12 Ways To Cook With Rum

Making a home-cooked meal while drinking rum is common—a sweet and smoky taste on your palette before a freshly sauteed chicken or a creamy pasta is every foodie's dream. Make your time in the kitchen more exciting by cooking with rum. You can add some oomph to your meals and make anything from pasta to cheesecake.

You can cook with other types of alcohol, but rum specifically pairs nicely with meats to tone down their potent flavor, with sweets to enhance their tastiness. It can be useful in deglazing pans — deglazing is a fancy way of cleaning pans when you hate doing dishes, using alcohol on hot pans releases stuck bits of food, helping to create a gravy to pour over the meat you cooked. From marinating meals to making boozy desserts, here are several ways to bring some liquid courage into your kitchen.

Use rum as a marinade

Your drink order says a lot about you; in this case, it says you're ready to make your next rum-infused dish. When you order a rum and coke from your local bar, take note of what ingredients the bartender uses — the spicy kick of rum couples with the sweetness of coke to balance out the salt and tartness in your savory dishes. So, instead of drinking that rum and coke, season your food with it.

If rum and coke isn't your go-to drink, that's fine, too. Marinating your food with rum alone will still ensure a flavor-packed dinner without alcohol overpowering your meal. Cooking burns out alcohol, although not fully. Still, you won't get tipsy off the marinade you use. Combine rum with ingredients like soy sauce, olive oil, cinnamon, garlic, honey — think smoky, sweet flavors to complement the nectarous tastes in the fermentation and distillation processes of making rum.

Enhance the flavor of your protein

Though you likely won't burn it all out — according to a study by the United States Department of Agriculture, which said food with alcohol retains 40 percent of it after simmering for 15 minutes—burning out alcohol can help pair your meat of choice with your rum flavor. Whether you prefer light or dark rum, "you can get a stronger or lighter flavor after the alcohol is completely evaporated," Angel Roque, executive chef at Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, told Liquor.com. (Fun fact: Cuba Libres are very similar to rum and cokes, the only difference being the lime juice is added into the Cuba Libre, while it's garnish in a rum and coke.)

Pairing your rum with the right dish is crucial, especially after the alcohol burns out. Lighter rums (usually used in pina coladas) make for a good couplet with seafood because they're not heavy on the palette and they add sweetness; they are a subtle alcoholic addition to your meal. Try this recipe for butter rum shrimp or scallops to taste how burning the alcohol out of a lighter rum can enhance your seafood dishes.

Darker rums are great for grilling or roasting meats. The richness and caramel undertones team up with the nutty, gamey taste of a delicious steak or rack of lamb, and the smokiness of the rum will be the charred flavors' best friend.

What's a little dinner without some dessert?

You don't have to just cook with rum ... you can also bake with it! From cookies to pound cake to bread pudding, there are plenty of ways to satisfy your sweet tooth by sprinkling a little rum from the bottle onto your baking sheets. Combine your after-dinner drink with your after-dinner snack by trying a mojito cupcake — a tangy, sweet, packs-a-punch bite — or a classic, decadent chocolate rum cake — covered in warm rum at the end to really make you nostalgic for a glass — or any myriad of desserts you can incorporate rum into.

Spiced rums are good for all things sweet — this type of rum is just the warm and cozy taste you need to end your night with. Dessert is arguably the best part of any meal — and baking with booze will add flavor and change the consistency of your baked goods. Rum adds nutty and vanilla tastes to your desserts, but be careful — any alcohol you add to a baked item has acidity that could mess up the structure of the thing you're baking. This means if you're making a layered cake, for example, adding too much rum could make for a less stable stacked treat. Rum works best if thought of as an extract (like vanilla extract) that can add an elevated touch to any simple dessert you can think of.

Caramelize your favorite fruit with rum

For a sweet treat after a barbecue, try using rum to caramelize bananas. Make a rum butter by mixing butter, rum, and your favorite spices; if you've got a sweet tooth, use sugar, cinnamon, and honey. Once the butter is your desired consistency, cut your bananas in half the long way and pour or spread the butter over the fruit, allowing the flavor to sink in. On a grill, put the bananas cut side down and allow them to get a char to really lock in that flavor. In the warmth of your kitchen, try slow-cooker bananas foster, cooking the bananas on low for about an hour in a slow cooker. You can serve the caramelized bananas with ice cream for a cold companion, and add your own toppings — common for bananas foster are walnuts and coconut.

