Making Beer Bread

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2014 • all rights reserved

Fast, easy recipe with lots of options. I tell the basic recipe and then how I changed it for a particular meal.

I recently got a note on The Boat Galley’s Facebook page from a reader who found the sheer number of recipes in The Boat Galley Cookbook almost overwhelming.  He suggested that I regularly post some of my favorites and tips to go along with them.  Here’s the first — beer bread.  I’ll first tell why I like the recipe, show the recipe as it is in the cookbook, tell what/why I’m modifying it, other tips on making it, and finally give the recipe as I actually made it.

Why I Like This Recipe:  It’s very quick to mix up (about 5 minutes), works in almost any pan, can be varied in all sorts of ways and I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like it.  It’s a good choice whether you’re in a marina, at anchor or underway in settled conditions (that is, calm enough that you can use the oven).

Recipe as in The Boat Galley Cookbook (page 382):

Beer Bread and Variations

Total Time: 50 minutes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Bake time: 45 minutes

Makes 1 loaf—about 10 slices

3 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill OR 2 teaspoons dried dill

1 cup grated cheddar cheese or other cheese

12 ounces (1-1/2 cups) beer (use part water if needed)

Optional glaze: 1 egg and 2 teaspoon water, beaten

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, dill, and cheddar in a large mixing bowl. Slowly stir in beer and mix just until combined. Batter will be thick. Spread in a greased 9” x 5” loaf pan, brush with egg glaze if desired, and bake until golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool 10 more minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Garlic and Herb: Eliminate the dill. Add 1 teaspoon each of dried rosemary, oregano, thyme and garlic powder to the basic mix.

Rosemary and Feta: Eliminate the dill and cheddar. Add 2 teaspoon dried rosemary and 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces) to the basic mix.

Italian: Eliminate the dill and cheddar. Add 1 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano and garlic powder and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese to the basic mix.

Situation and How I’ll Modify the Recipe:  

  • It’s only going to be Dave and I, so I’d like a little smaller loaf.  Also, I’m going to use my small round Magma pan instead of a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.  This recipe is easy to cut by 1/3, so that’s what I’ll do.  Since it’s about the same thickness in the pan, it’ll take about the same time to bake.
  • Dave is allergic to milk and milk products, and so can’t have cheese.  I’ve learned that most recipes turn out just fine if I omit the cheese, so that’s what I’ll do here (for those who don’t have a milk allergy, you can use just about any kind of cheese — I’ve used all sorts of types in the past — and it’s even better).
  • I’m going to be serving this with pasta and a red sauce, so I’ll make the Italian version (without the cheese).
  • I’m not going to use the optional glaze as I’m out of eggs.

Other Tips:

  • The beer that you use will greatly affect the flavor of the bread.  Using a fairly generic beer (Bud in my case) will produce a bit of flavor in the bread, but nothing particularly strong and it’s very unlikely that anyone will even identify it as beer.  Very light beers, such as Corona, will be almost unnoticeable.  Using more flavorful beers and ales — say, Sam Adams, will have more flavor and dark beers even more.  These are great with chili and bean soups.  If you have a choice of beers, choose whichever one you think would best accompany the meal if you were drinking it.
  • If you’re making a partial recipe as I am, it’s hard to measure beer since it foams.  Pour slowly and let it settle between pours.  This isn’t a problem if you’re making a full recipe as most beers come in 12-ounce cans and bottles in the US.
  • If you’re not comfortable using a toothpick to determine if the bread is done, a more definitive test is using an instant read thermometer — it should read about 200º F. (read more about using an instant read thermometer and get a downloadable chart of “done” temperatures).
  • For those baking in an Omnia Stove Top Oven, make the full-size recipe (for the 9″ x 5″ pan) and bake it 45 minutes.  The top won’t be as golden brown, but the other tests for doneness still work.

The Recipe as I Made It

Italian Beer Bread

Total Time: 50 minutes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Bake time: 45 minutes

Makes 1 6″ diameter loaf

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano and garlic powder

1 cup Budweiser beer (the cook gets the other 1/2 cup!)

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine everything except beer in a mixing bowl. Slowly stir in beer and mix just until combined. Batter will be thick.

Grease a 6″ round pan (this is the smaller saucepan in my Magma nesting pan set).  Spread batter in pan and place in oven.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean (or instant read thermometer reads 200º F.), about 45 minutes.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool 10 more minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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  1. My first comment is that if I go to page 352 on my iPad that recipe is not on that page. Not even close! I have always run into this, pages don’t match. Thanks for listening though!!!!

    • If you’re using an electronic version, you can go to the index in the back and look up the recipe by name and click on the page number there (it’s programmed as a link). If you’re using it in the Kindle app on your iPad, it’s at location 12575.

  2. Great idea to give variations and substitutions for ur great recipes

  3. Keep on doing what you’re doing. Your information & perspective is valued.

  4. Yes, more like this but keep up the good others too! Thank you!!

  5. Irish Brown Bread would be a great addition!

  6. Susan Leaf says:

    I have a variation for a solar oven that is really great.
    3 C self rising flour
    2 TBS sugar
    1 dark beer( I use Amberbock or Yeungling Black & Tan)
    3/4 C dried cranberries
    1 TBS cinnamon
    Mix together and place in covered pan and into preheated solar oven.
    Depending on the angle of the sun, it takes anywhere from 1-1/2 hours.
    Makes a great breakfast bread.

