Homemade Pub Cheese

How to make traditional Pub Cheese in two ways, either from scratch with sharp cheddar and beer (making it a "beer cheese") or a semi-homemade version that starts with a store-bought pub cheese then boosts flavor and improves texture (that's non-alcoholic). Make one, make both, each takes just minutes to pull together for an impromptu soft cheesy spread packed with zing and fun to serve with crackers, veggies, fresh fruit (especially apples!) or alongside pretzels or warm pretzel bites.

Homemade Pub Cheese (Beer Cheese), an easy cheese spread ♥ KitchenParade.com. Perfect for crackers, sandwiches, veggies, fresh fruit, charcuterie boards.

Home-style Bar Food. Whole Food, Fresh & Family-Tested. Easy Addition to Charcuterie & Cheese Boards. Fun & Portable Picnic Food. Mere Minutes to the Table. Year-Round Kitchen Staple. Budget Friendly. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Great for Meal Prep & Food Gifts. Potluck & Party Friendly. Easy DIY. Low Carb. Naturally Gluten Free.

The Homemade Pantry ♥ KitchenParade.com, a special collection of recipes for ingredients and dishes we could easily buy but choose to make from scratch at home because they taste better, cost less, have fewer or higher-quality ingredients or are simply more convenient.
This recipe fits into a special collection of recipes I call
The Homemade Pantry
stuff we could easily buy
but for one reason or another
(better taste, lower cost, more convenience, fewer ingredients)
choose to make from scratch
at home in our own kitchens.

What Is Pub Cheese?

Pub cheese is homey bar food, easy to belly up to the bar with, a soft cheddar cheese spread spiked with beer (or not) and horseradish.

You can buy pub cheese made with processed cheese in grocery stores but for clean cheddar-rich flavor seasoned to your own taste, homemade is the way to go.

You get the idea, right? Pub Cheese is not your kid's can of Cheez Wiz but, well, it's in the same family.

Homemade Pub Cheese (Beer Cheese), an easy cheese spread ♥ KitchenParade.com. Perfect for crackers, sandwiches, veggies, fresh fruit, charcuterie boards.

About This Recipe

  • Homemade Pub Cheese is a cheese spread moistened with beer and laced with extra zing, especially horseradish.
  • Distinctive Ingredients = sharp cheddar cheese + beer (anything goes?!) + Worcestershire + horseradish
  • It's possible to buy pub cheese in small tubs in the cheese sections at grocery stores. These are a pretty orange color, thanks to food dyes. Homemade Pub Cheese has no dyes so the color isn't as pretty, it just tastes so good, has such clean flavors, there's no getting enough. But since we also eat with our eyes, I first fell in love with a Semi-Homemade Pub Cheese, it starts with an existing tub of orange-colored pub cheese so the color is quite pretty. This one is non-alcoholic and extra-good with apples and celery, as much a "cream cheese spread" as a pub cheese.
  • This is a time-friendly recipe, it makes up in just 10 minutes with just quick pulses in a food processor.
  • This is pantry-friendly recipe, I've even taken to keeping a can or two or three of beer on hand, just to make Pub Cheese.
  • This is a budget-friendly recipe, no pricey ingredients to hunt down, no special grocery store trips.
  • The recipe makes about 1-1/3 cups but is easily scaled up for parties, food gifts and more.
  • Homemade Pub Cheese works best with a whole brick of cheddar. If you have shredded cheddar cheese on hand, let me recommend making the Cheddar-Olive Spread included with Three Quick Appetizers.

What Is Horseradish?

And where do you buy horseradish? And good grief, does horseradish have anything to to with horses (no)? or radishes (yes)?

Let's take a look because horseradish is an essential ingredient in Homemade Beer Cheese and it's the one ingredient which might be unfamiliar to some.

My mom kept a horseradish plant in the front yard and yeah, it was the size of a horse, a child's hobby horse, anyway. She grew horseradish for the showy leaves but every year, dear friends dug up the roots to grate for a fiery horseradish.

Me, I forage for horseradish deep in the refrigerated section (near the dairy) in grocery stores. It's sold in small jars since it's used a teaspoon or two at a time.

