Welsh Rarebit Grilled Cheese

This Welsh rarebit grilled cheese is a grown-up take on our favorite gooey, melty open-face sandwich. It’s made with mustard, ale, and sharp Cheddar and comes together oh so smoothly.

A black metal skillet with a spatula ready to flip a Welsh rarebit grilled cheese sandwich.

This Welsh rarebit grilled cheese sandwich is an indulgent riff on the classic British Welsh rarebit, which is a frugal yet insanely satiating open-face sandwich of sorts made with a thick, mustardy Cheddar cheese sauce spiked with mustard and ale. This sorta begs the question, how does it work to try to sandwich runny cheese sauce and expect to flip it in a skillet? As one of our testers explained, it’s sorta like “sandwiched fondue.” Or, in another’s words, it’s “a delicious but seriously gooey hot mess in a good, eat-at-home sort of way.” Which, quite frankly, seems marvelous to us. And if you’re a sucker for what happens when cheese oozes out of a sandwich and crisps in a hot skillet, this sandwich is most undeniably for you. As for those Brits who consider this grilled cheese rendition treasonous, well, it wouldn’t be the first time we did something like that and not had any remorse, would it?–Renee Schettler Rossi

Welsh Rarebit Grilled Cheese

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 25 M
  • 25 M
  • Serves 2
5/5 - 1 reviews
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In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the butter and flour and stir constantly until the butter is melted and the mixture forms a paste, which ought to take just a couple minutes. Continue to cook, still stirring constantly, for another minute to ensure the resulting sauce doesn’t have a floury taste.

Gradually pour in the ale and continuously stir until the mixture thickens, anywhere from almost immediately to a few minutes later.

Add the mustard, cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and cayenne pepper and stir until the cheese has completely melted, 2 to 5 minutes. The sauce will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Keep stirring until the cheese has completely melted. Remove the pan from the heat.

Butter 1 side of each bread slice. Arrange 2 slices, butter side down, in a large heavy skillet, preferably cast-iron, off the heat. Top each slice with enough cheese sauce to cover the bread and then gently place the remaining 2 slices of bread on top, buttered-side up. (Some of the cheese sauce is probably going to squish out into the pan. That’s okay. It will crisp nicely.)

Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the bread is golden brown on the first side, about 4 minutes. Then grab a large spatula and carefully—we do mean carefully—flip the sandwiches. This may get a little messy. The cheese sauce is quite runny and chances are it will leak out of the bread and into your skillet. Any spilled sauce forms a delicious cheese crisp.

Cook until the other side is golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Transfer each grilled cheese sandwich to your cutting board and let cool for a few minutes before cutting in half—preferably on the diagonal—and serving. Any leftover cheese sauce can be covered, tossed in the fridge, rewarmed another day, and spooned over steamed broccoli or cauliflower or used to make Welsh rarebit (see Variation below). Originally published October 5, 2015.

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    Welsh Rarebit Variation

    • For a more classic Welsh rarebit, make the cheese sauce as directed. Omit the whole notion of making grilled cheese and instead generously slather the cheese sauce over a slice of toast and run it under the broiler until bubbly. Serve with a knife and fork.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    This Welsh rarebit grilled cheese is a more decadent, flavorful, and sophisticated version of a simple grilled cheese sandwich. Having recently spent some time in London, I can say that this sandwich is distinctively British but takes the familiar form of a grilled cheese sandwich. The ale and ground mustard give the cheese spread a more heightened, upscale flavor, and the Worcestershire sauce adds depth and savoriness.

    After adding the cheese, the sauce almost gets slippery at the bottom of the pan while trying to mix in and melt the cheese. The cheese sauce had a nice consistency, and I was surprised that the sauce didn't ooze out of the sandwich while cooking. The recipe does make quite a bit of sauce, easily making 2 good-size sandwiches or even 3 smaller ones. I didn't get much heat, but rather more of an essence, from the good pinch of cayenne pepper I added.

    This is a delicious sandwich that will satisfy any grilled cheese lover. Serve it with creamy tomato soup or a peppery arugula salad and you'll have a very satisfying lunch or light dinner. Add an ice-cold hard cider, and you'll have a meal worthy of any London pub.

    Once I saw this recipe, I knew it would be my reward for shoveling the 4 feet of snow blocking my sidewalk and path. It's the quintessential cold-weather food and brings so much more flavor to the table than your typical grilled cheese sandwich.

    The mustard powder, beer, and Worcestershire sauce add such a great punch to the filling. It took about 20 minutes from the start of prep to grilling the sandwiches, making this a very weeknight- and lunchtime-friendly dish, and I certainly recommend this to anyone coming in out of the cold. The sauce came together quickly, and the roux smoothed out and thickened very quickly once the beer was added. Keeping the heat on low, I was able to slowly melt the cheese into the sauce until it was silky and smooth.

    I used Belhaven Wee Heavy, a strong, malty Scottish beer, as my ale, and it was well-suited to this preparation. I used Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar.

    Starting the sandwich off in a cold pan worked just fine, as it allowed everything to slowly heat through rather than just crisping the outside very quickly with the inside remaining cold. Roughly 4 minutes on the first side and 2 on the other is accurate.

    The sauce is very runny, so beware a lot of oozing while cooking. I will say that the leaking sauce formed a delicious cheese crust once it cooked in the pan a little, if you're into that kind of thing. I would recommend serving this sandwich with a crisp salad with a bright dressing. It's nice to accompany it with some acid to cut through the richness of the sandwich. This is a RICH dish.


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      1. I know, right? The answer to your question is because the food stylist thought that would look lovely, David. This recipe comes from the book that you see listed just beneath the photo. We request and receive permission to post the content from the books on our site, and we do so only after we test the recipes to ensure they’re foolproof. While we can tweak the amounts of ingredients when necessary, unfortunately we can’t change the accompanying photograph. So we’re left with whatever occasional eccentricities are introduced to the recipe.

        1. David, I think I can actually vouch that the DeBuyer crepe pan (it looks to be carbon-steel, which seasons up as beautifully as their Mineral B line) would have worked nicely, at least as well as my cast iron. I had not yet discovered this pan pictured when we were testing the recipe, but it is now one of my favorite pans, and it has crisped up cheese on more than a few occasions! Haven’t even made crepes in it! So the stylist may not have wandered too far off being real. It is a very handy size and gets used for lots of things because it seasoned so well. Getting a craving for something melty and cheesy as I type!

    1. Southerner would use one slice of bread top with sliced turkey or chicken, slice of tomato, cheese and top with bacon. Broil for few minutes and savor!

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