Discover the Ultimate Pairing of Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon

Salmon that has been smoked means it has undergone a process of curing and has been hot- or cold-smoked. Due to its moderately high price, smoked salmon is considered a delicacy.

The smoking process is used to protect salmon against microorganisms that can encourage spoilage. During the process, the fish is salt-cured and partially dehydrated, which impedes the activity of bacteria. Bacteria such as Clostridium botulinum, which can sometimes be present in seafood, are killed by the high heat treatment that occurs during the hot-smoking process. The high salt content prevents the growth of microorganisms.

Other ingredients that go well with the smoked salmon bagel are fresh herbs such as dill or chives. You can add a few thin slices of tomatoes or cucumbers. Another variation on this popular bagel combination includes avocados.

This recipe is great for brunch gatherings and bridal or baby showers because you can turn the assembly process into a bagel bar, which allows your guests to build their own bagels. It is relatively easy to set up and requires no cooking; try to buy fresh bagels the morning of the party for optimal freshness. Bagel bars also aren’t season-dependent; this entertaining approach can work all year round. If you think you might have gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegan guests, you can accommodate them easily by buying a few gluten-free bagels and offering toppings that are dairy free, such as tofu-based spreads or hummus. And if you’ve got guests who aren’t fans of smoked salmon, they can simply skip that ingredient and customize the bagel to their liking.

“The classic and delicious smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers combination reimagined here as an elegant open-faced sandwich would be perfect for a casual brunch, shower, or any special occasion.” —Diana Andrews

Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese, and Capers Bagel Tester Image
  • 3 medium bagels, split and toasted
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained and divided, optional
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon or lox
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion, optional
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Lemon wedges, garnish
  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers recipe gathered
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga
  2. Spread the toasted bagel bottom halves with cream cheese. Sprinkle half the capers over the cream cheese, if desired.

    Bagel bottom halves thickly spread with cream cheese and topped with a few capers
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga 
  3. Top with sliced smoked salmon.

    Bagel bottom halves spread with cream cheese and topped with smoked salmon slices
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga
  4. Garnish the bagel tops with the rest of the capers, onion, and black pepper. Garnish with fresh lemon wedges.

    Red onion slices added as topping to bagel bottom halves with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and capers
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Although the term lox is sometimes applied to smoked salmon, they are different products. Lox is brined salmon that usually comes from the fish’s belly, so it is cured by salt and, like smoked salmon, not cooked. Lox can be used in place of smoked salmon in most recipes, including this one, but it is much saltier than smoked salmon.

Classic Lox Recipe

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