What Foods Contain Alcohol?

Call our local number 01603 513 091
Request Call Back

Call our local number 01603 513 091
Request Call Back
Call our local number 01603 513 091
Request Call Back

It’s surprising to learn that most foods usually contain Alcohol, although in small quantities.

Many already cooked and pre-packed foods have alcohol in them, including speciality foods in gourmet shops and delicatessens.

We will give you a list of popular foods such as Dijon mustard, vanilla, almond extract, etc., later. They all contain alcohol.

These foods can cause problems for anyone who is allergic to alcohol.

Pregnant women and people on specific medications such as anti-depressants and antibiotics are mainly required to know these foods to not react with their conditions and medication.

We are not exaggerating when we say that alcohol, even in minimal quantities, can prove catastrophic to people who are specifically required to avoid alcohol.

Why do most foods contain alcohol in them?

Spontaneous fermentation. The alcohol found in beer is usually a result of ethanol fermentation.

This is the process that converts the sugars in yeast into carbon dioxide and ethanol or alcohol.

Those who brew beers under 0.5% ABV usually remove the alcohol, so it is not full strength or produces tiny amounts of alcohol.

This ethanol fermentation is also used to produce many different foods such as bread, vinegar, and soy sauce.

The producers of these fermented drinks and foods will add the yeast to kick-start the fermentation process.

Initially, the role of yeast in fermentation was not well understood, and it is only in the last hundred years or so that people got to know specifically how it works.

Before then, the bakers and brewers used to rely on spontaneous fermentation, where wild yeasts would turn sugar into alcohol under specific conditions.

So, the spontaneous fermentation of ingredients such as yeast is why most drinks and foods contain alcohol in them.

This is the reason why alcohol-free bear contains a little alcohol or ethanol.

It, however, ranges from tiny amounts of 0% ABV or alcohol by volume, which is often labelled as having no more than 0.05% alcohol.

It is, however, still labelled as alcohol-free or non-alcoholic in many countries.

So, this is a good reason why one would prevent alcohol-free beer altogether if they wish to avoid alcohol completely.

However, it is pretty tricky to avoid alcohol as it is available in many other everyday foods and drinks.

Which specific foods contain alcohol?

Okay, with that introduction to alcohol in foods, you must be wondering which specific foods usually contain alcohol.

The University of Kaiserslautern in Germany researched this specific topic.

They aimed to identify just how much ethanol people were exposed to, especially children, in the everyday foods and drinks they consumed.

They published their results in the Analytical Toxicology Journal, and this is what they found.

How much alcohol is in everyday foods?

  • Bugger rolls were found to contain 1.28 ABV, which means there was up to 1.28g per 100g of each bugger roll.
  • Rye bread contained 0.18% ABV, which adds up to 0.18 g per every 100 g of the bread.
  • Ripe bananas contained up to 0.2% ABV, which adds up to 0.2g per every 100g of the bananas.
  • Extra ripe bananas with dark bits were found to contain up to 0.4% ABV, which adds up to 0.4g per 100g of the bananas.
  • Ripe Pears was 0.4% ABV, which adds up to 0.4g per 100g of the pears.
  • Cherry yoghurt contains up to 0.02% ABV, which means 0.02g per every 100 g of yoghurt.
  • How much alcohol is in vinegar and drinks?

    Please note that this study looked into the amount of alcohol in drinks and vinegar per gram of a litre. This is why they did not specify the exact weight of the alcohol per item as before.

    We, therefore, cannot know the exact ABV or alcohol by volume for each product listed below.

  • Apple juice contains up to 0.66g for each litre, although this is the average as most of the tested brands had up to 0.2 g per litre.
  • White wine vinegar – this one contains up to 2.64 per litre
  • Orange juice is a popular breakfast addition consumed by almost all families and contains up to 0.76g per litre.
  • Grape juice is another common occurrence on the table. It contains up to 0.86g per litre.
  • For a complete comparison, every 330ml bottle of 0.05% beer usually contains around 0.1g of alcohol.

    How much is in flavours and extracts?

    Natural or pure extracts or even artificial ones usually contain some amount of alcohol in them.

    The pure vanilla extract must have at least 35% of alcohol, as per US laws. They, however, usually have way more.

    Extracts are usually made from plant products or plants, but flavours are not.

    Here are some examples of the flavours and extracts that contain alcohol in them:

    • All extracts from McCormick have alcohol as the main ingredient.
    • All the Neilson-Massey extracts – Pure Almond contain 90% alcohol.
    • The Extracts from Taylor & Colledge – The Lemon extracts have alcohol as the second and most crucial ingredient.
    • The Vanilla extract from Simple truth contains alcohol as the second ingredient.
    • Watkins Mint Extract – pure, has 88% alcohol.
    • The Banana flavoured Kroger imitation has got 48% alcohol content.
    • All Angostura bitters contain 45% alcohol.
    • Pure Almond Extract from Harris Teeter – contains 32% alcohol.
    • Coconut flavoured Kroger Imitation – contains 26% alcohol.
    • Lavender extract paste from Taylor & Colledge contains 20% alcohol.

    How much alcohol is in cooking wine?

    All cooking wines usually have very high amounts of salt to transform them into non-beverage wines.

    This is how much alcohol you should expect from your everyday cooking wine:

    • Holland House Marsala – this one contains between 17% and 17.5% alcohol.
    • Edmundo Golden – this one contains between 10.5% and 11% of alcohol.
    • Holland House White – this one contains between 10.5% and 11% alcohol.

    How much alcohol is in vinegar?

    Vinegar usually has between 0.3% and 0.4% of alcohol. This alcohol usually reduces the astringency and sharpness of the vinegar.

    The European Union has got rules that limit the alcohol content in vinegar to 0.5% only. But wine vinegar has more and can reach up to 1%.

    How much alcohol is in mustard?

    Mustard typically contains wine or some other type of alcohol. Here are the specifics:

    • Grey Poupon Mustard – Contains white wine.
    • Sir Kensington Dijon mustard – Contains white wine.
    • Inglehoffer Original Stone Ground mustard – Contains both white and red wine.
    • Lakeshore whole grain mustard - Contains Irish whiskey.
    • Stone Brewing Co. – this mustard contains beer.
    • Anarchy in jar mustard – the seeds of this are soaked in beer.

    How much alcohol is found in soy sauce and other sauces?

    There is alcohol in almost all soy sauces. Here’s how much you should expect:

    All soy sauces from Kikkoman contain about 1.5% - 2% alcohol.

    The following contains alcohol in different quantities:

    • Kikkoman Teriyaki
    • Truvia Organic Sweetener
    • Mitsukan Marin Seasoning
    • P.F Chang Teriyaki
    • Tonton Kobe BBQ
    • La Choy Teriyaki
    • Tonton Hibachi
    • F. Cooking Spray

    Which soft drinks contain alcohol?

    Well, it’s hard to imagine that your sweet soft drink contains alcohol. But this is true. Here are the most common soft drinks with varying amounts of alcohol in them.

    • Caffeine-Free diet coke
    • A&W Root Beer
    • Canada Dry Ginger Ale
    • Calistoga Lemon Flavour
    • Diet Cherry 7-up
    • Coca-Cola
    • Diet Sprite
    • Diet Dr Pepper
    • Elliott’s Lemonade
    • Elliott’s Brewed Ice Tea
    • Lemon-Lime Slice
    • Hawaiian Punch
    • Orange Crème
    • Mountain Dew
    • Second Wind Sports Drink
    • Original Diet 7-Up
    • Tropicana Fruit Punch
    • Second Wind Sports
    • Veryfine Papaya Punch

    Alcohol was also found in the following drinks:

    • Langers Raspberry Lemonade
    • Fanta Orange
    • V8 Splash Lemonade
    • Langers Fruit Punch

    Other foods that contain alcohol:

    • Beer-batters and beer bread
    • Bordelaise, béarnaise, and other such sauces
    • Fruit cake and black forest often contain different amounts of alcohol
    • Compotes
    • Champagne-flavoured jams
    • Dessert glazes
    • Fondue
    • Flambé desserts, such as banana foster, cherries, etc. (These contain very high levels of alcohol)
    • Liqueur or flavour filled chocolates
    • Kombucha
    • Cooking Sprays from PAM usually contain alcohol, although not all of them do. Most other cooking sprays have alcohol.
    • De-alcoholised wines and non-alcoholised wines and beers (These contain between 0.5% and 1% of alcohol).
    • Wine flavoured pates and cheeses
    • Tiramisu

    What are the most common myths about cooking with alcohol?

    Now, contrary to what most people believe, alcohol doesn’t evaporate when it is heated.

    According to studies, as much as 2/3 of alcohol will remain after 20 minutes of cooking.

    The actual amount that burns off will depend on the method of cooking used or how long it is cooked.

    When you add the alcohol after cooking, then 100% of the alcohol will remain in the food.

    There are high chances that when you leave alcohol entirely from the recipe, it will not change the flavour of the food.

    Alcohol only plays an integral part in cooking, and you can experiment with other substitutes.

    It is even possible to develop some flavourful recipes that are alcohol-free, especially for desserts.

    Conclusion

    Everyone must take responsibility for their well-being. One thing you should always endeavour to do is read the labels when buying different foods.

    They will most often have a list of ingredients, such as alcohol and the percentage content.

    But, it’s also good to be considerate when entertaining and always have some alcohol-free drinks and items on the menu.

    Also, you could add some alcoholic products for those who would love them. Give everyone options.

    Last Updated: July 6, 2021

    About the author

    Peter Szczepanski

    Peter has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. Find Peter on Respiratory Academy, Aston University graduates, University of Birmingham, Q, Pharmaceutical Journal, the Dudley Pharmaceutical Committee, Dudley Council, Twitter, and LinkedIn.