Chef tried and true Wisconsin style beer cheese soup recipe. Enjoy in 30 minutes total, no special skills required.
Go straight to the Recipe Card or
Read on for relevant tips and step-by-step images (2 mins total).
What’s in a Beer Cheese Soup?
Besides beer and cheese, a few essential ingredients turn this soup into the rich, nutrient loaded, flavor packed delicacy that it is. To make an authentic Wisconsin style beer cheese soup you will also need:
- butter – for rich flavor and to help the cheese melt into the soup
- veggies – celery sticks, carrots, yellow onion, red, yellow or orange sweet pepper (a bit goes a long way); they all help create the savory base for the soup
- garlic – for its zesty flavor
- flour – all purpose flour the perfect thickener and agent to help the cheese melt better into the broth
- chicken broth – if you have homemade all the better, use vegetable broth as a substitute if vegetarian
- cream – use heavy cream and heavy cream only, it has the necessary fat content to easily absorb the cheese
- spices – bay leaf, cayenne pepper/red chili flakes, salt and black pepper, ground Mustard seed (or finely ground Dijon mustard) and a generous dash of Worcestershire sauce
As a chef Chris has been using this recipe for beer cheese soup for a long time. In pretty much all the restaurants he has worked at he’s had it as a cooking with beer special. People never fail to order it and in all honesty whenever we spot beer cheese on a menu we act in precisely the same manner… Who can resist?
Best Cheese to Use
The best cheese to use in beer cheese soup is hands down sharp cheddar.
The fat content, consistency, piquant flavor and even the color of sharp cheddar are simply perfect for this hearty soup. Cheddar cheeses are great melting cheeses in general and you can rest assured that if you follow our recipe instructions it will not separate.
Sharp cheddar cheese’s tangy yet smooth flavor stands up to the the malty contribution of the beer and partners well with the sweetness of the veggies and the umami of the chicken stock. It’s deep, bold color is appealing to the eye and absorbs the color contributions of the rest of the ingredients.
TIP: Grate the cheddar while still chilled from the refrigerator (it’s easier) and let it come to room temperature before adding it to the soup broth.
Best Beer To Use in Beer Cheese Soup
Generally you should select a beer with a solid malty backbone or at least a well-balanced one. Toasty, biscuity and bready notes are very desirable and will seamlessly integrate with the rest of the ingredients. Stay away from IPAs in this recipe. They can be too bitter and intrduce the wrong flavors depending on the hops used to bitter them.
For best results choose from among these styles:
- English browns, pale ales or ambers, or even boozier winter warmers (see ABV comments below)
- American browns or ambers (hopped with European noble hops and leaning on the malty side, low IBU)
- Helles, Dunkel, Vienna lager, Oktoberfest lager
- Bock, Dopplebock, boozier Altbier – in terms of ABV content beer cheese soup tends to taste even better when a boozier style is used. So reach out for these malty, higher ABV German styles with confidence
NOTE: Stay away from bitter aggressively hopped (early in the boil) styles. Also avoid styles flavored with hops that are citrusy, too fruity, too floral or dank. You want the hops to bring flavors compatible with the rest of the ingredients – herbal, grassy, and earthy.
Step-by-Step Wisconsin Style Beer Cheese Soup
Follow the steps in the image grid above or watch the video demonstration below.
- Start by creating the flavorful soup base. Melt butter in a heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and saute the diced carrots, celery, onion, pepper, garlic and the bay leaf until softened.
- Add the flour, stir to incorporate and cook for about a minute.
- Add the chicken broth, the cream and the beer and simmer.
- Remove from the heat, remove and discard the bay leaf, add the remaining ingredients except for the cheese and blend the mixture with an immersion blender to create a smooth texture without clumps.
- Slowly whisk in or stir in the shredded cheese, working in batches. Once it has melted place the soup back on the stove for a few extra minutes on low heat and then serve immediately.
Watch How to Make Beer Cheese Soup
About the Garnishes
If you really wanted to stay true to the Wisconsin beer cheese soup ways you can always sub the croutons with popcorn. Popcorn is commonly used as garnish in Wisconsin. We prefer croutons though. There is just something about soggy popcorn floating in the bowl and the exquisite flavors of the beer soup that doesn’t add up for us.
Of course, soft pretzels always make a good companion with beer cheese dips and this soup. If you are up for it – why not Beer Soft Pretzels?
Or these super quick beer biscuits that you simply cannot mess up. Or pour the Wisconsin cheese soup into bread bowls for a fancy presentation.
For extra delightful version, cook diced bacon until crispy over medium-high heat in a large saucepan, then drain over paper towels and garnish soup.
Beer cheese soup is well-loved by many and especially by beer aficionados. In Wisconsin it is on the menus of most pubs, breweries and even fine-dining restaurants, along with beer battered cheese curds.
I’ve written before how the concept of modern day beer soup is credited to the Germans. The addition of sharp cheddar to beer, butter and flour based soup has its roots in England though and so does the Worcestershire.
