Many people shy away from cooking with bourbon. Issues include flare-ups using too much bourbon, and I have even heard people worrying that kids may feel the effects of using the spirit. I am here to tell you that using bourbon in a recipe brings more flavor when used correctly.

Cooking with bourbon can add a rich, smoky, and slightly sweet flavor to your dishes. Remember, you do not have to use an expensive bourbon to create that great flavor. Lower-tier bourbons will get the job done.

Here are some tips and ideas for using bourbon in your cooking:

  1. Marinades and Sauces:
    • Bourbon makes a fantastic base for marinades and sauces for meats. Combine bourbon with other ingredients like soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and spices to create a flavorful chicken, pork, or steak marinade.
    • Use bourbon in barbecue sauce recipes for a unique and complex flavor profile. Simmer it with ketchup, vinegar, molasses, and spices for a delicious sauce to baste on ribs or pulled pork.
  2. Deglazing:
    • After searing meat in a pan, deglaze the pan with a splash of bourbon to release and incorporate the flavorful browned bits. This method creates a delicious base for pan sauces or gravies.
  3. Desserts:
    • Bourbon can be used in various dessert recipes. Add it to pecan pie, bread pudding, chocolate truffles, or caramel sauce for an extra layer of flavor.
    • Bourbon-infused whipped cream can be a delightful topping for pie or ice cream.
  4. Glazes:
    • Create a bourbon glaze for grilled or roasted meats. Combine bourbon with honey, Dijon mustard, and other seasonings to make a flavorful glaze.
  5. Baking:
    • Add a splash of bourbon to your favorite cookie, cake, or brownie recipes for a unique twist. It pairs exceptionally well with ingredients like chocolate, pecans, and caramel.
  6. Cocktails and Mocktails:
    • Bourbon can be used to infuse syrups or create cocktail mixers. Try making a bourbon-infused simple syrup in Old Fashioned cocktails or non-alcoholic beverages.
  7. Soaking:
    • Infuse fruits, such as cherries, with bourbon for use in cocktails, as a topping for ice cream, or as a garnish for desserts.
    • Soak within wood chips for slow smoking or BBQs.
  8. Reductions:
    • Simmer bourbon to reduce it and concentrate its flavor. This reduction can be a drizzle over grilled meats, seafood, or roasted vegetables.
  9. Risks and Precautions:
    • Be cautious when using bourbon in dishes that require high heat, as excessive heat can evaporate the alcohol content and leave behind a bitter taste. To avoid this, add bourbon towards the end of the cooking process or use it in dishes cooked at lower temperatures.

Remember that the alcohol in bourbon can add a strong flavor, so start with small amounts and adjust to your taste preferences. Cooking with bourbon can add depth and complexity to your dishes, making them a memorable culinary experience.

If you continue to worry, check out some of my 100-proof recipes.

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COO/CFO Creator of The Bourbon Flight | + posts