Horseradish is to Eastern European cooks as jalapeños are to cooks in Mexico. You can't imagine cooking without those flavor and heat dimensions.

Kinda funny story from when I was a kid. One Sunday, my family had a rare dinner out at a small country hotel before they were chic, one of those Sunday buffets with roast beef, ham and all the trimmings. My poor dad, he mistook a bowl of horseradish for mashed potatoes and put a big scoop on his plate ... ooooooooops.

A boy holding a horseradish plant ♥ KitchenParade.com.

  • Horseradish is a perennial plant, that means it comes back every year. Horseradish thrives in both cold and hot climates.
  • Botanically, horseradish is a root vegetable (what's that? see Vegetables 101: What Are Root Vegetables?) and is related to other vegetables with "heat" like mustard, wasabi and radish.
  • Horseradish has been cultivated for many centuries, some times for medicinal purposes but mostly as a culinary condiment across northern Europe (including Britain, Germany and the Nordic countries) and eastern Europe (Ukraine, Hungary, the Czech Republic and more).
  • The "horse" in horseradish refers not to a riding animal but as an alternate meaning for "coarse".
  • The "horseradish capital of the world" is Collinsville, Illinois, just a few miles east of my home here in St. Louis, Missouri. Some 60% - 80% of the U.S. horseradish crop is grown on family farms in three nearby Illinois counties.

  • A bowl of grated horseradish in front of a horseradish root ♥ KitchenParade.com.

  • Look for what's called "prepared horseradish" or "fresh ground horseradish" in the refrigerated section at grocery stores, probably near the milk and cheese.
  • Bottles of prepared horseradish must be refrigerated. It's still quite perishable, bottles say to use within a few months.
  • Prepared horseradish combines grated raw horseradish with vinegar plus a little sugar, salt and oil. Think of it like a quick pickle, pickled and preserved but not processed with heat for long-term shelf-stable storage.
  • Use prepared horseradish in small amounts, exactly how much depends on your own taste as well as the relative heat in the jar.
  • It goes especially well with seafood, vegetables and ... bloody mary's!

What to Make with Horseradish

Have you ever had an extra-good bloody mary that, shall we say, cleaned out the sinuses? Well, it probably included a tiny touch of horseradish. But beyond that, here are some of my favorite ways to use the horseradish that's a long-time staple ingredient in my fridge.

~ Bloody Caesar ~
~ Bloody Mary Salad ~
~ Smoked Whitefish Spread on Cucumber ~
~ Smoked Salmon Spread ~
~ Potato Bites with Smoked Salmon ~

~ Five-Minute Shrimp Cocktail Sauce ~
~ Horseradish Whipped Cream for Beef ~

~ Simple Beef Salad ~
~ Shrimp Salad Recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade

~ Jealous Marys ~
~ Pickled Beet Dip ~
~ Homemade Onion Dip ~

~ Cauliflower-Broccoli Gratin with Horseradish ~
~ Warm Root Vegetable Salad in Horseradish Vinaigrette ~
~ Browned Cabbage with Mustard & Horseradish ~
~ Finnish Rosolli Salad ~
~ Swedish Pickled Beetroot Salad ~
from A Veggie Venture
Homemade Pub Cheese (Beer Cheese), an easy cheese spread ♥ KitchenParade.com. Perfect for crackers, sandwiches, veggies, fresh fruit, charcuterie boards.

What's In Homemade Pub Cheese? Pantry Ingredients!

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. It's not that an ingredient can't be substituted by something else but when choosing the substitute, it's important to understand why the original ingredient was present in the first place.

  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese A strong-flavored cheese is important, I tried a regular cheddar and a smoked gouda, neither were as good. Do start with a whole brick of sharp cheddar since grated cheddar includes starches that prevent clumping.

