Beer Bread (whole wheat or white)

By Ann Fulton

Tender, dense, and lightly chewy, this one-bowl bread has the yeasty taste of a risen loaf – but takes about 5 minutes to prep.
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Tender and lightly chewy, this fuss-free, one-bowl bread has the yeasty flavor of a risen loaf – and takes just 5 minutes to prep.


Every summer growing up, I went to camp in Maine. I made wonderful friends there, and several of those friendships are still going strong.

One winter, I got to visit my friend, Elliott, at her home in Kansas City. I remember details from that trip like it was yesterday.

While I was there, we made beer bread. I still have the index card with the original recipe, which called for self-rising flour. Over the years, I have adapted the recipe, swapping out the self-rise flour and incorporating an option for whole wheat flour.

The recipe is yeast-free and doesn’t call for kneading or rising, yet the fuss-free loaf is tasty. Plus, there’s something inherently satisfying about baking bread — even with a few shortcuts!

My family’s favorite way to enjoy a slice is toasted with a spread of strawberry jam. That said, beer bread is equally delicious with a bit of butter and served alongside soups, stews, and salads. 

My kids have asked what would happen if I used root beer instead of regular beer. I go back and forth as to whether that might work (maybe with some raisins mixed in?) but haven’t tried.

It would be a fun experiment… If anyone beats me to it, please report back!

Tender, dense, and lightly chewy, this one-bowl bread has the yeasty taste of a risen loaf – but takes about 5 minutes to prep.

Note for those who require a gluten-free recipe: Breads are some of the most difficult recipes to replicate without reaching for a laundry list of alternate flours. Recently, however, I challenged myself to create a worthy loaf using the standard cup-for-cup flour replacement, and I was able to do it with one additional ingredient. The resulting loaf is a bit denser, but the crumb is good (not crumbly!), and it passed the test of several gluten-eating taste testers. See recipe notes for the modification. 

Tender, dense, and lightly chewy, this one-bowl bread has the yeasty taste of a risen loaf – but takes about 5 minutes to prep.

Super-simple to prep with no need for yeast, kneading, or rising time, this speedy loaf has a tender crumb and great flavor. 

Tender, dense, and lightly chewy, this one-bowl bread has the yeasty taste of a risen loaf – but takes about 5 minutes to prep.

I think the bread is especially delightful when toasted and topped with jam. It’s also delicious with a spread of butter and served alongside soups, stews, and salads.

Beer Bread (whole wheat or white)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Yield: 1 loaf
Tender, dense, and lightly chewy, this one-bowl bread has the yeasty taste of a risen loaf – but it takes about 5 minutes to prep. And it's all thanks to a bottle of beer. I serve it with soups, stews, and chilis or to bolster a dinner salad. The bread is also delicious toasted and topped with butter and/or jam.
  • 1½ cups (190g) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups (169g) whole wheat flour*
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons (24-48g) packed brown sugar (may substitute honey)
  • 1 (12-ounce) can or bottle beer, room temperature**
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) warm water
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) melted butter, optional***
  • Optional mix-ins: cheddar cheese and a sprinkle of dill or Italian herb blend; cinnamon, raisins, and walnuts or sunflower seeds; chopped sun-dried tomatoes, olives and feta.
Optional add-ins
  1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. (If using honey, add with the beer and water.) Stir in add-ins, if using. (As a guideline, I use about a quarter cup of seeds, a third to a half cup of nuts, a half to a full cup of cheese, and/or one teaspoon of dried herbs.) Pour in the beer and water, and stir just until the flour mixture is all moistened. Spread the dough into the prepared loaf pan. (Tip: If time allows, let the batter sit for 15 to 20 minutes before baking. I find this slightly enhances the rise.)
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until just cooked through. (Helpful hint: To perfectly gauge doneness, the internal temperature should read 200℉ when taken with a quick-read thermometer.)
  4. Remove from the oven and immediately drizzle the melted butter over the top, if using. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack and cool completely.
  5. I love plain beer bread with a smear of butter and/or strawberry jam and toast the leftovers.

*You may replace the whole wheat flour with more all-purpose flour, or shift the ratios and use 2 cups all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat. Using all whole wheat will likely make the bread too dense.