If potassium isn't really your jam, make apple turnovers a bit more piquant with some spiced rum. This warm and sweet flaky pastry is perfect for the winter cold. All you have to do is put your apples in a pan, sauté them with butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg — and as always, add any spices you like to make it your own. Add some lemon juice for twang, and pour in the spiced rum for that caramelly taste. For an extra kick, add the rum to your glaze, too; you'll have a delicious, crispy pastry with a sweet, spicy glaze and a delectable caramelized filling for your after-dinner treat.

Flambé your food like a professional chef

If you've seen any Gordon Ramsay show, you know that there's always at least one episode where Ramsay is teaching his cooks to flambé their dishes. Flambéing can be intimidating — since it's all about dealing with fire — but it's a technique that has been around since 1951, when bananas foster became popularized in New Orleans. Chefs have flambéed desserts, meats, and even cocktails. Using rum for your flambé is bound to make you feel like a Michelin-star chef.

Flambéing is essentially just dousing your food (or cocktail) in alcohol — in this case, rum — and tilting it ever so slightly toward the flame so the alcohol catches fire. This allows the food to absorb the caramel flavors of the rum and get a nice char on it simultaneously. Bananas foster is a dessert often flambéed, along with Baked Alaska, and even more often, steaks. It doesn't have to be scary; as long as you have the right materials and measurements, you'll be able to flambé your food safely. It's safest to use wide pans and have your rum pre-measured — as a general rule of thumb in the kitchen, it's always good to have your ingredients measured before making any recipe. This keeps you organized, rather than ping-ponging around the kitchen while your pan is on fire on your stove.

Create a rum sauce for your dish

Sauces are a key part of every meal, whether you're at the drive-through or at your dining table. Pair the smokiness of rum with a sweet ingredient like guava to make a guava and habanero rum sauce. By combining and heating the rum with other spicy ingredients — sriracha or curry powder — and some acidity for a zing of flavor — lemon juice or vinegar — and finally, some calmer flavors to bring balance to the sauce — tomato paste and olive oil — you can create the perfect thick sauce to spread on your burger buns, or if you're a dipper, you can do that, too.

A rum sauce is also really good to use as a marinade, as mentioned earlier, since you're getting all your seasonings and flavors in one creamy consistency that's perfect to brush onto a steak, a rack of ribs, or even lamb chops. If you're not too big a fan of guava, try combining rum with coconut for some added sweetness, like in Hector Rivera's spicy coconut and rum ribs. Rivera is part of Puerto Rico's Grilling and Smoking Society, and these ribs are widely popular with his friends and family. Even without a recipe, there are a myriad of ingredients to combine with rum to make a good sauce. You can combine rum with pineapple juice and mustard for a tang, and with red pepper flakes and chile sauce for an extra peppery taste.

Stay warm and cozy in the winter with rum soup

This winter, if you're in the mood for a warm soup for dinner, try making a boozy soup. Use the deglazing technique mentioned earlier to clean your pan after you finish sautéing some vegetables. The rum can loosen up any stuck bits of food, and you can add in a bit of chicken or vegetable stock, give it time to thicken up, and you'll have a nice and creamy vegetable soup to warm you during your meal. For extra sweetness and thickness, use a coconut rum, like Malibu, to elevate your soup even further.

Or, if you're a fan of classic cultural dishes, try putting a twist on a classic Jamaican dish called goat water. This dish is especially popular on special occasions, like weddings. It's on the thinner side of soups, but it still provides a hefty, homey taste because of the goat meat, potatoes, and hot peppers added to the broth. This recipe is a fun one to try out, as there isn't a single "right" way to make goat water; you can really make it your own, adding whatever veggies you're into and making the spice to your liking. This is where the rum comes in — add a touch of rum to this broth to bring out the spiciness and sweetness in the bell peppers. The nectary taste of the rum will brighten the soup and add to its heartiness.

Give your breakfast a wake-up call

It's the most important meal of the day, so it's important to make it fun. Soak your brioche in a rum-infused egg wash before frying up your French toast. "Rum-infused" doesn't have to sound intimidating. Whenever you scramble your eggs to make your egg wash, add a bit of milk — this adds creaminess to the eggs, especially if you're making scrambled — and a touch of rum into your mixture. Since French toast is often served with fruit, you can add more fruitiness by using coconut rum here, too, and of course, add a touch of cinnamon for a classic French toast taste.

Adding rum to French toast is especially good if you have a grill or griddle on your stove. The rum will achieve an extra char that will lock in the sweetness and caramelize your bread so your French toast doesn't just taste like bread soaked in eggs. You can also mix some rum into your maple syrup for a breakfast topping that will give you a little extra kick in the morning. It is as simple as pouring your maple syrup into a bowl, adding a splash (or a little more) of rum, and stirring until it's all combined. Paired with your rum-infused egg wash, your French toast will surely be uniquely sweet and smoky, and the perfect way to start your day.

