Cooking Tips

9 Ways to Cook with Beer

Don’t want to drink the leftover beer after a game-day party? Use it in your cooking instead.
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Published Feb. 12, 2024.

If there’s one thing on every game-day party grocery list, it’s beer. Popping a cold one and propping up your feet is part of the fun!

Except for the day after when you open your fridge to a liquor store’s-worth of unopened cans and bottles. 

Sure, you could drink it over time. It won’t go “bad.” 

But, you could also cook with it. Beer is a surprisingly versatile ingredient that brings depth, lift, and flavor to all sorts of recipes. 

Here are nine ways to use it up.

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What Types of Beer Are Best to Cook With?

For most of our recipes, we prefer to use a mild American lager, such as Miller High Life or Budweiser. Its crisp, refreshing flavors make it both subtle and versatile. Copper-colored Belgian-style beer, like Blue Moon or Stella Artois, work well too. Save dark stouts for hearty stews and even dessert! The roasty, malty flavors of stout pair wonderfully with chocolate.  

Avoid strongly flavored, hoppier beers, like IPAs, as their bitterness will overpower your dish once cooked.

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How Long Does Leftover Booze Last?

Have some extra bottles of liquor and wine lying around after your last party? Here’s how long you have to drink them.
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1. Soup

A warm, comforting bowl of beer and cheese soup is a great way to get through a brisk winter night. For our Wisconsin Cheddar Beer Soup, we combine a can of lager with both American and sharp cheddar cheese. The combination of cheeses ensures a velvety, non-grainy consistency. Throughout our tasting, we found the malty flavors from a mild lager to be the perfect complement to the tanginess of the cheddar.

Recipe

Wisconsin Cheddar Beer Soup

Rich, creamy cheddar beer soup helps take the chill off long Wisconsin winters; unfortunately, most recipes cook up greasy and gritty. We needed to find cheese that could take the heat.
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2. Fried Food

As Cook’s Illustrated’s Dan Souza says, “beer batters are awesome.” Whether you’re frying fish, pickles, or onion rings, beer makes a big difference in the results. The bubbles in the beer provide lift, while the proteins and sugars create a crisp coating with great color.

Recipe

Beer-Battered Onion Rings with Jalapeño Dipping Sauce

These golden onion rings fry up delicately crisp and run circles around restaurant versions.
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Watch Cook’s Illustrated’s Dan Souza explain the science behind beer batter.

3. Fondue

To us, fondue will never go out of style. But fondue is more than just melted cheese. Often, recipes call for an acidic component to cut through the richness of the cheese, and beer serves that purpose perfectly. The flavors pair nicely together and the beer’s liquid helps prevent the fondue from seizing up. We also opt for a cast-iron skillet or slow-cooker to keep your fondue melty and warm for hours.

Recipe

Slow-Cooker Beer and Cheddar Fondue

We wanted to take advantage of the gentle, steady heat of the slow cooker to make a beer and cheddar fondue that would stay creamy for hours unattended. 
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4. Braises

Beer works really well as a braising liquid, especially with pork and beef (particularly brisket). Slow cooking short ribs or bratwurst in beer brings out the meatiness of the protein. As it cooks down, the beer’s malty notes concentrate into a complementary flavor that tastes hearty and elevated. Depending on the recipe and the flavors you want to bring out, you can use wheat beer, lagers, pilsner, or even a brown ale.

Recipe

Slow-Cooker Beer-Braised Beef with Onions

This Belgian beef-and-beer stew is a natural for the slow cooker—but you have to know how to handle the three main ingredients.
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5. Quick Bread

Yeasted bread is great. Beer-yeasted bread? Even better. Quick and easy beer breads are perfect for when you need bread on the table in a flash. In recipes like our Cast Iron Beer-Batter Cheese Bread, the yeast gets replaced with beer, providing both lift and flavor. Often paired with cheese (sensing a theme?), beer-batter breads are a delicious way to showcase your leftover lager.

Recipe

Cast Iron Beer-Batter Cheese Bread

We created a quick and easy bread that combines the flavor of beer with the richness of cheese.
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More than twenty-five ATK pros and cooks reveal their favorite ways to gather with friends and family. Learn their personal recipes and stories, playful menus, and practical game plans and tips to make your gatherings go smoothly.

6. Beef Stew

Guinness and beef stew are a match made in hoppy heaven. For some recipes, the cooked stout can turn disappointingly bitter. For our Guinness Beef Stew recipe, we countered the bitterness in two ways. First, we added a little brown sugar to round out the flavor. Then, we added stout in two parts: at the start of cooking to develop the pleasant bitterness, and freshly poured in at the end to give it a robust flavor.

Recipe

Guinness Beef Stew

Both Guinness and beef stew have deep, roasted, delicious flavor. So why should putting them together lead to bitter disappointment?
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7. Seafood

Giving seafood like shrimp and clams a quick steam bath makes for a perfect weeknight meal. But rather than water or stock, use beer! The infusion of beer adds a pleasant malty flavor to your seafood. Plus, it’s so easy. Simply sauté your alliums in a Dutch oven, top it with a steamer basket, pour in your beer, add your seafood, put the lid on, and let it do its thing

Recipe

Clams Steamed in Beer

It doesn't take a lot of embellishment to turn fresh clams into an exceptional dish, but it does take proper technique, as clams quickly turn from tender to tough and rubbery.
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8. Poultry

Beer and chicken work well for both indoor and outdoor cooking. Adding beer to your chicken brine tenderizes and infuses great flavor into your chicken. And roasting a chicken over an open can of beer produces a terrific chicken. The beer in the open can simmers and turns to steam as the chicken roasts, making it remarkably juicy.

Recipe

Beer-Brined Roast Chicken

Better flavor through science.
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9. Dessert

We’ve got four words: Chocolate-Stout Bundt Cake. Wine and chocolate are a classic pairing, but the combo of malty stout and chocolate is equally as delicious. After all, stout has notes of chocolate on its own! Here, the beer gets used both in the batter and in the indulgent glaze that gets poured over top.

Recipe

Chocolate-Stout Bundt Cake

Wine or beer and chocolate pairings have become as popular as cheese pairings, and stout, in particular, tastes great with chocolate—it has notes of chocolate itself, after all.
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