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This Welsh Rarebit recipe (aka Welsh Rabbit) is a classic British dish of smooth, velvety, and savory cheese sauce that’s broiled on toasted bread. It’s hearty, satisfying comfort food that whips up in just 10 minutes.

toasted cheese welsh rarebit on baking tray

The first time I heard of Welsh Rarebit (aka Welsh Rabbit) was in 2010. I was at the library with my then 6-year-old niece for our regular Saturday “girls’ day out” after grabbing a hot cocoa at Tim Hortons. She was happily playing her favorite game on the computer – Miss Spider – and I was contentedly thumbing through a stack of old cookbooks.

It was then that I happened on a recipe for a dish called “Welsh Rabbit”. I had heard of it before, but I never knew exactly what it was. I always assumed it was rabbit stew or something similar. And because I wasn’t too keen on the idea of eating bunny I never explored the recipe any further.

classic pub lunch of welsh rarebit toast

After reading the recipe in that old cookbook, I was surprised to find that it didn’t include rabbit or meat of any kind. Actually, it looked quite delicious. Welsh Rarebit is basically fondue on toast. And it’s very easy to make!

I’ve been making different versions of this dish since then. Sometimes I’ll top it with a poached egg (which I found out later is a thing! According to Britannica it’s called buck rarebit, and as per Wikipedia it’s buck rabbit). Other times I’ll wilt some greens like spinach or kale and use them as a bed for the cheese sauce. I’ve played with the type of beer and used lager (light-colored beer) instead of a dark ale. It’s always delicious.

close up of ppen face cheesy toast sandwich

Is Welsh Rarebit the Same as Cheese on Toast?

Well, yes and no.

It is cheese on toast, but not just plain cheese on toast.

It’s a delicious thick and creamy savory cheese sauce on toast.

And the sauce makes all the difference! It’s smooth, rich, velvety, and packed with flavor.

pub spread of ale and welsh rarebit on wooden table

What is Welsh Rarebit?

Also called Welsh Rabbit, this classic British dish is comprised of a complex-flavored velvety-smooth cheese sauce on toasted bread.

The origin of this dish is unclear and often debated; however, it’s thought that it was originally called Welsh Rabbit, even though it didn’t contain rabbit. And it’s said it may not even be a Welsh dish! According to Martha Stewart, back in the 17th and 18th centuries when this dish originated, the term “welsh” referred to something that was a substitute for the real thing! Here, the substitute being cheese sauce for rabbit.

But no matter what the story is behind it, this dish is now part of classic British fare. Pair it with a pint for pub food at its finest, and nowadays you can also find it on the menu at elegant cafés.

The star of the show here is the sauce. The sauce is magic.

It starts out with a roux (butter + flour) and then has a liquid added. Typically, a dark ale is used, but you can also use a lager (a lighter colored beer) or even milk or broth if you don’t want to use beer. Spices and seasonings commonly include some form of mustard (like mustard powder or Dijon mustard), Worcestershire sauce, and paprika and/or cayenne pepper. And then lots and lots of cheese!

My favorite cheese to use for this classic comfort food is sharp white cheddar. But use what feels right to you.

Also, I like to add a splash of heavy whipping cream at the end to make the cheese sauce extra smooth, but this is optional.

authentic welsh rarebit on tray

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Fast – You’re just 10 minutes away from the best cheese toast of your life. And it’s such an easy recipe, you’ll want to add it to your regular meal rotation.
  • Affordable – It’s mostly made of bread and cheese. And you can even use day-old bread since it’s toasted anyway.
  • Forgiving – You can use any type of bread you have on hand and whatever kind of cheese you think will be good. I’ve also swapped out the porter for lager, or milk, or chicken stock and had great results each time.
  • Delicious – This savory cheese sauce strikes the perfect balance; it packs a punch of flavor without any one component taking over. A friend of mine in the UK told me it’s the best rarebit recipe she’s tried!
overhead view of welsh rabbit with fresh tomatoes on a plate

