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Bourbon Marinade For Chicken Recipe (2024 Updated)

Bourbon Marinade For Chicken Recipe

Last Updated on February 25, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Bourbon is rich in history and flavor that it’s good to drink for any occasion and works perfectly on anything – even on chicken. Bourbon Marinade for Chicken is a popular dish in New Orleans, Louisiana. However, you don’t have to visit New Orleans to experience this simple and delicious dish.

Keep scrolling to learn how to make bourbon marinade for chicken.

Brown Sugar Bourbon Marinade (For Chicken)

Brown Sugar Bourbon Chicken Marinade

Prep Time: 5 mins.

Recommended Marinating Time: at least 6 hours to overnight


  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • A pinch of Red pepper flakes


In a medium bowl, stir all the marinade ingredients together. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Toss in the chicken and mix until the chicken is covered with the mixture. Cover the dish with a plastic wrap and refrigerate. Marinate for 30 minutes or overnight. Grill and enjoy!

Best Bourbon To Use

Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey

Any bourbon of your preference will do. We prefer to use Jim Beam Bourbon because of its smoky, sweet taste. But other bourbons are worth trying as well. If you prefer a sweeter taste, you might want to use Maker’s Mark bourbon. You can also use Wild Turkey bourbon for a more robust flavor.

Other bourbon brands to use for bourbon marinade for chicken are:

  • Jim Beam White Label
  • Four Roses Yellow Label
  • Evan Williams
  • Wild Turkey 101 
  • Rittenhouse Rye 

How This Bourbon Marinade Tastes

Bourbon Chicken Marinade

This bourbon marinade is tangy and rich. It also has a smoky flavor, a little sweetness, and balance because of the brown sugar. If left overnight, the meat will have a more robust flavor as the bourbon marinade will really penetrate the meat.

Best Parts & Cuts To Use

If your preferred meat is chicken, the leg and wings are best for this bourbon marinade because they can absorb the flavor well. However, you can still use boneless chicken breast if you like. If you want pork, you can use this marinade for pork chops and pork tenderloins.

Read: Recommended Bourbons For Cooking

Side Dishes to Pair With Bourbon Marinade Chicken

Tomatoes Provencal

Tomatoes Provencal is one of the best side dishes to pair with bourbon marinade chicken. It’s simple and easy to prepare. Most importantly, it’s delicious and goes well with grilled meats. 

Other side dishes that pair well with bourbon marinade chicken are garlic parmesan roasted potatoes, balsamic dijon mushrooms, and asparagus. Salads are also perfect because they add flavor and texture to your meal.

What You’ll Love About This Recipe

What You'll Love About This Recipe


This bourbon marinade recipe can be made in 5 minutes. It’s easy to prepare, and the ingredients are easily available. Ingredients are also easy to purchase. Chances are, you already have them in your pantry.

Tangy & Sweet

This marinade has a tangy flavor because of the balsamic vinegar used. The balsamic vinegar tones down the burn from the whiskey and creates a balanced flavor of sweetness and tanginess that results in delicious and flavorful grilled meats.


This marinade is good for chicken but can also be used for everything. It makes kebabs, pork chops, grilled steaks, and veggies oozing with flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is there a substitute for bourbon in bourbon chicken?

Yes, there’s a substitute for bourbon in bourbon chicken. You can use apple juice or orange juice if you opt for a non-boozy bourbon chicken. These are great options for some people who don’t like using alcohol for cooking or if they just don’t have booze on hand. The apple juice makes the marinade sweeter and thicker.

What happens if you marinate chicken in bourbon for too long?

When you marinate the chicken in bourbon for too long, the meat will be mushy because prolonged exposure to acid in the marinade can cause the meat’s tissue to weaken. According to Federal Food Safety guidelines, refrigerated raw chicken can only last up to two days. Otherwise, large amounts of bacteria can grow.

What is bourbon marinade made of?

Bourbon marinade typically consists of a combination of bourbon whiskey, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and various spices. This flavorful mixture enhances the taste of meats, infusing them with a sweet and savory profile complemented by the distinct notes of bourbon.

What is bourbon chicken sauce made of?

Bourbon chicken sauce commonly includes a blend of bourbon whiskey, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and sometimes additional ingredients like red pepper flakes or vinegar. This sauce delivers a rich, sweet, and tangy flavor that perfectly complements the chicken, creating a delicious and popular dish.

Does bourbon tenderize meat?

Bourbon contains enzymes and acids that can help tenderize meat to some extent. The alcohol in bourbon helps break down the meat’s fibers, leading to increased tenderness. However, while bourbon can contribute to the overall flavor and texture of the meat, it’s not as potent a tenderizing agent as specific meat tenderizers or marinades designed for that purpose.

What’s in bourbon seasoning?

