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Bagel vs. Donut: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on November 11, 2023
"Bagel" is a dense, chewy bread ring, often topped with seeds or grains, while "Donut" is a sweet, fried dough treat, commonly glazed or filled.

Key Differences

A "Bagel" is a doughy, circular bread, typically boiled before baking, creating a distinctive, chewy texture, often enjoyed with toppings such as cream cheese or lox. In contrast, a "Donut" is a sweet snack, made from deep-fried dough, frequently adorned with sugar glazes, icing, or filled with jams or creams.
Originating from Jewish communities in Poland, the "Bagel" has become a staple in American breakfast cuisine, often sliced and toasted. "Donuts," however, trace their roots to multiple origins, including Dutch and American traditions, and are beloved as a sweet option for breakfast or dessert.
"Bagels" generally contain simple ingredients: wheat dough, water, yeast, and salt, sometimes embellished with toppings like sesame or poppy seeds. On the other hand, "Donuts" have a richer dough, incorporating sugar, eggs, and butter, with various sweet toppings or fillings.
Nutritional content varies significantly between the two; "Bagels" are higher in carbohydrates and may provide more fiber, especially if whole grain options are chosen. "Donuts," meanwhile, are higher in sugars and fats, attributing to their sweet taste and more indulgent nature.
Both "Bagels" and "Donuts" hold cultural significance. "Bagels" are associated with New York City, owing to its historical Jewish population, and have a strong presence in U.S. breakfast culture. "Donuts" are ubiquitous in American snack culture, popularized further by famous chains and often paired with coffee.

Comparison Chart

Basic Description

Dense, chewy bread ring
Sweet, fried dough


Boiled, then baked

Typical Toppings

Seeds, grains
Glaze, icing, sugar

Nutritional Content

Higher in carbohydrates
Higher in sugar and fats

Cultural Significance

Associated with NYC
Ubiquitous in American snack culture

Bagel and Donut Definitions


Sometimes topped with seeds or grains.
She chose a Bagel topped with sesame seeds.


Can be cake-like or yeast-raised in texture.
He preferred yeast Donuts for their lightness.


Common breakfast item in American cuisine.
Bagels were her go-to quick breakfast.


Often consumed with coffee.
She loved starting her morning with coffee and a Donut.


Often made from wheat dough and yeast.
The freshly baked Bagels smelled delicious.


Popular snack or dessert option in America.
There's a Donut shop on every corner in the city.


A round bread with a hole in the middle.
She topped her Bagel with cream cheese.


Usually sweet, with various toppings or fillings.
Her favorite Donut was glazed and filled with custard.


A glazed, ring-shaped roll with a tough, chewy texture, made from plain yeast dough that is dropped briefly into nearly boiling water and then baked.


A fried dough pastry, often round with a hole in the center.
He bought a dozen Donuts for the office.


A toroidal bread roll that is boiled before it is baked.


Variant of doughnut.


A score of 6-0 in a set (after the shape of a bagel, which looks like a zero).


A deep-fried piece of dough or batter, commonly made in a toroidal or ellipsoidal shape, and mixed with various sweeteners and flavors, sometimes filled with jelly, custard, or cream.


An overly materialistic and selfish young Jewish man.


Anything in the shape of a circle or torus.


(tennis) To achieve a score of 6–0 in a tennis set.


A peel-out or skid-mark in the shape of a donut; a 360-degree skid.


(sports) To hold an opponent to a score of zero.


(North America) A spare tire, smaller and less durable than a full-sized tire, only intended for temporary use.


A glazed leavened doughnut-shaped roll with a hard crust.


A toroidal cushion typically used by hemorrhoid patients.


(Yiddish) glazed yeast-raised doughnut-shaped roll with hard crust


An idiot.
Nice going, you donut!


Characterized by its dense, chewy texture.
He enjoyed the Bagel's satisfying chewiness.


A small ring-shaped friedcake


Are "Bagels" high in carbohydrates?

Yes, they're primarily composed of wheat dough.

Are "Bagels" healthier than "Donuts"?

Generally, yes, as they contain less sugar and fat.

Can you toast a "Bagel"?

Yes, toasting is a common preparation method.

Can "Donuts" be baked instead of fried?

Yes, though the texture will differ.

Are "Donuts" always sweet?

Typically, yes, they're known for their sweetness.

How many calories does a "Donut" have?

It varies, but they're generally high in calories due to sugar and fat.

Are "Donuts" an American invention?

They have multiple origins, but modern versions are heavily popularized in America.

What's a common "Bagel" topping?

Cream cheese is a popular choice.

Do "Donuts" come in different shapes?

Yes, though the classic shape is round with a hole.

Can "Donuts" be filled?

Yes, common fillings include jam and custard.

What's the most popular "Donut" flavor?

It varies, but glazed is a classic favorite.

What's the shelf life of a "Bagel"?

A few days; they're best consumed fresh.

What kind of meal is a "Bagel" appropriate for?

They're most commonly eaten for breakfast.

Are "Donuts" served warm or cold?

They can be enjoyed either way but are delicious when warm.

Are "Donuts" a breakfast or a dessert item?

They can be either, though often associated with breakfast.

Do "Bagels" contain dairy?

Typically no, unless topped or filled with dairy products.

How are "Bagels" typically served?

They're often sliced, toasted, and topped.

Do "Bagels" originate from America?

No, they have origins in Jewish communities in Poland.

Are "Bagels" vegan?

They can be, but it's important to check the ingredients.

How long do "Donuts" stay fresh?

Ideally, they're eaten within a day of purchase for best quality.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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