  7. Sure – I love recipes!

  8. I like the additional tips. Helpful. Is your magma pan stainless steel? I have nesting SS pans and don’t seem to bake as well as other bakeware I’ve used.

  9. Bread make a great hostess gift too. Thanks.

    • Great idea! Also, you can mix the dry ingredients, put it in a pretty jar or Ziploc, and include instructions to add the beer and bake (I’ve seen these “kits” sold for $7 to $10, but it’s so easy to make your own as a gift and it costs a LOT less)

  10. Great tips. My husband is taking sailing courses and has the ASA through 103. I will be starting soon as we plan to do some coastal sailing and if we like it buy our own boat. So, for my birthday I had him buy one of the books you recommended. I appreicate your column and blog.

  11. Keep doing what you doing , TBG is fabulous, thank you.

  12. Your bread recipes sound fabulous and tks for the added tips they are valuable. Do you turn your pan over to cool on the rack?

    • Not really. I’m using a round pan here so I let it cool about 10 minutes in the pan, right side up. Then I flip it out of the pan and usually serve it fairly soon. If you are using a loaf pan, you can set it on its side to cool.

  13. U have been doing this for awhile. Great recipe. We make pizza crust this way too but with just flour, powder and beer. Quick and easy

  14. Oops. …meant to say I not U

  15. Versatile recipe. Sweet or savory….we love it. One of my favs ;add some shredded cheese and French fried onions. 🙂

  16. Honestly, you had me at beer…

  17. I like to layer sugar/cinnamon and raisins for breakfast.

  18. Great – will try it out – my husband can’t have dairy either so good to see you can leave out the cheese!

  19. Looks easy will try it!

  20. No longer on a boat (SV Lively Lady) but still pay attention to your posts. I just started making “beer bread” and my husband really likes it. My recipe says to use self-rising flour, but sometimes things are hard to get here in Guatemala so I make my own. It’s easy.
    For every cup of self-rising flour use a cup of all purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt. Has been working just fine. I’m going to try the bread recipe with gluten free flour too since I’m allergic to wheat…..and the the bread looks and smells so good!!

  21. Looking forward to trying this out! Thanks.

  22. I have used your beer bread recipe A LOT!

  23. Has anyone successfully made this gluten-free?

  24. I keep self rising just for this purpose. I prefer Coors light. It gives a nice texture. Also, I use a small amount of Italian seasoning and a loaf pan. I’ve been using this recipe for over 25 years and it never gets old. I also drizzle melted butter or olive oil on the top before baking.
    Caveat: don’t over mix it makes the bread tough

  25. This looks delicious!

  26. This one is awesome too 🙂

    YIELD: Makes 1 loaf
    3 cups all-purpose flour

    2 teaspoons kosher salt (not table salt)

    1/2 teaspoon dry yeast (active dry or highly active dry work best)

    1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

    Special cookware needed: Dutch oven or any large oven-safe dish/bowl and lid*

    In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt and yeast. Stir in water using a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a shaggy but cohesive dough. Do not over-work the dough. The less you “work” it, the more soft, fluffy air pockets will form.

    Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough sit at room temperature for 8-24 hours*. Dough will bubble up and rise.

    After dough is ready, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place your Dutch oven, uncovered, into the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

    While your Dutch oven preheats, turn dough onto a well-floured surface. With floured hands, form the dough into a ball. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rest.

    After the 30 minutes are up, carefully remove Dutch oven. With floured hands, place the bread dough into it. (You can put a piece of parchment under the dough if your Dutch oven isn’t enamel coated.)

    Replace cover and bake for 30 minutes covered. Carefully remove cover and bake for 7-15 minutes* more, uncovered.

    Carefully remove bread to a cutting board and slice with a bread knife.



    Uncovered baking time depends on your oven. In my oven, the bread only needs 7 minutes uncovered until crusty and golden brown, but this can vary. Just keep an eye on it!

    Preheating your Dutch oven to 450 degrees F will not damage it, or the knob on top.

    I’ve let this dough rise anywhere between 8-24 hours and it has baked up beautifully. Just make sure it has risen and appears to “bubble” to the surface.

    There’s no need to grease the Dutch oven/baking dish/pot. My bread has never stuck to the pot. If you are concerned though, put a piece of parchment paper under your dough before placing into your pot.

    I do not recommend using whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour in this recipe. The resulting bread will be very dense, and not as fluffy and delicious.

    I used a 5.5 quart enameled cast iron Le Creuset pot, but you can use any large oven-safe dish and cover. All of these also work: a baking dish covered with aluminum foil, crockpot insert, stainless steel pot with a lid, pizza stone with an oven-safe bowl to cover the bread, and old cast iron Dutch oven.

    Add any mix-ins you like – herbs, spices, dried fruit, chopped nuts and cheese all work well. I recommend adding them into the initial flour-yeast mixture to avoid over-working the mix-ins into the dough. The less you “work” it, the more you’re encouraging soft, fluffy air pockets to form!

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