bagels that more people should take note of. The Barefoot Contessa likes to mix in a bit of milk into her cream cheese to soften its consistency, giving you a creamier spread as a result. She also adds a bit of dill, parsley, and salt into the mixture to liven it up. Everyone wants a delicious bagel at the end of the day, so don't be afraid to sprinkle spices and aromatics into the cream cheese — at the least, it will certainly be a less controversial modification.