  • Beer Confession time, we're not beer drinkers. The closest I get to expertise is my husband's grandnephew who owns a microbrewery in Colorado Springs. So I've been picking beers off the shelf at Trader Joe's, one can or bottle at a time. The ones with the prettiest labels seem to work best! LOL ... kidding, sort of. I've been leaning toward darker beers, their muskiness really contrasts with the cheese and horseradish. Need go stick with something non-alcoholic? Choose a non-alcoholic beer or buy a jar of dill pickles and use the pickle juice.

  • For a Little Heat A little garlic, sharp mustard and prepared horseradish elevate the cheesy spread from just cheesy to "cheesy with a spike of heat".

  • For a Touch of Sweetness That's how Worcestershire comes into play, I must admit, that I'm always tempted to add a little extra sweetness, maybe just a half teaspoon of sugar, maybe a tiny splash of molasses.

How to Make Homemade Pub Cheese

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights in four easy steps. You can definitely do this!

  • Pull out the food processor, preferably a full-blown food processor vs a mini one. Pulse the garlic with some of the cheese, this helps break up the garlic all by itself, ensuring nobody ends up with a big gob of raw garlic.

  • Pulse in the rest of the cheese until it turns into small crumbles. At this point, I like to pull out some of the crumbles. This is optional but when they're added back in later, it adds to the texture of the Pub Cheese. Regular readers know how my recipes pay close attention to texture!

  • Pulse in all the remaining ingredients except the horseradish.

  • Move the mixture to a bowl and stir in the set-aside cheese crumbles and the horseradish. Take a taste and add horseradish to your own taste.

  • That's it!
Homemade Pub Cheese (Beer Cheese), an easy cheese spread ♥ KitchenParade.com. Perfect for crackers, sandwiches, veggies, fresh fruit, charcuterie boards.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

  • Do you have to use beer in Pub Cheese? It depends. Beer is used to turn a brick of cheese into a moist, malleable cheese spread. But beer adds more than moisture, it adds a muskiness that's part of Pub Cheese's appeal. But. Some times, beer just isn't the right choice. Depending on the circumstances, a non-alcoholic beer might work. I've also had great luck with dill pickle juice.

For Best Results

For my weekly column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I interviewed chefs and translated their restaurant recipes for home kitchens. The most iluminating question? "How can a home cook ensure the same results?" So now I ask that question of myself, too, for my own recipes. Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

Choose the Right Cheese I've had such good luck with sharp cheddar, I've stuck with that (especially after experimenting with smoked gouda, which didn't turn out as well as I'd expected) so do choose a cheese with strong flavors. A brick of cheese works better than a pre-grated cheese but hey, if you have grated cheese on hand, it won't be the end of the world to use it.

Semi-Homemade Pub Cheese, an easy cheese spread ♥ KitchenParade.com. Perfect for crackers, sandwiches, veggies, fresh fruit, charcuterie boards.

An Alternative Recipe, Semi-Homemade and Alcohol-Free

My own journey with pub cheese started with a tub purchased from Trader Joe's. I liked the pretty orange color but found it too crumbly to spread nicely. Worse, it just didn't have enough "oomph".

So I doctored it! The first night, the Semi-Homemade Pub Cheese went onto a Charcuterie Board, our weekly tradition over the holidays. Spread onto thin apple slices? Gorgeous! It was my favorite that first night.

Now you get why I'm sharing both recipes, Homemade Pub Cheese and Semi-Homemade Pub Cheese.

Why Pub Cheese Is Worth Making from Scratch

Why would anyone go to the trouble of making Pub Cheese from scratch? Here are a few. Why do you make it? Let me know in the comments!

  • Great way to use up an extra-big block of sharp cheddar purchased at Costco or Sam's Club, say.
  • Great way to use up leftover beer, even flat beer.
  • No processed cheese, no food dyes, no preservatives.
  • Thick but spreadable, a great addition to sandwiches, a pretzel dip, a vegetable dip and more.
  • Great with apple slices on a Charcuterie Board or cheese board.
  • Easily portable, spring picnics here we come!
  • Ready to get started? Here's your recipe!

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If these Pub Cheese recipes inspire you, please do save and share! I'd be honored ...

