Welsh rarebit, Welsh rabbit, or infrequently rarebit, is a dish made with a savoury sauce of melted cheese and various other ingredients and served hot over toasted bread. The names of the dish originate from 18th century Great Britain, after Wales. Welsh rarebit is typically made with Cheddar cheese, in contrast to the Continental European fondue which classically depends on Swiss cheeses, and of which Welsh rarebit may be considered a local variant.
“Eighteenth-century English cookbooks reveal that it was then considered to be a luscious supper or tavern dish, based on the fine cheddar-type cheeses and the wheat breads […] . Surprisingly, it seems there was not only a Welsh Rabbit, but also an English Rabbit, an Irish and a Scotch Rabbit, but nary a rarebit.”
Various recipes for Welsh rarebit include the addition of ale, mustard, ground cayenne pepper or ground paprika and Worcestershire sauce. The sauce may also be made by blending cheese and mustard into a béchamel sauce or Mornay sauce. Some recipes for Welsh rarebit have become textbook savoury dishes listed by culinary authorities including Escoffier, Saulnier and others, who tend to use the form Welsh rarebit, emphasizing that it is not a meat dish. In the United States, a frozen prepared sauce by Stouffer’s can be found in supermarkets.
Acknowledging that there is more than one way to make a rarebit, some cookbooks have included two recipes: the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book of 1896 provides one béchamel-based recipe and another with beer, Le Guide Culinaire of 1907 has one with ale and one without, and the Constance Spry Cookery Book of 1956 has one with flour and one without.