Cooking, Food, Recipe

Welsh Rabbit: Cheese, it’s Good

There is no actual rabbit in this dish. The name is properly Rarebit, but most people hear that as rabbit, so that’s become the common name for it. There is, though, a lot of cheese in it, and that’s why I made it. My dear First Reader loves cheese, and on a shopping trip not too long ago, both of us grabbed cheese that was on sale and it wasn’t until we were home that we discovered the duplication. Never too much cheese, he told me, gloating over his varied hoard. It will go bad, I said. So make something with it, he suggested, shifting cheeses in the drawer so they would all fit.

Summer meal al fresco
Welsh Rarebit, roasted cauliflower, and Pear Cider

Somewhat later, and a loaf of homemade bread made the day before, I made this with some of it. Like so many of my recipes, it’s easy to joggle it around a little, subbing in different flavors to make this dish different every time you serve it. Lighter beer, darker beer, vary the cheeses, use several cheese-ends up. It’s all good.

Welsh Rabbit: Cheese, it’s Good


  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp mustard (I like the hearty kinds with seeds in)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 bottle (about 6 oz) beer (I prefer a dark beer)
  • 3/4 c half and half (or cream)
  • 8 oz (about 2 c shredded) cheese
  • Hot sauce to taste


  • Get all your ingredients ready to hand. Once this gets started it moves quickly!
  • Melt the butter in the pan on medium, as it is melting whisk in the flour and create a roux. Don't let the roux get too dark.
  • Add the mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper, whisking until smooth.
  • Slowly pour in the beer, keep whisking to keep from forming lumps.
  • Whisk in the cream, slowly. You're trying not to dump things in and cool it down completely, so give the mixture a chance to stay hot. When it's all back at a simmer,
  • Add the grated cheese, a little at a time. Let it melt before you add more. Don't use a lot of a hard cheese in this recipe.
  • When all the cheese is in, taste and season as needed.
  • Serve over toast.
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    Welsh Rarebit
    It’s done when it’s thick enough to be slow dripping off the whisk.

    Don’t expect your rabbit to be yellowy-orange, unless you use all cheddar. Ours was beige, between the Dunkel beer and the Gruyere and Monterrey Jack cheeses. It might not look like much, but there is a lot of flavor in this! We had ours with homemade bread, lightly toasted, and roasted cauliflower.

    Grated Cheese
    A lump of shredded yumminess… I cheat and use my food processor with the grater blade when I’m doing this much at once

    Roasted cauliflower is very easy to make, and so rewarding. Even if you think you don’t like cauliflower, you should try this. Simply cut a head of cauliflower into roughly bite-sized florets (you do know cauliflower is a giant flower-bud?) and place in a baking dish, not too crowded (I use a 9×13″ pan for one head) and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar (balsamic works nicely, but so does red wine vinegar and rice wine, it’s all about what you want). Toss to coat the florets and put into a 400 deg F oven for twenty minutes. Toss again and put back in the oven for another twenty minutes. Test with a fork, if they are tender then they are done, or given them another ten minutes. I will sometimes throw in a sprig or two of thyme.

    Welsh Rarebit Recipe
    Sorrel leaves for a little color, and they are a nice acidic balance to the rich cheese sauce.


    11 thoughts on “Welsh Rabbit: Cheese, it’s Good

      1. It’s a cyclic thing, I’m learning. Started rabbit, became rarebit, and now here I was jokingly calling it rabbit.

        I don’t have a recipe for Mock turtle, got one to share?

    1. Do you have any advice for people who don’t drink? And have no clues about using beer and other alcoholic beverages in their cooking?

      1. Even if you don’t drink, using a beer in food doesn’t lend alcohol to the dish – it cooks off at a relatively low heat. That being said, what the beer lends to this dish is liquid, and a certain bitterness of flavor. You could get that by adding some stock in place of the liquid, and maybe pick up the amount of mustard, it won’t taste the same, but then again, you won’t know the difference.

        1. I don’t have anything specifically against using a beer in cooking, but I’d be clueless in what beer to choose, obviously. You say beers lend bitterness? So they are bitter? Something I didn’t know — and probably a reason I wouldn’t enjoy drinking them 😉

        2. Hmm. I would say that beer is more for the “yeasty” flavor it adds (particularly dark beers), as well as the remnant sugars that caramelize. Some bitterness, yes, but that’s a side effect. Wine has a different set of “other” flavors to add, as well as the caramelization effect. (Which reminds me, need to check on my stock of red – making pepper steak tonight.)

          1. I think I’ll wind up doing a blog about substitutions for alcoholic ingredients soon – there’s a handy chart, but I think it’s worthy of more discussion as I sparked quite the conversation elsewhere with this question.

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