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There’s not much better than a smoked salmon bagel (aka lox)! Top with herb cream cheese for a stunning breakfast, brunch or lunch.

Smoked salmon bagel
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When it comes to a lazy weekend brunch or a deli-style lunch, smoked salmon to the rescue! There’s nothing better than a great Smoked Salmon Bagel or lox, though there are some subtle differences we’ll cover below). It’s a study in bold contrasts: homemade herbed cream cheese against smoky, buttery salmon, herbaceous dill against briny capers, and of course a fluffy, perfectly toasted bagel. Guess what? You can make a next-level version of this treat right at home. Or, use our alterative option and make a homemade deli-style smoked salmon cream cheese! Let’s get to it.

Ingredients for smoked salmon bagels

The classic smoked salmon bagel is a deli special, pairing buttery salmon with briny capers and cream cheese. It’s also known as lox or gravlax, though lox is technically brined salmon that may or may not be smoked. But the two types of salmon are generally served in the same way: on a bagel with cream cheese and tasty toppings. Here’s what you’ll need for this smoked salmon bagel recipe:

  • Fresh bagels
  • Smoked salmon: Look for cold-smoked salmon or lox (with a soft texture), not hot-smoked (which is flaky and more like cooked salmon).
  • Cream cheese: This homemade herb cream cheese brings the best herbaceous flavor, but you can substitute with plain cream cheese
  • Capers: Briny capers add a pop of salty flavor and are required here (see below)
  • Red onion: Another classic topping that cannot be missed
  • Fresh dill sprigs: Dill adds fresh flavor and completes the look
  • Lemon wedge: Garnishing with a lemon wedge before eating adds just the right pop of acidity
  • Optional toppings: Thinly sliced English cucumber and tomato are also traditional on a smoked salmon bagel, but to us they’re not essential.
Smoked salmon bagel brunch
Bagel brunch with herb cream cheese and smoked salmon spread

Variation: smoked salmon cream cheese!

Want a variation on a smoked salmon bagel that uses the same flavors in a different way? Try the bagels with Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese! This tasty spread mixes cream cheese, Greek yogurt, fresh dill and smoked salmon into a savory, salty deli-style spread. Make it instead of the standard, or use it along with the herb cream cheese as another option! Go to Smoked Salmon Spread.

Why capers and salmon go hand in hand

Capers are often paired with fish like smoked salmon or baked fish, because they add a pop of briny, salty flavor that complements this protein. What are they, exactly? Capers are a berry of the caper bush, a plant that’s native to the Mediterranean. They’re round and dark green gray, about the size of a peppercorn. You’ll find them in Italian and Mediterranean recipes.

Capers are served pickled, and they’re always sold in a long, thin jar. Find capers for this smoked salmon bagel in the condiments near the olives at the grocery store. Or check in the international aisle near the Italian products. PS You can use up the rest with our favorite Caper Recipes, like Lemon Caper Sauce, Pasta Puttanesca, and more.

Smoked salmon bagel

Bagel brunch board ideas

This smoked salmon bagel is ideal for a bagel brunch! Make a big platter with bagels and different types of cream cheese and bagel toppings, and it’s ideal for a lazy brunch with friends. Or try it for Mother’s Day, baby showers, Easter, or more! Here are a few ideas for what to have on hand for a bagel brunch:

Smoked salmon bagel

More smoked salmon recipes

Love smoked salmon? Here are a few more smoked salmon recipes you’ll love:

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Smoked salmon bagel

Perfect Smoked Salmon Bagel

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5 from 4 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 bagel 1x
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There’s not much better than a smoked salmon bagel (aka lox)! Top with herb cream cheese for a stunning breakfast, brunch or lunch.


  • 1 bagel
  • 2 tablespoons Herb Cream Cheese (recommended; or plain cream cheese)
  • 1 to 2 ounces smoked salmon
  • 4 red onion slices
  • 1 teaspoon capers, drained
  • Fresh dill sprigs, for garnish
  • 1 lemon wedge, for serving


  1. Make the Herb Cream Cheese.
  2. Toast the bagel. Top it with a slather of herb cream cheese, smoked salmon slices, onion slices, capers, and fresh dill. Squeeze with a lemon wedge, then serve immediately.
  3. Alternative method: Make a batch of Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese and top with dill sprigs.
  • Category: Breakfast or Lunch
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Seafood

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Catherine says:

    This is in my regular rotation now. I cannot believe how delicious it is, and the herbed cream cheese is absolutely phenomenal!!! It reminds me of Boursin cheese, so creamy and herby and perfect.

  2. Edith Thayer says:

    We had these delicious salmon bagels for breakfast this week for breakfast. I made the Herb Cream Cheese. We were able to get some excellent everything bagels from a local baker. Another nice touch on our sandwiches was dill microgreens from a local farm store. Really great and so easy!

  3. Isabel Rodenas says:

    So lovely! I miss bagels so much, they are impossible to find in Spain!

  4. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!