holiday plate

Holiday Foods You Might Not Know Contain Alcohol


Sober Recovery Expert Author

holiday plate

While many people know about the increased risk of drinking or relapses during the holidays, one of the less commonly discussed risks during this time is the proliferation of dishes, food items and seasonal favorites that may actually contain alcohol. Given the particular sensitivities of each individual, it is always a good idea to be informed and make smart decisions on what type of foods you should be feasting on this holiday season.

Here are 8 holiday foods that you might not have known actually contain alcohol.

1. Eggnog

While an obvious one to some, the popularity of store-bought non-alcoholic eggnog may leave some individuals unsure of the long-standing tradition of spiking eggnog with liqueur. Fortunately, a quick question to the host usually resolves the mystery for someone in recovery, as it’s very difficult to detect the presence of alcohol without tasting the drink directly.

Other traditional holiday drinks that may potentially include alcohol are holiday punches, juice cocktails (often a modified mimosa or Bloody Mary) and certain coffee beverages.

2. Fruitcake


A storied tradition in American holidays is the exchange of fruitcake, which calls for one or more liqueurs as part of the original recipe. The cooking process is also limited so a relatively high degree of alcohol is still contained in the original ingredients once it’s served. Moreover, ripened fruits, an essential ingredient to the dessert, produce alcohol through fermentation as well.

3. No or Low Bake Holiday Desserts

holiday dessert

There are tons of no-bake recipes online that encourage quick, easy methods for holiday baked goods. Unfortunately, a number of these recipes also contain alcohol. Examples of common no-bakes popular during the holidays to consider avoiding unless ingredients are confirmed are mousses, crème de menthe flavored non-bake goods and many pies (which frequently feature Grand Marnier, crème de menthe, crème de cacao and Kahlua).

4. Flambéed Desserts


Flambéed desserts is a holiday favorite that usually requires a full day to prepare. However, contrary to common thought, igniting an alcoholic liquid does not burn the alcohol off completely. In fact, this technique virtually always retains nearly three-fourths of the originally added alcohol content in most traditional preparations. Even though it’s a much-preferred late-evening dessert after a large holiday meal, desserts such as Bananas Fosters and Crêpe Suzettes are not as alcohol-free as many are led to think.

6. Meat Dishes and Sauces

meat dish

The holiday season tends to bring out the best in homemade recipes, which true to their name, are specialty dishes reserved for special occasions. Some of your favorite meat dishes may use masala wine sauce, white wine, cooking wine and cooking sprays that contain extremely high percentages of alcohol as part of the sauce. This is something to pay attention to because, according to the FDA, meat dishes have a propensity to retain nearly a full three-fourths of the original alcohol amounts added by the chef.

7. Energy Drinks

energy drinks

Lastly, energy drinks are most likely not a part of your usual holiday spread, but they may pop up as a regular part of your holiday travel plans as you make quick trips into gas stations, stops for caffeine or are forced to skip lunch on the road. When this happens, check the labels because some energy drinks may contain significantly more alcohol amounts than manufacturers are willing to blatantly market.

Given each individual's alcohol sensitivity, it's good to be informed on which holiday dishes may contain alcohol so we can make smart decisions for ourselves.

Addiction recovery is a 24/7 commitment, which is why it's important to be informed and have full control over what we consume this holiday season. If you or anyone you know is looking to begin a new path in recovery, you can visit our directory of treatment centers or call 866-606-0182 today.

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