Recipe: Ham Welsh Rarebit

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

If you haven’t already heard of it, let me introduce you to a non-traditional sandwich that is well worth adding to your repertoire: Welsh Rarebit. This classic British dish is made of toasted bread covered in a fondue-like sauce of melted cheese and dark ale, and we’ve taken the liberty of adding a few slices of ham to it too.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

There are many versions of Welsh Rarebit, and some throw the whole thing in the broiler to get browned on top. While it’s certainly delicious, I find that regular sandwich bread gets soggy after the stint in the broiler, so I go the easier route and just drizzle the cheese sauce on top right before serving.

Welsh Rarebit sauce has its roots in a classic béchamel white sauce, but some ale is subbed in for the milk, there’s a spoonful of Worcestershire in there for depth, and of course, loads of shredded cheese get melted in at the end.

This is one of those sandwiches that has to be eaten immediately after it’s made, but it’s decadently satisfying — especially when paired with a crisp, refreshing salad of winter bitter greens.

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Ham Welsh Rarebit



  • 4 slices

    light rye sandwich bread

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground mustard

  • 1/2 cup

    porter or ale

  • 1/4 cup

    whole milk

  • 1 teaspoon

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 6 ounces

    shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • Salt

  • 4 ounces

    thinly sliced ham

  • Finely chopped fresh chives (optional)


  1. Toast the bread until very crispy on both sides. Place a slice of bread on each of the 4 plates.

  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and mustard and whisk until the flour is no longer raw-tasting, about 1 minute. Whisk in the beer, milk, and Worcestershire and bring to a low simmer, whisking occasionally until smooth. Add the cheese and whisk until completely melted and smooth. Taste and season with salt as needed.

  3. Divide the ham over the bread. Spoon the sauce evenly over the ham, sprinkle with the chives, and serve immediately.