When measuring flour, if not measuring by weight, be sure to fluff it up, scoop into measuring cups, and level with the straight edge of a knife. This will avoid compacting the flour and using too much, which will create a denser, drier bread.

**What’s the best beer to use? I usually use a lager (often Corona Light because it’s something we usually have on hand), but you can experiment with flavors, even using a hard cider. Just avoid IPAs or anything hoppy, as the hops tend to become bitter when cooked.

***While optional, the melted butter is a tasty finishing touch. The last time I made this bread, I used 1 tablespoon melted butter mixed with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, and that worked well too.

Food styling pro tip: For a lovely appearance, sprinkle a few pinches of oats over the top of the dough before baking.

Need a gluten-free bread? My best result to date has been using 3 cups (360g) of King Arthur Flour Measure for Measure gluten-free flour (if not measuring by weight, make sure to fluff it up, scoop into measuring cups, and level with the straight edge of a knife) and stirring 2 tablespoons psyllium seed husk into the dry ingredients. (This increases moisture and eliminates any crumbliness.) Psyllium seed husk increases the need for liquid, so I add ¼ cup warm water, plus the 2 tablespoons in the regular recipe, along with the beer. Make sure your beer is gluten-free. I use Corona Light, which contains less than 20 parts per million, which is the limit for a gluten-free product, although a certified GF beer or hard cider may be used.)

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The Fountain Avenue Kitchen

This is a very old picture of the unbaked bread with the original recipe card from my camp friend, Sarah Elliott.

Recipe first posted May 23, 2012

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  1. Carole Adkins

    I generally make HORRIBLE gluten free bread. For some reason, it always comes out hard as a rock. This recipe, however, is absolutely PERFECT, and I make it several times a week. I follow the gluten free directions, and it never fails.

    1. Ann Post author

      I am delighted to read this, Carole! I’m so happy you found success with this recipe and appreciate your thoughtful feedback.

    1. Ann Post author

      I typically purchase psyllium seed husk at Lemon Street Market, and in fact just bought a new container a few weeks ago. I’ve noticed it at other grocery stores over time, in a variety of aisles. To be sure, you may want to call ahead and ask if they have it and where.

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Carole, I use Organic India brand, and the canister says “whole husk psyllium.” Despite what it may seem, the husks are ground to very fine powder, which is what you’re looking for.

  2. Marcia

    I made this today to go with our spaghetti and meatballs. I added Italian seasoning and toasted (dried) onions, used a dark lager (Stella midnight lager). It was delicious! (my husband bought the dark Stella by mistake, thinking he was getting my favorite). As it was baking, the house smelled so good, we couldn’t wait to dig in. :). Thanks for this simple, healthy version of beer bread.

    1. Ann Post author

      Thank YOU for your thoughtful feedback, Marcia. I’m delighted it was a hit…and I love the aroma while this bread is baking, too!

  3. Mary Lou Keller

    I have this in the oven today. ..finally! Making the butternut squash soup as well. .it is cold and dreary here so a perfect day to spend in the kitchen .

  4. Mary Lou Keller

    Tonight we are having the Butternut Squash Bake I gave you recipe for… have you made that yet? I but up my squash last night, so tonight all I need to do is assemble it and bake.

  5. Mary Lou Keller

    Ann this looks amazingly easy! i am not sure how I have missed this before but I am definitely making this over weekend. I have a butternut squash to use and want to make your soup recipe.. I think the bread and the soup would pair well together, don’t you think??

    Take care, I am browsing your recipes while eating lunch at my desk.

    1. Ann

      This bread is so easy and I do think it would be delightful with the soup, Mary Lou! (And sounds like a great lunch activity to me!!)

  6. Judy

    Made it today. Added shredded pepper jack cheese, a teaspoon of Mrs. Dash and a teaspoon of dill. It has just a nice little kick and we’re having it for dinner tonight with chili.

    1. Ann

      Love the addition of pepper jack, dill and the seasoning, Judy, and appreciate your letting me know! I bet the chili was delicious, too!

      1. Monica Mooney

        this bread is sooooo good. I have made it 2 other times aside from my original post and am about to make it again this week. I just had to post and let you know sweetie!! TY so much for an easy go to bread, that is so flavorful~!

        1. Ann

          Thank you very much, Monica! This is truly the kind of comment that make my day! I appreciate you taking the time to let me know: )