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What to cook with beer?

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Ice cold beer pairs wonderfully to eat with food including various snacks, fruits, and meals on any occasion. However, when used in cooking, beer has the power to turn ordinary food into exceptionally flavorful dishes.

Beer adds deep and earthy flavor to savory dishes, but be aware that all beers do not fit in every dish.

What to cook with beer? Beer is great addition and adds new layer of flavor to variety of recipes. Marinate meats with stouts to complement the robust flavor of beef or lamb, where as light ale beers cook well with seafood, poultry, and pork.

The different types of beer result varying flavors when cooking with beer:

  • Wheat beer: red meat
  • Pilsners: beer batter for fish
  • Lagers: pulled pork, steaming shellfish
  • IPA: fried food, seafood, marinades for chicken or pork
  • Porters: beef stew, pot roast, cupcake, cookie
  • Stout: stewing, braising lamb or beef, cake, brownies, frosting

Beer is one of the most popular alcoholic drinks globally, and it can work as a flavoring ingredient in many dishes. It has a mild flavor that can vary from slightly bitter to sweet and fruity depending on the variety of yeast and grains used during fermentation.

The flavor profile of beer allows it to pair well with many other foods, especially those that are greasy or fatty. Wondering what to cook with beer? Here are some ideas for you to explore next.

What food can you cook with beer?

Beer works with almost any type of food, and particularly excellent when cooking steak, seafood, and chicken. It also works for making bread or baking cakes and other desserts.

  • Wheat beers: grilled red meats, cheddar broccoli soup
  • Pale ale: bread, fish and chips
  • Porter: braised steaks, chocolate ganache
  • Stout: shellfish, stews, cake, lamb, affogato
  • Pilsner: grilled sausage
  • Bock: pork, root vegetables

Best beer to cook chicken with

Chicken has a relatively mild flavor that is easily enhanced when cooked with a wide range of beers. 

Wheat beer and lager are the best choices when making roasted chicken or braised chicken dishes. For example, India Pale Ale (IPA) fits well for this purpose because of its citrusy notes, which complement roasted and braised chicken dishes very well.

When making a stew or sauce with chicken stock as the base, go big by using dark beer or stout to bring out the rich flavors in the casserole or sauce.

Here are the best beer types to cook with chicken:

  • pilsners
  • wheat ales
  • saisons
  • bock 
  • IPA
  • amber lagers

Best beer to cook steak

To determine the best beer for cooking steak, consider two main factors, alcohol content and bitterness. Any beer will work for marinating steak, but a higher alcohol content will provide more flavor, and bitterness helps to tenderize meat.

Use lighter beers like pilsners or lagers with leaner meats like filet mignon or sirloin. On the other hand, brown ales and stouts are perfect companions for fattier cuts like ribeye or skirt steak. 

Depending on the cut of steak, here are options to select to cook with beer:

  • Filet mignon: blonde pilsner or light lager
  • Burgers: porter
  • Top sirloin: pale ale
  • Prime rib: amber ale
  • Ribeye: india pale ale

When the recipe requires to marinate the steak with sauce, avoid using light beer. Instead, go with lager, ale, or dark stout beer to execute a bolder flavor.

Best beer to cook seafood

A dark beer with robust flavors is the best way to bring out the richness of the seafood. It provides a more flavorful base, but it also produces a gorgeous mahogany color that hints at the dish’s flavor. 

Pale ale, wheat ale, saison, and lagers are great options to cook seafood with.  But based on the type of seafood, beer will vary as one beer does not fit all recipes.

  • Crab cakes: pilsner, gose, hefeweizen, American IPA
  • Crab legs: white beer, fruity beer
  • Shrimp: bock, pilsners, craft lagers
  • Mussels and clams: Belgian ales

Best beer to bake with

There are a few things to know about baking with beer. 

  1. Beer can substitute for almost any liquid in a recipe. 
  2. The alcohol in the beer cooks out, so there is no need to worry about getting drunk from brownies. But, the beer makes the texture of baked goods extra fluffy and moist.

Here are some excellent beer choices used for baking.

  • Pale Ales: Tend to be hoppy, so they work well in savory dishes like bread and pizza dough. The hops also adds a bitter citrus-like taste that works well with desserts like cookies and brownies.
  • Brown Ales: Perfect for chocolate cakes or cupcakes when looking for a rich flavor.
  • Stouts: Works well in chocolate desserts, but can also compliment pumpkin flavored baked goods.
  • Porters: Perfect for cookies that you don’t want the malt flavor to come through too strong.

What flavor cooks well with beer?

Beer pairs particularly well with hearty dishes such as stews, chili, barbecue, sweet, spicy, rich flavors, and highly seasoned or prepared foods. It complements a wide range of tastes and can be used in cooking as a marinade, braising liquid, or even in beer-based sauces.

Here are flavor blends that chefs love to cook with beer:

  • beer + citrus + ricotta + donuts
  • beer + beef + Shepherd’s pie 
  • beer + lobster + macaroni and cheese
  • beer + black beans + pinto beans + apple cider vinegar + tomato sauce + chili powder
  • beer + lemon + shrimp + cajun seasoning
  • beer + sauerkraut + peppers + sausage + mustard
What to cook with beer

Cook with Beer: Conclusion

Beer does goes well when cooking many different types of food, which is especially true considering how versatile beer is. 

Bubbly, refreshing, and citrusy, beer is a fantastic beverage to cook with, especially useful in marinating meat to get deep roast flavor and moisten the meat throughout the grilling and barbecue process.

However, there are a wide range of beer selection to use for cooking meat, poultry, and seafood as well as cooking techniques from braising, stew, sauces, and marinating.

Whether you are cooking beer with chicken, steak, and seafood, use these beer types and flavor combination to enjoy the meal and take the flavor to the next level.

Each brand or variety has a specific flavor, so there’s always something new to try, no matter the type of beer. The possibilities are nearly endless, though it’s unnecessary to use beer in every dish. 

Use the references in this guide to experiment and see what works best for the meal when preparing!

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