What Foods Pair Well With Bourbon?

What goes well with bourbon

What food goes well with bourbon?

Here are snacks, finger foods, cheeses, fruits, meats, and other food that goes well with bourbon.

But first …

What Foods To Avoid With Bourbon

Bourbon may sometimes clash with certain foods. You may want to avoid these contrasting pairings.

  • Very Spicy: Some spicy foods (like BBQ chicken wings) can pair well with bourbon. But avoid overwhelming the palate with overly spicy foods because of the strong reaction it can create.
  • Overly Sweet: Desserts that are too sweet can make it difficult to appreciate the complexity of bourbon. Choose a dessert that has a balance of sweetness and richness, like dark chocolate or caramel.
  • Acidic: Vinegary dressings and sauces can clash with bourbon.
  • Light and Delicate: Bourbon is a bold and complex spirit, choose foods that have bold flavors and textures like steak, pork, or strong cheeses.

What Goes Well With Bourbon?

Here are foods that pair perfectly with bourbon.

Snacks & Finger Foods That Go Well With Bourbon

Sometimes a full meal is too much, too heavy or just not what you or your guests are in the mood for.

From the lighter side of things – here are nuts, fruits, cheeses, pretzels, popcorn, and other appetizers are always good options to pair with bourbon.


Fruit and bourbon is a classic combination.

  • Fresh Fruits: Peaches, apples, pears, pineapples, blueberries, strawberries and other tart fruits, are a much better option, and can really help bring out the natural flavors in your whiskey.
  • Dried Fruits: Any dried fruit with a good chewiness adds a dark sweetness that make them a perfect snack to nibble on while sipping.

What dried fruit goes with bourbon?

  • Cherries
  • Plums
  • Cranberries
  • Apricots
  • Pineapple
  • Apple
  • Figs
  • Dates

How long can you leave fruit in bourbon? As a good rule of thumb, 3 days is perfect for fruit infusions. 

Fruit Juices

What fruit juice goes with bourbon cocktails?

Fruit juice mixers are a great option to pair with bourbon drinks. Citrus juices like lemon, orange, and grapefruit, go well with bourbon cocktails.

Also, fruit juices like peaches and pear can bizarrely complement the smoothness and oaky-ness of bourbon.


Bourbon and cheese are a great pair.

Pick a fatty, nutty, and smooth cheese that matches the bourbon’s intensity. The fat will balance the sweetness and burn from the bourbon.

  • Aged cheddar
  • Gouda
  • Blue cheese
  • Creamy Gruyere
  • Roquefort
  • Brie
  • Camembert


Many appetizers go well with bourbon. These foods are easy and allow bourbon to shine.

  • Cheese and crackers
  • Pistachios
  • Pecans
  • Classic deviled egg
  • Olives
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn

Foods with a fatty, buttery, briny flavor profile and crunchy texture make great snacks to nibble on while sipping bourbon.

Meats That Go Well With Bourbon

Enjoy your bourbon with steak, pork, game meat, poultry, and seafood.

White meats like pork, bacon, and heavy fishes like smoked catfish make delicate but delicious flavor combinations.

Coating your mouth with fatty meats can elevate the flavors in bourbon.


Steak is a classic meat that pairs great with bourbon. Fatty steaks like rib eye are perfect.

The richness and bold flavor of the steak complements the complexity of the bourbon, while the charred notes of the steak enhance the smoky notes in the bourbon. 


Pork is another meat that pairs well with bourbon.

White meats like pork or bacon make for a delicious flavor combination. Salami, pepperoni, and smoked ham are perfect.

Lamb & Venison

The earthy flavors of lam and venison complement the complexity of bourbon, while enhancing the smoky notes in the bourbon. 


Bourbon and BBQ are a match made in heaven.

Whether you’re enjoying ribs, pulled pork, or brisket, make sure to have a glass of bourbon on hand.

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie and bourbon is a stick-to-your-ribs classic for fall and early winter.

Jazz it up by adding bacon bits. The salty flavor goes beautifully with bourbon.


Chicken can be prepared in many different ways, making it a versatile option for bourbon pairings.

Whether you’re enjoying fried chicken, smoky grilled chicken, spicy chicken wings, or sweet chicken, there is a bourbon that will complement the flavor.


Turkey is a classic poultry option that pairs well with bourbon.

The richness and bold flavor of the turkey complement the complexity of the bourbon, while the smoky and charred notes of the turkey enhance the smoky notes in the bourbon.


Duck is a rich and flavorful poultry option that pairs well with bourbon. The bold and gamey flavors of the duck complement the complexity of the bourbon, while the smoky and charred notes of the meat enhance the smoky notes in the bourbon.


While seafood may not be the most common pairing for bourbon, there are still some great options to consider.

