Don't just drink your beer — cook with it

9 Recipes
Danish Rye bread with egg salad
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

For National Beer Day (April 7), here are 9 sweet and savory recipes for cooking with beer

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If you think beer is only for drinking, you may want to reconsider. Much like cooking with wine, beer adds depth and nuances of flavor to stews, sauces, marinades, baked goods and even ice cream (yes, you read that correctly).

Use a dark, sturdy stout much as you would use a full-bodied red wine: Add it to hearty stews, to savory marinades for grilled meats — to most any dish that has assertive flavors. Malty stouts can add flavor notes of roasted barley and hops, fruit, chocolate and molasses. Lighter lagers and pale ales are better suited to less robust dishes that would typically call for white wine — fish, chicken and dishes that will be served cold, where a dark ale would be overpowering.

When deep-frying, replace the water or seltzer in your batter with ale and, along with the added flavor, the carbonation will help make a lighter, crispier crust. Made with a full-bodied amber ale, the shell of Beer-Battered Shrimp practically shatters when you bite into it. A sharp, bitter IPA stands up well to the rich cheeses in Beer-Battered Mac-and-Cheese Bites. The crunchier coating is a fun alternative to the toasted breadcrumbs that are often sprinkled on top of the baked casserole.


A lager or ale in the cooking liquid for Beer Nuts adds a dimension of flavor that will complement the beverages they accompany. In a simple chilled tomato soup, a light Pilsner or lager is well-suited as its flavor can shine without overwhelming the delicate essence of the broth.

Stout adds a malty dimension to Danish Rye Bread as well as to a dense Beer Cake. It also enhances the cake’s cinnamon and nutmeg flavoring. A complex stout will complement the whole-grain mustard and garlic in Stout Beer and Mustard Wings.

In the marinade for grilled chicken, a dark Mexican beer harmonizes with the lime juice, garlic, cumin and chipotle chiles rather than being stifled by them, and also leaves the chicken juicy and rich with flavor.


Even in ice cream, a flavorful ale or stout added to your crème Anglaise before churning makes for a cold, creamy, beer-flavored treat.

Beer-battered shrimp with classic tartar sauce

A good, full-bodied amber ale adds more depth of flavor than club soda or Pabst. A little cornmeal adds body to the batter.
Time 30 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8

Beer-and-lime-marinated chicken

A Mexican dark beer juices up chicken to be grilled. It harmonizes with the lime juice and is not stifled by the garlic, cumin and chipotle chiles.
Time 45 minutes
Yields Serves 4

Danish rye bread

Made primarily with rye flour, this smooth and powerful Danish bread is augmented by a mix of seeds, molasses and stout beer.
Time 2 hours
Yields Makes 2 loaves (about 3 dozen slices)

Beer-battered mac-and-cheese bites

The light, crispy beer batter that coats these mac-and-cheese bites uses a sharp, bitter IPA to stand up to the richness of the cheddar- and smoked-gouda sauce.
Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Yields Makes about 8 dozen bites

Beer ice cream

The ice cream takes only four ingredients — including the beer — so use flavorful beer, like a brown ale or a roasty stout. Even a coffee stout would be great.
Time 20 minutes
Yields Serves 2 to 4

Beer cake

This dense beer cake with cinnamon, nutmeg and walnuts is a lovely alternative to coffee cake.
Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields Serves 12

Chilled tomato-beer soup

Malty or hoppy, fruity or spicy, beer brings effervescent flavor to summer dishes.
Time 25 minutes
Yields Serves 8

Beer nuts

Simmer mixed nuts in a simple blend of brown sugar, beer and molasses; toss with more sugar and a touch of cayenne, and then toast the nuts until crisp and fragrant.
Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Yields Serves 12 to 16

Stout beer and mustard wings

Whole-grain mustard, garlic and thyme complement the robust flavors of the stout. Honey and malt vinegar offset the bitterness, and grated Parmesan and soy sauce add umami.
Time 1 hour
Yields Serves 8 to 12