Pairing Food With Bourbon: 14 Sublime Flavor Combos

Don't stop at just enjoying your bourbon on the rocks or neat. Pair it with foods that make out-of-this-world combos.

Published March 26, 2023
steak & bourbon

You're sitting on the couch, eyeing that bottle of bourbon and contemplating what else you can enjoy that bourbon with. Spoiler alert: it doesn't need to be an expensive cut of steak (but it can be). It can be a snack or an app. Grab some ice, grab a glass, let's get pairing food with bourbon.



Salty prosciutto is right at home next to bourbon. The flavors of prosciutto don't hide and bourbon doesn't overpower this delicate bite. Silky smooth, the prosciutto mirrors the silky, buttery flavors you'll find in an oaky bourbon. Want something a little bolder? Consider a bite, or six, of salami. Yes, you can enjoy this on a water cracker for that crunch too.

Hard Cheese

bourbon & cheese

You want the cheese to be as bold and bodied as the bourbon you're enjoying. Think aged cheddar or gouda. The Dutch make a mean cheese, so go for an aged gouda that punches in the same class as the bourbon. Otherwise, the flavors are lost. The fatty dairy cheeses mellow out the bite of the bourbon, so you can keep going back for more. Oh, and those nutty cheeses? An absolute win. Think pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano.


ribeye steak

Alright, there is more to bourbon pairings than steak, but here's the thing: you can't ignore what's obviously delicious, and this meaty bourbon pairing is. The marbled fat of the steak softens the bite of the bourbon, but the bite of the bourbon keeps the rich steak from being overwhelming. Perhaps to a fault. It's hard not to finish your steak with a bourbon in hand. Someone pass an antacid.


bourbon & chocolate

Milk chocolate and bourbon may not be the first idea you have, but a melty candy bar is a great complement to your bourbon. Grab a classic chocolate bar, a chocolate Easter bunny, or a layered chocolate candy bar and nibble between sips of bourbon for a combo that'll ignite the senses.

If you want sweet and bitter, dark chocolate is the answer. The bite in both snack and drink keeps the sweet flavors from being too overpowering. Although, truthfully, it's the bitterness of the dark chocolate that makes the sweet notes of the bourbon really pop.

Fresh Berries

fresh berries

You smash your bourbon with berries for a cocktail, so why not turn that into a nice little snack, too? Enjoy those berries straight alongside your bourbon, enjoying raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, or any other berries you've got laying around. Dig into those berries in a pie, as a fruit tart, or mixed into ice cream. However you like to enjoy berries, it'll be smashing with bourbon.

Carrot Cake

carrot cake

Don't forget the cream cheese frosting when you serve up your bourbon with a hearty slice of carrot cake. With or without walnuts, this savory-sweet-savory pairing is out of this world. Carrot cake is an excellent balance of sweet and savory - you can't make a vegetable dessert without it being a touch savory - with bourbon's own bite of savory and soft sweet caramel. The carrot cake amplifies the existing bourbon profile.



You can't escape the fatty, smoky meat flavors when you're pairing bourbon. Close your eyes and imagine the smoked flavors of the brisket rushing over you, the sharpness of the black pepper in the rub, and the melting fat as you bite into the brisket. When you reach for a drink to bring it all together, it's not beer or wine you want, it's sweet, oaky bourbon.

Burger and Sliders


Bourbon on ice, bourbon neat, bourbon in a drink, bourbon and burgers are a dynamic duo. More classic than Batman and Robin. Sure, Jimmy Buffet sings about enjoying his cheeseburger in paradise with a cold draft beer, but no one wants a beer taking up the space of bourbon when you're chowing down on a cheesy, greasy, grilled burger. Just as the bourbon balances the fat in the ribeye, it balances the rich, greasy flavors in your favorite cheeseburger. I'm suddenly starving.

Bacon Jam

bacon jam

Smear this sweet and salty jam on a burger or cracker, perhaps with some prosciutto, or give your chicken a little extra pop. Bourbon and bacon play well together because of the smoky, fatty flavors of the bacon that'll smooth the bite of the bourbon but bring out those caramel notes. And if you add a hint of maple to that bacon jam? Game over. You'll never go back to enjoying bourbon with any other spread.



Bourbon may not be the first thought when pairing with salmon. If you're not yet ready to part with your white wine and salmon pairing, consider enjoying the fatty, light salmon with a creamy pasta dish. And bourbon. The dish will soften the bourbon, while the bourbon draws out the sweet flavors.



Plain or salted caramel hits the mark when you're sipping whiskey. Drizzle caramel sauce over a vanilla cheesecake or snack on caramel candies. Enjoy alongside a batch of caramel brownies or even salty caramel popcorn. Caramel and bourbon go hand in hand. Why? Those caramel notes amplify each other over and over.

Crème Brûlée

creme brulee

Smooth, toasted custard and sugar make for a perfect match with a bit of bourbon, whether you enjoy it on the rocks or in a cocktail - although perhaps pick a Manhattan over an old-fashioned to keep the combo from being too cloying.


caprese salad

The classic and beloved caprese salad. With basil, mozzarella, balsamic, and tomato. And, no, pairing this salad with bourbon doesn't make it taste overly acidic either. Think of this pairing as a match made for summer vibes. If you're hesitant, hold back on the tomato and balsamic a little and make the basil the star of this caprese.

Fried Chicken Sandwich

fried chicken sandwich

Salty and crunchy fried chicken sandwiches, obviously with a buttery brioche bun, make for a striking match alongside any glass of bourbon or bourbon cocktail. What's more Southern than fried chicken and some bourbon? Steer clear of a spicy blend and opt for a fried chicken sandwich with a smooth, smokey, or BBQ flavor.

Skip the Spicy

Bourbon and spicy don't play as well together as you might hope. The bite in the bourbon too closely mirrors the spice and bite from those hot wings, making for a less-than-ideal experience. But if you're someone who is a glutton for pain, go ahead, but tread lightly.

Tips for Bourbon Food Pairing

Your bourbon, any bourbon, will be waiting for you when you're ready for a bite or a snack. Like wine, not all bourbons are made the same. From a personal charcuterie to a burger dinner shared with friends, that bourbon will shine. Give your softer bourbons a chance to pop by pairing those with lighter flavors, but go big and bold (but not spicy!) with your bourbons that have a strong bite. But, most importantly, your favorite pairing isn't defined by a set of rules. Whatever you like best is what matters most.

Bourbon and Bites

A sip of bourbon for you, oh, and a bite for you too! With lunch, dinner, a snack to go with a movie, or, you know, while you're grazing and deciding what exactly you're going to have for dinner. Bourbon is for more than just steak. It's for blue-collar, white-collar, and every food in between.

Pairing Food With Bourbon: 14 Sublime Flavor Combos