7 Best Bourbon Substitutes For Baking & Cooking

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Alcohol is a very important ingredient when cooking. It actually gives the food an additional flavor and brings out all the flavors from every meal.

Alcohol like bourbon, when used in recipes, adds a delicious spike from meat like ribs, pork, or chicken to desserts like pies and cakes. The kick that bourbon gives to the dishes is warming, satisfying, and makes the meal mouthwatering no matter in which recipe you are using it.

However, you probably wonder if there is another type of alcohol that will bring almost the same taste as bourbon? Is there a substitute that you can use if you are out of bourbon or a non-alcoholic substitute?

Is there another alcohol if you have no bourbon?YES! You can easily adapt your recipe with alcoholic replacements like brandy, rum, cognac, or scotch. As well as, add non-alcoholic replacements like bourbon vanilla extract, peach nectar, and apple cider vinegar mixture or water.

Don’t worry if you are out of bourbon or don’t have any in your alcohol stock, I have the perfect substitutes for you.

Read below as I’ll share some recipes with bourbon, its substitutes, and how to properly use them in your cooking. Also, read how can you substitute bourbon in the famous bourbon pecan pie.

Substitutes for Bourbon

We established that bourbon can be replaced when cooking, so you don’t need to worry. Also, another important thing is that this type of alcohol can be replaced with non-alcoholic liquids. I’ll provide you the best substitutes to use:

Alcoholic substitutes:

1. Brandy


This type of alcohol is made from wine and they are kept in wooden oak casks. This way this drink gets its characteristic brown color. Brandy is usually made in Spain, Mexico, Italy, and other countries that make wine.

Recipes and how much do you need?

Brandy is a type of alcohol that is usually used when making desserts. To substitute brandy for bourbon you’ll need 2 tablespoons. So for each tablespoon of bourbon, use the same amount of brandy.

Here are a few recipes that might come in handy:

  • Classic crêpes Suzette
  • Homemade mince pies
  • Celebration chocolate mousse cake

2. Rum


If you don’t have bourbon, rum is the next best substitute you’ll need. Even though rum has a different flavor and has hints of spice and molasses, it suits very well in your recipe. This type of alcohol has a smooth, warm taste and goes perfectly with meat or desserts.

Recipes and how much do you need?

For every 2 tablespoons of bourbon in recipes, you’ll need 2 tablespoons of rum as a substitute. This type of alcohol is really enjoyable and complements the taste of the dish you are making.

Most common recipes where you use rum:

  • Date, banana & rum loaf
  • Chilled rum & raisin rice pudding
  • Sizzling spare ribs with BBQ sauce

3. Cognac


This alcohol is produced in France. Cognac is a type of brandy that comes from a specific blend of grapes. Then, it’s left for at least two years in oak barrels. Many people enjoy drinking cognac, but this alcohol serves as an ingredient when you cook. You can easily substitute cognac for bourbon. It fits perfectly in sweet and savory dishes, as well as in chocolate desserts.

Recipes and how much do you need?

As well as the other substitutes, use 2 tablespoons of cognac in recipes as a substitute for bourbon.

Also, here are some good recipes to make

  • A crème brulée of foie gras with Cognac
  • Cognac Shrimps
  • Chocolate Chestnut Torte with Chocolate Cognac Mousse

4. Scotch


This is also a type of alcohol that is usually drunk. The most famous scotch is the Scottish one. Actually, you can use it as a substitute for bourbon when you are cooking. This type of alcohol gives a complex but very rich flavor to your meal. Whether you are making lunch, dinner, or desserts, scotch can fit very well in your recipe.

Recipes and how much do you need?

The same goes here, 2 tablespoons of scotch as a replacement in your recipe. Also, here are some recipes that you’ll find very tasty and delicious:

  • Scotch sponge cake:
  • Scotch caramel sauce for cakes and pancakes:
  • Shrimps and pasta with scotch infused sauce:

Non-alcohol Bourbon Substitutes

When you are preparing a meal you are not obliged to use only alcoholic substitutes, but you also have the freedom to choose some ingredients that do not contain alcohol in their texture. Use these non-alcoholic varieties:

5. Bourbon vanilla extract

This is a very easy and a great substitution, mostly if you are baking something. The recipe will have the same flavor with an additional vanilla hint. This type of extract goes very well in cakes or pies.

