Is your coffee confined to the cup? If your home brew is only serving the purpose of providing a daily dose (or two, three, four…) of caffeine, then you’re missing out on another realm of usefulness: cooking. Coffee is a versatile ingredient, adding to the flavor profile of sauces, gravies, and toppings from sweet to savory. It’s also something most of us have in the kitchen at all times, which comes in handy when we want to whip up a dish without an extra trip to the store.
We’ve collected five recipes that use coffee, in either liquid or ground form, to create dishes with unique flavor that only our favorite bean can impart. Step outside the mug into a whole world of culinary creations with coffee!
Barbeque Sauceis probably the most recognizable use of coffee in the kitchen, besides for drinking, of course. The depth of the espresso marries well with the sweetness of the sugar and the bite of the garlic and peppers. This particular recipe is a winner because it cooks quickly and can be used either as a marinade or a finishing sauce—or both.
Red-Eyed Gravyis a time-honored favorite in the South and parts of Appalachia. This gravy conjures images of early morning in a kitchen with a view of cornfields and tractors. Although any coffee will do, anything too elevated just wouldn’t feel right. Paired with drippings from ham (as in this recipe) or bacon, plus butter and water or broth, this sauce couldn’t be simpler.
Mole (pronounced mole-a) is a traditional Mexican sauce whose secret ingredient is chocolate. Some recipes incorporate coffee, which is a well-known flavor complement for chocolate. Commonly used as a topping for chicken and served with tortillas, this sauce has a unique flavor profile: slightly sweet, earthy, and spicy. As used in this recipe, it takes your average fried eggs to a new level.
Coffee Rubmakes an excellent flavor prep, and as a bonus, it’s a practical way to repurpose your daily grind. The key to using coffee grounds in a spice rub is to thoroughly dry them first. While this recipes uses New York strip steaks, it’s just as easy to dig up recipes for use with pork or chicken.
Salted Caramel-Coffee Sauce is your new favorite already, isn’t it? Just the name alone makes your taste buds stand at attention. Infused into the creamy, smooth texture is a knockout combination of sweet and salty with an extra burst of depth from the coffee. Use it as a topping for ice cream, dip for apples, or drizzle for bread pudding.
What’s your favorite way to use coffee in the kitchen? Did you find a winner in any of the above recipes? Share in the comments below! Don’t forget to check out all our original coffee recipes, too!
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Danielle Costello is a freelance writer and editor with a special interest in great coffee. After spending a few decades exploring life in bigger cities, Danielle now resides in Morgantown, West Virginia. A mom of two young boys, exercise enthusiast, and dog-rescue advocate, she spends her free time making healthy meals and savoring disrupted sleep.