Ingredients and Substitutions

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

welsh rarebit ingredients

Welsh Rarebit Sauce Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter – We use butter and flour to make a roux, which thickens the sauce. You can use salted butter instead of salted, and just cut down a little bit on the amount of added salt.
  • Flour – Use all-purpose flour here.
  • Porter beer – Porter is a type of dark ale that hails from London. Porters are known for their hoppy, roasted malt flavor. However, if you prefer, you can use light ale, lager, milk, broth, or stock (chicken stock adds rich flavor).
  • Worcestershire sauce – This fermented savory condiment is a not-so-secret secret ingredient in a lot of British recipes that adds a certain je ne sais quoi. It provides umami complexity, and I love using it in dishes that have cheese or beef (such as British Beef and Ale Stew).
  • Dried mustard powder – Mustard powder adds a subtle piquancy and helps cut through the richness of the cheese. If you don’t have dried mustard powder, you can use Dijon mustard instead.
  • Onion powder – Onion powder adds savory depth of flavor.
  • Salt and black pepper – These pantry-staple seasonings add a ton of flavor.
  • Cayenne pepper – Cayenne pepper is optional. I don’t add enough to make the Welsh rarebit sauce spicy hot; rather, just enough to add balance and round out the richness. You can substitute with paprika if you want the red color and subtle fruity flavor note without the heat.
  • Sharp white cheddar – Use your favorite English cheddar for maximum effect. But really, any good-quality sharp white cheddar is delicious here.
  • Heavy whipping cream – I like to add a touch of heavy cream to the cheese sauce at the end of cooking for the perfect texture. You can omit it if you prefer.

Other Ingredients

  • Sliced bread – I like to use rustic sourdough or rye bread here, but you can use any type of bread you like.
  • Minced fresh chives – We use chives as a garnish to add a pop of green color and light onion flavor.

How to Make Welsh Rarebit Sauce

how to make welsh rarebit sauce
  1. Add the butter to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour. Continue cooking for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the porter, whisking until smooth, and bring to a boil (about 10 seconds). Stir in the Worcestershire, dried mustard powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
  3. Whisk in the shredded cheddar a handful at a time until melted and well-combined.
  4. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

How to Make Welsh Rarebit

how to make welsh rarebit cheese toast
  1. Place the toasted bread slices on a baking tray. Drizzle the cheese on top of the toast.
  2. Broil until the cheese is light golden (stay with it, this happens fast). Sprinkle the chives on top and serve warm.
toast topped with cheesy welsh rarebit sauce

Tips

At first glance, this dish looks carb-heavy (which it is in its traditional form). However, this posh cheese toast recipe is actually very easy to adapt to just about any way of eating, including a low carb diet!

  • Vegetarian Version – Make sure to use vegan Worcestershire sauce because this fermented condiment usually contains anchovies.
  • Gluten Free Variation – Omit the all-purpose flour, and instead toss the shredded cheddar with 1 tablespoon cornstarch before adding it to the sauce. In place of porter, use a gluten free beer that you enjoy the flavor of, or go for vegetable or chicken stock. Use whatever gluten free bread strikes your fancy.
  • Low Carb and Keto Friendly – Omit the all-purpose flour and use 2 ounces of room temperature cream cheese. Instead of porter, use your favorite keto-friendly beer or broth or stock. Skip the sourdough or rye, and make these open-face sandwiches on homemade keto bread.
top view of welsh rarebit meal topped with chives

What to Serve with Traditional Welsh Rarebit

overhead view of plated welsh rarebit with a pint of ale

Let’s Connect

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10-Minute Welsh Rarebit Recipe (aka Welsh Rabbit)

4 from 1 vote
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
This Welsh Rarebit recipe (aka Welsh Rabbit) is a classic British dish of smooth, velvety, and savory cheese sauce that's broiled on toasted bread. It’s hearty, satisfying comfort food that whips up in just 10 minutes.

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Ingredients
 

Beer Cheese Sauce:

Other:

  • 4 large slices sourdough bread toasted lightly
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives for garnish

Instructions
 

Beer Cheese Sauce:

  • Add the butter to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour and continue cooking for 30 seconds.
  • Add the porter, whisking until smooth, and bring to a boil (about 10 seconds).
  • Stir in the Worcestershire, dried mustard powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
  • Whisk in the shredded cheddar a handful at a time until melted and well-combined.
  • Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

To Make the Cheese Toast:

  • Preheat the broiler.
  • Place the toasted bread slices on a baking tray. Drizzle the cheese on top of the toast.
  • Broil until the cheese is light golden (stay with it, this happens fast).
  • Sprinkle the chives on top and serve warm.

