Substitute for Bourbon in Cooking

Substitute for Bourbon in Cooking

The art of using alcohol for some dishes has always been practised and bourbon is the most popular used. It gives the food an additional flavor, making it satisfying enough. However, there are other ingredients such as whiskey, wine or non-alcoholic drinks, that can be substituted for bourbon. It is very possible for you to enjoy the meals normally prepared with alcohol after you have used non-alcoholic substitutes.


What is Bourbon?

Bourbon is an American whiskey primarily made from corn. It is the most used whiskey, adding a caramel and vanilla flavor which enhances the deliciousness of dishes. It is used in deserts, extracts, sauces, marinades and in baking too. There are foods named after it, the likes of cider bourbon sauce and bourbon balls. Also keep in mind that there are different types of bourbon with different types of flavor; some sweet flavored and some strong flavored. The difference in flavor means the bourbon affects dishes differently. The sweet bourbon is normally used in deserts as an enhancer of the flavor. The strong one is normally used in dressing and in meals that include fruit and it improves the texture of such meals. When using bourbon in your recipe, you wouldn’t want to use too much or too little. When you use bourbon to marinade, it prevents your meat from toughening prior to cooking.  Knowing which type of bourbon fits in which meal will help you establish which substitute to use for the dish you will be making.

Alcoholic substitutes for bourbon


This is a brown alcohol made from wine. It is used in making deserts. It substitutes bourbon at a ratio of 1:1. Whatever quantity of bourbon that the dish requires, use that same quantity of brandy.


Cognac is an alcohol made from a specific blend of grapes and left to mature for about 2 years. It substitutes bourbon well in sweet and savory dishes as well as in deserts. Use the same amount of cognac as you would use with bourbon.


This is the ingredient common in German dishes, with most people spelling it as Arak. It is the secret ingredient for a number of baked goods. It is an anise flavored spirit made from aniseed and its taste is close to licorice. This ingredient produces the best deserts.


Scotch makes an excellent substitute for bourbon as it fits well in all dishes from breakfast, lunch, dinner to desert. Scotch adds a rich flavor to your dishes. Use the ratio 1:1 in using it as bourbon’s replacement.


Rum is a good substitute, offering spiciness to your meat, having used it as a marinade. It’s smooth and warm taste goes perfectly with deserts. For every 2 tablespoons, use 2 tablespoons of rum as an alternative.

Non-alcoholic substitutes for bourbon

Alcoholic substitutes for bourbon might not be an option for you at all because of religious reasons or you might be having allergy from the fermentation process of alcohol when it is added to meals. You can select an alternative that best complements the flavor and texture of your dish from the following.

Bourbon Vanilla Extract

Bourbon vanilla extract substitutes bourbon well in baking cakes and pies. It gives the baked goodies the exact same flavor bourbon gives, with a hint of vanilla. You can use a table spoon of bourbon vanilla extract where two table spoons of bourbon is required. Bourbon vanilla extract can also qualify in replacing bourbon in ice-cream, pudding and pastry recipes.

Peach nectar and apple eider vinegar mixture

Blend a third of apple cider vinegar and a third of peach nectar together. This mixture makes a great substitute for bourbon in dressing and dishes which have fruits. The mixture tastes just like bourbon when incorporated into the dishes, it can also be used in dishes with chicken.


This particular ingredient might not have crossed your mind but it works well in substituting bourbon in recipes which require a very little amount of bourbon. Water help preserve the moisture of your dish and it maintains the dish’s flavor. If you find a recipe requiring very little bourbon, you can always omit it and use more water. There are no specific quantities to give, no define ratio, where little bourbon is required use a little more water.

Prune juice

Prune juice has a flavor totally different from that of bourbon, yet it is still a good substitute in deserts. Bourbon deepens the flavor of a desert and prune juice does the same, enhancing the flavor of the desert through its plumpness. When used to glaze meat, prune juice just like bourbon, gives a sweet and sugar flavor that changes the meat into being soft and tender.

Rice vinegar

Strong bourbon acts as a marinade, adding a salty quality to the dishes, just as rice vinegar does. In this regard, rice vinegar, therefore is a great substitute for bourbon.

Lemon juice

This citrus fruit is able to do the job bourbon does especially dishes like risotto. To cut on the acidity you can dilute it with water or chicken broth and use it where bourbon is required, especially on side dishes and soups.

Almond extracts

Almond extracts work well as a substitute for bourbon. A quarter to half of the almond extract can be substituted for two table spoon of bourbon. When substituting with almond extract, remember to use it sparingly as its flavor is intense. It does well when replacing bourbon in baking and it is complementary with fruits, thus using it in fruity dishes would be ideal, imparting the strong sweet flavor of almond extract to the dishes.

Soda syrup

This makes a good substitute as the exact same amount of it, as that of bourbon can be used in replacing the latter. This ingredient can best replace bourbon in deserts. It provides the deserts with a beautifully tangy taste.

Apple cider

Apple cider can also be used to replace bourbon at a ratio of 1:1.

Pine apple juice

Pine apple juice works well as a good marinade, it can also be used to add a fluffy texture to baked goodies, energizing their flavor, the way bourbon does. This is why it makes a good substitute for bourbon.

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