Non-Alcoholic Beers...GOOD FOR COOKING, TOO

Times Food Editor

Can you cook successfully with non-alcoholic beers? You bet . . . with one caveat, however. It’s imperative that you cook with a non-alcoholic beer that has no overtones of bitterness evident when you drink it. We found that applying heat to non-alcoholic beers that had even a slightly bitter taste accentuated the bitterness in the finished dish.

Beyond that, the only rule about cooking with non-alcoholic beers is the same as that with wine. You should cook with a beer that has a flavor that pleases you. If you don’t like the taste of a certain beer when you drink it, you certainly aren’t going to like it when you use it as a flavoring agent for food.

Whether there is any real advantage to using a non-alcoholic beer in cooking in place of one containing alcohol is a moot point. Once food being prepared is heated, the alcohol in any alcoholic ingredient, be it beer, wine, spirits or even a flavored extract, will evaporate quickly. Thus the finished dish will be alcohol free in any case. So pick the beer that tastes best to you whether it’s alcoholic or non-alcoholic when choosing one to cook with.


Unlike wines, which can add sweetness and a fruity flavor to food, beer goes best with robust, gutsy foods. Its yeasty, malt-laden flavor flatters strong sausages, sturdy breads and thick, meal-in-one soups. It also works well in batters for fish or shrimp and in waffles, especially those meant to be the basis of a light main dish for a simple supper or brunch.

The following recipes were tested using a variety of the non-alcoholic beers taste-tested in The Times Test Kitchen. They will work equally well if you prefer to cook with regular beer.


1 (1-pound) package polish sausages

1 (12-ounce) package bratwurst

1 (12-ounce) package veal knackwurst

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 onions, thinly sliced

4 (11- to 12-ounce) cans or bottles beer

1 small red pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded

1 small green pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded

1 (2-pound) jar sauerkraut, drained and very well rinsed

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1 tablespoon oil

3/4 cup apple juice

Place sausages in single layer in 17x9-inch glass casserole. Sprinkle with garlic and arrange onions over top. Pour beer over all, cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

About 1 hour before serving, cut red and green peppers into thin strips. Drain sausage mixture, discarding marinade, and grill onions and sausages until sausages are lightly browned.

Lightly saute sauerkraut in butter and oil in large skillet. Place sausages and onions over sauerkraut and add apple juice. Cover and simmer until sausages are very tender and liquid is reduced by about half. Stir in peppers and cook 10 minutes longer. Makes about 8 servings.


1 cup finely chopped onions

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

3 cups self-rising flour

3 tablespoons minced mixed fresh herbs or 1 tablespoon mixed dry herbs

2 tablespoons sugar

1 (11- to 12-ounce) can or bottle beer

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

Melted butter or margarine

Saute onions in butter just until tender, do not brown. Set aside.

Combine flour, herbs and sugar in mixing bowl and stir in onion. Add beer and stir mixture lightly by hand, just until ingredients are well mixed. Do not overmix. Dough will be sticky, but cohesive.


Spread dough evenly in well-greased 9x5-inch loaf pan, smoothing top lightly. Brush top with mixture of beaten egg and water. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes.

Bake on bottom shelf of oven at 375 degrees 45 to 60 minutes or until wood pick inserted near center comes out clean. Turn loaf out onto rack and brush top with melted butter. Makes 1 loaf.


1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup beer

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

1 1/2 pounds well-trimmed flank steak

Combine oil, beer, lemon juice, garlic, salt, bay leaf, pepper, dry mustard, basil, oregano and thyme. Place flank steak in shallow glass dish or sealable plastic bag. Pour beer mixture over steak and refrigerate, turning occasionally, several hours or overnight.

To cook steak, broil 5 to 6 minutes on each side or barbecue over hot coals to desired degree of doneness. Slice in very thin slices diagonally across grain to serve. Makes about 4 servings.


2 pounds shrimp, shelled and deveined

3 tablespoons minced onion

1/4 cup butter of margarine


1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup beer

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

2 teaspoons minced parsley

Wash and dry shrimp. Saute shrimp and onion in butter 1 minute on each side. Season to taste with salt. Stir in hot pepper sauce and flour. Add beer and lemon juice, stirring constantly, bringing mixture to boiling point. Add bay leaf and thyme.

Cook over low heat about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with wood picks as appetizer. Makes 8 to 10 servings.



2 1/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons paprika

2 cups beer, at room temperature

Dash hot pepper sauce

Dash Worcestershire sauce

Combine flour and paprika. Add beer and mix well. Stir in hot pepper sauce and Worcestershire, blending well. Use as batter for fish or shrimp. (For best results, dredge chosen seafood in additional flour first, then dip into batter.) Makes about 4 cups batter.


1 3/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups beer

1/4 cup melted butter or margarine

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Ham and Spinach Topping

Combine flour, sugar, egg, beer, butter, salt and cheese, blending well. Allow to stand at room temperature at least 2 hours or refrigerate overnight.

Grease waffle iron generously and heat according to manufacturers directions. Pour batter over grid, spreading with spatula to fill all crevices. Waffle iron that makes 4 (4-inch) waffles at one time will use about 1 1/4 cups batter.

Bake waffle 10 minutes or until golden brown. Break large waffle into individual servings and serve topped with Ham and Spinach Sauce. Makes about 10 (4-inch) individual waffles.

Ham and Spinach Topping

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 clove garlic

1 cup finely chopped fresh spinach leaves

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/3 cup skim or low fat milk

1/2 cup finely diced ham

White pepper

Ricotta should be at room temperature. Combine ricotta, garlic, spinach, lemon peel and milk in mixing bowl. Stir in ham, blending mixture well. Season to taste with white pepper.

To serve, spoon dollop onto each waffle square. Makes about 1 3/4 cups topping.


6 slices bacon

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups minced onions

1 cup julienned green pepper

3 cups chicken broth

1 (11- to 12-ounce) bottle or can beer

1/3 cup flour

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese


Cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons cream Sherry

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 2 to 3 tablespoons bacon fat. Crumble bacon and set aside.


Saute garlic, onions and green pepper in reserved bacon fat until tender. (If desired 2 to 3 tablespoons oil may be substituted for bacon fat.) Stir in chicken broth. Add beer and bring to boil.

Toss together flour and cheese and blend into soup handful at time, letting 1 batch melt before adding another. Return mixture to boil and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly thickened. Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper. Stir in Sherry. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Food Styling by Minnie Bernardino and Donna Deane