Chef tried and true Wisconsin style beer cheese soup recipe. Enjoy in 30 minutes total, no special skills required.
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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
- 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 heavy 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).
Heavy cream truly shines in this recipe. Its high fat content facilitaties the absorption of the cheese into the soup and also make reheating easy.
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