Welsh Rarebit (or Fancy Grilled Cheese)

Welsh rarebit is, effectively, a fancy grilled cheese open sandwich. The ingredients are fairly widely accepted as being a cheese sauce with mustard that’s used to top a piece of toasted bread. The origin of the name is not so much agreed upon – although just about every source agrees that the dish was first called Welsh Rabbit and the word rarebit was an accidental corruption over the years. In the 18th century the English referred to anything foreign or inferior as “Welsh” perhaps betraying a certain disdain for our country cousins. As to why it’s got anything to do with rabbits? Who knows..?

What we are left with is a strong flavored cheese on toast recipe that is mightily filling and truly delicious – it’s the perfect foil to a rich soup like this Roasted Tomato Soup recipe 🙂

Click here to jump straight to the Welsh Rarebit Recipe or read on to get a little more insight into the process.

Welsh Rarebit with Roast Tomato Soup

I made this as a side dish to go with my Roasted Tomato soup recipe and they really do work well as a pair.

Roasted Tomato Soup RecipeYOU MAY ALSO LIKE: This recipe for Roasted Tomato Soup with lightly roasted onions and balsamic vinegar and cream. This is a luxurious and creamy soup with a real depth of flavor that’s prepared with a minimum of fuss.

How to Make the Best Welsh Rarebit

This is an authentic homemade Welsh rarebit that came together after a lot of experimenting. It’s a straightforward recipe that’s easy to carry out – it’s really hard to mess this up so give it a try! This is a strong cheese sauce with mustard and Worcestershire sauce and really is just a fancy grilled cheese sandwich but the beer adds a great dimension to it. Best of all, this recipe is ready in 15 minutes and is an easy to follow recipe for everyone. Below are some of our best tips for making it right first time.

Tomato Soup served with Welsh Rarebit

Choose your beer wisely

I used a Yuengling because I love the super sweetness it brings to this meal but the traditional beer is stout or porter beer. Milk also works just as well to make a delicious cheese sauce but it lacks the authenticity of a Welsh Rarebit. This is such a quick and easy recipe – so that’s really a great excuse for trying several varieties until you find your favorite beer.

Use a strong quality cheddar, preferably aged and white

The beer (or milk) and the Worcestershire sauce pack a powerful punch in the sauce so a generic bland supermarket cheddar won’t cut it here. With a strong, mature, aged cheese you get a beautiful balance that allows the cheddar to shine through and give the impression required – a fancy grilled cheese flavor…

Don’t use a skimpy bread – you need strong and robust here

The sauce is thick and very rich; a thin piece of sliced bread would be overwhelmed here as well as getting very soggy, very quickly. You need to use a tough bread – something like a hard sourdough or an artisan bread (they’re normally denser and more robust). I used a crusty wheat bread and it worked well.

Cheddar Cheese

I used an aged white creamy English cheddar; a Welsh or Irish white cheddar would work well here too but any aged cheddar will do the job. Just don’t use the supermarket grated yellow cheddar – it really doesn’t have enough power in this setting. If you can find it, a Lancashire or Cheshire cheese would be fabulous but I still don’t know where to buy that in Tennessee…

Welsh Rarebit Ingredients

There are only 7 ingredients to this recipe – bread, butter, beer, cheese, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and flour

Cheese sauce for Welsh Rarebit

Start off by making a big mess of the kitchen; throw grated cheese everywhere and hope some of it lands in the pan… Or melt the butter, add the flour and cook for 3 minutes then add the beer (or milk if you really don’t want beer) and stir until it all combines. Remove from the heat and add the mustard, Worcestershire sauce and most of the cheese and whisk it all together – it doesn’t have to be smooth at all. That’s it for the sauce. I told you it was easy!

Bread for Welsh Rarebit

Slice the bread fairly thickly – about an inch should do it but thicker is great if your appetite can handle it. For instructions on how to slice bread click here.

Cheese Sauce on Welsh Rarebit

After you lightly toast the bread on both sides, pour over the sauce, covering all the bread; yes, this does mean it’s starting to get even messier – but that’s what parchment paper is for, right? If you leave any bare pieces of bread it will very likely burn…

Cheese on the Welsh Rarebit

Add the rest of the cheese over the top as thick as you like – this is NOT a healthy recipe; this is a DELICIOUS recipe… Season with a little salt and pepper and then broil for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbling and browned.

Toasted Welsh Rarebit

And there you have it. I added a few drops of Worcestershire sauce on top (hot sauce works too), or a little HP sauce is fabulous with this. It can be served on it’s own as a snack or for brunch. It works really well with my roasted tomato soup or, if at all possible, it’s best served in the 1950s at a cocktail party. Also goes well with a beer…

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AUTHOR: The Englishman
Print Recipe
Welsh Rarebit
An old British classic. A strong, delicious cheese sauce topping some toasted bread. Simplicity itself but well worth the small effort required. Ready in 15 minutes!
Welsh Rarebit Recipe
Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine British, Vegetarian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine British, Vegetarian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Welsh Rarebit Recipe
  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour, mix and cook for about 3 minutes, forming a roux.
  2. Pour in the beer and stir to combine until the sauce is smooth. Remove from the heat.
  3. Add the mustard, worcestershire sauce, and 3/4 of the cheese. Mix it all together and then leave to cool down.
  4. Toast the bread lightly on both sides. Place on a baking sheet and spoon over the cheese sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and add salt and pepper, I like to add a little hot sauce on the top but that's a personal choice.
  5. Broil for 2 or 3 minutes until the cheese has melted and beginning to brown. Serve immediately, ideally with some roasted tomato soup!
Recipe Notes


Best served immediately. Whilst it will store in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for a month, the taste and texture are not the same.

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