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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Chili Con Carne
- Lentil Soup
- Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup
- Microwave Poached Eggs
- Grape and Walnut Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
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.
More Savory Quick Breads to Try
Rosemary Garlic Beer Bread
3 cups (375g) 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
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.
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.
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.
Pour in the beer:
Pour the beer over the flour mixture. Stir just until all the flour is dampened and a thick batter forms.
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.
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.
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.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 8 to 10|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 3g||3%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||7%|
|Total Carbohydrate 30g||11%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||4%|
|Total Sugars 1g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||4%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|