Who doesn’t love drizzling a creamy, sweet sauce over ice cream, cakes, cupcakes, brownies… literally any sweet treat? This bourbon sauce ups the ante on that sweet goodness with the addition of the sweet and spicy flavors of a good bourbon.
It couldn’t come together more quickly, and if you already have whiskey in your liquor cabinet you’ll likely have everything you need already. And yes, while this recipe calls specifically for bourbon, you can use any whiskey you wish to toss in.
The best part is this amped up sauce can be a topping or a dipping sauce. Its sweet flavor and not-too-thick texture makes it as ideal to mix into a milkshake or spoon over any dessert as it is to dip churros or sliced apples and bananas into it.
The next time you want a fun dessert sauce that might be a little naughty too, this should be your go-to. Save a little of your bottle, too, for a pairing!
Table of Contents
What is Bourbon Sauce?
With more than a bit of bourbon flavor, this is a decadent dessert sauce that falls somewhere between blond syrup and caramel sauce. It’s rich, creamy, and alcoholic (so watch out for the alcohol content pregnant ladies and others sensitive to the sauciness).
Creamy, sweet sauces like this one are amazing over sweet treats like brownies, cake, and ice cream as well as fruit, but they’re awesome additions to milkshakes or alcoholic drinks. You can also reduce the sweet factor and make a killer savory sauce for proteins.
The bottom line is that bourbon betters many sauces and this particular one benefits from the booze’s depth of flavor. You won’t regret trying this, and your guests will be asking for more.
Best Bourbons for Sauce
The best bourbons to use for this sauce are the ones you enjoy drinking! As with wine, never cook with anything you wouldn’t drink.
That said, if you’re not a bourbon aficionado, there are other ways to determine what to use. Ask your bourbon whiskey drinking friends, rely on a trusted site (there are plenty to refer to), or buy a few small bottles to try — but remember you don’t need to spend a lot to get that bourbon flavor.
There’s a reason that Jim Beam is used in so many commercialized sauces — it’s an obvious go-to. The bourbon drinkers over here at MSR, though, assure that the likes of Wild Turkey, Evan Williams, and Four Roses will impart all of the appropriate sweetness and spiciness — but feel free to try your own local distillery’s version as well!
- Unsalted butter – As with any baking recipe, use unsalted butter. If you want a salt element in your sauce you can add more later but remember you can never take it away.
- Sugar – Simple white sugar granules will dissolve quickly in this.
- Heavy cream – Don’t skimp on the cream – a lighter variety won’t lead to the thick results you want in this recipe.
- Vanilla extract – Use what you have in your cabinet or grab any other flavor extract you might enjoy.
- Bourbon – Grab your favorite (or a recommended version). It needn’t be expensive, but if you’re going to buy a bottle make sure it’s something you (or your future guests for gatherings) will like!
- Kosher salt – Make sure to use this variety, or one that you really enjoy to ensure you elevate this sauce.
What to Use Bourbon Sauce On
- Vanilla ice cream – Pour this sauce over any ice cream but it’s particularly delicious over a clean slate like vanilla provides.
- As a simple syrup for cocktails – Make an incredible whiskey cocktail (think: riffs on Manhattans and Old Fashioneds) using this sauce. You can also use it to rim the glass of a classic cocktail.
- Angel food cake – Drizzle this sauce over the light sweetness that is angel food cake.
- Gooey Butter Cake – Replace the butter sauce with this bourbon sauce.
- Vanilla pound cake – Elevate this, or any simple cake with the addition of bourbon sauce. If you’re going to frost the cake, poke small holes into it and drizzle this over top before frosting to really infuse the flavor.
- Barbecue sauce – Eliminate the vanilla extract, and use sugar to taste. Then add worcestershire corn starch, apple cider vinegar, and garlic powder for a great sauce for a pork recipe or game day chicken wings.
- Bread pudding – Add this to your bread pudding and everyone will be asking for the recipe.
- Lemon juice – You can add lemon juice to nearly anything to brighten the flavors — just use a dash.
- Maple syrup – Add maple syrup or replace some or all of sugar for this to add a nuanced flavor.
- Heat – Some like their sweets with a little touch of heat, too. If that’s you, grab some cayenne pepper sauce or red pepper flakes to bring the heat to the sweetness.
- Pineapple juice – This ingredient will bring some sweetness, but all citrus to round out all of the flavors.
- Extracts – Use other flavored extracts to add flavors that range from nutty to fruity.
Is It Alcoholic?
The bourbon is added at the end of cooking without enough heat to burn off, therefore this sauce does contain alcohol and should not be consumed by kids or pregnant women.
Storage & Freezing
Store for up to a week in the refrigerator in an airtight container. You can also store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
More Sweet Sauces
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- Pinch coarse kosher salt
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Add the sugar, whisking to combine. Add the cream and vanilla, continuing to whisk until the sugar has dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the bourbon and salt.
- Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before using. Mixture will thicken slightly and be a syrup consistency.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.