Homemade balsamic glaze is the easiest way to take all of your dishes to the next level-- and if you can boil water, you can make it. This rich, syrupy sauce highlights the complex sweet and sour flavors of good balsamic vinegar. Drizzle it over everything from steak to strawberries for an instant flavor boost!
What is Balsamic Glaze?
Balsamic glaze is a thick, concentrated version of balsamic vinegar. This syrupy sauce is made by slowly reducing balsamic vinegar down to a fraction of its original volume. As the vinegar simmers, water evaporates away, leaving behind a rich, glossy glaze with concentrated sweet and tangy flavors.
Unlike thin vinegar, balsamic glaze has a velvety texture that allows it to be drizzled over dishes without making food soggy. And you can truly serve it over anything-- fruits, cheeses, meats, veggies... the possibilities are endless. Elevate your bruschetta game or serve it over grilled chicken, and every time you'll feel like it is EXACTLY what you were missing all along.
Are balsamic reduction and balsamic glaze the same thing?
Yes! Balsamic reduction and balsamic glaze can be used interchangeably to mean balsamic vinegar that has been reduced to a syrupy, glaze-like consistency.
All You Need is 2 Ingredients
For the best balsamic reduction, you only need 2 ingredients. (In fact, you can get away with just one, but I find it's much easier with a little sugar in the mix!)
- Balsamic vinegar - While you can opt to use high-quality aged balsamic for the best flavor, you really don't have to waste expensive balsamic on this. Whatever you typically have in the pantry will work just fine!
- Sugar or honey (optional) - A bit of sweetener helps balance the vinegar's acidity, and aids in achieving a syrupy consistency.
How to Make Balsamic Glaze
Making balsamic glaze is really just a matter of patience. Just add your ingredients and let the stovetop work its magic.
- Combine the ingredients. Pour the vinegar into a saucepan and add sugar or honey, if desired.
- Simmer until syrupy. Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer, uncovered. Allow the vinegar to reduce slowly over low heat for 30-60 minutes. The glaze is ready when it coats the back of a spoon.
- Let it cool. The glaze will continue to thicken as it cools. Let it reach room temperature before transferring to an airtight container. The glaze keeps for months refrigerated!
No Stinging Nostrils!
When making a reduction, the vinegar is extremely aromatic and can burn as you inhale it. Here are some tips to prevent powerful fumes from bothering your nose.
- Ventilate your kitchen well - Open windows, turn on fans or vent hoods to keep air circulating. This helps clear out the acidic vinegar fumes. The more ventilation, the better.
- Simmer at a lower temp - Don't let the vinegar reach a rapid boil, just a gentle simmer. Lower heat equals less fumes.
- Use a taller pot - The more contained the fumes are, the less they will waft up to your face. A tall, narrow pot is ideal.
- Keep your face far away - Don't hover over the pot, and when you do check the progress of your reduction, don't breathe directly over it.
Q. What do I do if my balsamic glaze is still too thin?
A. Odds are, your temperature was lower or your pot didn't retain heat as well. While it usually takes roughly 45 minutes to make a well-reduced glaze, it can take much longer based on other factors. Not to worry though, even if you have already taken your balsamic reduction off of the stove, you can always throw it on again and let it finish reducing.
Q. How will I know when my balsamic glaze is ready?
A. When it coats the back of a spoon, you'll know it's good. But if you're still not sure, check the volume-- if it looks to be roughly ¼ the amount you started with, then it'll be perfect. Remember, it keeps thickening as it cools!
Q. How should I store balsamic glaze?
A. After it's slightly cooled, pour the balsamic reduction into a sealable container and transfer to the fridge. It will easily keep for at least 3 months.
How To Use Balsamic Glaze
Need inspiration to use up a big batch of balsamic reduction? Why not try one of these ideas:
- Drizzle over fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil for an easy caprese salad.
- Slice up fresh peaches, berries, or other fruit and drizzle the balsamic glaze on top.
- Add to roasted root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, or beets.
- Drizzle over tomato bruschetta or on crostini with fruit, cheese, and prosciutto.
- Serve atop whipped ricotta as a dip.
- Use to top finished pizza or flatbread.
- Drizzle over asparagus prosciutto tarts or upside down onion tarts.
- Try with vanilla ice cream. It sounds strange, but it's especially good with fresh berries!
- Top a burger with blue cheese and caramelized onions and drizzle with balsamic reduction.
- Mix with preserves and use to glaze ham, duck, or pork chops.
- Serve over a salad with figs and goat cheese or blue cheese, or peach panzanella salad.
- Drizzle over salmon, pork chops, or grilled chicken.