Proper Welsh Rarebit

Thursday 8 August 2019

Welsh Rarebit is one of our most famous and enjoyable traditional dishes here in the UK, with a long history dating back to at least the 1500's.

This is when a very simple but popular dish of toasted bread, covered in melted cheese and topped with mustard or spices, became a staple in the diets of Welsh men and women. 

A "poor man's" protein fix, Welsh Rarebit is sometimes known as "Welsh Rabbit", even though no rabbit has ever been involved in its preparation.  

It has become through the years a very popular dish throughout the United Kingdom, despite its humble beginnings. 

In Wales, it actually has a National Day devoted to it.  The 3rd of September is known in Wales as Welsh Rarebit Day!

It typically is composed of a rich, but simple cheese sauce which is traditionally spooned over hot buttered toast.  You can also pop the sauce slathered toast beneath a hot grill to gild it a bit, which is my preferred way to eat it!!

There is no need for fancy ingredients. At its very simplest it is made with a hearty home style bread and a good farmhouse cheese.

It makes a lovely simple supper served with some slices tomato and salad greens, and is surprisingly hearty!

The true and traditional method is to make a simple and unadulterated rich cheese sauce.

This is composed of a bit of cream, a bit of milk, some butter and flour, plenty of cheese, all thickened with a beaten egg, and seasoned with mustard powder and cayenne pepper for a bit of a spark. 

Welsh Rarebit

I have seen people add spring onions to it, chopped leeks, sauteed shallots . . . bacon.

But it is important to note that traditionally it did not have any of those things . . . just the basics.

It is delicious and  hearty!  And very rich in flavour.

You don't have to make it with ale.  You can use milk instead of the beer.  It is done both ways actually.

The beer does add a nice flavor however  . . . which we quite like . . .

When I was a girl we used to love it when my mom made us cheese on toast, and we would love it even more if she added a slice of bacon to it.  

It wasn't Welsh Rarebit  . . .  but it was incredibly tasty.

Both are a very naughty once in a blue moon treat!

Yield: 4

Proper Welsh Rarebit

Moreishly cheesy.  I don't want to know the calorie count in this and neither do you!  A once in a blue moon treat.


  • 1/2 TBS butter
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 80ml beer (lager) (1/3 cup)
  • 80ml single cream (1/3 cup)
  • 250g grated strong cheddar (2 cups)
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 4 slices of thick, hot buttered toast to serve


How to cook Proper Welsh Rarebit

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat.  Add the flour and whisk until smooth.  Cook, stirring, for about half a minute until the flour is light golden brown.
  2. Add the beer and cream, stirring constantly.  Stir in the cheese, a bit at a time, whisking it in to melt.  Make sure the mixture does NOT boil.  Cook until all the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth.  Remove from the heat.
  3. Beat the egg together with the mustard powder and cayenne.  Temper with a bit of the hot mixture and then whisk the whole lot back into the melted cheese mixture.
  4. Return to the heat and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened.  Pour the mixture over the hot toast and serve immediately.
  5. Alternately you can spread the mixture over the toast and pop under a hot grill until it is bubbling and golden brown.
Created using The Recipes Generator

I think you need to enjoy something like this every once in a while . . .  something simple . . .  but outstandingly delicious despite its simplicity.  What do you think?  

Up tomorrow:  Lemon & Caper Dressed John Dory 

John Dory is called the ugliest fish . . .  but it has a delicate and sweet flavor you will absolutely fall in love with! 

If you are looking for some other simple supper dishes, might I suggest the following:

BEANS ON TOAST -   This can be as simple as opening a can of beans, heating them up and ladling them onto crisp buttered slices of toasted bread. Or you can ladle it over cheese on toast. I love it with the cheese on toast.

SKILLET BEANS & WEINERS - Simple, delicious and goes together lickety split.

PASTA WITH SEARED CAULIFLOWER & GARLIC - This is a really delicious, yet simple supper dish. Quick to make. Interesting, lush and fresh flavors, with very little effort.  I don't think you can go wrong with this.

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  1. A bit croque-monsieur too:) Never had this..sounds good!

    1. It is rich and very good Monique! Nice with a salad on the side too! xoxo

  2. Hi Marie, I was delighted to see this "proper" Welsh Rarebit recipe! When my daughter was small my husband (a Park Ranger) worked lots of nights and weekends so she and I ate our meals without him regularly. One of her favorite things was a Welsh Rarebit I made for our suppers. I'm happy to say that I made it very similarly. However, it's been years and I had kind of forgotten about it until the other day when Alice and I were talking about her little boy and I remembered it and said I'd have to make it for she and the baby! I was jotting a note and thought, "I'm not sure I remember what I put in it!" Now I can make it for them with confidence that I'll get it right. Back then I never made it with Beer, Heavy Cream or Cayenne Pepper, although that sounds good to me now! I made mine with all Whole Milk and her favorite way to eat it was over Saltine Crackers! Thanks again for another great recipe and another happy trip down memory lane. I just love you and your blog! xoxo Mary

    1. Thanks so much for your sweet comment Mary! I loved reading your special memory of making Welsh Rarebit for your daughter! I love the idea of you making it for her and her baby also. How very wonderful! xoxo

  3. A national day for it?! There never was in my day, it was simply a quick supper dish which certainly didn't include egg or cream because my Mother could not afford those things, I am not sure that she would have had any beer to put in either. I am going back 70 years you understand, many things have changed since then... :-)

    1. Things never stay the same Toffeeapple. I expect it was one of those recipes where people used whatever they had to hand! xoxo

  4. I have never, ever, ever known what Welsh Rarebit was and I see it all the time in the English mysteries I read! Now I know. It does look good -- and yes, pretty decadent!

    1. I had always thought it was made with rabbit before I moved over here Jeanie. It was interesting to learn that it was just cheese. It is very good! xoxo

  5. For years I’ve read old English novels that spoke of rarebit. Well tonight I finally looked it up! I assumed it was some kind of savory meat so you can imagine my surprise! I found your recipe which sounded so very delicious and I’m going to make this for family. I’m so very excited! Thank you for posting this wonderful recipe. Roxanne from Michigan USA 😊

    1. Hi Roxanne! Thanks so much for your lovely comment! I hope that you and your family enjoy this! xoxo

  6. This reminds me so much of my dad, he used to make us this frequently.

  7. Marie, My mom, who grew up in Kansas during the depression, made me Welsh Rarebit. It was very much like your recipe! I think she may have added a bit of Worcestershire sauce too. Thank you for the memory. I will be making this soon!


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