Take a glance at these sweet and savory recipes using bourbon and you’ll realize that cocktails are just one reason to always have a good bottle on hand. Drink it, sure, but cook and bake with it too—not that you need an excuse to, but the traditional Kentucky Derby Day is coming up (you can still catch a virtual race this year, as well as a classic game on TV). So pour a little bourbon into your pecan pie, and a lot into your mint julep. And then branch out even farther.
Tips for Using Bourbon in Cooking
Pappy Van Winkle to jazz up your barbecue sauce, but you don’t have to stick to bottom-shelf stuff for cooking, either. Just like when you’re cooking with wine, when using bourbon in recipes, make sure it’s a brown liquor you’d like to sip on its own (or at least mix into a drink).You might not want to use your precious
Try adding 1/4 cup of bourbon to your next pot of chili, or try some suggestions from the Chowhound community, like adding bourbon to a glaze for ham, to brines for pork or turkey, or to marinades for any red meat; using it in place of brandy or Cognac in a pâté; or including a splash in basically any chocolate-based batter for cakes, cookies, and other desserts.
You can even add a tablespoon or two of bourbon to your French toast custard mixture before you soak the bread, or warm some bourbon up with maple syrup for boozy brunch pancakes. Or make a batch of bacon jam and add some bourbon to it. Honestly, once you start experimenting, you may never stop.
Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey, price & availability varies on Saucey
A good basic bottle that works equally well for drinking, cooking, and baking.
Related Reading: The Best Places to Order Alcohol Online
Check out some of our favorite bourbon recipes below, and to go along with them, browse our bourbon drink recipes too.
This rustic loaf from the “Bien Cuit” cookbook combines corn-based bourbon with cornmeal in the starter and in the dough. Sage words of advice when baking or cooking with bourbon (or any whiskey): “It has a bitter component that can overpower, so don’t be tempted to put in a touch extra for good measure.” And always taste as you go along! Get the Bourbon Bread recipe.
Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread (Kindle version), $19.99 on Amazon
See even more masterful bread recipes in the book.
This sticky, sweet, smoky, and spicy chicken wing recipe from Chris Santos is simply amazing. You can grill the wings or make them in the oven. Just have plenty of napkins on hand, or better yet: finger bowls and wet wipes. Get our Smoky Chicken Wings with Honey, Bourbon, and Molasses recipe.
Share (Kindle version), $19.99 on Amazon
Get more recipes for passing around at parties (and cementing your popularity as ultimate host).
Hear “Vietnamese” (and “lamb” for that matter) and your next thought might not be bourbon, but 1/4 cup goes into the marinade for these chops, along with fish sauce, honey, coriander, and garlic. They’re baked in the same mixture, which turns into a delicious sauce that demands plenty of white rice to soak it all up. Get our Vietnamese Lamb Chops recipe.
More expected but no less delicious, bourbon barbecue sauce is great on all kinds of meat, but maybe especially satisfying on ribs. Bacon brings another layer of smoky savor, but chili powder, vinegar, brown sugar, and molasses (among several other ingredients) balance it all out. Get our Bourbon-Bacon Barbecue Sauce recipe. (In addition to using it on ribs or chicken, try it in our Elk Meatballs with Bourbon BBQ Sauce recipe.)
Related Reading: Enter to Win a Weber Grill & Gourmet Meat Box by April 30!
Brining pork chops makes them nice and juicy, and finishing them with a dynamite four-ingredient glaze (maple syrup, orange juice, horseradish, and bourbon) will leave you speechless—because you’ll be too busy stuffing your face to talk about how good it is. Get our Orange-Maple Glazed Pork Chops recipe.
This steak sandwich was designed to showcase leftover bourbon-marinated flank steak, but it’s so good it’s worth firing up the grill specifically to get to this hearty meal-between-bread masterpiece. Get our Bourbon Marinated Steak Sandwich recipe.
Moving on to sweets, bourbon pairs especially well with chocolate (check out these Bourbon Chocolate Cream-Filled Doughnuts), and this chocolate pecan pie with a touch of bourbon in the mix is a Kentucky classic for Race Day—but also appropriate for any holiday table. Which is convenient, because you’ll want to eat this at least twice a year. Get our Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Race Day Pie recipe.
Impress everyone (and get a jump on holiday gifts) by making your own vanilla extract. All you have to do is steep vanilla beans in bourbon, rum, or vodka. Bourbon already has vanilla-y notes, so we especially like that pairing. This works out to be way cheaper than buying fancy vanilla extract, too. Use it in all your baking, but don’t try to drink it. Get our Homemade Vanilla Extract recipe.
One more chocolate and bourbon match-up, because it is seriously made in taste bud heaven. This dark chocolate cake includes espresso and bourbon in the batter, and calls for a bourbon caramel sauce to be drizzled on top (try any leftover sauce on a sundae). Get our Mississippi Mud Cake with Espresso Bourbon Caramel Sauce recipe.
For when you can’t choose between a cocktail and dessert, why not compromise with a boozy shake? This one includes a shot of bourbon and a healthy pour of milk stout; go ahead and try it with chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla if you like. Get our Bourbon Stout Milkshake recipe.
Warmer weather has barely returned, so you may not even want to think about it cooling off again, but when fall does come around, this bourbon-kissed sweet potato casserole recipe with a pecan streusel topping will be a perfect side dish. Get our Sweet Potato Casserole with Bourbon recipe.
Is this a fall twist on pineapple upside-down cake, or a pillowy version of French tarte tatin? We’re not totally sure, but we do know it’s fabulous, and the bourbon whipped cream is an absolute must (and, naturally, great on all sorts of other desserts too, including the pecan pie mentioned earlier…) Get our Apple Upside-Down Cake with Bourbon Cream recipe.