Perfect Welsh Rarebit

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A traditional British recipe, this perfect Welsh rarebit is the ultimate quick and easy lunch – made with a gooey cheese sauce, and grilled to perfection on crispy bread.

Two slices of cheesy Welsh rarebit on a plate with tomatoes and lettuce.

If there was ever a recipe that wholly embodies the name of this website, ‘easy cheesy vegetarian’, it’s Welsh rarebit – and since I’m half Welsh, I thought it was fitting that I share this recipe. It’s such a simple one, but if you’re a fan of gooey cheese, it’s really rather spectacular, and makes a perfect easy lunch.

Two slices of cheesy Welsh rarebit on a place with tomatoes and lettuce.

Is Welsh rarebit the same as cheese on toast?

We Brits are known for our ‘does what it says on the tin’ kind of recipes, and cheese on toast is one of our best.

It’s cheese.
On toast.

You really don’t need a recipe for it.

But Welsh rarebit isn’t quite the same as a standard cheese on toast. It’s a little more interesting – and a lot more delicious – because it uses a gooey cheese sauce, rather than plain slices of cheese.

A slice of Welsh rarebit cut in half on a chopping board.

What is Welsh rarebit?

There are a million stories about how Welsh rarebit came about, where it got its bizarre name from (it’s also sometimes known as ‘Welsh rabbit’ – don’t worry, no rabbits were harmed in the making of this dish), and even whether it’s truly Welsh or not.

But wherever it came from, it’s an incredible dish that deserves to be shared.

Welsh rarebit begins with a super thick cheese sauce, smeared over a crispy piece of toast, and grilled until it’s golden brown on top.

It only takes a few minutes more than regular cheese on toast, and it’s totally worth the extra effort.

Aerial shot of a slice of cheesy Welsh rarebit on a cutting board.

How to make perfect Welsh rarebit

There are all sorts of different recipes for Welsh rarebit.

Some use beer, some don’t.
Some use real mustard, and others use mustard powder, or even no mustard at all.
Some recipes use Welsh cheese and others just use cheddar…

Nobody can really agree on just one Welsh rarebit recipe.

So this is just my version!

A thick white sauce in a saucepan.

Step 1: Make a thick white sauce

I begin with a really simple béchamel sauce (white sauce). You can find step-by-step instructions for how to make a white sauce here, but it’s essentially just flour cooked in butter, with some milk added.

You can swap a little of the milk out for some beer, if you want some real indulgence.

You need to make the sauce quite a bit thicker than you would if you were making, say, macaroni cheese – otherwise, it will all drip straight off the bread and you’ll end up with a big mess. A tasty mess, but a mess nonetheless.

Instead, the sauce should be thick and spreadable – more of a paste, really.

Grated cheese and black pepper being added to a white sauce in a saucepan.

Step 2: Add cheese and mustard

Of course, you can’t have Welsh rarebit without plenty of cheese.

Choose a good quality cheese with plenty of flavour. I went for an extra mature cheddar, but a Welsh cheese like Caerphilly would be fitting too!

I also added a dollop of mustard and plenty of black pepper.

Stir it well until the cheese has melted into the sauce and it’s all thick and gooey.

Cheesy Welsh rarebit sauce in a saucepan.

Step 3: Spread it on toast, and grill

You can use any type of bread for Welsh rarebit, but I like to use something a bit more special than a mass-produced white loaf. This time I used some slices from a nice crusty bloomer loaf.

I like to pre-toast the bread, so it gets crispy on the underside. Then, spread the thick cheese sauce on top.

Welsh rarebit sauce spread over some slices of bread on a baking tray.

Pop the tray under the grill (broiler) for a few minutes until the cheese sauce is bubbly and hot, with crispy golden brown patches on top.

Slices of crispy Welsh rarebit on a baking tray.

All that’s left to do is eat!

How to serve Welsh rarebit

In my eyes, Welsh rarebit is definitely a British lunch dish, so I don’t tend to do anything fancy with it.

