Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup

You’ll love this creamy Wisconsin Beer Cheese soup! Creamy cheddar flavor ready in 30-minutes !

You don’t have to go to Green Bay or Milwaukee to get this signature dish of Wisconsin!

Made with sharp Wisconsin Cheddar, this soup boasts a lot of flavor with the sharpness from the cheese and a slight tangy flavor from the amber beer.

Soup in a bowl with a side of amber beer and biscuits.
In Wisconsin, beer cheese soup is often garnished with popcorn!

Wisconsin is known for its cheese so that’s probably why you’ll find this delicious soup served in every restaurant and bar in the State.

Interestingly, a lot of folks up there garnish this thick soup with popcorn! Yes, you heard me right! I’ve made it before and garnished it that way and it’s pretty good! 

You’ll love this recipe!

  • Simple ingredients– you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen!
  • Inexpensive- no fancy gourmet ingredients and easy on the wallet
  • Versatile-make it as thick or thin as you like!

Cooked popcorn is a common garnish added to this soup, particularly in Milwaukee bars and restaurants. Add some at the end if you like!

Ingredients

One thing is certain. For best results, the best cheese to use for this soup is brick Wisconsin cheddar cheese. You can buy Wisconsin cheese in most parts of the United States – just look at the label and make sure it’s from Wisconsin. If you can’t find a Wisconsin cheese, use a young (aged less than one year), high-quality, full-fat sharp cheddar cheese.

Do not use pre-shredded cheese. It’s coated with some type of anticoagulant powder that doesn’t melt well and turns out grainy.

The additional ingredients are: Dijon mustard, half-n-half, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, cayenne powder, all-purpose flour, butter, a sweet yellow onion, carrots, celery, bacon, beer, salt and ground white pepper.

How to make it:

In a Dutch oven or large stockpot, cook the bacon; once crispy, remove it and set aside. Leave the bacon grease in the stockpot. Add the butter and chopped vegetables and cook till tender. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the beer, then add the half-n-half; on low heat, add remaining seasonings and shredded cheddar cheese. Cook on low until the cheese melts. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. 

The liquids in this creamy soup are half-n-half, water and beer; however you can substitute with heavy cream and use chicken broth or chicken stock instead of water.

Shredded cheese added to soup
Use low heat when adding cheese

The best beer for beer cheese soup

Amber beer or lager works best in this recipe due to the medium malt and caramel flavors. If you don’t have an amber beer, a pale ale or a darker beer will work as well.

If you prefer no alcohol in your soup, you can substitute with a non-alcoholic beer.

Expert tips

  • For best results, use a young sharp cheddar cheese that is not pre-shredded
  • Let the half-n-half sit come to room temperature; otherwise, it will curdle  
  • If you want a thicker soup, add another slurry of water and flour; you may have to adjust the seasonings 
  • Make sure the stove is on low heat when you add the cheese and when you add the slurry
  • If you want a super smooth texture, use an immersion blender or food processor 

How to prevent the soup from being grainy

Use a high-quality, full-fat cheese and shred it using a food processor or hand shredder

Do not add cheese to a bubbling, super hot soup; add it when it’s warm; this prevents the soup from being grainy

Storage and reheating

Store it in the refrigerator for up to three days in an airtight container. Freezing is not recommended, as the soup gets grainy. For best results, reheat in microwave or on stovetop. You may need to add a little water when reheating.

Cheese soup garnished with bacon and shredded cheddar

Serve your Wisconsin beer cheese soup on game day or any day with Irish soda bread or, top it with cooked popcorn like the natives do!!!

If you make this recipe, please leave a comment below!

Cheese soup garnished with bacon and shredded cheddar

Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup

Creamy Wisconsin cheddar cheese soup infused with a little beer and seasonings!
4.85 from 33 votes
Print Text Recipe Rate
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American, International
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 cups
Author: Anecia Hero

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb. cheddar cheese , not pre-shredded; get a block of cheese
  • 2 strips bacon
  • 1 tablespoon butter , salted or unsalted
  • ¾ cup yellow onion .chopped
  • ¾ cup carrots, finely chopped .chopped (about 1 large carrot)
  • ¾ cup celery, finely chopped .chopped (about 2 stalks)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces beer amber
  • cups water , for soup
  • 2 cups half n half
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (see recipe notes)
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions 

  • Get half-n-half out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. If you skip this step, you run the risk of it curdling.
  • In a large stockpot, on medium heat, cook bacon until crispy; remove and set aside; leave the bacon grease in the stockpot
    2 strips bacon
  • Add butter, chopped onion, celery and carrots to stockpot; cook for 5-minutes or until semi-tender
    1 tablespoon butter, ¾ cup yellow onion, ¾ cup celery, finely chopped, ¾ cup carrots, finely chopped
  • Sprinkle in all-purpose flour and cook 2-3 minutes
    ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • Add beer, a little at a time, until fully incorporated; then add 1 ½ cups of water, Worcestershire sauce, white pepper, garlic powder, Dijon mustard and cayenne pepper; turn heat to simmer for 10-minutes
    12 ounces beer, 1½ cups water, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (see recipe notes), ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • Add half-n-half and cheddar cheese to a warm broth; (See Recipe Notes); cook for 10-minutes on low, simmering heat.
    At this point, if you want a smooth, creamy soup, use an immersion blender or process in a food processor in small batches.
    2 cups half n half, 1 lb. cheddar cheese
  • Season with salt to taste; garnish with bacon crumbles (or popcorn!)

Notes

  • While the bacon is cooking, chop vegetables and shred cheese
  • Remove half-n-half from fridge and let it sit out while you’re making the soup (don’t add cold half n half to hot soup–it will curdle). This also helps prevent grainy soup.
Dijon mustard
This adds a little heat and acid to the soup; if you’re not a fan of spicy, start with 1 teaspoon of Dijon; as you simmer the soup, continue tasting until you have your preferred amount of Dijon mustard.
  • Once all the ingredients are added to the soup, let it simmer a few minutes; taste for salt
  • Turn the heat to low when you add the cheese. Cheese breaks down and gets gritty when it’s added to super hot (bubbling) broth. Also,low fat cheeses turn gritty sometimes. Tillamook is a good higher-quality brand! Also, sometimes, if you remove the soup from the heat and add a smidgen of vinegar – this might remedy any gritty texture.
  • If you want a thicker soup, add a slurry to the soup (1/2 cup water + 2 tablespoons flour)
  • If you add more than one flour slurry, re-taste the soup; you may need to add more salt or cayenne
  • Amber or pale ale beers work best, but if you don’t have either of these, a regular beer will work as a substitute
  • If you want a smoother texture, use an immersion blender or pour the soup into a blender or food processor (you may have to do this in batches); strain through a fine strainer and serve

Nutrition Estimate

Serving: 1cupCalories: 474kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 22gFat: 37gSaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 115mgSodium: 553mgPotassium: 250mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 2046IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 640mgIron: 1mg
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20 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    What an awesome soup. I made this a few weeks ago and today I will be making a triple batch. That way I can share with my friends.

    1. I have not made Wisconsin Beer Cheese soup in a slowcooker before since the stovetop recipe is pretty quick and easy in itself! Let me know if you make it in a slow cooker! Thank you!

    1. I’m sorry this happened. Cream curdles when it’s cold and added to a hot liquid; you can prevent any curdling by allowing your cream to come to room temperature first before adding it to the soup.

  2. 5 stars
    I think it’s a great soup! The flavors of the worcestershire and beer did it! And I didn’t chintz on the cheese! It’s tough to get Wisconsin brand extra sharp cheddar cheese in Texas for some reason. I used Tillamook. When all was done, I used the immersion blend for a smoother soup. I spooned out a test (hey, somebody’s gotta do it🥴😂)
    and it was a little gritty in texture. Can’t really tell when you eat it but I could see it on the spoon. What did I do wrong?

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Mindy! Typically, cheese breaks down and gets gritty when it’s added to super hot (bubbling) broth. Also,low fat cheeses turn gritty sometimes. Tillamook is a good higher-quality brand! Also, sometimes, if you remove the soup from the heat and add a smidgen of vinegar – this might remedy the gritty texture. I’ll make a note of this in the recipe notes.

      1. I myself am a Wisconsin born and raised. Just transplanted to South Carolina recently. I decided to give this recipe a go because it was always one of my husband’s favorites.
        I did use bacon grease, and I also added a few diced potatoes with the veg. Instead of bacon at the end I have cut and quarter brats. Yum!
        As with the temp when adding the cream and the cheese, you must remember to temper the heat as it continues to cook. The heat can never get too hot or it will break down and get gritty.
        Thanks for a great recipe!!

      2. Thanks, Rebecca! I love your idea of adding potatoes and brats to the Wisconsin Beer Cheese soup! Thank you for sharing and I’m glad you enjoyed!

  3. 5 stars
    There’s hardly anything I love more than cheese and beer, so this soup is calling my name! I can’t wait to try it! 🙂