Rosemary Garlic Beer Bread

Beer in bread? Yes, please! Crusty and tender, Rosemary Garlic Beer Bread is made with pilsner. It’s the perfect partner to a warm bowl of chili or an exciting base for homemade avocado toast.

Easy beer bread with rosemary and garlic slices on a platter with two cups of soup.

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

You may find a recipe for beer bread among the pages of church cookbooks in the South and in old recipe collections shared among family. I first learned about beer bread nearly 20 years ago when I was just out of grad school in Kentucky, working in family and consumer sciences (formerly known as home economics).

After experimenting with my own variations, I made simple changes to this historic recipe. Rosemary Garlic Beer Bread uses self-rising flour, butter, fresh garlic, rosemary, and pilsner, a crisp, refreshing pale lager with minimal hop bitterness that originated in the Czech Republic. It’s a flavorful loaf bread that comes together quickly.

This beer bread recipe takes little planning and requires only a few ingredients. You can bake a loaf in under an hour to serve with a hearty beef and bean chili for a weeknight dinner or a vegetarian lentil soup shared with friends for brunch.

What is Beer Bread?

Beer bread uses beer as a key ingredient. The base recipe for bear bread includes three ingredients: self-rising flour, butter, and beer. The texture of beer bread is biscuit-like. It’s dense and firm, but crumbly around the edges.

Quick and easy beer bread slices next to the remaining loaf on a plate.

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

Add Rosemary and Garlic!

While I find this classic combination tastes okay, I took the opportunity to create something far better than the original.

My recipe for beer bread uses the same core ingredients I learned about nearly 20 years ago: 3 cups of self-rising flour are stirred with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and a 12-ounce can of beer. I chose a pilsner because it has a bolder flavor than an American light lager, but it’s still low in hop bitterness. It’s malty character and refreshing taste work well with the biscuity notes of the bread.

I always add 1 to 3 teaspoons of sugar to balance the savory flavors of the bread. Herbs, spices, and sometimes cheese can be added to my mix as well. This recipe includes fresh garlic and rosemary along with scallions.

What Does Beer Bread Taste Like?

It does taste like beer. If you don’t care for beer, you probably won’t like beer bread.

The first flavor to hit your mouth is the familiar maltiness of beer followed by a slight sweetness. It reminds me of a malty toasted, buttery biscuit. Plus, you’ll get the lingering taste of rosemary, garlic, and scallions after each bite.

Easy beer bread with rosemary and garlic slices on a platter with two cups of soup.

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

The Best Beer for Beer Bread

Beer bread is meant to be savory. The beer should enhance the malty, biscuity taste of bread. While the beer flavor should be evident, it shouldn’t overpower the bread.

I find that lagers, American light lagers, pilsners, and pale ales work best because they have a more subtle malty character that complements the flavors of the bread. I have experimented with hoppy (i.e. more bitter) pale ales and India pale ales. While I enjoy the added bitterness, I don’t recommend them for people who don’t also enjoy drinking them.

I do encourage experimentation with beer bread, but if you are new to this recipe, stick to those I’ve listed. Want to try something new? Tread lightly and branch out to a brown or blonde ale.

For a savory bread like this, skip beers infused with flavors like vanilla or cinnamon. Fruit-flavored beers aren’t a good fit either.

Tips for Baking Beer Bread

Even if the batter feels thick or lose, I’ve yet to have a beer bread that hasn’t baked beautifully. This is a very forgiving recipe. Here are some tips for baking beer bread:

  • This is a dense bread. The batter will be thick and lumpy. It mixes up quickly, but it will take about 40 minutes to bake through. Start checking it at the 30- minute mark by inserting a wooden skewer into the loaf. Once it comes out clean without any wet batter on it, the bread is ready.
  • When baked properly, the top of the loaf should be a golden brown. If for some reason your loaf appears to be darkening too quickly, tent it with a sheet of foil. I find this technique helpful when I top the loaf with chopped hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, or shredded cheddar cheese.
  • To get a proper measurement of the beer, pour the beer into a measuring cup and let the foam settle. You could pour a 12-ounce container of beer directly into the flour mixture. It will bubble up so make sure the bowl is large enough to accommodate it.
  • Use room temperature beer for this recipe. Chilled beer can clump the melted butter.
A loaf of easy beer bread with rosemary and garlic on a plate.

