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How To Make Welsh Rarebit (aka Welsh Rabbit!)

Updated on May 28, 2017
Welsh Rarebit is often referred to as "posh cheese on toast"!
Welsh Rarebit is often referred to as "posh cheese on toast"! | Source

Welsh Rarebit - So Much More Than "Just" Cheese On Toast!

Welsh Rarebit is a delicious traditional British dish. It's often known as "Welsh Rabbit" for reasons that aren't really known for sure, but are probably simply down to mispronunciation, as there's no rabbit or any other kind of meat in it!

Welsh Rarebit consists of toasted bread covered with cheese that has been melted in beer or milk with mustard, pepper and Worcester sauce.

It's then grilled (broiled) and served very hot so the cheese is bubbling and golden brown.

There's lots of variations on the basic theme of Welsh Rarebit too - it's very versatile and easy to make.

In Welsh, Welsh Rarebit is called Caws Pobi which literally translated means "roasted cheese"!

On this page you'll find everything you ever wanted to know about how to make Welsh Rarebit (or Welsh Rabbit!), including Welsh Rarebit recipes, videos and some interesting facts about this much loved classic British dish!

How To Make Welsh Rarebit
How To Make Welsh Rarebit | Source

Welsh Rarebit Dates Back To At Least 1542!

In 1542 in the world's earliest known international guidebook, "Fyrst Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge", the author Andrew Boorde, wrote:

"I am a Welshman. I do love cause boby, good roasted cheese"

* "cause boby" = Caws Pobi...better known as Welsh Rarebit!

Cheese on toast - is it the same as Welsh Rarebit?
Cheese on toast - is it the same as Welsh Rarebit? | Source

Is Welsh Rarebit Just A Posh Name For Cheese On Toast?

What's The Difference Between Welsh Rarebit And Cheese On Toast?

Look at the picture on the right - it's unquestionably cheese on toast. OK, it's strictly speaking cheese on toast made more interesting by the addition of a sliced tomato, but essentially, it's simply a slice of toast with some cheese on top. All that is required to prepare cheese on toast is some bread and cheese and some means of grilling the bread. Adventurous people grill the cheese as well, but even if the cheese is ungrilled, it's still cheese on toast. Simple, uncomplicated and quick to put together.

Is Welsh Rarebit in any way similar? Well, it's preparation does include toast and cheese, but the similarity pretty much ends there. So what actually is Welsh Rarebit?

Let's start with an academic definition. Merriam-Webster tell us that Welsh Rarebit is:

"melted cheese served on toast or crackers"

Crackers? Where on earth have they got that idea from? That's not even cheese on toast...that's a cheese board gone wrong...

As Merriam Webster weren't much help, let's take a look at what OxfordDictionaries.com have to say on the subject. They define Welsh Rarebit as:

"a dish of melted and seasoned cheese on toast, sometimes with other ingredients."

That's pretty vague isn't it - what are these "other ingredients" they refer to?

Perhaps Wiktionary can shed some light on what constitutes Welsh Rarebit...according to their writers, Welsh Rarebit is:

"a dish of cheese melted with a little ale and served on toast"

Now we're getting somewhere! Let's move on from mainstream dictionaries and see if a dedicated food encyclopedia can help us out.

Larousse Gastronomique, the world famous classic "encyclopedia of food, wine & cookery" lists the ingredients of Welsh Rarebit as:

  • Ale
  • Sandwich bread
  • Mustard
  • Cheddar Cheese

In traditional Welsh Rarebit, a sauce is made from cheese combined with beer (ale) and mustard powder and the resulting hot liquid is poured over the bread prior to grilling (broiling).

Cheese On Toast and Welsh Rarebit are really two different dishes that share some of the same ingredients - both are equally delicious though!

Lincolnshire poacher rarebit with spiced onion chutney
Lincolnshire poacher rarebit with spiced onion chutney | Source

How To Make Welsh Rarebit

Ingredients for Classic Welsh Rarebit

  • 2 oz (50g) flour
  • 2 oz (50g) butter or margarine
  • 8 fl oz (200ml) beer (use ale NOT lager!)
  • 8 oz (200g) grated hard cheese (e.g. Cheddar)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 level teaspoons dry mustard
  • Pepper (or use a little Paprika if you want to zazz things up!)
  • 4 slices of bread toasted on one side only

Cook Time

Prep time: 2 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 12 min
Yields: Serves two people as a meal or 4 people as a snack

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter or margarine in a pan, add the flour a little at a time and mix well to make a roux. Cook for around 2 minutes, stirring all the time to prevent the roux from burning.
  2. Slowly add the beer while stirring constantly.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Return the pan to the heat and stir the mixture constantly until all the cheese has melted.
  4. Pour the cheese mixture over the toasted bread and place under a hot grill (broiler) until the cheese starts to bubble and turn brown.
  5. Serve your Welsh Rarebit! It goes well with a crisp green salad and possibly some pickle or chutney, or just enjoy it on it's own and let the strong and rich flavours speak for themselves!

Rate this recipe!

5 stars from 2 ratings of Welsh Rarebit Recipe

Which Cheeses Can Be Used To Make Welsh Rarebit?

Welsh Rarebit needs a combination of strong flavours, so use mature, or extra mature versions of hard cheeses such as:

Cheddar

Cheshire

Double Gloucester

Lancashire

Red Leicester

Which Beers Are Suitable For Making Welsh Rarebit?

Dark, strong flavoured beers such as brown ales or stouts (e.g. Newcastle Brown, Guinness etc) work best for Welsh Rarebit.

You can use Pale Ale if you want, but definitely do NOT use lager, as it is too fizzy and doesn't have a strong enough flavour!

Do You Like Welsh Rarebit?

Are you a fan of Welsh Rarebit? Take the poll below and tell the world what you think!

Do you like Welsh Rarebit?

See results

How To Cook Welsh Rarebit

TV chef James Barber demonstrates how to prepare and cook Welsh Rarebit on the Canadian TV series The Urban Peasant.

Alcohol Free Welsh Rarebit Recipe

Video cook Titli Nahaan shows how to make a variation on Welsh Rarebit by using milk instead of beer - great for children or for anyone who wants to avoid alcohol!

Welsh Rarebit Variations

Welsh Rarebit with a difference!

Basic Welsh Rarebit with some interesting additions for the more adventurous!;

  • Buck Rarebit - topped with a poached egg
  • Irish Rarebit - topped with onions, vinegar, herbs, and gherkins
  • Yorkshire Rarebit - topped with bacon and a poached egg
  • American Rarebit - topped with whisked egg whites
  • English Rarebit - the same as basic Welsh Rarebit but substitute red wine for beer!
  • King Rarebit - topped with a fried egg
  • Blushing Bunny - either topped with sliced tomato or using tomato soup or ketchup in the topping mixture
  • Hot Brown - a variation originating from Kentucky which tops Welsh Rarebit with slices of hot bacon and turkey

Buck Rarebit Recipe

Chef Valentine Warner makes his version of Buck Rarebit - a variation on the classic Welsh Rarebit in which he uses ham as well as topping the dish with a fried duck egg! I'd say that's more of a King Rarebit rather than Buck Rarebit, but it looks and sounds delicious nevertheless.

More Welsh Rarebit Recipes

Links to some more Welsh Rarebit recipes guaranteed to tantalise your tastebuds:

Enjoy A Taste Of Wales

These Welsh cookbooks include a variety of delicious traditional Welsh recipes to try out in your own home!

© 2009 LouiseKirkpatrick

Waffle About Welsh Rarebit! - Here's the place to tell the world about Welsh Rarebit...whether you're Welsh or not!

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    • kabbalah lm profile image

      kabbalah lm 4 years ago

      I've never had it

    • Stuwaha profile image

      Stuwaha 4 years ago

      I am back to say that I finally tried the recipe and it's lovely :) thank you for sharing.

    • craiger-m profile image

      Craig 4 years ago from Great Britain

      Welsh Rarebit is lovely!!

    • Stuwaha profile image

      Stuwaha 4 years ago

      Something that I have been meaning to try since moving to the UK. Think I am now motivated to give it a go this weekend! :)

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      i grew up on rarebit for lunch 1-2 times a week, yum!

    • marigoldina profile image

      Heather B 5 years ago

      I never knew that Welsh Rarebit contained beer! No wonder my boyfriend loved it so much!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Welsh Rabbit as a term goes back to the 1700s, the 'rarebit' variety doesn't show up til the late 19th century. I heard, or read, many years ago, the the term was an English derision to the Welsh poor--so poor they couldn't even get rabbit (apparently a common meat among the English poor) and had to make do with melted cheese on toast. whether that's true or not the rabbit usage is the older.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      It looks delicious. I am definitely going to have to try it. Lol...when I first saw the heading of your article I thought, "oh gosh please don't be eating rabbits". Lol...so pleased you were not.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I'd be willing to eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner ~ I could go through all the variations and start again! This is comfort food!

    • thesuccess2 profile image

      thesuccess2 6 years ago

      Superb Lens but you've made me hungry!!

    • drifter0658 lm profile image

      drifter0658 lm 6 years ago

      WOW! Bookmarked because this is right up my alley. I love to bake bread and this looks so darn delicious....

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Natty's Welsh rarebit tastes great; it's ready made so you just spread it on your toast and pop it back under the grill. They do different flavours - original, with leek, with bacon ... my favourite is with chilli.

    • myraggededge profile image

      myraggededge 7 years ago

      Fabulous - I love Welsh Rarebit. And thanks for featuring Traditional Welsh Food - much appreciated.

    • profile image

      Lord_Sid 7 years ago

      Lovely now.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 8 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Mmm, making me hungry ...

    • Lou165 profile image

      Lou165 8 years ago from Australia

      I popped back to let you know that I enjoyed your lens so much I've featured it on my Some of My Favorite Foods lens.

    • Suzie-Shine profile image

      Suzie-Shine 8 years ago

      Super, super lens. I love Welsh Rarebit. It's one of the only times that I break my vegetarian rules - Worcestershire sauce isn't suitable for veggies (but I love the stuff). It's a bit late to have some now but I shall have some tomorrow - yummy.

      Suzie

    • Lou165 profile image

      Lou165 8 years ago from Australia

      Delicious, I'm now drooling over my computer! I love Welsh Rabbit, but I must confess I usually just make cheese on toast!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Yummy! 5 stars!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      What an inspirational lens! love welsh rabbit...

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 8 years ago from Michigan

      As always happens when I read a good food lens, my mouth is watering by the end.

      Of course, I've eaten my share of grilled cheese sandwiches over the years, but the addition of one of my favorite beverages, Guinness Stout, has me intrigued. Sounds easy enough to make, so I expect I will give it a try soon. Lensrolling this to my Laftovers lens, in addition to all the other things I do when I've a lens.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

      I've heard of Welsh Rarebit, but have never made it. You've inspired me to give it a try. Thanks for adding this to Culinary Favorites From A to Z.

    • Sniff It Out profile image

      Sniff It Out 8 years ago

      What a great lens! I'm not sure whether it is typical here in Yorkshire to call it 'Welsh Rabbit' but I always have. :-)

      Thanks for adding this to The Cooks Cafe group!

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

      I always wondered what Welsh Rarebit was. It sounds truly wonderful! I have to try it. Welcome to the Hungry Squidz Choice Group. Please stop by the group and grab the blue ribbon for your lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Great lens. I never heard of this stuff. Looks good!