7 Best Bourbon Substitutes For Baking & Cooking


Alcohol is a very important ingredient when cooking. It brings out the flavors, and also adds a flavor of its own.

When used in recipes, alcohol like bourbon adds a delicious spike to meat like ribs, pork, or chicken and desserts like pies and cakes. The kick that bourbon gives to the dishes is warming, satisfying, and makes the meal mouth-watering, no matter what recipe you use.

However, you may be wondering whether there is a different type of alcohol that will bring a similar taste. Is there a substitute that you can use if you are fresh out of bourbon? Or is there a non-alcoholic substitute?

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 involving 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 have established that bourbon can definitely be replaced when cooking, so you don’t need to worry. Importantly, this type of alcohol can also be replaced with non-alcoholic liquids. Below, I will suggest the best substitutes to use:

1. Brandy


This type of alcohol is made from wine and is kept in wooden oak casks. This is how brandy gets its characteristic brown color. Brandy is most frequently from Spain, Mexico, Italy, and other countries that make wine.

Recipes and how much do you need?

Brandy is often 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 suggested dishes that use brandy:

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

2. Rum


If you don’t have bourbon, rum is the next best thing. Even though rum has a different flavor and has hints of spice and molasses, it suits most recipes very well. It 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 a recipe, you’ll need 2 tablespoons of rum as a substitute. This alcohol is really enjoyable and complements the taste of the dish you are making.

Most common dishes that 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 is also an excellent cooking ingredient. You can easily substitute cognac for bourbon. It fits perfectly in sweet and savory dishes, and works well in chocolate desserts.

Recipes and how much do you need?

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

Also, here are some good recipes to make with Cognac:

  • 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 rather than used for cooking. The most famous scotch is the Scottish one. It works very well as a substitute for bourbon when you are cooking, and adds 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?

As previously, use 2 tablespoons of scotch as a replacement in your recipe. Also, here are some recipes using scotch that we think are very tasty:

  • 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 – you also have the freedom to choose ingredients that do not contain alcohol. Here are some non-alcoholic alternatives:

5. Bourbon vanilla extract

This is an excellent, very easy substitution – particularly if you are baking something. The recipe will have the same flavor, but 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 – just use the same amount as you would bourbon, as it says in the recipe. If the recipe requires very little bourbon, then you can omit it altogether and just use more liquid ingredients to replace it, such as water. Use bourbon vanilla extract to make:

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

6. Peach nectar and apple cider vinegar mixture

This mixture will work really well if you are using fruits in your recipe. This mixture gives the same taste as bourbon. You can also add other juices to get a more flavorful dish. This mixture goes particularly well when cooking chicken dishes.

Recipes and how much do you need?

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

  • Roasted pork shoulder
  • Ribs with peach bbq sauce
  • Peach salsa with pickled red onions and Serrano chilies

7. Water

For recipes that require only a very little amount of bourbon, you can use water instead. This way you’ll keep the moisture and keep 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 right amount of moisture.

Substitute for bourbon in pecan pie

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


This dessert is used for holiday dinners. However, you might not want to use bourbon – don’t worry because I have the best replacements.

  • When preparing this pie, one tablespoon of other types of alcohol won’t really change the look, texture or flavor of the pie.
  • You can use 2 tablespoons of rum, brandy, or cognac. Also, another option is to use another type of bourbon like Maker’s Mark or Scotch. 2 tablespoons is 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 strength 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 quite sweet, it can be combined with desserts, jams, and sauces – giving an amazing flavor.
  2. Four Roses Single Barrel is a kind of brandy that fits perfectly with dressings and meals that include fruit. This type of brandy gives a richness to the food.

Additional tips:

  • It’s important to know that using bourbon helps to break down the enzymes in 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 – the result will be an incredible, flavorful meat dish.
  • Desserts 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 over an open flame. This is very dangerous and can do some damage 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?

Bourbon helps to cook meat to perfection. When you marinate it before cooking it gives it an excellent flavor and also helps you to cook the meat better.

Does bourbon burn off when cooked?

When used in cooking, alcohol does not only evaporate without heat but also burns off during cooking. For this reason, you should add the alcohol towards the end of the 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.

  1. Thank you so much for this. I’m trying to create a Lane Cake that calls for bourbon and am going to try out your peach nectar and ACV substitute- crossing my fingers, lol! Thanks again!!

  2. Thank you so much for these useful alternatives, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. I didn’t want to buy a whole bottle of something we wouldn’t drink just for one cake, but we have some of the alternatives.

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