The German immigrants in Wisconsin are largely credited with taking this easy and fast soup to its current culinary heights.
Whoever it was who really came up with the concept – thank you!!!
Other Recipes with Beer Cheese
Beer Cheese Fondue
Red Ale Gouda Beer Cheese Dip
Jalapeno Fontina Beer Cheese Dip
Tortilla Crusted Beer Cheese Grilled Cheese
Feta Cheese Beer Fondue
Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup (Chef Tried & True)
Chef tried and true Wisconsin beer cheese soup recipe. Rich, flavorful and nutrient packed. One pot.
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 yellow onion, large, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 carrots, medium, diced
- 1/2 red or orange bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable as substitute)
- 1 cup cream
- 12 oz beer, well-balanced or predominantly malty
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp dry mustard, (ready powdered or grind whole mustard seed)
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp cayenne or red pepper flakes, optional
- 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, (white cheddar works too)
- 3 stalks green onion, green part only, chopped, for garnish
- bread croutons , optional, for garnish
- Heat a heavy bottom pot/large saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and let it melt.
- Add the diced onion, celery, carrots, pepper and garlic and sauté until softened, stirring occasionally. About 5-6 minutes.
- Sprinkle the flour and mix well. Cook for about a minute, stirring frequently.
- While stirring add the chicken broth, the cream and the beer. Mix well and add the seasonings - salt and pepper, mustard, Worcestershire and cayenne/red pepper flakes.
- Let simmer for about 5 minutes and then remove from the stove. Take out the bay leaf.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Alternatively, transfer to a food processor or blender to puree but work in small batches to avoid the hot liquid blowing up.
- Add the cheese to the pureed soup base working in batches and stirring. Place the pot back on the stove. Heat up over low heat to blend all the flavors, about 3-5 mins.
- Serve right away, garnished with green onions and croutons (optional).
For best results choose a beer that is not aggressively hoppy such as English or American amber ale or lager, brown ale, German helles, Vienna lager, dunkel, bock, doppelbock.
This is a very rich, very flavorful soup - serve in combination with lighter fare or as main course, especially if accompanied by soft pretzels.
The beer cheese soup can be reheated - for best results warm up leftover quantity in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Stir occasionally.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 4 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 630Saturated Fat: 27.5gCholesterol: 131mgSodium: 23mgCarbohydrates: 24.9gFiber: 2.7gSugar: 7.1gProtein: 27.6g
This sounds amazing! Can I make this the night before I serve it? Should I wait to add the cheese to the day I will be serving it? This is for an event, do you think I can keep it in a crock pot for a few hours maybe on low? Thanks!
Milena Perrine says
You sure can! If you can add in the cheese the day of your function it will taste better. Just be sure that the soup is not too hot and to be on the safe side perhaps lightly toss the already shredded cheese with a bit of flour. If for some reason it clumps, do not panic, have a hand blender handy and use it to make smooth soup.
If you decide to make the soup in one go and reheat it the next day – opt for low and slow reaheat for best results. If using the crock pot I would just go ‘keep warm’, low can actually be too much.
Pam OConnor says
This looks amazing! I’ve had the recipe sitting here for a couple of months waiting for the weather to cool off (I live in Florida!). Planning on making it today. The only thing missing from the recipe is the Sharp Cheddar. How much is called for??
Milena Perrine says
Pam, so excited you are about to make it. Look at the recipe card – from bottom up, the 3rd ingredient. You will need 3 cups of sharp cheddar (grated) or around there (you can add a bit more if you’d like:)
I was wondering if there is a recommended way to substitute the beer for someone with a gluten allergy?
Milena Perrine says
Arianna, I would purchase a gluten free beer that leans heavily on the malty side. The soup should taste really good with it:)
This is delish! I added crumbled bacon (because, bacon). However, the 10 minute prep time estimate is so misleading! Let’s say you have a personal kitchen porter so you can start with pre-cleaned/pre-chopped onions, celery, carrots, pepper, garlic, green onion, plus shredded cheese and all necessary ingredients out and pre-measured…you still aren’t going to construct this soup with a prep time of 10 minutes. Right? Anyway, whatever the prep time, this soup is worth the effort!
Looking forward to making this for the 1st time tonight! Just curious…can I double this recipe? If so, would I double every ingredient?
Craft Beering says
Yes, excactly, you would double the ingredients and follow the recipe as written. Be sure to select a big enough soup pot and be careful when starting to blend because of the doubled volume.
Great way to use up a bottle of somehwat sweetish Oktoberfest beer we had from our party last weekend. Made it with pre-shredded cheddar and it turned out really well.
What a brilliant perfect weeknight recipe. Everything about it was tasty! Loved by everyone.
Thank you so much for sharing!
Living all over Wisconsin the majority of my life, I have never once seen or heard anyone eat popcorn with their Beer Cheese soup.
Salt: Cut in half. This is an excellent recipe, but each time I’ve made it I’ve found it far too salty. Even the second time when I used low-sodium broth and reduced the added salt content.
