Robin's Healthy Take: Cooking With Beer

A splash of your favorite brew is a low-cal way to add rich flavor to your favorite dishes.

Depending on your age, St. Patrick’s Day has different meanings.  For my kids, it means dressing up in green, eating green scrambled eggs for breakfast and drinking green water. When I was single and living in Philadelphia, it meant jumping on a drinking bus and hopping from Irish bar to Irish bar all day long. Now, I enjoy watching my kids celebrate while I find creative ways to cook with beer! Beer lends a wonderful depth to all kinds of dishes, and it's a super-affordable way to spruce up a meal. Check out some of my favorites.

Cooking With Beer

Cooking with beer is like cooking with wine -- the alcohol cooks off, and what's left is the flavor of each brew.  Below are some of my favorite beer-and-food combinations, but experiment with your own.  Wheat beer will leave a nutty tone, dark berry will be sweeter and molasses-like, lighter beers are slightly floral and mild. Learn more about cooking with beer »

Amber Beer-Braised Steaks with Red Onion and Blue Cheese: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; season both sides of 4 lean steaks with salt and freshly ground black pepper; add steaks to pan and cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, until just browned; remove steaks from pan and set aside; add 1 thinly sliced red onion to the same pan over medium-high heat; saute 3-5 minutes, until tender and golden.  Add 12 ounces amber beer and bring to a simmer; return steaks to pan; simmer 5 minutes, until steaks are medium.  Transfer steaks to a serving platter; top with 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese.

Drunken Shrimp: Combine 24 ounces of your favorite ale, 1/2 cup diced shallots, 3 chopped garlic cloves and 2 bay leaves in a large saucepan and set pan over high heat.  Bring to a boil, then add 1 1/4 pounds peeled and deveined, raw large or jumbo shrimp. Reduce heat to medium; cook 3 minutes, until shrimp are opaque and cooked through. Remove bay leaves and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve the shrimp and liquid in shallow bowls or over rice.

Beer and Honey-Balsamic Braised Calamari: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add 2 chopped garlic cloves; cook 2 minutes; add 2 pounds calamari that’s been cut into rings; cook 2-3 minutes, until golden brown, stirring frequently; add 12 ounces of your favorite ale, 2 tablespoons honey and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar; simmer 3 minutes, until calamari is tender; season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Chicken and Peppers with Maple-Brown Ale Glaze: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add 1 thinly sliced yellow or red bell pepper and 2 chopped garlic cloves; cook 3 minutes; remove pepper and garlic and set aside; add 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves to the same pan over medium-high heat; cook 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown; return bell pepper and garlic to the pan with 12 ounces brown ale and 2 tablespoons maple syrup; simmer 5 minutes, until chicken is cooked through; season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

TELL US: Do you cook with beer? What's your favorite recipe?

Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at

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