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Apr 9, 2009 10:46 AM

alcohol in food - safe for children?

are dishes that call for alcohol in the ingredients (penne alla vodka for example) safe for children under age 10 to eat? this might be an obvious question since i know the alcohol cooks down but i'm just curious.


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  1. Most (not all though) of the alcohol will cook off (it has a lower boiling point than water). There will be a very small amount left. Since a recipe like Vodka sauce doesn't call for all that much vodka in the first place (1/3 - 1/2 cup) and since one person is only consuming a single serving of the entire dish, I would have absolutely no qualms about serving it to a 10 year old. Or a 4 year old for that matter.

    1. Agree with bnemes above, of course assuming we are talking about an occasional thing, not a regular diet of vodka sauce or rum cake. The amount of alcohol that remains depends on the cooking method, the length of time the food cooks or simmers after the alcohol is added, and what type of alcoholic beverage was added in the first place.

      Red wine doesn't have a whole lot of alcohol to start with, and it cooks for a long time so beef bourguignon is hardly going to have any alcohol remaining, even though you used a lot of wine to start with. On the other hand, a dish where hard liquor was added just before the dish was plated is going to have a lot more. Even flambes have some alcohol remaining when served.


        Informative chart, it gives a chart of the percentage of alcohol left after cooking for periods of time. It is hard too but hard alcohol, or wine, how much per serving, how long cooked.

        Personally, I don't mind. I think the small amount per the number of servings is very very low. But that is just opinion. I use it all the time ... but respect those who don't want to use it with kids. If you really look at portion size and how much a small child eats and how much the sauce has cooked. I don't find it harmful. And I wouldn't do it on a regular basis. The vodka sauce I makes simmers, very small amounts for a lot of sauce. But again, take a look at the web page, interesting info.

        1 Reply
        1. re: kchurchill5

          very useful chart
          thanks to all for the replies

        2. another voice here.

          I wouldn't serve anything with alcohol in it to children. period.

          2 Replies
          1. re: laliz

            As I mentioned, I respect that, but personally no problem with it especially when I cook the sauce for a fair amount of time. I certainly wouldn't serve a dish where the alcohol was just added or a garnish, but a sauce that has cooked I don't have a problem. And certainly don't do it often. My friend has a 9 year old and he loves my winter pasta. Scallops, asparagus, champagne cream sauce and pasta. The amount of sauce is so little and the amount of champagne is 8 servings so it didn't bother me or his parents but. Respect your opinion.

            1. I definitely figure this is a parental choice issue. If I was doing something like penne alla vodka, I'd check with the parents and see if they wanted an alternate sauce or plain pasta (depending on the age of the kids). For something like a cupcake with alcohol in the icing or filling, I just make a couple alcohol-free versions before adding the booze, so anyone can choose to have them.