If you or somebody you’d like to cook for is a recovering alcoholic, you might be wary when a recipe calls for alcohol. Cooking with alcohol can be tricky if you’re in recovery because even trace amounts of alcohol can be “taste triggers.” It’s important to know that alcohol does not “burn off” foods very quickly. Therefore, even small amounts can still be left in your food. It’s important to know which foods might have alcohol, even minor amounts. And finally, you can still cook delicious food without alcohol, just learn some easy alternatives!

Cooking with Alcohol: What You Need to Know if You are a Recovering Alcoholic

Taste Triggers

The reason that cooking with alcohol can be hard for recovering alcoholics is that even minor amounts of alcohol can be taste triggers. Alcoholism is a disease, and so any reminder of the taste of alcohol can trigger chemicals in the brains of alcoholics. These triggers can create cravings and make staying sober much more difficult. This can lead to a relapse. Therefore, it’s best to use alternatives instead of booze in your cooking if you are staying sober.

Does Alcohol Burn Off

Although most people think that all alcohol burns off, this isn’t true. Cooking with alcohol gets rid of a big portion, but not all of the alcohol. The longer something cooks, and the hotter the heat, the less alcohol remains. Things that cook quickly, like flambe, may not burn off most of the alcohol. However, it’s safest just to avoid alcohol instead of hoping that it will burn off.

Foods To Avoid

Cooking with alcohol for yourself might be easy to avoid. However, when you go out for food you should know what things might secretly have alcohol. There are several desserts that use alcohol. For example, bananas foster, tiramisu, and cherries jubilee. Some glazes on desserts, as well as chocolate, might have liqueur. Finally, avoid fondue as it often gets made with beer or wine.


Cooking with alcohol is easy to avoid by simply finding other recipes. However, if you’re really craving an alcohol-infused recipe, try some alternatives. Sweeter recipes will require different alternatives than savory ones. For example, for desserts or marinades, you can often use fruit juice. You can also use extracts, flavoring, and syrups can also be substituted. You can also use non-alcoholic wine or wine vinegar. However, be careful as these might contain tiny amounts of alcohol. If the recipe calls for less than a tablespoon, you should be able to omit it altogether.

Cooking with alcohol might be a bit tricky if you are working on staying sober. You should be careful because even tiny amounts can be taste triggers that might threaten your sobriety. In addition, don’t fall for the myth that alcohol always gets burned off when cooking. Small amounts can remain. Know what foods to watch out for when you eat out. And be aware of alternatives you can use to swap out the alcohol from recipes. Besides avoiding cooking with alcohol for the fear of triggering, it’s also better for alcoholics not to even keep it in the home. You can still make delicious meals with some simple switches.