Welsh Rarebit with Spinach

By • May 8, 2010 36 Comments

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Author Notes: Ok, for those put off by the weird name, don't be afraid, it's basically just cheese on toast.
This is a very traditional British dish which we frequently ate when I was growing up - it's a really quick, easy and delicious snack to rustle up in no time.
I had never considered the meaning of the name before now. When I was small I thought it was called Welsh rabbit, and it turns out I wasn't far wrong - you can read about the history on wikipedia.
There are lots of different recipe variations of this, some add beer, others make a complicated béchamel-style sauce. My recipe here is exactly how my parents used to make it for me - very very simple: just some grated cheese, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and a dash of milk to bind the whole thing together. We didn't often add vegetables in the mix, occasionally sliced tomatoes, which tended to make the whole thing too soggy - not great. I did some experimenting by adding cooked spinach and it worked perfectly - not at all soggy and the flavors go really well together.

Recipe note: I've been a stickler to tradition here, which is why I've been so specific with the ingredients: I used Colman's English mustard powder which is very strong and flavorful, but other mustards work equally well - especially a good dijon or hot whole-grain variety.
With the cheddar cheese I won't compromise - in my 4 years in America I have yet to find a cheddar that stands up to the British or Irish versions (if I were being a real stickler I'd insist on cheddar from the Cheddar region in England - but that would be pushing it I suppose). Most American versions are rubbery when they should be crumbly, and bland and weirdly sweet when they should be tangy and sharp (even the so called 'sharp' versions) - cooklynveg

Food52 Review: This recipe makes us wonder why Welsh rarebit has never taken off on this side of the pond. With cooklynveg's version, there's no longer any excuse. With a wise addition of spinach (we used fresh), this cheesy, mustardy open-faced sandwich would make a satisfying afternoon snack, or even a plated breakfast with the addition of bangers and eggs. A British comfort food staple for everyone's in-between meal arsenal. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 4

  • 4 slices of good, sturdy bread (i used a very nice gluten free flax seed bread by glutino - any will do, but please, no wonderbread!)
  • 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese (I used Denhay English cheddar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Colman's mustard powder (or 1 teaspoon of a milder mustard)
  • 1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • a little ground black pepper
  • dash of milk (probably about a teaspoon)
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach or 1/2 cup frozen.
  1. If you're using fresh spinach, heat in a pan until wilted then leave to cool. When cooled, squeeze out the excess liquid and chop roughly. If using frozen, simply defrost and squeeze out excess liquid. Place the slices of bread under the grill (or broiler) until lightly browned on one side.
  2. Meanwhile mix together the cheese, mustard, worcestershire sauce, pepper and milk. Next, stir in the chopped spinach. Turn the slices of bread over and top with the cheese mixture, so it's evenly distributed over each slice. Place under the hot grill for 2 - 3 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.
  • This recipe is a Wildcard Contest Winner!

More Great Recipes: Cheese & Dairy|Sandwiches|Bread

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Comments (36) Questions (0)


3 months ago MPaula Whelan

I am in Canada and cannot afford really good cheese but PC (President's Choice brand from Loblaws) Extra Old White Cheddar has the crumbliness you want. I think you could add lengthwise-sliced Roma tomatoes on top and not find it soggy. They are best if slightly under ripe; if riper than that, leave the juice and seeds behind. I usually use mozzarella which tends to seal the bread and prevent sogginess.


3 months ago catalinalacruz

Try Tillamook extra sharp cheddar for a cheese that starts to crumble when sliced. Not rubbery at all.


3 months ago runcible spoon

Gotta try Vermont cheddar! My mom sends it to me in Colorado. Private stock will be right up your ally- crumbly and sharp! https://www.cabotcheese...


8 months ago mikedalena

How can you be living in America for four years and still not found a better cheddar than what you've described? I was excited to come across this recipe but turned off by the author's condescension and apparent failed ability to find a good cheddar as she described. It's all I buy, the crumbly, sharp, cheddar. Where does she shop? Safeway?


over 1 year ago BetsyTee

No beer? Thanks for the lead on the gluten free bread - there are some great gf beers out there now to give it a go on an authentic version. Will certainly try this one though!


over 1 year ago Edward Warren

Sounds yummy, but this is NOT Welsh Rabbit/Rarebit.


almost 2 years ago Erin

I grew up eating this when I was a kid. Not quite the rushed recipe I remember (stirring a pot of goopy cheese, trying to keep it from becoming a lump, not as fun as one might expect), much more mellow. I did not have enough cheddar so I adjusted with what I had on hand (oka), upped the mustard/pepper/and worcester to compensate and it was still a lovely rainy evening meal. :)


over 3 years ago mariedym

simple yet delicious!


