Cooking with Alcohol

Also: Drinking Alcohol When You Have Diabetes

If you have diabetes and you decide that you want to have an occasional alcoholic drink, it is important that you talk with your doctor first to determine if it is safe for you to do so. Alcohol in mixed drinks, wine, or beer can affect blood sugar levels (blood glucose levels) differently.  How alcohol affects you depends on whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, which medications you are taking, and the level of your diabetes control.

Before drinking, make sure you know how alcohol affects you and your diabetes.  And of course, please be smart and stay safe.

However, what about cooking with alcohol? This seems to be of concern to some of you since we use alcohol in some of our diabetic recipes.

Alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water so much of the alcohol used in cooking is burned off, leaving only the flavor of the wine, beer, or spirits used.

The list below shows the percentage of alcohol remaining in food after cooking, and it's based on research by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Our dietitian uses this information in determining the nutritional analysis and exchanges of any recipe in which we call for alcohol. You might find the results interesting and helpful in your cooking of other recipes which include alcohol.

  • Alcohol added to boiling liquid and removed from the heat:  85% of alcohol remains
  • Alcohol used to flambe a dish:  75% of alcohol remains
  • Alcohol stirred in and baked or simmered for:
    • 15 minutes:  40% of alcohol remains
    • 30 minutes:  35% of alcohol remains
    • 45 minutes:  30% of alcohol remains
    • 1 hour:  25% of alcohol remains
    • 1 1/2 hours:  20% of alcohol remains
    • 2 hours:  10% of alcohol remains
    • 2 1/2 hours:  5% of alcohol remains

Alcohol Substitutions in Diabetic Recipes

What if you and/or your doctor decide that you should not cook with alcohol—what substitutions can you make in our recipes and that of others which call for wine, beer, and so forth?

To avoid using alcohol, here are some substitutions to consider:

For 1 cup of wine or spirits, use:

  • An equal amount of nonalcoholic wine
  • 7/8 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth, beef broth, or vegetable broth and 1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 7/8 cup water and 1/8 cup white or red wine vinegar, raspberry vinegar, or tarragon vinegar
  • Water and similarly flavored extracts such as rum extract, brandy extract, and so forth

In desserts, substitute fruit juice for wine, adding a dash of balsamic vinegar to the juice.

For orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier, use an equivalent amount of frozen orange juice concentrate plus some grated orange zest.

For coffee liqueur, use double-strength espresso or instant coffee made with 4 to 6 times the amount of coffee normally used.

For brandy or rum, try a small amount of brandy or rum extract, or pure vanilla extract.


Updated on: November 12, 2012