Heavy fishes like fatty salmon and smoked catfish make a delicate but delicious flavor combination with bourbon. The bold flavors of these fish are complemented by the smoky and charred notes in the bourbon.

Some other seafood options that pair well with bourbon include shrimp, oysters, and crab. Their flavors complement the complexity of bourbon.

Desserts & Sweets That Pair With Bourbon

Bourbon pairs especially well with desserts like pecan pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate mousse, bread pudding, and crème brûlée.

Anything with maple syrup or corn works well too.

Related: 27 Best Jack Daniel’s Dessert Recipes

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is another great option to pair with bourbon.

Its bitterness helps to balance out the sweetness of the bourbon. I recommend pairing bourbon with dark chocolate that has a high percentage of cocoa, such as 70% or higher.

The high fat content of white chocolate can also tame the heat of bourbon.


Caramel is also a great option to pair with bourbon.

Its sweetness complements the sweetness of the bourbon, while its buttery notes add a richness to the flavor profile.

Cocktail Mixers That Go Well With Bourbon

Ahead to discover a the best cocktail mixers that go well with bourbon!

1. Water

If you’re looking to enjoy a perfect bourbon drink, sometimes it’s best not to overcomplicate things. A simple splash or two of H2O can be all it takes.

You can customize the strength of your drink by gradually adding water until you reach your desired taste.

2. Coke

Bourbon and Coke is a classic combo. Despite older generations’ dislike for mixing bourbon, modern drinkers embrace it.

Jack & Coke is a very popular bourbon cocktail.

Related: 20 Best Jack Daniel’s Cocktails

3. Sour Mix

Sour mix is a pre-mixed concoction of citrusy sour flavor and sweetness.

If you’re looking for a hassle-free, almost instant way to create the trifecta of sweet, sour, and smoke in a bourbon sour, sour mix is the way to go.

Related: 20 Best Spring Bourbon Cocktails to Sip On This Season

4. Ginger Beer

Bourbon and ginger beer are a match made in heaven. Ginger beer’s spicy flavor adds a nice kick to the sweet and smoky bourbon.

It’s perfect for making a Kentucky Mule, a twist on the Moscow Mule.

5. Apple Cider

Apple cider is a classic fall drink, and it pairs perfectly with bourbon.

The sweetness of the cider and the smokiness of the bourbon create a warm and cozy drink that’s perfect for chilly evenings.

Related: 11 Best Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktails

6. Coffee

Bourbon and coffee make a great combo.

The rich and smooth coffee flavor complements the smoky taste of bourbon.

7. Lemonade

Bourbon and lemonade are a refreshing duo.

It’s perfect for a hot summer day or a porch hang.

8. Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice and bourbon make a surprisingly delicious drink.

It’s perfect for making a Bourbon Cranberry Sour. And for fall-inspired bourbon cocktails.

9. Grapefruit Juice

With its perfect level of sourness, grapefruit juice is a great mixer for bourbon cocktails, such as the Penicillin.

10. Orange Juice

Orange juice adds some dimension and viscosity to smoky bourbon.

11. Bitters

Depending on which digestive bitter is used, the flavors of bourbon can be led in many directions, adding various notes like thyme, anise, mint, cola, and caramel.

12. Sparkling Water

Seltzer is a neutral, flavorless fizzy drink that does little to alter bourbon’s intrinsic flavors.

Different types of sparkling water, such as club soda, sparkling mineral water, tonic water, and seltzer, can be paired with bourbon to create different flavor experiences like a bourbon Rickey.

13. Ginger Ale

Ginger ale makes an easy 2-ingredient bourbon cocktail that it taste great and mixes up fast!

14. Sprite

The lemon-lime flavors in Sprite or 7-up provide all the qualities of lemonade and club soda combined.

This sweet, sour, and fizzy mixer is a staple mixer for bartenders.

You Might Like These Bourbon Cocktail Recipes

Bourbon Flavor Profile

Bourbon has a flavor profile all its own.

What does bourbon taste like exactly? There are 9 common tasting notes found in bourbon:

  1. vanilla
  2. wood and nuts
  3. fruit
  4. sweets
  5. baking spices
  6. floral
  7. herbaceous
  8. earthy
  9. smoky

Bourbon Food Pairing FAQs

What should I eat before drinking bourbon?

Eat potassium-rich foods prior to drinking. Avocado, potatoes, milk, and yogurt are high in potassium and great to consume before drinking.

Does salad go well with bourbon?

a romaine wedge salad with a creamy dill dressing. Or try a fatty and bold blue cheese dressing and bacon with your salad while sipping on bourbon.

Written by Gina Elizabeth

Hey there! I'm Gina. I’m not a foodie, but I love eating. I share recipes with people who LOVE delicious food :) Let's eat!