Challenge yourself to make a crème brûlée

Crème brûlée is coined as one of the most difficult desserts to make, mostly because of its crunchy top made of caramelized sugar (otherwise, it's pretty much just custard). For this caramelized top, you should add a spoonful of white sugar onto the top of your already-baked-and-set custard, and use either the broiler setting on your oven or a handheld torch to get the sugar nice and toasty and golden brown. The most fun part of crème brûlée is taking your spoon and cracking it against the top, listening to the smash of the sugar right before you taste the vanilla custard.

If you're in the mood for a challenge in the kitchen, try mixing a crème brûlée with eggnog — a classic drink paired with a classic dessert. Eggnog is a popular Christmas drink made of eggs, sugar, milk, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Eggnog has been popular since the 1700s when people drank it with a splash of rum to stay warm. Making eggnog crème brûlée can be pretty simple because crème brûlée is made mainly out of the same ingredients as eggnog — heavy cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Adding in the rum is what gives this crème brûlée a bit of an edge, so you'll be eating a dessert that tastes just like your favorite holiday drink.

Make classic cupcakes with a boozy twist

Any party with a cupcake or a doughnut is a good party, right? These individual, on-the-go treats often disappear from the cake table before the host can even say, "Dig in," and what makes these sweet treats even better is when they're made especially for the adults — with an added splash of rum into the recipe, these desserts can only get better. And of course, so many boozy desserts are inspired by the most popular cocktails, like piña colada cupcakes. The recipe uses rum, coconut extract, and cream of coconut, and like always, you can add your own twist by using coconut rum. Adding rum in the batter will mean your cupcakes are boozy to the core, but have extra fun by mixing a splash of rum into your frosting, too. Since the frosting is arguably the best part of any cake, it's the perfect place for a spike of rum to get the party started.

If you're less of a cake person and more of a doughnut person, you're not alone — doughnuts are one of the most common party foods, just like RumChata liqueur is extremely popular in cocktails. Combining the thin consistency of RumChata — made with rum, cream, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar — with chocolate and bananas, especially the bananas you learned to season and slow cook earlier, you can make the perfect rum-infused donut that's sweet, rich, and indulgent.

Add some history to your cookie jar with Joe Froggers

Deeply rooted in American history, Joe Froggers are the perfect way to bring a slab of the past and the kick of rum onto your kitchen counter. The simple-looking cookie is complex in history and flavor, made with molasses and rum, some of the most pertinent ingredients during America's time as the 13 Colonies. The cookies were thought to be popularized by Lucretia Brown, the wife of an African American Revolutionary War veteran, who made them in an iron skillet. While the origin of the name is unclear, everyone knows that the perfect way to make a Joe Frogger is to combine sweet and spicy ingredients. Rum fits right in, with its smoky taste that burns your throat but the sweet aftertaste that lingers and makes you want another sip.

Joe Froggers are a cookie with a bit of rum and a splash of the past. The cookies typically use dark rum because it has bold flavors, and in general, rum was known to have preservative qualities, which means that these cookies would last long in times of war and boat travel. The basic ingredients to a Joe Frogger recipe are hot water, rum, and molasses, and in modern days, it's common to bake the cookies instead of pan-frying them as Lucretia did. To make history your own, you could add sugar, nutmeg, ginger, or other spices that usually go in baked goods to enhance the flavor of your cookies.

Make a bread pudding worth staying in for

If you're a New Yorker, you know there are many iconic places for natives and tourists to treat themselves to bread pudding. But if you're staying in, or you're not in New York, you can use rum to make bread pudding that's just as good as New York's best. Bread pudding is a no-waste dessert often utilizing stale bread, combining it with custard (made with milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract) to create a baked dish with the perfect amount of sweetness and creaminess. Many people often add raisins to their bread pudding, making rum the perfect extra ingredient to elevate your bread pudding, and to replicate the classic rum-raisin flavor.

Cube the bread before pouring your custard ingredients over it; this may seem to make wet and soggy bread, but once you bake the dish, it will get firm, like a slice of sponge cake. Before adding your raisins, you can soak them in rum to infuse that sweet, pungent rum flavor into them without leaving the burning sensation you'd get when sipping rum. If you're not a raisin person at all, you can do this with any other type of fruit; dried cherries, for example, make a great alternative to raisins. Try also using a combination of fruit — bananas and cherries work great together, and since rum is used to bring out the fruity flavors in both, this addition will ensure your bread pudding is the best of the best.