Bourbon seasoning often comprises a mixture of brown sugar, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and sometimes additional spices like paprika or cayenne pepper. This blend aims to capture the essence of bourbon’s sweet and savory notes, providing a versatile seasoning that can enhance the flavor of various dishes, including grilled meats and vegetables.

What are the 4 ingredients in bourbon?

Bourbon must meet specific legal requirements, and it is made primarily from four essential ingredients: corn, water, barley, and rye or wheat. The exact combination may vary, but bourbon must contain at least 51% corn, distilled to no more than 160 proof, aged in new charred oak barrels, and bottled at a minimum of 80 proof. These core ingredients and production standards contribute to bourbon’s distinctive flavor and character.

What are the three main ingredients of bourbon?

Bourbon, a distinct type of whiskey, primarily consists of three main ingredients: corn, malted barley, and rye or wheat. To meet legal standards, bourbon must contain at least 51% corn in its grain mixture, contributing to its sweet and robust flavor profile.

Why is it called bourbon chicken?

Bourbon chicken derives its name from the classic American whiskey, not because it traditionally includes bourbon in its preparation. The dish, popularized in Chinese-American cuisine, features bite-sized chicken pieces cooked in a flavorful sauce with soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic, resulting in a sweet and savory flavor reminiscent of bourbon’s distinctive notes.

What is KFC chicken coating made of?

KFC’s iconic chicken coating, known for its secret blend of 11 herbs and spices, remains a closely guarded recipe. While the exact ingredients are proprietary, the coating typically includes a combination of flour, salt, thyme, basil, oregano, celery salt, black pepper, dried mustard, paprika, garlic salt, and white pepper, creating the renowned and beloved taste of KFC fried chicken.

What does bourbon chicken taste like?

Bourbon chicken boasts a delectable combination of sweet and savory flavors. The sauce, made with ingredients like soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic, imparts a rich and slightly tangy taste to the chicken. The sweet notes from the brown sugar and the umami from the soy sauce create a well-balanced flavor profile, providing a delightful culinary experience.

What is bourbon in a recipe?

In a recipe, bourbon refers to a type of whiskey that adds a distinct flavor profile to dishes. It is often used in sauces, marinades, and desserts to impart sweet and smoky notes. Bourbon’s rich and complex taste, with hints of caramel and vanilla, can enhance the overall flavor of various recipes, offering a unique depth and character to both savory and sweet dishes. Whether used in glazes for meats or as a key ingredient in desserts, bourbon contributes to a sophisticated and flavorful culinary experience.Top of Form

Why is bourbon good for cooking?

Bourbon is prized for its complex flavor profile, featuring notes of caramel, vanilla, and a subtle smokiness, which can add depth and richness to a variety of dishes. Its versatility in both sweet and savory recipes makes it a popular choice for cooking, enhancing the overall flavor and providing a unique and sophisticated taste.

What do you mix with bourbon?

Bourbon is a versatile spirit that pairs well with various mixers to create classic cocktails or innovative drinks. Common mixers include ginger ale, cola, lemonade, and vermouth for classic cocktails like the Manhattan or Old Fashioned. Additionally, fruit juices such as orange or cranberry, and even bitters, can complement bourbon, allowing for a wide range of delightful combinations.

What spices go well with bourbon?

Spices that complement bourbon’s inherent flavors include cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. These warm and aromatic spices enhance the sweetness and smokiness of bourbon, creating a harmonious blend of tastes. In savory dishes, herbs like thyme and rosemary can add depth, while in desserts, vanilla and chocolate often pair exceptionally well with bourbon-infused recipes.

What Flavour is bourbon?

Bourbon is characterized by a rich and complex flavor profile. The dominant notes include sweet caramel, vanilla, and a subtle smokiness derived from the charred oak barrels used during aging. The sweetness comes from the high corn content in the grain mixture, creating a smooth and well-balanced taste. Additionally, bourbon may exhibit undertones of spice, toffee, and even fruity or nutty nuances, contributing to its overall depth and uniqueness. The flavor of bourbon can vary among brands and expressions, allowing for a diverse range of tasting experiences within this beloved spirit.Top of Form

Final Thoughts on Bourbon Marinade for Chicken

Marinades contain oils and acid to develop sensory attributes and tenderize meat by breaking down proteins [1]. The acid in a marinade can come from vinegar, citrus juices, bourbon, and wine. Marinating your meat in bourbon for too long can cause the alcohol to cook the meat chemically. 

Bourbon has a complex flavor profile, so it can elevate the taste of the chicken or anything you throw on the grill. Bourbon adds a smoky flavor and a little sweetness to the chicken. The bourbon marinade for the chicken is rich and flavorful, making it a total summer superstar.


  1. Frozen Meal
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