A Sweet, Sticky, Spicy Bourbon Glaze

Recipe Pin
35 minutes
12 servings, about 1 cup

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A Sweet, Sticky, Spicy Bourbon Glaze adds a unique sweet-salty-savory ‘Umami’ component to grilled meats, fish, and shellfish that will WOW you into adding it to your arsenal of recipes. This is a kickin’ condiment for everything grilled!

A metal saucepan with a spoon dripping thick, dark brown sauce.

This sweet, sticky, and slightly spicy glaze is a versatile flavor bomb that elevates everything from grilled proteins and veggies to oven-baked dishes. Made with brown sugar, tangy Dijon and whole grain mustard, fiery ginger, and of course, bourbon, it delivers a unique blend of sweet, savory, and spicy notes. Garlic adds another layer of complexity, while red pepper flakes allow you to customize the heat level.

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Earmark this crazy-delicious bourbon glaze for everything, as it’s perfect for summer cooking. It’s fantastic on chicken, fish, steaks, vegetables, and even ribs. You can use it as a basting sauce or a dipping sauce. It’s so versatile that it can even replace jams or barbecue sauce in other recipes.

And besides the hot, hot temperatures, it’s summer. My time is better spent with a cocktail in-hand, poolside, than with an apron on. I want ‘dinner party quality, with everyday easy’ dishes that look beautiful and taste AMAZING. A Sweet, Sticky, Spicy Bourbon Glaze is my go-to fabulous finishing sauce for…well, everything. I love it on Grilled Chicken Drumsticks, Oven-Baked Ribs, and for dipping this Baked Chicken Sandwich!

A saucepan on a marble surface contains a mixture of granulated and liquid ingredients.
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Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Quick and Easy – The glaze comes together in just 15 minutes on the stovetop, making it a perfect weeknight meal solution.

Make-ahead friendly – Whisk the ingredients together and simmer. The glaze thickens further after removing from the heat, allowing you to make it in advance for even faster meals.

Versatile Flavor Bomb – This glaze goes beyond chicken and fish. It adds a unique sweet, salty, and savory ‘umami’ punch to everyday proteins like grilled or smoked tomahawk chops, pork tenderloins, and even spiral-baked ham.

One Pan Wonder – Simplify cleanup! This recipe requires minimal cookware, making it a breeze to prepare and clean up after.

Ingredients for Sticky Bourbon Glaze

The basics of bourbon are as follows: any bourbon will work here, no need to break the bank 😉

The image includes bourbon, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, honey, ginger, red pepper flakes, apple cider vinegar, whole grain mustard, garlic cloves, and brown sugar.
  • Bourbon Whiskey – Spicy, oaky with notes of vanilla, caramel, and sometimes fruit – depending on the type. As it reduces on the stove, it takes on the olfactory nuances of whatever wood it was casked in which makes things VERY INTERESTING!
  • Dark Brown sugar – Deep, rich sweetness with a hint of molasses.
  • Dijon mustard – Sharp, tangy, and pungent with a horseradish-like bite.
  • Whole grain Dijon mustard – Similar to Dijon mustard but with a coarser texture and milder heat – due to the mustard seeds.
  • Worcestershire sauce – Savory, umami-rich with hints of soy sauce, vinegar, anchovies, and tamarind.
  • Honey – Floral sweetness with a slight buttery flavor.
  • Minced ginger – Pungent, spicy, and slightly sweet with a citrusy aroma.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Tangy with a sharp acidity and a hint of apple flavor.
  • Minced garlic – Sharp, pungent, and garlicky with a mellowing sweetness – when cooked.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes – Hot, spicy with varying degrees of heat. Does dissipate slightly during the reducing process.
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See recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.


A stainless steel bowl containing brown sugar, minced garlic, mustard, crushed red pepper, and a liquid.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Deeper richer flavor – Swap the honey for molasses or real maple syrup for a more intense sweetness.
  • Smoky infusion – Add smoked red chilis while the sauce simmers for a touch of smoke.
  • Boozy variations – Experiment with rum, cognac, or even a dark beer instead of bourbon for a unique glaze.
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This recipe has not been tested with other substitutions or variations. If you replace or add any ingredients, please let us know how it turned out in the comments below!


Step By Step Instructions

The initial taste is pure brown sugar bliss, but don’t be fooled – the red pepper flakes sneak in a pleasant surprise. The beauty of this recipe? It’s a one-pan wonder, ready to coat your food just 15 minutes post-assembly.

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Tip: Make A Double Batch

Store it in the refrigerator for up to a week – you’re welcome!


A saucepan contains brown sugar, mustard, soy sauce, and other ingredients. Honey is being poured into the mixture.

Step 1. Add all ingredients to a small saucepan. Have a whisk at the ready. Set the saucepan over medium heat, and simmer the mixture, whisking frequently until the sugar has dissolved, anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes. You don’t want to boil the mixture, but you do want a medium simmer.

The left image depicts a hand whisking ingredients in a saucepan. The right image shows the sauce simmering with visible spices and chopped ingredients.

Step 2. Continue to gently simmer the glaze, whisking occasionally, until it has reduced by half, 12 to 15 minutes. Monitor your temperature – you want the liquid to reduce but you don’t want it to burn.

Two images showing a metal pot and spoon. The left image depicts a liquid with floating particles, while the right image shows a thicker, darker sauce dripping from the spoon.