Homemade Pub Cheese (Beer Cheese), an easy cheese spread ♥ KitchenParade.com. Perfect for crackers, sandwiches, veggies, fresh fruit, charcuterie boards.

Semi-Homemade Pub Cheese, an easy cheese spread ♥ KitchenParade.com. Perfect for crackers, sandwiches, veggies, fresh fruit, charcuterie boards.


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time-to-table: 10 minutes
Makes about 1-1/3 cups
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 8 ounces (225g) sharp cheddar, broken into rough pieces
  • 5 tablespoons beer
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire (don't skip)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or another hot mustard
  • 3 teaspoons prepared horseradish, more or less to taste but be generous (don't skip)

In a food processor, pulse the garlic and a couple of pieces of cheddar until the garlic is finely minced. Add the remaining cheese in 4-5 batches, pulsing to work in each new addition, aiming for small crumbly pieces. For extra texture in the final product, transfer about a quarter of the crumbly mixture to a mixing bowl.

Add the beer a tablespoon at a time, pulsing to incorporate each addition. Then add the Worcestershire and mustard. Pulse until smooth and creamy, the texture you're looking for.

Transfer the creamy mixture to the mixing bowl. Stir in the crumbly cheese and horseradish. Taste and adjust the horseradish.

The Pub Cheese is ready to serve but the flavors will meld after a few hours in the refrigerator.

Keep refrigerated, will keep for several days, even a week.

ALANNA's TIPS Sorry, I pull out my mini food processor (affiliate link) several times a week but Homemade Pub Cheese needs more power so do pull out the big food processor. I thought that smoked gouda would make a good pub cheese: it doesn't. For a non-alcoholic Pub Cheese, use dill pickle juice, an imperfect but still good substitute: it will lack the quixotic mustiness of beer but still tastes good. Look for horseradish in the refrigerated section of grocery stores, it comes in tall-ish jars and it's pretty likely you'll find just one or maybe two brands. It keeps forever and is one of those "magic" ingredients like vinegar, soy sauce and Worcestershire: add just a little and something plain transforms into something special.

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See https://www.kitchenparade.com/2023/03/homemade-pub-cheese.html .
NUTRITION INFORMATION Sorry, due to technical issues during a laptop conversion, nutrition info and Weight Watchers points will be updated later.


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time-to-table: 10 minutes
Makes 1-1/2 cups
  • 1 8-ounce tub (225g) Trader Joe's Pub Cheese
  • 4 ounces (112g) cream cheese, cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon soft butter
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Prepared horseradish to taste

Pulse all the ingredients in a food processor (a mini food processor is full but works fine). Refrigerate until ready to serve, keeps for a good week.

Serve with crackers or chips but especially good with apple slices and celery sticks.

ALANNA's TIPS Trader Joe's sells both "sharp cheddar" and "cheddar with jalapeños" versions of pub cheese. I've always used the plain but think the jalapeño might be good too, though I'd probably omit the horseradish. Good news. Even cold from the fridge, both the TJ Pub Cheese and the cream cheese are soft enough to easily mix in a food processor without waiting for them to warm to room temperature. More good news. For cream cheese, the low-fat Neufchâtel cream cheese works really well, you won't even taste or feel the difference. Full-fat cream cheese also works but do, not just for this recipe but for all recipes, avoid the gummy gooey non-fat cream cheese.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Sorry, due to technical issues during a laptop conversion, nutrition info and Weight Watchers points will be updated later.

More Casual Snacks & Appetizers

~ appetizer recipes ~
Easy-Easy Grilled Mushroom Appetizer ♥ KitchenParade.com, what an easy appetizer recipe! What a crowd pleaser! Just two ingredients and a few minutes on the grill. Easy clean-up too!

Tuna & White Bean Dip ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, a real crowd pleaser. Low Carb. High Protein. Naturally Gluten Free. Weight Watchers Friendly!

Deviled Eggs with Tomato & Herb Relish ♥ KitchenParade.com, a plain but delicious way to make deviled eggs, jazzed up in presentation with a dab of Tomato & Herb Relish and tiny tomatoes.

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ cheddar cheese recipes ~
~ cream cheese recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.