Notes

  • To Make This Without Beer: Omit the beer and use milk, vegetable stock, or chicken stock instead. Add 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice along with the spices.
  • If You Need Less Than 4 Servings: You can make the cheese sauce and just pour it onto 1 slice of toast and broil it. Store the leftover cheese sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You don’t have to reheat the leftover cheese sauce; simply spread it on toast (it will be thick) and broil.

Nutrition

Calories: 459kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 851mg | Potassium: 156mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 773IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 348mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Lunch
Cuisine: British
Keyword: Cheese Toast, How to Make Welsh Rarebit, Welsh Rabbit, Welsh Rarebit, Welsh Rarebit Ingredients, Welsh Rarebit Recipe, Welsh Rarebit Sauce

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welsh rarebit recipe pin

This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on February 9, 2010 and updated on February 26, 2024.

Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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Recipe Rating




21 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    It would have been delicious, made with the chicken stock, instead of the ale. The flavor of the beer was too overpowering. I’ll try it again, with stock.

    1. Deborah, I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe! Yes, you will definitely be able to taste the beer in the finished recipe, so make sure to use a beer that you enjoy the flavor of. Like I mentioned in the post, you can also use light ale, lager, milk, broth, or stock (chicken stock adds rich flavor) instead of a dark ale.

  2. Geoff Klein says:

    I grew up on it in the 50’s and 60’s and have continued to make it to this day but we used the Stouffers frozen which has been discontinued so now it has to be from scratch. Our family tradition was an English Muffin half, toasted, then a slice of Canadian Bacon, topped with a Pineapple slice, topped with a tomato slice, topped with steamed broccoli and then the cheese poured over it. I will be trying your recipe for the cheese sauce.

  3. Thank you for providing an alternative to the beer. I’ll have to try this after I hit the grocery store, sounds right up my alley!

  4. Faith…I am from the future, lol… just made a petite portion of the Brie & black grapes OMG to die for! The Welsh Rabbit’s story is also when the menfolk came home from the “hunt” with no meat this is what the women-folk would prepare…my hand to God! I made this years ago and this was the lore attached to the recipe, I loaned my cookbook (that was kinda like a tablet w/funny little pages, for those of you that have never seen a book)…to a friend who never returned it…but it’s all good ’cause we’ve all got the web now so there ya go! Thanks baby girl, peace

  5. Look great! Although I did think it was a recipe for rabbit not rarebit.

    1. My mother would prepare this for my father on a Friday night when he arrived home. After a long week of hard work and a night at the pub he loved this dish with another glass of beer. She also added a few slices of crisp bacon atop a fresh slice of tomato.
      Thanks for this recipe, can’t wait to try it! 🍅 🧀 🥓 and toast, 😋

  6. Faith, this dish looks excellent. I wish I had much time and patient to whip it up for breakfast.

  7. so sweet spending time with niece!! hehe!! have a great time and happy chinese new year!!
    enjoy!!

  8. Fitness Surfer says:

    Same here i was a little worries that it was a Rabbit recipe. Few, just another delicious, to drool for recipe.

  9. mangocheeks says:

    This Welsh woman living in Scotland approves of your Welsh Rabbit. Liking it so much.

  10. marla {Family Fresh Cooking} says:

    Why in the world is this called Welsh Rabbit??? I too would have absolutely avoided it ’cause of the rabbit deal. Good thing I love your blog and everything you have to say, so I kept reading. I would totally make this.

  11. Thank you for this great idea! I haven’t made Welsh Rabbit in years! Forgotten how good it tastes. Love your idea of the egg on top!

  12. Faith
    My mom would make Welsh Rabbit for us kids while we lived in France by using all the bits of old fromage she found in the fridge. Pretty good but your take on it is really yummy.

  13. I’m with you – I never knew what it was before and just dismissed it as something I wouldn’t like. But I love this! So hearty and delicious.

  14. I won’t lie to you… I got a little nervous when I read the title of this post! But I am glad to see that it is not what I thought it was! =)

  15. That looks delicious! I shouldn’t read food blogs so close to lunch time!

  16. I always dissed this recipe as well thinking it had rabbit in it. I’m SO glad to see that it looks delicious and is bunny free!!!

    I think it’s wonderful that you spend Saturday’s with your niece. Those are memories that she’ll ALWAYS have!

  17. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    Faith I swear you make the best food! I would have assumed the recipe had rabbit in it too. Although I’m not really afraid to eat bunnies…haha. I sadly grew up eating it. My dad was a big time hunter. Talk soon!!!

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