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Keeping Alive a Tradition #3: Welsh Rarebit

Welsh rarebit, or rabbit, is a traditional twist on the classic cheese on toast. In truth, I don’t suppose this is a dish confined to our small corner of the world, since English rarebit, Scotch rarebit and Irish rarebit also exist. However, I’m not certain if those rarebits made in the other corners of the British Isles bare the exact credentials of the well-known Welsh version. It is important to highlight that the original dish was called Welsh rabbit, rather than rarebit. It makes sense, perhaps, that the name was changed to distinguish it as a non-meat dish.

The reasons behind this post go beyond the fact that this is both delicious and traditionally Welsh: the recipe itself needs to be established. I’ve seen many a recipe for Welsh rarebit during my time on WordPress, but only a few have prepared it correctly. This fabulously delicious lunch-time meal should contain only mustard, cheddar cheese, brown ale and butter, nothing less, nothing more. Any recipe which makes use of paprika or cayenne pepper, is taking itself a little too seriously. Believe me, this is a good example of less-is-more. Both the yellow English mustard and the red Welsh mustard are acceptable in this recipe. Please don’t use the dreaded American mustard, which is a rather sorry excuse for the popular condiment. Once again, sorry America – you do take a beating here, don’t you?

Welsh Rarebit

Serves 2


• 100g mature cheddar cheese

• ½ tsp English or Welsh mustard

• 2-4 tbsp brown ale, depending on the desired consistency

• A small knob of butter

• Two slices of wholegrain bread


1. Melt a little butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the cheese, ale and mustard and cook over a low heat until the cheese has melted.

2. While the cheese is melting toast both sides of your bread, under a grill. Once the cheese has melted spoon the mixture over the toasted bread. Return to the grill and allow the rarebit to brown.

Cost: In Britain 100g of good, mature cheddar can be found for as little as 55p. If one is successful in this exploit this dish should set one back a mere 70p. Not bad considering it will provide a filling lunch for two.

89 replies on “Keeping Alive a Tradition #3: Welsh Rarebit”

Nice Frugal. Even with the snide America comments. That’s okay. I like Welsh rarebit and even some Welsh people. I’m going to make this today using good old American yellow French’s mustard and any cheese that strikes my fancy 🙂 Love

There used to be a small tea room in a converted barn near where I am in Surrey that made proper Welsh Rarebit (and if so requested would give you a sausage or bacon or an egg with it) and it was fantastic, it was so good that after the tea room closed over a year ago I have been disheartened by the occasional rarebit I eat, knowing it just won’t be the same (there was some poncy place up near Covent Garden I remember charging nearly a tenner for the most ridiculous incarnation of rarebit I have yet seen – It had gruyere, hollandaise and white wine in it. It was horrible as well.) So for well over a year I have stared forlornly at menus that promise me rarebit knowing it isn’t going to be anything like that tea room’s and, here’s the sad bit, I’ve been scared to make it at home because I worry it’ll make me a traitor to the tea room’s memory!

I might have to be a little bit treacherous soon.

Looks delicious and I like the lovely traditional recipe. Was talking Welsh Rarebit in my interview with Mark Mosimann on Tues about his favourite cookbooks … re Mrs Beeton and traditional recipes … but just looked at my own 1923 edition and – while much same ingredients as yours – she doesn’t brown it … mmm … strange … I’m definitely with you … nice browned topping is the best 🙂

I know all about Caerphilly cheese and it doesn’t work. Cheddar may be named after a village in Somerset, but it is just as Welsh as it is English. In fact, I much prefer Welsh cheddar to any produced anywhere.

Looks wonderful! Sorry to disappoint (Not really, I’m just being polite :)) but when I make this I will be using my American style mustard (French’s) and a fabulous brown ale brewed right here in Oregon. I look forward to trying this. I’ve never had rarebit before. Thank you for sharing your authentic recipe.

Sadly, I do have to agree with on the American mustard. It’s just too bright and tastes like sadness. When I can, I go Dijon or old-school whole grain. I’ll have to add this to my ever-growing pile of recipes to try out soon. Cheers!

I’m curious as to how English mustard differs from american. And don’t apologize for knocking american food. I think we’ve taken over the ‘crappiest diet in the world’ status. How do you come up with just 2 to 4 tblsp of beer? I mean, you have to open a bottle, what do you do with the rest…? Just kidding, don’t answer that.

Ah but the real gem is Buck Rarebit…viz Welsh Rarebit just as you’ve so brilliantly described, but with a soft poached egg on top…on a scale of 1 to 10 this hits an eleven with me every time….(provided the poached egg IS soft of course)

I’d been quietly observing your dishes but this made me kick my fingers into action! Cheese and toast – classic, but then making it a rarebit is like heaven on bread! Beautiful pictures too!

This looks delicious! I’ve never had a rarebit, but it seems I’ll be remedying that soon. All of my favorite ingredients together! Cheese, beer, mustard – oh my.

I won’t even defend what you’re calling “American” mustard. It’s awful, and shouldn’t be consumed. I eat a lot of mustard, and none of it is the aforementioned yellow paste.

Lovely post.

FF – I haven’t had Welsh Rarebit in forever. Ever Christmas someone sent us a big crock of cheese – after the holidays my mum turned whatever was left it into rarebit. Thank you – Susan

Just got around to reading this one. I’m forwarding it to a friend of mine who has been trying to make Welsh Rarebit from a recipe in an American cookbook — not a good idea (the proportions are all wrong).

Just had this for lunch. Yummy! I had some Coastal English cheddar and stone-ground mustard on hand, but I had to use a black lager instead of the brown ale, since that was all I had. I remember my mother making Welsh Rabbit for us when I was young, but I don’t have any idea what she put in it. I just remember the cheese and toast.

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