over 3 years ago EatUrVeg

I made this with frozen spinach and 1/2 cup was way too much. It was tasty and quite good but the spinach overtook the cheese. Next time I'd just double the cheese and have more to server later!


over 4 years ago kikimama

this is really good! i quartered the recipe for lunch for one person and it worked out very well. it's important to keep the flavors in balance as you say, so it's worth bringing out the measuring spoons for the 1/8 tsp. would you mind if next time i put an egg on top?


over 4 years ago mcs3000

wow! perfect meatless monday snack or anytime.


almost 5 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

This was a post-Thanksgiving cooking extravaganza recovery meal (with good Vermont cheddar ;0) ). So easy and delicious!


almost 5 years ago midnitechef

Even without having the proper cheese for your recipe, I still enjoyed it! http://midnitechef.wordpress...


almost 5 years ago aliyaleekong

Congrats! This looks delicious :)


almost 5 years ago LazizaBites

this looks great - esp for the cold days coming ahead!


almost 5 years ago coconutlime

My grandpop used to tell a funny story about being a MP during the war. He was in England and went on a double date. The girls ordered Welsh Rarebit and he had no idea what it was and was worried it was expensive. He and his friend didn't have much money and they actually went to the bathroom to see it there was a window big enough to climb out of if they they couldn't afford to pay their bill. They were so relieved them the food came out and it was just a (cheap) cheese sandwich!


almost 5 years ago MyCommunalTable

Congrats! Now I am hungry!


almost 5 years ago Noeland

This looks much nicer than the stuff Dad used to make... You've improved the recipe!


almost 5 years ago jvsjr

with a poached egg, i think you've shown me what everyone gets for post thanksgiving brunch.
along with cold turkey, of course.


almost 5 years ago Kelsey Banfield

Congrats on the win, great recipe!!


almost 5 years ago midnitechef

Congrats on the win :) I'll have to try this out, I'm a cheese fiend!


almost 5 years ago cheese1227

I'll make this for my British MIL when she comes for Thanksgiving, which, as you might imagine, is not one of her favorite holidays. Thanks for sharing.


almost 5 years ago cooklynveg

Thanks all - I'm thrilled to be a winner! I'll have to make this for dinner tonight to celebrate!


almost 5 years ago gingerroot

YUM! Will be making this soon. Congrats on the Wildcard win!!


almost 5 years ago lapadia

Congratulations on being the Wild Card Winner!! I love this recipe...


almost 5 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Sounds like a yummy snack! Congrats on the wildcard and EP, cooklynveg! Yes, do try the Cabot aged cheddar - it's pretty darn good!


almost 5 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I missed this when you first posted it, but it sounds really wonderful... Congratulations on the Wildcard win!


over 5 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Definitely try to cloth bound aged Cabot!! I have some right now and it's wonderfully potent and crumbly. This looks awesome! One of the best meals I ever had was Welsh Rarebit and a good beer. Heaven!


over 5 years ago cooklynveg

Right, that's the second recommendation for the cloth bound aged Cabot - I'm gonna have to try it! Thanks for the tip!


over 5 years ago Gale

Love the addition of spinach. But do try an aged VT cheddar - Shelburne Farms (online) makes a really good 3yo, Cabot (a special cloth bound aged), and another 3yo from Cabot, black waxed. The last one's available at Costco. All are sharp (too sharp for some), dry and crumbly, melt well over low heat and less expensive (but not by much) than true imported cheddars. Worth looking for.


over 5 years ago cooklynveg

I'll have to look out for those - I must say, Vermont cheddar is the best I've tried in the US. Still loyal to my British cheeses though! :) Thanks for the comment.


almost 5 years ago LouisaBaer

Agreed! As a Vermonter living in the UK I feel especially compelled to back VT cheddar. Grafton is excellent if you can find it.


over 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Lovely!! This was a family favorite of ours when I was growing up (in Virginia), where my mother made it in much the same way . . . but never with tomatoes. Good sharp cheese and Worcestershire are the keys to this castle. I so like your addition of spinach. We love any dinner that's served on toast. Thanks for posting this!! ;o)


over 5 years ago cooklynveg

I haven't tried the Costco Irish cheddar - the Irish varieties are usually pretty good though, so I'm sure it'll be good!


over 5 years ago lapadia

This photo is very appetizing; I thought it was called Welsh Rabbit, when I was a kid too! There is an Irish cheddar at Costco, wondering if you know that one...it is the one I will use when I try this recipe....and thanks for sharing!


over 5 years ago maryvelasquez

Thanks for this recipe. The photo's got me hungry.