I Tried Ina Garten's Controversial Bagel-Cutting Technique And I Have THOUGHTS

a person holding a large piece of bread
I Tried Ina Garten's Bagel Cutting MethodFood Network; Gabby Romero

When it comes to cooking advice, no one is as reliable as the Barefoot Contessa. She’s long advocated for high-quality ingredients, most notably “good vanilla."Ina knows how to make even the simplest of recipes feel special. She’s even our go-to resource for cooking soundtracks (her Valentine’s Day playlist is top tier).

Her television episodes and cookbooks are full of helpful tips and tricks. But one recently resurfaced clip from an episode of The Barefoot Contessa is shockingly controversial—and it has to do with bagels.

X user @JordanFreiman posted screenshots that reveal Ina’s preferred method for serving a bagel. Instead of cutting it in half, Ina slices her bagel into three horizontal pieces. In the full clip, Ina ends up making sandwiches with two out of the three slices, to avoid the doughy middle. Ina claims that bagels “taste better this way.”

But social media users interpreted the photos as using three pieces to build a bagel with cream cheese, Big Mac style. And the public response to it was mixed. One user commented on the original post, “More surface area for cream cheese. LET HER COOK.”

Another user countered with, “As a New York Jew, this is a crime against me and my people.”

Regardless of how you use the three slices, this cutting method is certainly one of Ina’s most controversial takes—and that’s including her theory that bay leaves don’t do anything. But she’s rarely steered us in the wrong direction, so I decided to test her technique and see if a bagel actually does taste better in thirds. So I grabbed a bagel and a mountain of cream cheese and went to work.

No self-respecting bagel shop employee will honor a request to cut a bagel into three pieces (and I honestly wasn’t brave enough to even ask in the first place), so I had to do it on my own. An important consideration for this technique is that your bagel needs to be pretty thick. Any thin or even average-sized bagel won’t be big enough to handle more than one slice.

I opted to set my bagel down on a cutting board and slice horizontally. Holding a bagel on its side and slicing downward is too precarious and would likely land me in the emergency room. But even with my safer, more secure method, achieving even slices is pretty difficult. Some of my slices were uneven and left me with a pretty messed up bagel.

a person sitting at a table with a cupcake
Gabby Romero

But that’s nothing a good schmear of cream cheese can’t solve. One immediate observation I had was that this technique allows for much more cream cheese than the classic way. It makes sense, since you have so much more surface area when you’re working with an extra slice of bagel. Spreading the cream cheese was just as straightforward as it normally is—the only tough part was cutting the bagel itself.

a woman holding a spoon
Gabby Romero

Then, it was time to taste. And just like the online response, the verdict among our office was mixed. Some of our editors loved that Ina’s version maximizes the cream cheese to bagel ratio. And since you get a bit of bread in the middle, you can still enjoy lots of cream cheese without getting massive globs of it in the center.

a woman holding a sandwich
Gabby Romero

On the other hand, a few of our editors took issue with the structural integrity of this method. One person described the bagel as flimsy, unwieldy, and more trouble than it’s worth.

Ultimately, it’s up to your own bagel preferences. If you’re someone who normally assembles their own bagels and likes a lot of cream cheese, we think it’s definitely worth trying. But the difference is so minimal that you could probably just proceed as normal. Even still, Ina’s technique isn’t as blasphemous as some internet users may think.

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