Just a bit of salad on the side is perfect – perhaps some lettuce, tomatoes, or cucumber.

A lot of people splash their Welsh rarebit with a few drips of Worcestershire sauce just before serving. The issue is that Worcestershire sauce isn’t actually vegetarian – but Henderson’s relish is a good vegan substitute. It’s a pretty specialist ingredient, but you can find it online if needed (Amazon US / Amazon UK).

Two slices of cheese on toast on a plate with tomatoes and salad.

More Authentic British Recipes

Perfect Welsh Rarebit

A traditional British recipe, this perfect Welsh rarebit is the ultimate quick and easy lunch – made with a gooey cheese sauce, and grilled to perfection on crispy bread.

If you’ve cooked this recipe, don’t forget to leave a star rating!

4.73 from 11 votes
Print Pin Comment
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 472kcal
Author: Becca Heyes

Ingredients

  • 4 slices good quality crusty bread
  • 1 Tbsp (~ 15g) butter
  • 1 Tbsp plain flour
  • 120 ml (~ 1/2 cup) milk (or you can swap a little of the liquid for beer if you like)
  • 75 g mature cheddar cheese, grated (~ 3/4 cup when grated)
  • 1 tsp mustard (I used Dijon)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Begin by laying the slices of bread on a baking tray, and placing them under the grill (broiler), set to a medium-high heat. Cook for a couple of minutes until one side of the bread is golden brown and crispy. Then, turn each slice over and remove from the grill.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan, and add the flour. Mix well for 30 seconds, then add half of the milk. Stir well until the sauce is smooth, then add the remaining milk and mix again. The mixture should thicken up into a smooth, thick paste.
  • Add the grated cheese, mustard, and black pepper. Cook for another minute or two, stirring constantly, until the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth.
  • Spoon the sauce onto the untoasted side of each piece of bread, gently pushing it to the edges with the back of the spoon (don't worry if it spills over the edges a bit!).
  • Place back under the grill (broiler) for about 5 more minutes, until the cheese sauce is just beginning to brown. Serve immediately.

Notes

For a richer flavour, you can replace a little of the milk with a splash of beer (light or dark, depending on how strong you want the flavour to be). As this is such a simple recipe, make sure you use a good quality bread and a flavourful mature cheese.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Perfect Welsh Rarebit
Amount Per Serving (2 slices)
Calories 472 Calories from Fat 206
% Daily Value*
Fat 22.9g35%
Saturated Fat 13.2g66%
Cholesterol 61mg20%
Sodium 730mg30%
Potassium 179mg5%
Carbohydrates 47.1g16%
Fiber 2.5g10%
Sugar 3.7g4%
Protein 19.1g38%
Calcium 415mg42%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.

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44 Comments

  1. My Grannie would pour the sauce over salad shrimp on toast. So good! I’ll try your recipe and add the shrimp!

  2. A proper Welsh Rarebit always contains beer not milk in the sauce, and it has to be a bitter beer, not lager or cider. Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a sprinkle of smoked paprika for a more piquant flavour. Experiment with adding strong cheeses like Stilton too.

    1. does it feel good to be the Arbiter of Rarebit?? the author clearly states there is no one recipe and that people have been free to make it how they please for as long as its been around. you dont get to decide how a “proper welsh rarebit” is. you’re not the king of the universe! the unmitigated gall to come onto this woman’s page and mansplain about her own recipe. grow up. its time to understand your true place in the world, and it’s not “master and knower of all”. time for you to have a seat.

  3. Perfect for two. I made it using sourdough English muffin bread and Cheddar cheese. It was yummy. Will definitely make it again.5 stars

  4. Thank you, Becca. I haven’t made Welsh Rarebit for years, but might try this for lunch very soon. I’ll have to veganise the milk and cheese, though.

  5. Only 30g cheese? Seems very small quantity. I love Rarebit, but have never made it with beer, always milk.
    Will try it though.