Do gluten-free bagels have less calories?

Quick Answer

Gluten-free bagels do not necessarily have fewer calories than regular wheat bagels. The number of calories depends more on the specific ingredients and preparation methods rather than just the presence or absence of gluten. However, gluten-free bagels may provide other potential benefits for people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.

Calorie Content of Gluten-Free vs Regular Bagels

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape. Gluten also provides structure and texture in baked goods.

Gluten-free bagels are made without wheat flour, instead using alternate flours like rice, tapioca, chickpea or almond. However, these gluten-free flours have similar calorie densities to enriched wheat flour.

For example, here is a calorie comparison of 1/4 cup serving sizes of various flours:

Flour Calories
Enriched wheat flour 102
Rice flour 113
Tapioca flour 105
Chickpea flour 104
Almond flour 163

As you can see, there is little difference in calories between most gluten-free flours and regular wheat flour. Almond flour has slightly more calories due to its higher fat content.

The preparation and cooking method also impacts the calorie density of bagels. Boiling bagels before baking increases their moisture content and density. Using egg wash or toppings like seeds adds fat and calories.

So a gluten-free plain bagel made with simple ingredients like rice flour, tapioca starch, yeast, salt and water may have a similar calorie count to a comparable wheat flour bagel. However, gluten-free varieties with enriching ingredients like eggs, nuts or seeds may end up having more calories than a plain wheat bagel.

Let’s compare two popular pre-packaged bagel brands as an example:

Bagel Serving Size Calories
Thomas’ Plain Wheat Bagel 1 bagel (95g) 260
Udi’s Gluten-Free Plain Bagel 1 bagel (75g) 100

The gluten-free Udi’s bagel has significantly fewer calories than the wheat Thomas’ bagel. However, this is because the Udi’s bagel weighs 20g less. When you adjust for weight, the Udi’s bagel actually has about 133 calories per 100g compared to 273 calories per 100g for the wheat Thomas’ bagel.

So in this case, the gluten-free bagel is not lower in calories based on its gluten-free status alone. The calorie difference is mostly explained by variations in serving size, density and other ingredients between the two brands.

Benefits of Gluten-Free Bagels

Though they may not be lower in calories, gluten-free bagels can provide other benefits:

Gluten-Free Diet

For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, sticking to a strict gluten-free diet is medically necessary to manage symptoms and prevent complications. Replacing regular wheat bagels with certified gluten-free varieties allows these individuals to enjoy bagels as part of a healthy gluten-free diet.


To substitute for the gluten structure and replicate chewy texture, gluten-free bagel recipes often incorporate higher protein ingredients like eggs, dairy, nut flours or legume flours. This can boost the protein content compared to a plain wheat flour bagel. More protein aids metabolism and helps you stay full and satisfied longer after eating.

Whole Grains

Many gluten-free bagels are made with whole grain flours like brown rice or buckwheat flour. These provide more fiber, minerals and antioxidants than refined white wheat flour. The fiber also slows digestion, preventing blood sugar spikes.

Lower Glycemic Index

Replacing wheat with alternate gluten-free grains yields a product with a lower glycemic index. This means it causes a slower, more gradual rise in blood sugar after eating. This steady energy release can help control appetite and regulate blood sugar levels.

Healthiest Options for Gluten-Free Bagels

Sticking to simple, whole grain gluten-free bagels without extra fats or sugars are your best bet if watching your waistline. Here are some of healthiest store-bought and homemade options:


– Canyon Bakehouse Mountain White Bagels
– Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Bagels
– Schar Gluten-Free Classic Bagels
– Udi’s Millet-Chia Bagels
– Against the Grain Gourmet Bagels

Look for varieties made with a blend of whole grains like millet, sorghum, brown rice flour and seeds. Stay away from enriched gluten-free flours or sugary flavors.


Baking your own gluten-free bagels allows you to control the quality of ingredients. Here is a healthy homemade recipe using whole grains:


– 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
– 1/2 cup tapioca starch
– 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
– 1 tbsp chia seeds
– 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
– 1 tbsp sugar
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 package active dry yeast
– 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
– 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
– Egg wash: 1 beaten egg, 1 tbsp water


1. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, tapioca starch, buckwheat flour, chia seeds, xanthan gum, sugar and salt. Create a well in the center.

2. In a small bowl, combine the yeast, lukewarm water and apple cider vinegar. Let stand for 5 minutes until frothy.

3. Pour the yeast mixture into the well in the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly to form a shaggy dough.

4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour.

5. Punch down the dough to release air bubbles. Divide into 8 equal pieces and shape into balls. Use your finger to poke a hole through the center of each ball to make a bagel shape.

6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and drop in bagels 2-3 at a time for 1 minute on each side to cook the surface.

7. Transfer parboiled bagels to a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush tops with egg wash. Sprinkle with desired toppings like sesame or poppy seeds.

8. Bake at 425F for 18-22 minutes until deep golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

This homemade recipe uses a combo of whole grain flours that are higher in nutrients than plain white rice flour. The secret to chewy gluten-free bagels is the additional tapioca starch. Make a big batch and freeze extras to enjoy throughout the week.

Tips for Reducing Calories in Bagels

Here are some suggestions to lighten up your bagel, whether it’s gluten-free or regular:

– Opt for a smaller “mini” bagel if available.
– Choose plain or lower-calorie veggie toppings instead of cream cheese.
– Load up with extra veggies like tomato, onion and arugula for more fiber.
– Use just 1 tablespoon of light cream cheese or hummus.
– Swap the usual bakery bagel for a lighter sandwich thin or lettuce wrap.
– Eat only half the bagel and save the other half for later.
– Scoop out some of the doughy center to remove excess carbs.

The Bottom Line

Gluten-free bagels don’t automatically have fewer calories than regular wheat bagels. But they can still be part of a healthy diet for managing celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

When weight loss is the goal, choose whole grain gluten-free bagels made with healthy ingredients. Or better yet, bake your own using a combo of gluten-free flours and minimal added fats and sugars. This allows you to control the calorie and nutrient content.

Regardless of gluten-free status, you can lighten up any bagel by downsizing, scooping, topping and pairing wisely to cut the carbs and calories. This lets you enjoy the delightful taste and texture of a fresh bagel, while still following a balanced diet.

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