How is flambéing different from just adding alcohol?

by Xiphias   Last Updated July 18, 2016 08:07 AM

A wonderful recipe in a book says:

Slightly roast pepper with oil, then deglaze with brandy and light it up immediately, wait for the flame to go out. [Then add other ingredients]

Since that process felt quite dangerous, especially if the pan is hot and the alcohol vaporises quickly, I was wondering:

What is the difference between just adding brandy to burning it with regard to taste?

Tags : alcohol flambe

Answers 1

What is the difference between just adding brandy to burning it with regard to taste?

Time and theatric impact (flambe is often done table side in a restaurant) are the big difference.


  • very quick, almost instant reduction of alcohol
  • texture/composition changes to dish are limited due to short process
  • visually dramatic
  • subtle changes in flavor

Adding alcohol, then further cooking:

  • longer cooking time to reduce alcohol
  • longer cooking will have a different effect on texture/composition
  • there will be changes in flavor, but in a different way from flambe

With most recipes, it comes down to time. If a long simmer to remove alcohol is undesired, you flambe. Example: Bananas Foster, if you simmered that for a long time, you'll get a hot bitter banana mush. Flambe is the better choice.

Without seeing your entire recipe: if your peppers are cooked a long time, you could simply add the alcohol and let the cooking reduce it. But if the recipe is a quick saute or similar, if you don't flambe, you may not get the flavor change the author intended. And, you may end up serving alcohol.

July 18, 2016 12:11 PM

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