Recipes and how much do you need?

You can add a tablespoon or two to substitute bourbon when cooking. It goes the same way, use the exact amount as it says in the recipe. This is a great way to use non-alcoholic substitutes. However, if the recipe requires very little bourbon, then you can omit altogether and use more liquid ingredients to replace water. Also, use it to make:

  • Ice cream, pudding, pastries
  • Seafood, sauces, soups

6. Peach nectar and apple cider vinegar mixture

This mixture will actually be great if you are using fruits in your recipe. This mixture gives the same taste as bourbon does to the dish. You can also add other juices to get a more flavourful dish. This mixture fits well when cooking chicken dishes.

Recipes and how much do you need?

You’ll need ⅓ apple cider vinegar and ⅓ cup of peach nectar or apple juice to make this mixture. Use this mixture to make other dishes like:

  • Roasted Pork Shoulder
  • Ribs with Peach BBQ Sauce
  • Peach Salsa With Pickled Red Onions and Serrano Chilies

7. Water

For recipes that require a very little amount of bourbon, you should use water instead. This way you’ll keep the moisture and have the same flavor.

How much do you need?

If the recipe requires very little bourbon use a little bit more water so you can balance the texture and have the same moisture as needed.

Substitute for bourbon in pecan pie

This is a very common and popular dessert that has bourbon as one of its main ingredients and the name says it so.


This dessert is used for holiday dinners. However, you might not want to use bourbon or you are out of it, so don’t worry because I have the best replacements.

  • When preparing this pie, one tablespoon of other types of alcohol can’t really change the effect and flavor of the pie.
  • You can use 2 tablespoons of rum, brandy, or cognac. Also, another option is you use another type of bourbon like Maker’s Mark or Scotch. 2 tablespoons are enough.

Tips when to use Bourbon in recipes:

Bourbon is commonly used in recipes, but different types of bourbon have a different effect on the dish you are preparing. Keep in mind the strongness and sweetness of each bourbon, because it’s really important to know how much to use.

  1. If you are using Maker’s Mark bourbon, which is actually sweeter, it can be combined with desserts, jams, and sauces, which will give an amazing flavor.
  2. Four Roses Single Barrel is a kind of brandy that fits perfectly with dressing and meals that include fruit. This type of brandy gives richness to the texture.

Additional tips:

  • It’s important to know that when you are using bourbon it helps you to break down the enzymes in the meat and at the same time it gives more flavor to the meat. You can also use bourbon to marinate the meat. Add brown sugar, soy sauce, shallots, olive oil, and season the meat as you please, so the result will be an incredible, flavourful meat dish.
  • Deserts fit perfectly with this alcohol. You can mix equal parts of bourbon with warm water to rehydrate fruits. If you are making a cake, bourbon gives crispness to the texture
  • I have to point out that bourbon can affect some of your cooking methods, so you’ll have to make some adjustments to the temperature when cooking. Also, don’t put bourbon or any alcohol basically over an open flame into the pan. This is very dangerous and can do some damages if you’re not careful.
  • Use a cup to measure how much you need. Not too much and not too little, use the exact amount so you’ll get the perfect taste.

Related questions:

What does bourbon do in cooking?

Actually, bourbon cooks the meat you are preparing. When you marinate it before cooking it gives a tasteful effect and helps you to cook the meat better.

Does bourbon burn off when cooked?

Every alcohol when used in cooking does not only evaporate without heat but also burns off during cooking. Add the alcohol before you end your cooking process.

What kind of bourbon is good for baking?

Use single- barrel bourbons like Blanton’s or Eagle Rare. For regular cooking use Jim Beam, Old Crow, or Heaven Hill.

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