Whiskey Recipes and Cooking Tips

How much alcohol burns off in cooking?

Bananas Foster Recipe

Kristina Vanni 

Whiskey and Alcohol Burn-Off

Whether alcohol remains in a finished dish and how much, depends on the cooking method. When foods are cooked under high heat for a long period of time, such as when they are flambéed, the majority of the alcohol evaporates out.

Pure alcohol boils at 173 F – a lower temperature than water. Thus, you will find that recipes intending for some of the alcohol to remain will have instructions to add the alcohol near the end of the cooking process so it will not boil out. Obviously, uncooked recipes will retain the vast majority of the alcohol.

Some may be worried about serving a dish cooked with alcohol to a child, yet alcohol is a naturally-occurring substance in many foods, particularly fruits with a high sugar content. Keep in mind that the amount used in a recipe is usually very minimal and is spread out over a large volume of food, comparatively-speaking. It is a personal decision, of course. Still, it is a good idea for those on anti-abuse medication for alcohol problems to avoid foods cooked with alcohol.

When using spirits for flambé purposes, the alcohol should be heated to 130 F before applying to the hot food and ignited quickly. Otherwise, you may have difficulty getting it to ignite, which will result in the spirit soaking into the food and not properly burning off. This may cause an unpleasant, overpowering flavor to the dish.

tips for cooking with whiskey
Illustration: Chelsea Damraksa. © The Spruce, 2019

Recipes that Use Whiskey


  • With whiskey, you can substitute bourbon ounce for ounce in most recipes if need be. (Also feel free to experiment with other liquors instead of whiskey.) When substituting, in general, darker liquors work better with darker meats and vice versa. It's also important to remember that different spirits have different burn-off rates. In most cases, it is not necessary to waste the good stuff. For small amounts, you should be able to find single serving bottles (like those served on the airlines) in most liquor stores.