Chicken and waffles are already pretty darn splendid. But if you’ve been waiting all day for a spectacular plateful of crispy, doughy, chicken delight, only to dump a bucket of sickly-sweet brown syrup all over it, then you’re missing the point. Let us show you the way to syrup heaven.–Jenny Latreille

Spicy bourbon maple syrup being poured over waffles from a white pitcher.

Spicy Bourbon Maple Syrup

4.58 / 7 votes
I drenched my first attempt at chicken and waffles in pure maple syrup, and it was…an unmitigated disaster. Nothing but sweet stickiness. That’s when I reached for the bourbon. And a little cayenne and hot sauce lent the maple sweetness some depth and balance
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories198 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time10 minutes


  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon*
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) salted butter
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the maple syrup, bourbon, and butter just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the cayenne pepper and remove from the heat. Serve warm, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.


*What can I substitute for bourbon?

There’s an entire family of alcohol that’s closely related (unless you’re an aficionado of one in particular and then all bets are off). Bourbon can only be called bourbon if it’s been made in the USA and is at least 51% corn mash. In Canada, the very same thing is called whiskey (also called rye or rye whiskey but it’s still mostly corn). Scotch is in the same family, except that it’s mostly barley and the casks are older. So…you can sub in whiskey, whisky, Scotch, or even a light rum and get a great result. Use what you like to drink and you can’t go wrong.


Serving: 3 tablespoonsCalories: 198 kcalCarbohydrates: 36 gProtein: 1 gFat: 4 gSaturated Fat: 3 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 11 mgSodium: 40 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 32 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 David Leite. Photo © 2021 David Leite. All rights reserved.


About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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