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Bistro 258


Does Alcohol Burn Off in Cooking?

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Does Alcohol Burn Off in Cooking?

wine1When cooking with alcohol, you may wonder if the alcohol is burning off like you think it is. You want the flavor, you just don’t want the alcohol that comes with it for personal, religious, or some other reason. So, is there any alcohol remaining when you cook with it? Is there a certain way it needs to be cooked to get rid of the alcohol? Let’s just say it’s probably not what you think it is.


The common belief is that cooking alcohol for a maybe twenty minutes will leave the flavor and evaporate the alcohol. This is actually false. It takes much longer than previously believed to cook all the alcohol out. It would take around three hours for the alcohol to burn off completely.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture actually tested how much alcohol remains with certain cooking techniques and created a chart to relay the results. It’s true that alcohol evaporates during cooking, just not as quickly as previously understood. Turns out, leaving alcohol uncovered overnight reduces the amount of alcohol better than a quick flambé. The chart looks something like this:


Alcohol Burn-Off Chart

Preparation Method Percent Retained
alcohol added to boiling liquid and removed from heat 85%
alcohol flamed 75%
no heat, stored overnight 70%
baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture 45%
Baked/simmered dishes with alcohol stirred into the mixture
15 minutes cooking time 40%
30 minutes cooking time 35%
1 hour cooking time 25%
1.5 hour cooking time 20%
2 hour cooking time 10%
2.5 hour cooking time 5%


Looks like simmering the alcohol in the mixture is the best way to go about alcohol evaporation. You may prefer simmering the alcohol by itself until all the alcohol has been burned off and then adding it to whatever you’re cooking. It may depend on the recipe, your preference and the situation of the household how you go about cooking, but it’s good to know what’s going on with that wine you’re throwing into the dish.