Does Alcohol Cook Off?

Question:

Does alcohol cook off?
Does alcohol evaporate when cooking?

Answer:

Yes and no.
Some alcohol does cook off when flambéing with alcohol on top or adding alcohol into a sauce while simmering… but, not all of the alcohol evaporates!

does alcohol cook off

Does Alcohol Cook Off?

Does Alcohol Evaporate When Cooking?

It’s a common misconception that alcohol burns off when cooking. Yes, some does. All of it does not.

Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water, so it should (and does) evaporate quicker than the rest of the liquid in the mixture that is cooking.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutritional Data Laboratory, a mixture containing alcohol can cook for hours before all of the alcohol has fully evaporated. The actual retention of alcohol depends upon several variables such as cooking type, heat, and even pan size. They found that the percentage of alcohol remaining in the six recipes they tested ranged from 4% to 35%. For quicker cooking methods, such as the full flamed flambé, when the flames die out only about 25% of the alcohol has also died out. [1]

Many cooking methods were tested, thus the variation in results. It is known that longer cooking times, higher cooking temperatures and uncovered pans while cooking all helped the alcohol level to decline at a faster rate. Although the traces of alcohol that remain after cooking are not enough to get you drunk, they are indeed present. Therefore, if you are avoiding alcohol for whatever reason, you should also avoid dishes in which alcohol has been added during preparation.

Does Alcohol Cook Off?

Additional Info

To find out how long alcohol lasts, see one of our alcohol pages.

To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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