A Culinary Myth – Alcohol Does Not Burn Off During Cooking

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on December 20, 2018 · 3 comments

Because alcohol has a lower boiling point than water there is a presumption among home cooks and many culinary professionals that alcohol added to recipes cooks off when exposed to heat. The fact is, in many recipes, a lot of alcohol is left after cooking.

The US Department of Agriculture Nutrient Data Laboratory calculated the percentage of alcohol remaining after difference cooking methods. Here is what they found.

  • 85% of alcohol remained when added to a boiling liquid at the end of cooking.
  • 75% remained in dishes that are flamed like Baked Alaska or Cherries Jubilee.
  • 70% remained in foods marinated in alcohol overnight.
  • 45% remained in recipes baked for 25 minutes.
  • 40% remained in recipes simmered for 15 minutes; 35% remained after simmering for 30 minutes and 25% of alcohol was still present after an hour.
  • A pot roast simmered for two and a half hours still had 5% of alcohol remaining.

For those who wish to avoid alcohol or those who are taking medications that does not mix with alcohol it would be wise not to eat foods made with beer, wine, bourbon, rum, or sherry.

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