7 Best Bourbon Substitutes For Baking & Cooking

A popular American alcoholic beverage, bourbon is a vital component of a wide range of delectable recipes for dishes like barbecued chicken sliders, pecan pie, glazed ham, as well as many other main courses, pastries, and desserts.

Bourbon’s kick gives a variety of foods and drinks a tantalizing and fulfilling flavor.

But what if the recipe calls for bourbon and you don’t have any?

Here are some of the greatest suggestions for bourbon alternatives that you may use when a recipe asks for this preferred alcoholic beverage.

In many recipes, you may substitute bourbon with comparable alcoholic beverages such as brandy, Cognac, rum, scotch, bourbon, vanilla essence, apple cider vinegar, peach nectar, or even water.

Here are the top alternatives for bourbon for any recipe

1. Brandy

Brandy is a liquor that is made by distilling wine and is usually aged in oak or other wooden casks.

The after-dinner digestif is produced in a wide number of winemaking countries and regions. Some of the best-known types of brandy include Armagnac and Cognac, which are made in France.

Brandy can also be produced by mixing the wine with other fruits and distilling them to produce an eau de vie, which means “water of life.”

Brandy is commonly used for different pastries, and desserts, as a deglazing or flambéing agent for making pan sauce for steaks, French onion soup, and other main dishes.

How much brandy should you use when substituting it for bourbon?

It can be used as a substitute for bourbon, and when you are using brandy instead of bourbon, you can safely follow the instructions and use the exact same amount of brandy as that for the bourbon in the recipe you are following.

Some of the most popular culinary uses for brandy include:

  • French onion soup
  • Christmas cake or pudding
  • Flambéing crepe Suzettes

Find out which are the best alternatives for brandy in cooking and baking

2. Rum

Rum is a spirit made by distilling sugarcane molasses or juice and aging it in oak barrels in sugar-producing countries and areas such as the Caribbean and countries in South and North America. It is among the most suitable alternatives for bourbon for cooking and will add a warm and smooth taste to your dish or dessert.

How much rum to use when substituting bourbon with it?

Follow the recipe and add as much rum as the bourbon required for making your delicious meal.

Some of the most popular dishes and recipes which require the use of rum include:

  • Fruitcakes and rum loafs
  • Christmas baked Alaska
  • Caribbean chicken with rice and peas
  • Spare ribs with a barbecue sauce

Interested in cooking with rum? Check which are the best rum substitutes.

3. Cognac

Cognac is actually a type of brandy produced in the Cognac commune in southwestern France. The famous winemaking country has strict rules and standards for Cognac’s production, including using specific grapes, such as Ugni Blanc, being distilled twice in special copper pot stills, and is aged in oak barrels from specific French regions for at least two years.

Cognac is a preferred digestif and is also commonly used for deglazing, making pan sauces, flambéing, and for other culinary needs.

It is among the best choices for replacing bourbon in a recipe and is excellent for making rich and luxurious sauces, dishes and desserts.

How much Cognac to use when cooking bourbon-based recipes?

Like with the abovementioned bourbon substitutes, you can use exactly the same amount of Cognac as the bourbon in your recipe.

Some of the most common recipes which involve the use of Cognac include:

  • Steak Diane
  • Cognac truffles
  • Crème Brule
  • Chocolate cognac mousse

4. Scotch whiskey

Scotch is one of the most logical replacements to use instead of bourbon when cooking. It is a malt, grain, or mixed whiskey which has traditionally been produced in Scotland since back in the 15th century.

Scotch is similar to bourbon when it comes to alcohol concentration and the distillation processes and aging used for making it. Both are whiskeys and have quite a few similarities and differences.

How much scotch to use in a recipe which calls for bourbon?

When replacing the bourbon in a particular recipe, make sure that you use the exact same quantity of scotch as required by the recipe.

