Trace amonts of alcohol in cooking for teenagers

I've been encountering many recipes (notably in sauces or desserts), where a small amount of alcohol is added for an extra kick, and depth of flavor. Putting aside whether it's illegal or not, *cough* do small amounts of alcohol like those called for in desserts have any bad health effects? (theres no way i'd possibly get addicted because the amount of alcohol my family drinks is near zero, they probably drink a quarter of a glass every week or two).

The fact that my gelato is frozen stiff because I wanted to add less sugar is another reason im considering a little alcohol :p, im trying to tweak the recipe to lower the sugar for my friends who have type two diabetes running in the family. (though none of them have it yet) Obviously I wouldn't give the gelato to them until they hit 21, or if their parents give me permission to though. Still have three years to go until I'm legal T_T

Derek Xiao


BerryBaby August 16, 2016
It depends on the quantity of alcohol in the recipe and who is going to be enjoying it. I, myself, don't drink alcohol but I will use it in sauces or when braising meat. Doesn't really taste like alcohol, just gives it a deeper flavor. For desserts I try to use recipes that don't use alcohol, but that is my choice.
Smaug August 15, 2016
Alcohol is often used in ice creams these days for texture- a shame, since the largest
consumers of ice cream are kids and recovering alcoholics.
dinner A. August 15, 2016
In the small quantities added in most recipes, the final percentage of alcohol in the food (and it does burn off to some extent, depending on the cooking process, as quantified in the link Susan W provided) will be small enough to be only of concern to those avoiding it for religious reasons. It's also worth noting that many foods we eat do have a tiny amount of alcohol in them anyway, i.e. ripe fruit from fermentation by wild yeasts, or miso (a small amount of ethanol is added as a preservative).
sexyLAMBCHOPx August 15, 2016
This is an erroneous statement: "...will be small enough to be only of concern to those avoiding it for religious reasons." Sobriety and recovery are an issue for those who choose to not eat food with alcohol. If your underage and posting such a question consult with your parents.
dinner A. August 15, 2016
Sure; the distinction I meant to draw was that in most foods where alcohol is added for flavor, there is not enough in the final dish to have a direct, appreciable physiological effect.
Derek X. August 15, 2016
will do, He's fine with me adding wine to deglaze, but probably isnt aware that ~10-20% of the alcohol is still in it. Though I doubt he'd care if i told him. I'll ask him about deserts though.
Susan W. August 15, 2016
This is definitely something to discuss with your and their parents, not us. First, we don't know your recipe or the amount of alcohol called for. In my family, we would not worry about the small amount it most probably calls for, but I wouldn't assume anything for others.

Also, many people will tell you that alcohol burns off when cooked. Not true. So, here's a nifty link for you to look at for your own cooking education. :)
Derek X. August 15, 2016
it doesn't seem to address the fact that when you deglaze a pan (almost how i've always been using it in cooking), it definitely loses a lot more alcohol than if you just simmer/bake it since the pan is quite hot.
Susan W. August 15, 2016
This one addresses deglazing. I didn't look at it too carefully...the math was making my head hurt. The info comes from UC Davis though, so good source.
Derek X. August 15, 2016
Recommended by Food52