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!
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!
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:
- Sandwich bread
- 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!
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
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
Serves two people as a meal or 4 people as a snack
- 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.
- Slowly add the beer while stirring constantly.
- 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.
- Pour the cheese mixture over the toasted bread and place under a hot grill (broiler) until the cheese starts to bubble and turn brown.
- 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!
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:
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!
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.
- Welsh Rarebit Recipe by Welsh Holiday Cottages Food Guide
Welsh Rarebit Recipe by Welsh Holiday Cottages Food in Wales Guide
- Welsh Rarebit recipe
Try this tasty recipe for Welsh Rarebit courtesy of London cheesemongers, Paxton & Whitfield
- BBC Good Food - Recipes : Summer rarebit
A medley of goat's cheese, cider and grated beetroot takes traditional Welsh rarebit to a new dimension!
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!
kabbalah lm on March 01, 2013:
I've never had it
Stuwaha on September 17, 2012:
I am back to say that I finally tried the recipe and it's lovely :) thank you for sharing.
The Hatter from Great Britain on August 28, 2012:
Welsh Rarebit is lovely!!
Stuwaha on August 28, 2012:
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 on December 23, 2011:
i grew up on rarebit for lunch 1-2 times a week, yum!
Heather B on November 01, 2011:
I never knew that Welsh Rarebit contained beer! No wonder my boyfriend loved it so much!
anonymous on July 28, 2011:
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.
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on March 17, 2011:
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.
anonymous on November 08, 2010:
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 on September 18, 2010:
Superb Lens but you've made me hungry!!
drifter0658 lm on September 11, 2010:
WOW! Bookmarked because this is right up my alley. I love to bake bread and this looks so darn delicious....
anonymous on February 28, 2010:
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 on February 23, 2010:
Fabulous - I love Welsh Rarebit. And thanks for featuring Traditional Welsh Food - much appreciated.
Lord_Sid on January 31, 2010:
Jennifer P Tanabe from Red Hook, NY on August 14, 2009:
Mmm, making me hungry ...
Lou165 from Australia on June 10, 2009:
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 on June 09, 2009:
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.
Lou165 from Australia on June 06, 2009:
Delicious, I'm now drooling over my computer! I love Welsh Rabbit, but I must confess I usually just make cheese on toast!
anonymous on May 05, 2009:
Yummy! 5 stars!
Heather Burns from Wexford, Ireland on May 04, 2009:
What an inspirational lens! love welsh rabbit...
Thomas F. Wuthrich from Michigan on April 30, 2009:
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 on March 02, 2009:
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 on February 24, 2009:
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 on February 24, 2009:
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!
anonymous on February 24, 2009:
Great lens. I never heard of this stuff. Looks good!