Step 3. Cool for at least 15 minutes before using. This rest after cooking is crucial. This lets the sauce thicken into a glorious, sticky glaze that clings beautifully to your food. Picture that perfect caramelized “bark” on your grilled salmon or chicken – this sauce is the secret weapon behind it! The sauce will thicken upon standing to where it will coat a spoon, be viscous, yet remain pourable.

How to Use Sweet Bourbon Glaze

This glaze is a total chameleon!  Brush it on grilled shrimp, chicken, salmon, or pork tenderloin to wake up the otherwise mundane.  It’s also fantastic on grilled veggies like asparagus or onions and adds a fiery punch to sausages and brats.

Pairings – This sauce goes down easy with a variety of drinks.

  • Beer lovers can grab a crisp pilsner or a smoky porter.
  • Wine drinkers, opt for a juicy Zinfandel or a bold Malbec.
  • An Apricot Bourbon Fizz is always a classic choice.

Storage Instructions

Store in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to a week – perfect for whipping up a quick and flavorful weeknight dinner.

Jenny’s Pro Tips

  • Mustard Magic – The combination of Dijon and whole-grain mustard adds depth and a touch of heat. Feel free to adjust the ratio for a stronger or milder mustard flavor.
  • Spice Control – Start with a small amount of red pepper flakes and taste as you go. You can always add more heat, but you can’t take it away!
  • Glaze Consistency – Aim for a thick, syrupy consistency for optimal coating on your protein. If the glaze seems too thin, simmer it for a few additional minutes.

Recipe FAQs

What type of bourbon should I use?

You don’t necessarily need a top-shelf bourbon, but a mid-range option offers more complex flavors.

How thick should the sauce be?

The ideal consistency is thick and syrupy, allowing it to coat the food well.

What can I use the sauce on besides chicken and fish?

This sauce is versatile and can be used on tofu, vegetables, or even spiral-baked ham. It’s KILLER as a dipping sauce for chicken fingers!

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After trying this recipe, I would love to hear your thoughts! Consider leaving a star rating in the recipe card located below or sharing your feedback in the comment section. Your reviews and comments are highly valued and appreciated.

A spoon is dripping with a thick brown sauce over a pot filled with the same substance. The sauce contains visible spices and herbs.

A Sweet, Sticky, Spicy Bourbon Glaze

Jenny DeRemer
A Sweet, Sticky, Spicy Bourbon Glaze adds a unique sweet-salty-savory 'Umami' component to grilled meats, fish, and shellfish that will WOW you into adding it to your arsenal of recipes.
4.62 from 117 votes
Servings: 12 servings, about 1 cup
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Condiment, Sauce
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 12 servings, about 1 cup
Calories 91 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • ¾ cup Bourbon
  • cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon **crushed red pepper flakes **Remember that you can easily add but you cannot take away! Begin with 1/4 teaspoon, taste, and add as needed as the sauce reduces.

Instructions
 

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the bourbon, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, honey, Dijon mustard, ginger, vinegar, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt.
    ¾ cup Bourbon, ⅔ cup light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard, 1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon minced ginger, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1 clove garlic, finely minced, ¼ to ½ teaspoon **crushed red pepper flakes
  • Simmer the mixture, whisking frequently until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Continue to gently simmer the glaze, without whisking, until it has reduced by half, 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Cool for at least 15 minutes before using. Sauce will thicken upon standing.

Notes

A Note About Bourbon – any bourbon works in this recipe. As it reduces on the stove, it takes on the olfactory nuances of whatever wood it was casked in which could include woody, smoky, buttery, or fruity. 
Storing – pour into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate up to 7 days. 
Canning and Preserving – use a water bath canning method to preserve it for longer storage.

The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.

Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 91kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 0.2gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.01gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.03gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 253mgPotassium: 43mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 16IUVitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 15mgIron: 0.3mg
Did you love this recipe?Leave a comment and Let me know how it was!

4.62 from 117 votes (96 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




50 Comments

    1. Rachel, absolutely YES. Have I done it so far? No. IF YOU KNOW HOW TO CAN, I would first begin by small-batching this recipe using a few different varieties of bourbon to make sure you like the way it tastes in the sauce. Mini bottles work great for testing. Keep in mind this sauce is great when it’s reheated the next day, so taste it a couple of times. Only then would I use the ‘SERVINGS’ calculator I provide in the recipe card to adjust the ingredient measurements. The only reader to share with me her results used a full bottle of Bourbon. She based measurements of all other ingredients on the amount of liquor in the size bottle she decided to go with. I think she told me she yielded 14 full-sized Mason jars of canned sauce. It seems like a lot, but she gifted some of it, sent me a jar ( 😉 ), and her family smoked and grilled with the rest. The jar she sent to me was even better than I’d imagined!

      If you try this Rachel, I would love to learn the specifics of your method, what Bourbon you select and why, and how many jars you yield. x – Jenny

    1. Karen, this is so kind of you to take the time to let me know how you enjoyed this glaze. Thank you! We are using tonight in fact on wings on the grill. 😉 Jenny

  1. I made this with chicken wings and it was amazing. The family loved it. Cant wait to try it on pork chops, and ribs and also shrimp!5 stars

    1. Meg, I just ordered a wing thing-ma-jiggy for my barrel smoker. I cannot wait for it to arrive so I can prepare wings with this glaze as they smoke. Happy you enjoyed, Meg 🙂 Jenny

  2. Used it as a bourbon glaze for our chicken and it turned out really really good. It is sweet, a little salty and mildly spicy, I’m totally obsessed! Can’t wait to try it with other dishes!5 stars