26 Healthier Ways to Cook with Beer

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It’s time to change the way we think about weekend brewskies, because beer isn’t only for drinking! Just in time for tailgate season, here are 26 healthy recipes that use everyone’s fave beverage: beer. Need another reason to cook with a cold one? Booze (in moderation!) can be good for you — studies show beer and wine contain antioxidants called phenols that reduce the risk of heart disease and hypertension. So save a longneck from that six-pack and get cracking on one of these hearty, tasty recipes that won’t trip up a healthy diet.

Also, hey Gluten-Free friends! Most of these recipes can be made with gluten-free beer (though watch out for some of the baked goods not marked G-Free.)

Photo: Stephanie Arsenault / Global Dish
Breads & Breakfast

1. Whole Wheat Beer Bread: A beer culinary classic! Adding beer to a hearty whole-wheat loaf gives this bread a tangy, rich flavor.

2. Beer Pretzels: These dark beer-infused mini pretzel rolls make it easy to practice portion control. For an even healthier snack, sub in whole-wheat flour.

3. Gluten Free Oregano Beer Bread: This quick bread recipe makes for a great breakfast or snack. Fresh oregano balances out the sweet, mellow brown sugar and GF beer.

4. (Seriously) Belgian Waffles: Belgian-style ale (like Blue Moon) makes these Belgian waffles extra fluffy and light. It also makes them extra-Belgian. Swap in whole-wheat flour and skip the powdered sugar to up the health-factor.

Main Courses
Photo: Ashley McLaughlin / Edible Perspective

5. Beer BBQ Tofu: Here's one for the vegetarians! Combine garlic, ginger, and BBQ sauce (extra points for using the healthier recipe described in #18 below) and marinate tofu blocks for an hour or two. Bake the tofu in the oven, or grill it for a smokier flavor.

6. Belgian Steamed Mussels: Cooking these bad boys with beer makes the broth briny, sweet, and full of mussel-flavored deliciousness. You might want to make some extra beer bread (like #1 above) to sop it up!

7. Beer-Marinated Shrimp: Gluten-free shrimp lovers rejoice. This tangy marinade with fresh ginger and mustard also features gluten free beer. After a few hours in the marinade, pop the shrimp onto the grill or in the oven for a super-quick, healthy dinner.

8. Stout and Chicken Stew: What happens when you combine Guinness-braised chicken, roasted fall veggies, and a lil’ bit of bacon in a slow cooker? A delicious hearty stew to get you through the cold months, is what.

(Also Check Out: Beer Hacks and Flavor Profiles for Cooking)

9. Chocolate Stout Vegan Chili: This veggie-laden chili recipe incorporates chocolate stout beer, bittersweet chocolate, and espresso. Um, which way to the kitchen?

10. Beer-Braised Brisket: Impress friends with this "just like Mom’s" brisket recipe. Using pale ale keeps the meat tender (i.e. not tasting like an old shoe), while low-sodium broth and a whole bunch of veggies make it a healthier dinner choice.

11. Beer-Roasted Chicken: For tender, juicy meat, stick a half-full can of beer inside a chicken (stand that baby upright to keep things tidy) and roast it to golden perfection. Using booze instead of extra butter and oil makes this recipe a healthier choice. If you’re nervous about cooking with aluminum, snag a fancy chicken roaster or sub in an oven-safe glass jar.

12. Brazilian Beer-Marinated Chicken: Take boring grilled chicken breasts to the next level with this exotic recipe. The marinade showcases the fresh flavors of paprika, onion, fresh ginger, garlic, pepper, and dark lager or stout beer. Combine marinade and chicken (or try it with tofu) in a covered dish and let it chillax for four hours in the refrigerator. Slap the protein of choice on the grill for five minutes per side and you’re all set to samba!

Side Dishes
Photo: Joe Kita / Men's Health 

13. Beer-Steamed Rice: Next time you’re in the mood for stir-fry, swap in 12 ounces of nut-brown ale (a dark brown, sweet brew with a mild nutty flavor) instead of water to cook jasmine rice. Cooking the grain in suds instead of H2will give it a rich, nutty flavor and a smooth texture free of lumps and clumps.

14. Brussels Sprouts with Beer and Bacon: Use a light, crisp beer (a Pale Ale is ideal) to sauté the veggies until the edges are deliciously caramelized. Vegetarians (or those looking for a healthier option) can nix the bacon for an equally tasty variation.

15. Cheese-Ale Soup: Melting a hunk of chedda’, pouring on some beer, and calling it soup doesn’t sound like the healthiest option. But wait! This recipe uses reduced-fat cheese, skim milk, and plenty of veggies. For extra brownie (err… apple?) points, use some whole-wheat bread to slurp up this chill-banishing soup.

16. Gluten Free Beer-Braised Cabbage: A perfect gluten free side dish for any fall feast! This recipe ups the superfood factor by using both red and green cabbage.

Sauces & Condiments

17. Beer Mustard: Combine Guinness (or any other stout or porter), whole-grain mustard, and shallots for a complex and intense condiment that will knock the socks off anything from the supermarket.

18. Beery BBQ Sauce: Why restrict the beer at a BBQ to boozing? This sweet and sour barbeque glaze uses dark beer, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar. And with only three tablespoons of veggie oil per pint, no preservatives, and no high fructose corn syrup, it’s a smarter choice than the bottled stuff.

19. Beer Marinara Sauce: Yup, you read that right: Beer’s getting saucy. This red sauce recipe uses beer, not wine, to create complexity. The hoppy goodness (try a pilsner or IPA) balances out tomatoes’ acidity and sweetness. The tomatoes, carrots, onions, and fresh basil make this pasta topper hearty and good for ya, too.

20. Orange and Ale Salad Dressing: Who knew adding a little IPA to vinaigrette would make such a delicious, complex dressing? Orange zest and Dijon mustard keep the flavors bright for a summery addition to salads all winter long.

Desserts
Photo: Jerry James Stone / Treehugger 

21. Beer-Poached Pears (with Chocolate Sauce): For this fancy-pants dessert, start with ripe Bartlett pears and specialty beer (the original recipe uses Moylan’s Orange & Black, but any porter — or orange-infused brew — will do in a pinch). For a decadent touch, dunk the pears in dark chocolate sauce (or leave them plain and savor the boozy flavor).

22. Belgian Ale Raspberry & Rose Ice Pops: These are perfect for warm weather — or any time you want to amaze somebody with your complex palate. Hit up a local florist for some dried rosebuds and then add raspberries, simple syrup, and light Belgian ale. Freeze the whole shebang in ice pop molds and wait for the compliments to come rolling in.

23. Chocolate Stout Pumpkin Brownies: A cup of stout beer in the batter makes these healthier pumpkin treats (made with whole wheat flour and low-fat cream cheese!) moist and super-dense.

24. Lambic Beer Raspberry Sorbet: This refreshing dessert uses Lambic beer, a dry, almost wine-like brew from southwest Belgium. Combine the special suds with simple syrup, lemon juice, and plenty of fresh raspberries in an ice cream maker.

25. Harvest Ale Cupcakes: Looking for a truly healthy cupcake recipe? These fall-flavored treats are made with carrots, beets, squash, and pumpkin ale. Try them unfrosted, or add cream cheese frosting for a more decadent version.

26. Chocolate Stout Milkshake: All right, we realize that a chocolate beer-shake isn’t the healthiest option, but we couldn’t skip this recipe! For a better-for-you version, blend chocolate low-fat fro-yo instead of ice cream with Guinness or another stout beer. To rev up the good stuff, add a frozen banana for potassium and some natural PB for a shot of protein.

Did we miss any of your go-to beer recipes? Got some tips to health-ify beer cuisine even more? Share in the comments below or get in touch with Sophie on Twitter @SophBreene.  

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About the Author
Sophia Breene
After spending eight years as a high school and college athlete, I'm learning how to maintain a healthy lifestyle on my own (aka without a coach...

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