Bon Appetit? Can A Person In Recovery Cook With Alcohol?

Bon Appetit? Can A Person In Recovery Cook With Alcohol?

When you’re in recovery, you’re working hard to live an abundant but sober life. You may have even found a new hobby—say, cooking, for example. You might find that trying new recipes and exploring different ways to mix ingredients is a productive and healthier outlet than drinking. The problem is, though, you may find yourself wanting to try a recipe that calls for wine or some other alcohol-containing ingredient. If you wonder if you can cook with alcohol in recovery, you’ll want to know about possible dangers and some alternatives you may use instead.

Find A Hobby, They Said

In recovery, you walk a different path than you did when you were drinking. You know to avoid the obvious triggers—places you used to drink and even friends with whom you drank.
You probably do different things with your time now too. Many in recovery learn about the benefits of healthy cooking and find they enjoy trying new recipes and feeding their senses differently than they did with alcohol.

But when you’re in recovery and a recipe calls for you to cook with alcohol, you want to be careful. Many recipes call for just a splash of this or a quarter of a cup of that. This may leave you with pretty significant amounts of alcohol left in your refrigerator. Adding temptation to your recovery may be a recipe for disaster instead. 

Why Should I Worry About Cooking With Alcohol If I Am In Recovery?

The most straightforward answer to whether you should cook with alcohol if you’re in recovery is a simple “No.” As we said, too often, a recipe will only call for a small quantity of wine or other alcohols. Then you have alcohol hanging around, just waiting to be consumed. You’re already doing your best to avoid triggers. Bringing them into your life, even if they’re part of a recipe, puts your temptations in your face. 

Not to mention that contrary to popular belief, alcohol doesn’t entirely burn off in the cooking process. You’re likely going to taste it, and your brain will certainly remember it. Even the smallest tastes may trigger you into relapse.

Even if all you would likely do is cook with an alcohol-containing ingredient, in a desperate moment, that cooking alcohol could be the first step back into a path you are working so hard to leave.

The good news is that you don’t have to forsake trying new and delicious recipes that would have you cook with alcohol in recovery.

You Don’t Have To Cook With Alcohol In Recovery: Non-Alcoholic Options

When you’re in recovery and you don’t want to cook with alcohol, it’s pretty easy to substitute the alcoholic ingredient with something non-alcoholic without sacrificing taste. Generally speaking, most wines can be replaced with a grape or cherry juice that may or may not need some dilution or lemon/lime added. Here are a few examples:

Don’t Cook With Alcohol: Alternatives to Wine

  • Port Wine – Substitute Concord grape juice with lime zest or cranberry juice with lemon juice added. You can even substitute grape juice concentrate. If the recipe calls for a lighter port, you can use apple or even orange juice.
  • Red Wine—Substitute equal amounts of liquid with red grape juice, cranberry juice, chicken/beef/vegetable broths, flavored vinegar, or clam juice.
  • White Wine—Substitute with chicken or vegetable broth, water, ginger ale, or white grape juice.
  • Sweet White Wine—Substitute equal amounts of liquid with grape juice plus a tablespoon of corn syrup.

Don’t Cook With Alcohol: Alternatives to Beer, Ale, and Extracts

Many beers, ales, whiskeys, and extracts also have substitutions you can use that are non-alcoholic and still add delicious flavor. They include:

  • Non-alcoholic Extracts. Most extracts start from alcohol; however, you can find non-alcoholic versions.
  • Ales or Beers—Substitute beef/chicken broth, mushroom broth, ginger ale, or white grape juice.
  • Peppermint Schnapps—Use non-alcoholic extract, mint leaves, or mint Italian Soda syrup.
  • Coffee Liqueur—For every two tablespoons of liqueur you need to substitute, use ½ to 1 teaspoon of chocolate extract combined with a teaspoon of instant coffee you’ve mixed in two tablespoons of water. You can also use espresso. You can substitute this for Kahlua too.

Don’t Cook With Alcohol: Alternatives to Whiskey, Rum, and Other Spirits

  • Champagne—Ginger ale, sparkling fruit juices, or ciders.
  • Kirsch—Substitute equal amounts of liquid from cherry, raspberry, boysenberry, or currant syrups or use ciders of any of those fruits.
  • Brandy—Substitute equal amounts of liquid with water, apple cider or apple juice, white grape juice, diluted apricot, or peach syrup.
  • Rums—Substitute equal amounts of liquid from water, pineapple juice, apple juice or cider, white grape juice.
  • Sake—Rice vinegar.
  • Vermouth—For dry, use white grape juice or non-alcoholic white wine. For sweet, use apple or grape juice, balsamic vinegar, or non-alcoholic sweet wine.
  • Vodka—Substitute white grape juice or apple cider mixed with lime juice. Lime water also works.
  • Whiskey—If just a tiny amount (as it typically is), eliminate it.

Get Help Staying Sober

If you’re in recovery, you’re taking the steps to the life you deserve to live. At Clear Life Recovery, we know how important it is to keep your life trigger-free. Cooking with alcohol in recovery isn’t a great idea and could lead you to backtrack on all of the progress you’ve made. We are here for you if you need support in recovery and will walk alongside you on the journey. Contact us today.

About Benjamin Hogan

Over the years, Benjamin has held positions in many different areas of alcohol and drug addiction services all over the country. He made a name for himself as an interventionist and has held certification as a Certified National Drug and Alcohol Interventionist (CNDAI-II). Benjamin specializes in helping support families of people struggling with addiction by focusing on education and instilling healthy boundaries to ensure lasting changes. Addiction is a progressive disease, but using an evidence-based approach, an intervention, when done correctly, can help to increase the willingness of a loved one to seek sobriety faster.

"In my experience, by helping families make necessary changes, they not only get their lives back, but they also help change the mind of their loved one more quickly. In an intervention, family and other loved ones take a proactive approach, instead of waiting and being stuck between fear and (false) hope. I realized in my own recovery, that when my family changed, I had to change in response. That is where I found sobriety. This is why I believe in what I do!"