What Is the Difference Between a Bagel & a Donut?

sugary donuts

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At first glance, bagels and doughnuts seem similar. But a closer inspection reveals a number of differences between these round breakfast favorites, beginning with the type of dough.

Bagel Characteristics

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Typically savory bagels use a high-gluten flour that gets boiled to make the dough chewier before it gets baked. Herbs and spices commonly flavor the dough, and additions often include sesame seeds, garlic, onions, cheese, raisins or blueberries. Bagels are usually served sliced in half, toasted and topped with cream cheese or butter. They also make a hearty sandwich bread paired with eggs, meat, smoked salmon and other savory ingredients.

Doughnut Characteristics

Woman holding plate of Boston creme doughnuts

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Doughnuts are shaped from a leavened pastry dough before being fried or baked into a light, fluffy confection. The dough is often sweetened and flavored with maple syrup, sugar or cocoa powder. Common doughnut toppings and fillings include jelly, icing, powdered sugar, sprinkles and other sugary ingredients. Doughnuts are usually eaten out of hand, without additional toppings.