Welsh Rarebit with Spinach

May  8, 2010
3.7 Stars
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • 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 grated cheddar cheese (I used Denhay English cheddar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Colman's mustard powder (or 1 teaspoon of a milder mustard)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 dash milk (probably about a teaspoon)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach or 1/2 cup frozen
In This Recipe
  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.
  2. Place the slices of bread under the grill (or broiler) until lightly browned on one side.
  3. 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.
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41 Reviews

Cracker February 1, 2021
My southern grandmother used to make this for me, sans spinach, using cheap-o cheddar, plain white bread, & teasingly called “Welsh Rabbit”. It was heaven. Then a boyfriend made it, adding a bit of Guiness. That was wonderful.
I agree that a really excellent cheddar lifts this recipe, but the Colman’s mustard is a must have for me. And I will always call it “Rabbit”. 😆
lighthouse6 February 11, 2020
Ate this my entire childhood. It was a very popular dish in the 60-80's and in the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, sans the spinach.
Saumya G. February 18, 2019
I get it, American products are easy to jump on as inferior. And American cheeses legitimately could not stand up to comparison with their European counterparts previously.

However, it's been some time that things have changed dramatically and American cheeses are on par now- regularly topping international competitions (one only need Google Cabot clothbound). If you haven't found a good cheddar/American cheese, you just need to update your knowledge base. Happy to send you a list to try.
Atara March 11, 2018
This sounds delicious. To be vegetarian, omit the Worcestershire Sauce as it has anchovies in it.
Alles July 24, 2021
The Wizards have a vegan organic Worcestershire sauce. #Enjoy
MPaula W. June 14, 2015
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.
catalinalacruz May 31, 2015
Try Tillamook extra sharp cheddar for a cheese that starts to crumble when sliced. Not rubbery at all.
molly M. May 28, 2015
Gotta try Vermont cheddar! My mom sends it to me in Colorado. Private stock will be right up your ally- crumbly and sharp!
mikedalena January 8, 2015
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?
BetsyTee March 30, 2014
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!
Edward W. January 14, 2014
Sounds yummy, but this is NOT Welsh Rabbit/Rarebit.
Erin October 2, 2013
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. :)
mariedym January 22, 2012
simple yet delicious!
EatUrVeg January 2, 2012
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!
kikimama March 6, 2011
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?
mcs3000 February 28, 2011
wow! perfect meatless monday snack or anytime.
fiveandspice November 30, 2010
This was a post-Thanksgiving cooking extravaganza recovery meal (with good Vermont cheddar ;0) ). So easy and delicious!
midnitechef November 17, 2010
Even without having the proper cheese for your recipe, I still enjoyed it!
aliyaleekong November 17, 2010
Congrats! This looks delicious :)
LazizaBites November 16, 2010
this looks great - esp for the cold days coming ahead!
Rachel R. November 13, 2010
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!