Cheddar and Herb Beer Bread is just about the easiest bread you could ever make. No yeast required and the bread comes together in just one mixing bowl. White cheddar, thyme, and lemon balance the sweet and savory flavors of this classic quick bread.
Remember a year ago when one of the first things the grocery stores ran out of was yeast? Everyone suddenly wanted to make bread! In the absence of yeast, our sourdough starters owned us (including me – I have a year’s worth of sourdough bread highs and lows to show for it).
Turns out we could have saved ourselves a lot of kitchen-based headaches in those early pandemic days and just made beer bread! No dealing with a finicky sourdough starter, no need for yeast, no waiting for anything to rise. Just stir it all together and go! The result is tender, slices easily, and is absolutely fantastic when served slightly warm with honey butter smeared on top. The leftovers are great for toasting a day or two (or even three) later.
My entry point for beer bread came from this basic recipe via TheKitchn. That recipe uses honey as a sweetener, and I ultimately found I liked to play up the flavor additions with white cheddar, dried thyme, and some lemon, but the process remains very much the same. And the key take-away from that article, and that I will emphasize here to you is not to over mix! See below for a bit more on that one key tip.
Let’s make (and eat) some beer bread!
- White Sugar – Start this bread with white sugar. A little bit of sweetness really balances the flavor of the beer.
- Fresh Thyme and Lemon Zest – To flavor the bread, rub these ingredients into the sugar before you begin. This will give you a lightly flavored sugar that infuses the entire loaf of bread with flavor.
- All-Purpose Flour – Measure this by weight if possible, or be sure not to compress the flour as you measure it. Adding too much flour will make the bread more tough.
- Baking Powder – This combined with the beer is what helps to leaven the bread.
- Sharp White Cheddar – I prefer the flavor of sharp cheddar here because the flavor really shines through. If I’m feeling particular, I use a combination of finely diced and grated cheese in the bread. (This is not necessary if you don’t want to take the extra time – grated cheese will work for the entire thing.) The diced cheese creates small pockets of flavor and the grated cheese melts right in to flavor the entire thing. Save some grated cheese to put on top.
- 12 oz Beer – You’ll need one whole bottle of beer. Any type will work, but the flavor will be present in the bread, so use a beer that you like to drink. I like an IPA but a lighter pilsner or lager works great too. My kids sometimes dislike the slightly bitter flavor that comes from an IPA or more bitter beer, so a beer with a more mild flavor is certain to be more crowd-pleasing around our house.
- Hot Honey Butter – You can serve this bread with regular butter, but for something really fun, try combining softened butter with Hot Honey (homemade or store-bought).
What purpose does beer serve in bread?
The natural yeast in beer combines with baking powder to leaven the bread without the need for yeast. This gives the bread a light tender texture.
You can’t substitute another liquid here – the beer is really key.
Do not overmix!
As with most quick breads (and, really, with almost all baked goods), it is absolutely key that you don’t over mix beer bread. Over mixing can lead to a chewy, gummy texture instead of giving you a tender bread. Stop stirring the bread batter as soon as no dry spots remain.
- Skip the aromatics – Keep it simple and skip the thyme and lemon zest.
- Add protein (!) – Add cooked bacon or ham to the mix for a savory addition. Chop them up small and fold them in after adding the beer.
- Change cheese – I’m partial to sharp white cheddar in this bread, but any type of cheddar will work. You can even play around with other types of cheeses – as long as it’s not a super soft cheese it should work.
More Homemade Bread
- Crispy Baked Breadsticks
- No-Knead Sandwich Bread
- No-Knead French Bread
- No-Knead Everyday Bread
- 1-Hour Light and Buttery Dinner Rolls
- Homemade Bagels
- No-Knead Focaccia
- No-Knead Sheet Pan Pizza
- 1-Hour Light and Buttery Crescent Rolls
White Cheddar and Herb Beer Bread
- Mixing Bowl
- Loaf Pan
- Half Sheet Pan
- Cooling Rack
- 3 Tbsp White Sugar
- 2 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves (sub 1 tsp dried thyme)
- 1 tsp Lemon Zest
- 3 cups All-Purpose Flour (3 cups flour = 375g)
- 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 6 oz Sharp White Cheddar, finely diced or grated, divided (I use a combination of diced and grated cheese)
- 1 12 oz bottle Beer (see note)
- 1 Tbsp Butter, melted
Hot Honey Butter (optional):
- 1 Tbsp Hot Honey
- 6 Tbsp Butter, softened
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C. Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, thyme leaves, and lemon zest. Use your hands to gently rub the thyme and lemon zest into the sugar (this will infuse the entire bread with herb and lemon flavor).
- Add flour, baking powder, salt, and about 3/4 of the cheese (reserve some for topping) to the bowl and stir well to combine.
- Pour in the beer and stir until everything is just combined. (The mixture will be very lumpy, but don’t over mix.)
- Spread batter out evenly in prepared loaf pan.
- Top bread with melted butter and reserved cheese.
- Place loaf pan on a sheet pan. (This is important! Depending on the size of the loaf pan, some butter may drip over the sides while it bakes, so be sure to have a sheet pan underneath to catch it.)
- Bake until a tester inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. (If using a metal loaf pan, the lower end of the range should be enough, but a ceramic or glass loaf pan will take longer.)
- Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing.
- If making the hot honey butter, stir hot honey into softened butter.
- Slice. Spread hot honey butter onto bread if using. Enjoy!
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