By Vanessa Greaves
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Photo by Vick Chick

Life, alas, is very drear. Up with the glass, down with the beer! — Irish toast

While lifting a pint down the pub with your mates is a fine way to enjoy a dark and malty Irish stout, you can do a whole lot more with it than pour it down your throat. You can also use it in your cooking to add deep, complex flavors to everything from meaty stews to rich desserts.

I'll share tips for cooking and baking with Irish stout, plus favorite recipes to try.

Top Tips for Cooking and Baking With Stout Beer

  • The rich, malty flavor of stout pairs well with robust dishes such as beef or lamb stew, and with chocolate desserts.
  • Using stout in desserts adds flavor notes of chocolate and coffee, as well as its own tangy overtones.
  • Stout can tend towards bitterness, so you might want to balance it with a bit of sweetness, even in savory recipes.
  • Baked goods made with stout tend to be more moist and dense.
  • Stout can be reduced to make a savory sauce or a glaze for meats. Try this recipe for ham glaze.
  • If you're worried about your guests getting buzzed with servings of stout-laced stews or desserts: Yes, there will be some alcohol left depending on the cooking or baking time. The longer a stew is simmered, for example, the less alcohol will be retained. However, if you're not cooking the recipe, the stout will retain its punch. Bottom line: It's always a smart idea to let guests know they're eating a dish made with alcohol.

Main Dishes Made With Stout

Chef John says it best: "The maltiness of dark beer really does amazing things for this gravy. It's a very simple dish, but at the same time it has a deep, complex, rich flavor. I served this in a nice ring of green onion-mashed potatoes. I hope you give this a try, whether for St. Patrick's Day or anytime of the year."

Keeping it simple really pays off for this 5-star favorite: Corned beef brisket is slow-roasted with brown sugar and stout...and that's all there is to it. Recipe creator SHAMELESS Morrow adds, "During the last hour, you may put vegetables in the roasting pan as well. Try a wedge of cabbage, new potatoes, onion, carrots, etc. You may need to add a little more beer with your vegetables."

Photo by Kristopher Baignosche

Stout fortified with bouillon and thickened with roux creates the rich gravy that holds together this casserole of ground lamb and vegetables baked under a lid of creamy mashed potatoes topped with sharp Cheddar cheese. Note: If you use beef instead of lamb in this recipe, you'll have to change the name to "cottage pie."

Photo by Katie Ogletree

This deeply flavored lamb and barley stew is hefty enough to anchor you through a winter's storm. Bacon and mushrooms add a smoky earthiness while carrots and rutabaga balance the mix with their mild sweetness. Allrecipes home cook Petal used parsnips instead of rutabaga and gave the stew a solid 5-star rating.

Photo by darlasue

True, the filling for this meaty pie calls for a long baking time before it's ready to go into the pie, but some reviewers took the smart decision to make the filling one day and assemble and bake the pie the next day. Don't omit the raisins in this recipe: Their sweetness balances the richness of the meat, mushrooms, and stout.

Photo by mckoygirl

Smoky sausage and bacon are layered and baked with onions, carrots, and potatoes in cream, stock, and stout. You'll want to serve this with bread or biscuits on the side to sop up the sauce.

Photo by Melissa Goff

Desserts Made With Stout

Stout amplifies the chocolate in this chocolate-on-chocolate cheesecake (topped with more chocolate, by the way). If you're new at making cheesecakes — or you want to brush up on your skills — we can help you out with tips to make the best cheesecakes.

Three kinds of booze go into the making of these cupcakes. You'll want to give yourself plenty of time because you'll scoop out the middle of the baked cupcakes so you can fill them with a whiskey-laced chocolate ganache before topping with Irish cream buttercream frosting. Note that some reviewers doubled the frosting recipe so they could make generous swirls on the cupcakes, just like the white froth on a glass on Guinness.

Photo by Curen9

Here's a centerpiece version of a chocolate Guinness cake. To decorate it like the photo below, make a large batch of the Irish cream buttercream frosting and tint some of it green. After assembling the cake and topping it with chocolate ganache, you can pipe on generous dabs of white and green buttercream.

Photo by Jeanie Clark Mounts Mullens

"These brownies were outstanding! Everyone at our family get together was raving about them! The texture is not that of a traditional brownie — they were very light and silky, almost mousse-like. I think the beer cut down on the sugar as these weren't overly sweet, just a nice balance of sweetness. I will definitely be making these again!" — Amanda

Photo by Allrecipes

This extra-rich ice cream starts with a classic cooked custard base and is flavored with stout that's been slowly simmered to syrup-like thickness. Be sure to chill everything for at least 2 hours (or overnight) before churning it in your ice cream maker.

More Cooking With Stout

Whole wheat flour and oats are baked with stout to make a hearty dark bread to serve warm with butter and honey. There's no yeast in the recipe; instead, this quick bread gets its lift from the interaction of baking powder, baking soda, and buttermilk.

Photo by lutzflcat

Several reviewers tweaked the recipe to include smoked Gouda cheese and bits of bacon. What to serve with this warm party-worthy dip? Reviewers loved it with corn chips, apples, bread, and homemade soft pretzels.