Learn how to make balsamic reduction with this insanely easy step-by-step photo tutorial! There are so many creative ways you can use a balsamic vinegar reduction, and I’m covering my favorites.
I love experimenting with homemade salad dressing recipes (and salad recipes in general), Homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, honey mustard dressing, and cilantro lime dressing don’t hold a candle to bottle versions.
However, most of the time I prefer to use plain balsamic reduction on my salads. It’s easy to make, fast to use and I think it’s delicious. It has a sweetness and acidity that pairs so well with other ingredients! I never bother with olive oil if I’m using a balsamic vinegar reduction.
Is Balsamic Glaze The Same as Balsamic Reduction?
I have a feeling I’m going to get this question, so to get that out of the way: no, they are not the same. They’re similar, though! Balsamic reduction uses nothing but balsamic vinegar.
Balsamic glaze has added sweetener to create more of a glaze consistency. Sweeteners like brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey are commonly used. To make a balsamic glaze, simply add 1-2 tablespoons of sweetener per cup of vinegar while reducing.
How to Make Balsamic Reduction
This balsamic vinegar reduction is such an easy technique that I almost feel silly including step-by-step photos. But here we go:
Step 1: Measure out the vinegar
I started with 3 cups, which ultimately reduces down to around 1/2-3/4 cup. But 3 cups is an arbitrary amount; you can make as little or as much as you want. Keep in mind that this will alter the total time it takes to reduce.
I used this saucepan in the photos, but I recommend using a wider pot like a sautoir to speed up the process. I forget to do this half the time, so apologies for showing the “wrong” pan.
Any saucepan will technically be fine, but more surface space against the stovetop can dramatically cut the total reduction time, and simmering vinegar is smelly. You might want to open a window or turn on a vent!
Step 2: Reduce Vinegar in a Saucepan
Once the balsamic is simmering, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low (something that won’t boil over the pot) and continue simmering until the desired consistency is reached. Stir the liquid a few times while it reduces to distribute the heat evenly and make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Remove from the heat and cool for several minutes. That’s it!
How To Store Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
After the balsamic reduction has cooled, transfer it to an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place. I typically use this salad dressing bottle to store it.
Balsamic Reduction Recipe Tips
Reducing the vinegar from 3 cups to 1/2 cup creates a reduction that’s similar to or slightly thicker than maple syrup. You can adjust this amount based on personal preference if you prefer something thicker or thinner.
How to Fix Over-Reduced Balsamic: Whisk in a tablespoon of warm water until smooth. Add more water if necessary until the desired temperature is reached.
How to Fix Under-Reduced Balsamic: If you realize after the fact that you’d prefer a thicker reduction, put it back on the stovetop and keep reducing until the desired temperature is reached.
Because the reduction is sweet and slightly acidic, I especially love pairing it with savory or bitter ingredients. Here are a few examples:
- Drizzle some over baby arugula (as seen in the photos). Sometimes I’ll just have that with a sprinkle of salt and pepper on the greens. No olive oil necessary!
- Serve with cheese (my favorite cheese pairing is balsamic with good Parmigiano Reggiano.)
- Serve with filet mignon if you’re not making a pan sauce.
- Combine all of the above: arugula seasoned with salt and pepper topped with shaved parmesan, your favorite cut of steak for salads (I like flank or flat-iron), and top with the reduction!
- Drizzled in half an avocado and eaten with a spoon.
- Drizzle over vanilla ice cream.
More Ingredient Tutorials
If you love this tutorial, be sure to check out my How to Roast Butternut Squash, What is Half-and-Half and How to Make It, and How To Make Pumpkin Puree.
You can also see my full archive of tutorials recipes here!
- 3 cups balsamic vinegar
- Place the balsamic vinegar in a medium-sized saucepan set over medium-high heat. The wider the saucepan, the faster the balsamic will reduce (see notes for more info).
- Once the balsamic is simmering, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the desired consistency is reached (for me that means reducing until only around 1/4 of the liquid remains. It's slightly thicker than maple syrup).
- Remove from the heat and cool for several minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place. I typically use it within 3 months, but it can probably keep for longer.
Please read my full post for additional recipe notes, tips, and serving suggestions!
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This is my favorite salad topping as well!
So easy to make at home! And so delicious! :)
Claudia Lamascolo says
I love balsamic reduction I glaze my scallops on the grill all the time with it its my favorite this sure saves alot of money instead of buying it thanks for the tips!