Tips for Cooking with Alcohol

The good thing about cooking with alcohol is that it doesn't take a lot for the food to acquire its taste—a few drops are enough.
Tips for Cooking with Alcohol

Last update: 28 October, 2018

Cooking with alcohol is a popular practice. For example, the French and Italians prepare stew with wine, the English marinate beef in beer or cider, and the Chinese let food soak in rice wine.

When it comes to cooking, you have to know what alcohol to use. For instance, red wine would turn a fish plate with white sauce, into an unappealing pink color, so white wine should be used.

Cooking with alcohol: different types


Wine is, without a doubt, the most used alcohol when it comes to cooking. Using red wine  for meat-based dishes has been a long time tradition, and it’s common to use  w hite wine for fish, chicken, and veal.

Red wine is used for heavy meat dishes.

You don’t have to use the best wine in the world to cook with alcohol. Although, it’s true that the better the wine, the better the taste of the cooked meal. Acidic wines with little flavor won’t contribute much to a recipe.

A helpful trick is to keep different varieties of leftover wine and combine it in smaller air tight  containers, since the air increases its acidity. We can mix different wines, especially when preparing stews.

  • Sherry can be used with chicken, game and soups—basically, with most foods! Desserts also work considerably well with a small amount of sherry.
  • Port goes well with game meats and, especially, with fruits. Melon and apricots will improve in flavor.
  • Dry white vermouth can replace white wine, but it’s necessary to use it in smaller quantities and to complement it with water.
  • Marsala is known for its use mainly in desserts and meat pies. 

Different liquors

Distilled beverages are stronger than wine, so they aren’t used as much when cooking with alcohol. What stands out is the use of brandy for preserves, as well as the orange liqueurs to complete a tasty chocolate mousse.  

For a fruit salad, there are some tricks that will increase the level of flavor. For example, a few drops of apricot liqueur will intensify the different tastes. We can also improve the bland taste of a sweet souffle, which will change radically after adding some liquor.

Distilled beverages are stronger than wine.

There are some liquors that you wouldn’t think of using in the kitchen, such as anise. It provides a pleasant and new aftertaste when added to a salty souffle or fish dishes, as it resembles fennel or cilantro. Another example is adding a few drops of coffee liqueur to a chocolate ice cream; it produces a mixture of two delicious flavors.

Beer and cider

In England, people have been using beer since ancient times and European cuisine is still using it, especially to accompany game. Beer-cooked chicken is also a popular recipe, thanks to its enviable flavor.

In France, it’s common to replace wine with cider in the kitchen, especially in Normandy. It’s great in foods such as chicken, veal, and fish, but it’s used mainly in lamb, to enhance its delicate flavor. In addition, you can use wine in fruit salads.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.