Some of the most common dishes and desserts that are made with scotch include:

  • Scotch caramel sauce
  • Scotch-infused shrimps and pasta
  • A scotch sponge cake or pudding

5. Bourbon vanilla extract

Bourbon vanilla extract is among the most suitable substitutes for bourbon for preparing desserts and other meals.

It will add a specific bourbon flavor to the food but with a rich taste and aroma of vanilla.

How to use the bourbon vanilla extract?

The rule of thumb is to use as much of the extract as you would bourbon for preparing the dessert or meal.

Some of the most common recipes with bourbon vanilla extract include:

  • Vanilla ice cream and other vanilla-based desserts
  • Pork dishes
  • Various cocktails and bar drinks

How about non-alcoholic substitutes for bourbon?

If for some reason or another, you prefer to use a bourbon substitute that contains no alcohol, then you can use some of these excellent non-alcoholic replacements for bourbon for cooking:

6. Peach nectar mixed with apple cider vinegar

You can achieve the unique taste of bourbon with this mixture of ingredients that contain zero alcohol for any recipe which calls for the use of bourbon.

You can create this non-alcoholic bourbon substitute for culinary needs by mixing equal amounts of peach nectar and apple cider vinegar. If you don’t have peach nectar, you can replace it with some apple juice instead.

How much of the mixture should you use for the recipe?

Use the same amount of this bourbon substitute for the recipe.

Here are the top dishes which you can prepare with the apple cider vinegar and peach nectar mixture:

  • Barbecue ribs with peaches
  • Pickled red onions, peach salsa, and Serrano chilies
  • Pork shoulder roast

7. Water

The simplest alternative to using bourbon for any recipe is to use water instead of the spirit.

Water will help keep the flavor and moisture of the dessert without the use of any alcohol.

How much water to use as a substitute for bourbon?

Depending on the recipe, you may need to use a little bit more water than if using bourbon for prepping the dessert or meal.

Alternatives for bourbon for making pecan pie

Since bourbon is among the main ingredients for preparing a mouthwatering bourbon pecan pie, it can be tricky to find a suitable replacement for it.

But our recommendation is that you use two tablespoons of brandy, Cognac, scotch, or rum instead of the bourbon if you have run out.

This quantity should be sufficient to add that specific taste to the pecan pie and ensure that it has a beautiful texture.

Tips for using bourbon for cooking

While there are strict regulations and standards for making bourbon, the different types and brands of bourbon can vary in taste, sweetness, and strength. This is why it is essential to use suitable bourbon when preparing food if you want the best results.

Maker’s Mark bourbon is sweeter than others and is perfect for preparing desserts, sauces, or jams.

Four Roses Single Barrel will provide the food with a richer and more complex flavor, making it suitable for recipes for fruit dishes and dressings.

Bourbon can be used for marinating meat. The alcohol will help break down the enzymes of the meat, making it tenderer, and will also add a more complex flavor. You can prepare a marinade by mixing the bourbon with some soy sauce, brown sugar, olive oil, and shallots.

Bourbon is among the most suitable liquors to use for preparing different desserts. You can mix the alcohol with water if you are rehydrating dried fruits. The bourbon can also add some crispiness to a cake’s texture.

When preparing desserts, it is especially important to follow the recipe and the exact measurements if you want the best results, so use a tablespoon or measurement cup to add the proper amount of bourbon.

Remember to avoid pouring bourbon or any other alcohol over an open flame because this can be very dangerous.


How does bourbon help with food preparation?

The bourbon added to a marinade can help break down the enzymes of the meat so that it ends up much more tender and juicy. Plus, it will infuse the meat with a richer flavor while helping to cook it better.

Will the bourbon burn off during the cooking?

Any alcohol will evaporate from the heat and will burn off during the cooking process, which is why it is recommended to add the bourbon towards the end of the cooking when possible.

Which is the best bourbon for baking?

You may want to use single-barrel bourbon such as Eagle Rare or Blanton’s for baking. As for cooking purposes, some of the best options include Old Crow, Jim Beam, and Heaven Hill bourbon.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *