Ever hear of Welsh Rarebit or Welsh Rabbit? It's a traditional British dish made by ladling a thick cheese sauce over toast, and then briefly toasting the two together so the cheese sauce turns thick and bubbling.

There are a variety of ways to make Welsh rarebit; some skip the sauce step and just broil toast with cheese slices and a splash of Worcestershire or chili sauce, and others make it with crackers.

According to folk legend, Welsh rarebit was originally “Welsh rabbit,” and it was meant to cast aspersions on the Welsh, who allegedly were not very adept at catching rabbits. Over time, “rabbit” became “rarebit,” perhaps spurred by a desire for political correctness, and the dish made its way into the English repertoire from Welsh kitchens.

The dish dates back to at least the 1700s. The Welsh are famously fond of cheese, and they were allegedly among the first to use cheese cooked in various prepared dishes.

A basic rarebit sauce is made by melting cheese with milk or cream, adding a dash of beer, and seasoning the mixture before pouring it over toast. Other cooks prefer to start with a roux to give the sauce more body and a toasted flavor, sprinkling in spices like cayenne, mustard, and pepper before adding ale and finally cheese. After a few minutes of slow whisking, the sauce should even and thicken, at which point Worcestershire sauce can be added and then the sauce may be refrigerated for later use, or spread on toast and broiled for a few minutes for the desired bubbly consistency.

Far from simple cheese on toast, a good plate of Welsh rarebit is savory, spicy, rich, and layered with flavor, and cooks may also add things like grilled tomatoes or boiled eggs to their Welsh rarebit for some extra flavor and body. Most cooks also recommend using really good bread, as the dish can be ruined by spongy, poorly made bread with an indifferent texture. Here's one way to skin a rarebit:
2 tbls butter
2 tbls flour
1 tbls mustard powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
3/4 cup strong dark beer, like Guinness
2 tbls Worcestershire sauce
1 lb Cheddar, Double Gloucester or other English cheese (or other good semi-hard cheese, like Comté or Gruyère, or a mixture), grated
4 to 8 pieces lightly toasted bread
1. Put butter in a saucepan over medium heat stirring as it melts, stir in flour. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in mustard and cayenne, then whisk in beer and Worcestershire sauce.
2. When mixture is uniform, turn heat to low and stir in cheese, again stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and pour into a broad container to set (you can refrigerate for up to a day at this point).
3. Spread mixture thickly on toast and put under broiler until bubbly and edges of toast are crisp. Serve immediately. Who says sandwiches are simple? This one has a great history, steeped in tradition, flexibility in preparation and f l a v o r for days. Try it!


  1. This looks and sounds delicious. I've often thought about making my own Welsh Rarebit, but haven't tried yet.

    So if Google Reader isn't showing your new posts, is there any way to get your current posts to show on the blog roll in my sidebar?


  2. I'm glad I looked today and see that you have a new post. Wish they would fix your problem and your new posts would show in my sidebar!

    This is one great sandwich! It's tasty with the gruyere cheese for sure. That's an interesting legend and your photo is perfect!

    It sounds like Miss Harriet is one popular lady and I'm wondering how she is doing in Paris...

  3. Sounds awesome. Who can resist melted cheese? At first though, I really thought you made rabbit and I thought, yay! I'm not the only one!

  4. In the name of Catherine Zeta-Jones, that is absolutely stunning.

    I mean, thick cheese sauce on toast?

    Who wouldn't want that?

    God bless you, Tom Jones!

  5. This looks and sounds devine! Thanks for the history lesson, too. :-)

  6. I saw your comment on Marguerite’s Cajun Delight blog and came to pay you a visit. Welsh rarebit is one of my favorite dish – we try not to eat it too often because of the cholesterol. I still remember the first time I had it, it was in a restaurant in San Francisco at lunch. They served it on English muffins with cherry tomatoes. I have tried to reproduce it, but the easy way. I buy Stouffer’s frozen Welsh rarebit entrée, then add a bit of Worcestershire sauce to it. Then I brown some bacon slices in a frying pan. When the rarebit is warm and the bacon is ready I place first the bacon on the English muffin then pour the rarebit over the whole thing. I add several cherry tomatoes on the side. It is very quick and economical. I also think the bacon bring out the flavor of the cheese. Now I am not British (I am French), so I am not a purist. I also drink a beer on the side – I like India Pale Ale, it’s not as strong as Guinness. But I’ll keep your recipe though.

  7. It’s me again. I was looking at your blog and you do have a lot of things written in French so I wonder, are you French too? Cela me ferait plaisir d’écrire en français car ne j’ai pas beaucoup d’amis bloggeurs dans ma langue.

  8. an award for you!

  9. Great recipe and blog! Thanks so much for visiting my blog and for the follow. I just love sandwiches, so I will be following you, as well.

  10. My grandmother used to make this. It was wonderful. Have a great weekend!

  11. Keri, Welsh rarebit is an old favorite of ours. You're so right about the kind of bread and cheese can make or break the dish as far as taste is concerned. We love the French Gruyere or Comte.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. It's very nice to meet you. I adore sandwiches too.


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