Is There Alcohol in Bourbon BBQ Sauce?

If you’re a fan of barbecue sauce, you may have come across the term “bourbon BBQ sauce” at some point. But what exactly is bourbon BBQ sauce, and does it contain alcohol?

The Basics of Bourbon

Bourbon is a type of American whiskey that is primarily made from corn. It has a distinctive flavor profile that includes notes of vanilla, caramel, and oak. Due to its unique characteristics, bourbon is often used as an ingredient in various recipes, including barbecue sauce.

Understanding Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Bourbon BBQ sauce is a variation of traditional barbecue sauce that incorporates the flavors of bourbon. It typically contains ingredients such as tomato paste or ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar or molasses, spices, and of course, bourbon. The addition of bourbon adds a rich and complex flavor to the sauce.

Does Bourbon BBQ Sauce Contain Alcohol?

The answer to this question depends on how the sauce is prepared and cooked. During the cooking process, some of the alcohol in the bourbon will evaporate due to heat. However, it’s important to note that not all of the alcohol will evaporate completely.

According to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data Laboratory, cooking methods such as baking or simmering will remove about 25% of the alcohol content in a dish after 1 hour of cooking. After 2 hours, approximately 50% will remain, and even after 3 hours of cooking time, about 25% can still be present.

Amounts Can Vary

The exact amount of alcohol left in bourbon BBQ sauce can vary depending on several factors such as the amount and type of bourbon used, the cooking time, and the cooking method. Additionally, different recipes may call for different amounts of bourbon, which can affect the alcohol content in the final sauce.

Non-Alcoholic Alternatives

If you prefer to avoid alcohol altogether or if you’re serving the sauce to someone who cannot consume alcohol, there are non-alcoholic alternatives available. Many brands offer bourbon flavor extracts or concentrates that can be used to achieve a similar taste without the alcohol content.

Taste and Flavor

It’s worth noting that while non-alcoholic alternatives can provide a similar flavor profile, they may not perfectly replicate the taste of traditional bourbon BBQ sauce. The unique characteristics of bourbon contribute to its distinct flavor, and these nuances may be difficult to replicate without actual bourbon.


Bourbon BBQ sauce is a delicious variation of traditional barbecue sauce that incorporates the flavors of bourbon. While some of the alcohol in bourbon will evaporate during cooking, a portion may remain in the final sauce.

However, there are non-alcoholic alternatives available for those who prefer not to consume alcohol or need to avoid it for various reasons. Regardless of whether you choose traditional bourbon BBQ sauce or a non-alcoholic alternative, both options can add a delightful twist to your favorite barbecue dishes.