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

Substitutions

You can use store bought self-rising flour or make your own self-rising flour. The leavening in this quick bread comes from the baking powder in the self-rising flour. Here are substitutions that would work for this recipe:

  • You can easily swap the pilsner for another favorite lager or a pale ale. Also, you could use a non-alcoholic beer that isn’t artificially flavored.
  • Chives are an easy swap for the scallions.
  • If you don’t love rosemary, thyme and dill also make nice additions.
  • I find that grated fresh garlic adds the best flavor, but if you don’t have fresh garlic on hand, add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder.

Beer Bread Variations

The options are nearly endless with variations for beer bread.

  • I often add a half cup of shredded cheese to the batter, such as parmesan or cheddar. I’ve also covered the top with cheese before baking.
  • Any fresh herb adds flavor, like basil, cilantro, rosemary, or dill.
  • You can also add nuts or seeds. Pecans and hazelnuts are my two favorites, along with pumpkin seeds.

I prefer to make one loaf of beer bread at a time. I rarely have success doubling the recipe. Plus, it’s simple to stir up the batter for a single loaf. This also allows you to tailor each loaf to your tastes, using a different beer or herb in each.

To make more than one loaf for your gathering, double your ingredients when shopping, but make each loaf individually.

Quick and easy beer bread slices next to the remaining loaf on a plate.

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

Best Way to Serve Beer Bread

Beer bread is best when slightly warm to room temperature. I let mine cool at least an hour before serving so that it makes clean, dense slices with minimal crumbling.

I am a fan of sweet and savory combinations, so I drizzle it with a little honey or add a thin spread of honey butter. This is especially good when enjoying it for breakfast. I also like to top a slice with a poached egg and some arugula or use it as a base for avocado toast.

The slices of beer bread are small, so I rarely put it in the toaster for fear that I won’t be able to fish it back out. If you want to enjoy it toasted or warmed, add some butter to a skillet and toast the bread on each side for a few minutes, until golden brown.

Here are some recipes that go well with Rosemary Garlic Beer Bread:

Storage Instructions

Beer bread is at its peak of freshness right after it’s baked and up to about 24 hours. During this time, I wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in an airtight container on the counter.

Freeze it for longer storage. You can slice it, wrap it in plastic wrap, and place it in a freezer-safe zip top bag. Enjoy it within three months.

Since it’s already sliced you can easily thaw one slice at a time by letting it sit at room temperature for a few hours or by warming it in a buttered skillet.

Savory beer bread with fresh rosemary and garlic slices on a plate with a wooden cutting board behind it with the remaining loaf.

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

More Savory Quick Breads to Try

Rosemary Garlic Beer Bread

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Servings 8 to 10 servings
Yield 1 (8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch) loaf

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (339g) self-rising flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the loaf pan
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 scallions, ends trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 12 ounces pilsner at room temperature

Method

  1. Prepare the oven and loaf pan:

    Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with butter.

  2. Mix the flour and butter:

    In a large bowl, add the flour. Stir in the melted butter with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The flour will remain dry and crumbly, just give it a few good stirs to ensure the butter is distributed throughout the flour.

    Whisking dry ingredients to make a quick and easy beer bread

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

  3. Add the remaining ingredients:

    Add the sugar, garlic, scallions, and rosemary into the flour and stir with the rubber spatula until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

    Adding herbs to dry ingredients to make a quick and easy beer bread.

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

    Dry ingredients in a spouted bowl for quick and easy beer bread.

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

  4. Pour in the beer:

    Pour the beer over the flour mixture. Stir just until all the flour is dampened and a thick batter forms.

    Adding beer to flour mixture to make savory beer bread with fresh rosemary and garlic

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

    Spouted bowl with wet and dry ingredients to make a savory beer bread with fresh rosemary and garlic.

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

    Mixing batter for savory beer bread with fresh rosemary and garlic.

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

  5. Fill the loaf pan:

    Use the rubber spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Spread the batter so that it is evenly distributed in the pan, filling all the corners, and flattening the top.

    Savory beer bread with fresh rosemary and garlic batter spread in a loaf pan.

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

  6. Bake the beer bread:

    Bake the beer bread for 35 to 40 minutes. At the 30-minute mark, check the bread by inserting a toothpick or wooden skewer into the center. It is done baking when the toothpick comes out clean and the top and sides are golden brown.

    Testing the savory beer bread with fresh rosemary and garlic with a toothpick for doneness.

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

  7. Cool the bread:

    Transfer the loaf pan onto a cooling rack and allow the bread to cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Then, remove it from the pan and allow it to cool for another 15 to 30 minutes before slicing it to serve.

    Side view of a loaf of savory beer bread with fresh rosemary and garlic cooling in the pan on a rack.

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

    A loaf of quick beer bread cooling on a rack.

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice