Easy Beer Bread with Sweet and Savory Variations

I don’t want to get too personal here, but I have something to admit: if I had to pick only beer or wine to drink for the rest of my life, I think I’d pick beer.  So beer bread appeals to me for its flavor and slight bitterness–prominent at first, but barely there once it’s toasted and slathered in butter and honey–as well as for the seasonal fact that you may find yourself with a stray can of Guinness in the back of your fridge after St. Patrick’s Day is gone.  And a stout makes a very nice beer bread, especially with a few embellishments that we’ll discuss below.

I first learned of beer bread from a fellow preschool mom, who said she made it all the time with her kids by mixing 3 ingredients right in the bread pan before popping it in the oven (3 c. self-rising flour, 1/4 c. sugar, 12 oz. beer, in case you’re wondering–but it’s still only 5 ingredients if you add the baking powder and salt to the flour by yourself).  So you see why that appealed to me–one minute to make the bread plus 45 to bake it means you go from the idea to the reality of of a crusty, piping-hot homemade loaf in 46 minutes.  Genius.I’ve made a few refinements since then, like mixing the batter in a separate bowl because it’s easier to incorporate all the flour.  And I’ve experimented with different beers (each lends its own flavor, so keep that in mind; an IPA is pretty hoppy while a wheat beer, lager or stout can be milder).  And I wouldn’t feed a whole loaf to the preschool set, because contrary to popular belief, the USDA says that alcohol doesn’t evaporate entirely when cooked or baked.

One of the beautiful things about baking your own bread is that you can add any savory or sweet flavors you like.  Herbs, onions, garlic, cheese.  Orange zest, honey, dried fruit, chocolate.  Of the five loaves I made this week, my two favorites were both made with stout beer.  One was savory, with sharp cheddar cheese and dill.  The other was sweet, with chocolate chunks and vanilla.  These variations are included below, but feel free to tinker with the basic recipe to your heart’s content.

Easy Beer Bread with Sweet and Savory Variations: For the most basic recipe, combine 3 c. flour, 1 Tbsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 c. sugar, and 12 oz. (that’s 1 1/2 c.) beer.  Mix well and transfer to a well-buttered pan, bake at 375 for 45 minutes, and cool on a rack.  For a buttery, crisp crust, you can pour 1/4 c. melted butter over the batter before it goes into the oven, or you can rub a few tablespoons of melted butter over the crust when the bread comes out of the oven.

Cheddar-Dill Beer Bread: Follow the recipe above, adding 1 c. diced or grated sharp cheddar cheese and 2 tsp. dried dill to the dry ingredients.

Chocolate-Stout Beer Bread: Use a stout beer in the recipe above.  Add 1/2 tsp. vanilla along with the beer and stir in 1/2 c. chopped chocolate or chocolate chips as you mix the dough.

I mentioned that butter and honey are going to be good here, right?  Or serve your bread warm with soup.  Or you can never go wrong putting a fried or poached egg on top of toast.  And tomorrow I’m going to try making some leftovers into a Chocolate-Stout Bread Pudding with Dried Cherries….

Other recent bread recipes:
Challah
Whole Wheat Soda Bread
Quick Whole Wheat Spice Bread with Brown Sugar, Orange Zest, and Walnuts
Easy Oat Bread

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21 thoughts on “Easy Beer Bread with Sweet and Savory Variations

    1. emmycooks Post author

      Interesting, how did you make your cinnamon rolls? My dough for this bread is quite sticky, so I’m guessing you used a different approach. I really liked the bitter-and-sweet combination of the stout-chocolate-chip bread, so I’m betting I’d like a beer dough in other sweet recipes as well!

      Reply
      1. An Unrefined Vegan

        Yes – I use a yeast dough for the rolls rather than a quick dough. But adding cinnamon, nuts and raisins along w/ the chocolate chips to your quick bread recipe would probably yield yummy results!

    1. emmycooks Post author

      I love when I forget about a recipe I like and then remember it! Just today I unearthed a recipe for pasta with shredded brussels sprouts and pine nuts that I haven’t made all winter, and it was like finding an old friend. :)

      Reply
  1. k.m.

    I’ve never been a huge fan of beer (I prefer wine or gin) but I can totally get behind beer bread! I am desperate to try the cheddar-dill version, and good thing I picked up some more dill at the store yesterday.

    I look forward to the bread pudding recipe too, I love a good bread pudding.

    Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      Good thing I left gin out of the occasion in considering my beer-or-wine quandry, because THAT would have been a hard decision. J & I were recently in a bar where the bartender made us G&Ts with Martin Miller gin (which I’d never had), tonic, a twist of grapefruit peel and a splash of fresh grapefruit juice. It was amazing. If you’re a gin fan, seek out this drink.

      Reply
    2. emmycooks Post author

      And also: I didn’t make the planned sweet bread pudding because the chocolate chip bread was gobbled up too quickly. I made a savory one instead, which I’ll certainly post for next weekend.

      Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      I am so glad that I was able to anticipate your quandry. :) And great idea to make this bread in mini loaves; you get more crust that way, and if you’re willing to share I always think that homemade bread is such a nice gift.

      Reply
  2. baconbiscuit212

    Looks terrific! The alcohol doesn’t completely bake off? Wow.

    I have this sudden mental image of tipsy toddlers gripping fat slices of beer bread in their tight fists!

    That reminds me of this scandal that happened over here a year or two ago. Public schools in NYC are stretched pretty tight budget-wise, so a lot of them hold these giant fairs and bake-sales to raise money. A couple people went to the hospital because some parent thought it would be funny to sell pot-laced goods. I really wonder about people’s judgement sometimes! Why would you do that?!

    Reply
  3. debbrunson

    Hi EC :) I have two loaves of beer bread in the oven- one wheat beer with sharp cheddar and herbs, and one double chocolate stout with chocolate chips. I added whey protein to each just because I had some I needed to use and I don’t mind a little extra protein in my breakfast. I usually make bread every weekend and it becomes my breakfast each day, but I just wasn’t in the mood to knead today and I’d been wanting to try these since you posted them last month. So… thank you :) Hope you’re having a great weekend.

    Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      YUM. I keep reading about making bread with whey! I guess I have to make some cheese, first, though–am I going at this backwards? What’s the easiest kind of cheese to make? I’ve only ever successfully made paneer.

      Reply
      1. debbrunson

        Haha… that’s pretty cute :) Perhaps it’s technically backwards, but ending up with homemade bread and cheese I think is a win however you go about it! For the beer breads I actually used store bought powdered whey since the batter didn’t need any liquid other than the beer… and my powder was approaching the expiration date ;) If you want to try a homemade cheese, I think ricotta is probably the easiest as it only requires milk, buttermilk, salt and a little acid (vinegar or lemon juice). I’ll be making mascarpone in the next week, so we’ll see how that goes… If you do decide you want to try the ricotta (and I’m looking forward to what incredible recipe you’ll make with it!!) here’s the link http://debbrunson.com/2012/03/28/simple-and-fun-make-your-own-ricotta-cheese/

  4. Chrissy Jones

    Oh wow! I made the Cheddar-Dill variation. YUM! Thank you for the wonderful (and easy) recipe. Next up, Chocolate-Stout! Can’t wait to try it. :)

    Reply
    1. emmycooks Post author

      I’m so glad you liked it! I made the cheddar-dill version this week too. The leftovers made great croutons!

      Reply
  5. Pingback: Thanksgiving Recipe #1: Beer Bread « Rachel Robin's Nest

  6. Rebecca Haag Guyne

    You can even replace the beer with a can of soda when you want to make a sweeter bread. The possibilities are endless and so YUMMY! :)

    Reply
  7. bythesparklingsea

    Herbs, onions, garlic, cheese?! All my favorite things in a bread! My roommate made beer bread the other day and it was my first time trying it ever. So now that I have this recipe, there’s definitely going to be a lot more beer bread making in our apartment! :)

    Reply

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