How to Flambe Safely


At a dinner party, flambe offers a dramatic presentation. The term "flambe" means "flaming" or "flamed." Cooking foods flambe adds the rich, complex flavor of a liquor without adding any alcohol -- it is burned off in the cooking process. Though certain safety precautions are required, with a little practice, almost anyone can learn how to flambe. Remember to use extreme caution when cooking flambe due to the open flames. Do not use liquors that are higher than 80-proof to flambe. They can be volatile and dangerous.

Things You'll Need

  • Flambe pan with lid
  • Flame source, such as long, fireplace matches or a propane gas torch
  • Brandy or 80-proof liquor
  • Heat the brandy, liquor or liqueur in a saucepan until it is just boiling around the edges. You can also heat it in a microwave; 30-45 seconds in a microwave-safe dish at 100 percent power.

  • Heat the foods you want to flambe in a deep, round, long-handled pan. Cooking times vary depending on the recipe.

  • Remove the pan from heat and carefully add the liquor. Make sure it's not close to an open flame source as this can cause an explosion.

  • Place the pan back on the heat and light the fumes of the liquor at the edge of the pan with a long wooden match. Get flames going as soon as possible after adding the liquor, as prolonged exposure to alcohol can damage the flavor of your dish.

  • Shake the pan back and forth until all of the flames have died out. At this point you will have gained the delicious flavor of the brandy or liquor, but without the alcohol, which will have burned off. Serve the dish immediately.

Tips & Warnings

  • Select a brandy, liquor or liqueur that has a flavor complementary to the food you are cooking.
  • If you don't want to use liquor in your cooking, place sugar cubes soaked in a flavored extract along the edges of the pan and ignite.
  • Before you light it, heat the food that you want to flambe. Cold foods can cool down the warm liquor and make it difficult to light.
  • Do not carry the flaming pan. Do not lean over the pan as you light it.
  • Do not pour the liquor directly into the pan from the bottle if it is near an open flame. The flame can travel up into the bottle and cause it to explode.
  • Propane gas torches are highly flammable and should be kept away from heat or flame and should not be exposed to prolonged sunlight.

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  • Photo Credit Rade Lukovic/iStock/Getty Images
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