Perfect Welsh Rarebit

This blog post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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!

4.75 from 12 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.

Tried this Recipe? Leave a Comment!Comments and star ratings really help support the site – thank you!

4.75 from 12 votes (6 ratings without comment)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




46 Comments

  1. I have made something similar for many years, but without beer, as a son cannot have alcohol. You are so right; it is scrumptious! Is there any ingredient that could give it a beer- like kick, but without the alcohol? 
    Thanks so much,
    Patricia 4 stars

    1. When you cook wine or beer or any other alcohol it burns off the alcohol. Your son will not get drunk by eating this recipe. Or you could just use a near beer which is low to no alcohol.

  2. When I was little, occasionally on Sunday nights we had Welsh Rarebit on toast and l really loved it but my Mum doesn’t remember ever making it. This not what we had, ours was a bit more of a sauce but not. It was kind of a coral colour. I did make yours tonight and it was goooooooooood and will be made again. But my search is still on….lol5 stars

  3. I remember my mother making this—as a kid, I hated it. The tomato made it runny. Today, I’d be pleased to make it a mainstay in my diet, though I’d opt for using a robust, hearty bread instead of American white bread.5 stars

  4. I tried this with a Guinness stout beer and that gave it a much darker color than the picture. I don’t know if I didn’t cook it long or high enough but the bitterness of the beer was strong. I think next time I’ll add more cheese. Any idea on which beer to use or method to reduce bitterness?3 stars

  5. I recently went to a Welsh Festival that was unfortunately lacking in Welsh food. This led me to looking up Welsh recipes when I got home and came across yours. It was absolutely delicious! So easy too.

    1. @Tara, not surprising; Welsh food is pretty limited — my father grew up in South Wales and the only food which we identified as Welsh were griddle scones and the Welsh version of soda bread — OK but hardly specialized regional cooking. My experience of South Wales classical food was that good old British fast food standby, fish and chips; and the best fish and chips in Troedyrhiw (part of Merthyr Tydfil) were made by Italians, who were as gregarious and outgoing as the local Welsh !!

  6. Really easy to make and I like that I didn’t have to wait for it to rise. I used Fat Tire amber ale which was great in this. I would decrease the amount of butter to 1/4 cup next time. I had no problem with the butter over-flowing as some other reviewers had mentioned, but the taste of that much butter was just a bit much. Excellent otherwise. DH especially loved it. Thanks for sharing.

  7. You know, I eat cheese on toast all the time (usually with mustard and whatever appropriate veg I find in the crisper), but I’ve never made a rarebit! Maybe that’s not such a surprise, since I live in California, but still. :) Must try this very soon!