The Secret to the Easiest Bread You’ll Ever Bake (Hint: Crack Open a Cold One)

The recipe may require just four ingredients, but beer bread definitely isn't boring. Here's how to make yours awesome.

Homemade beer bread with honey and butter on cutting boardPhoto: Shutterstock / lpshutter
Photo: Shutterstock / lpshutter

I love good beer and good bread, so when the opportunity arises to put the two together and bake beer bread, you don’t have to ask me twice.

Beer and yeast bread actually have more in common that most folks realize. Both are made with grains that are fermented by yeast, which produces two things. First, carbon dioxide, which makes bread rise and gives beer its foamy head. Second, alcohol, which almost entirely evaporates during the baking process in what I think we can all agree is a knock against bread (sorry, bakers). This means these grainy cousins have a lot of harmonious flavors to offer when we put them together.

Beer Bread Basics

Beer bread is one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever make—especially when you choose a quick bread recipe (one without yeast). While most classic beer bread recipes call for a bottle of whatever generic lager you have on hand, there are a few beer styles you should avoid. Bitter hoppy beers or acidic sour varieties will lead to a less-than-desirable finished product, as those flavors get concentrated during the baking process. Everything else is fair game.

Let’s bake a simple beer bread recipe to get started, shall we?

loaf of honey beer bread with butterTaste of Home
Photo: Taste of Home

How to Make Easy and Delicious Beer Bread

This is seriously the easiest bread you’ll ever make. It has just four ingredients and three steps, just like my favorite square dance. (I’m kidding; I have no idea how to square dance.)

You’ll need:

3 cups self-rising flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup honey

1 12-ounce bottle or can of beer

Step 1: Mix dry ingredients

While the oven preheats to 350°, whisk together your flour and sugar in a large bowl.

Test Kitchen tip: If you don’t have any self-rising flour, mix 1 cup regular flour with 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt to yield 1 cup self-rising flour.

Step 2: Stir in wet ingredients

Stir in your honey and beer, just till the dough is moist. Don’t overdo it on the beer if the mixture starts to get too wet. You can always drink what’s left over!

Test Kitchen tip: I recommend a fall beer—if you have any Oktoberfests still in your fridge, try one of those! You could even use a pumpkin ale, but make sure its spices aren’t too strong (some pumpkin ales taste as if the brewers had a food fight with the employees at a spice factory).

Step 3: Bake!

Transfer into a greased 8×4-in. loaf pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes or so in the pan, then transfer the loaf to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Pair this bread with the beer you used in the recipe to highlight the flavors in both!

How to Make It Your Own

Beer comes in endless varieties, and changing the style of beer you use in the recipe can lead to some delicious results. Almost any beer has a bread it’ll work in. Here are some tasty variations to experiment with:

  • Use a dark, roasty oatmeal stout with flavors of chocolate and coffee in an oatmeal bread recipe to create a richer flavor.
  • Add a Belgian dubbel or quadrupel ale with flavors of dried fruit to a raisin bread recipe.
  • How about a caramelly, nutty English brown ale in a pumpkin bread?
  • Reach for a crackery, lightly fruity wheat ale in a beernana bread.

See what you like. If it doesn’t turn out great, you’ll still have beer!

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David Nilsen
David Nilsen is a professional beer writer and educator and book critic. He is a Certified Cicerone, and a National Book Critics Circle member. He lives in Ohio with his wife and daughter and a very irritable cat.