Cheese: The sharper the better.
Beer: The darker the better. I love this recipe with a dark beer, like a porter.
Speaking of darker, pumpernickel croutons are a perfect match for this soup.
Quick question for the chef: When grating the cheese, do you pack the cheese in the measuring cup as you would brown sugar or do you let it settle in the cup naturally? I wonder if this second time making it I’ve added too much cheese.
Thanks for this! I love that I get to sneak vegetable’s into my boyfriend’s diet without too much complaining 🙂
Hi, Emmy! Great to have your comments and super happy that you take our ‘side’ about the popcorn. Count yourself lucky – we’ve been to Wisconsin three times total and always popcorn:) Weird. Agreed about your suggestions on the cheese and beer – the more flavor, the better. We do not really pack the cheese. I would say a heaping cup:) But it really is a personal decision, just like how salty or light or dark beer.
You can look up the weight equivalent of a given volume of cheese on a search engine. I found the weight of 3 cups of shredded cheddar listed as 339 grams, which is 12 oz. This is consistent with the fact that an 8 oz bag of shredded (not grated) cheese states that it holds 2 cups.
Denise W. says
Hi! This looks amazing! How is it as a make ahead recipe? Does it reheat well?
Yes, see notes in the recipe card regarding reheating.
OMG. I could live on this soup
[email protected] says
This soup always speaks to me, when I eye it from the menu! Never not in the mood for this delicious treat!!
nicole (thespicetrain.com) says
I LOVE beer cheese soup (of course) and yours sounds and looks delicious, I love how you photographed it too, the wooden board and spoons are beautiful. Thank you for sharing! 🙂
Thank you, Nicole!
Kerryanne English says
I’m so intrigued by this recipe guys and definitely not something I have ever seen in Australia. Can’t wait to try it.
Thank you for sharing this project at Create, Bake, Grow & Gather this week. I’m delighted to be featuring it at tonight’s party and pinning too!
Thank you so much, Kerryanne! It is a delicious soup for sure! Hope you get to make it before summer is in full swing down there:)
Marvellina|What To Cook Today says
My 5-year old son just asked me this afternoon “Is there a place that makes A LOT of cheeses?” (He is obsessed with cheese!!) and I told him it’s our neighbor, WI. This beer cheese soup is probably going to be his favorite LOL! I never knew they topped popcorns on the beer cheese soup! I’ll take croutons though!! Btw, welcome to Mediavine family 🙂 You are going to love it A LOT! Cheers!
Right? As soon as he grows up and figures out about beer:) So cute though, five is such a sweet age. You can talk to them about a lot of things but there is still toddler like sincerity and cuteness. Thank you about the Mediavine welcome, so far they have been absolutely awesome to us!
Sharon Stephenson says
Please, I know nothing about beer! Can you give me a universal beer to use? I need a name, not how it is made. Thank You! P.S. I’m from Texas
Milena Perrine says
Sharon, the easiest thing to do would be to buy Shiner Bock:) It is perfectly suited.
Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers says
Beer cheese soup has been on my list to make at home forever! I always order it when I’m out and I see it on the menu, but just haven’t got around to making it at home. Now that I’ve found your great recipe though, I have no excuse now. Will be trying this soon!
So hope you make it! Sometimes it tends to be too heavy on the cheese when we eat out (believe it or not it is possible, lol) but with all the veggies in the Wisconsin version it is a delight for sure!
Nicoletta Sugarlovespices says
I would so love a bowl of this beer cheese soup! Other than the chicken stock which I would replace with a vegetable stock, I love everything in this soup!! Beautiful photos, too! Thanks for the recipe, you guys!
Absolutely! Vegetable stock will be delicious. Thank you, Nicoletta!
Kelly Lynns Sweets and Treats says
MMMMmmmm….a bowl of this with some crusty bread on a cool, crisp evening = Fall perfection!! This soup looks soooooooo yummy!
Yes! Very true, sitting by the fire outside with a small bowl of this soup and a beer with a pretzel…Mmm:) Thank you, Kelly!
Dawn - Girl Heart Food says
So, you pretty much know that this soup is made for me, right ??? Seriously, you guys, this is the soup dreams are made of. Beer + cheese? Heaven in a bowl for sure. Starting to get cold around here and I’m craving all the comfort food and this would fit the bill perfectly 🙂
Not one bit surprised:) But I know exactly what you mean, something about beer cheese soup…Only beer and mushrooms can rival it:) Thank you, Dawn!
Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen says
Oh my gosh, is there anything better than soup when it’s cold out? It’s been freeeeezing in the mornings here, which means soon the rest of the day will cool off significantly and as soon as the temps drop below 80 I’m making this. Cheese and beer–what’s not to love?
OMG, if you still have 80s at any point of the day this is a reason for me to be jealous! So miss the warm weather. But even in summer, I’d have a bowl of beer cheese soup, maybe with some fresh veggies on the side. Thank you, Kelsie!