This sweet and tangy homemade balsamic glaze is super easy to make with only two ingredients, one of which is optional. With its thick syrup-like consistency and intense aroma, balsamic glaze is perfect to drizzle over a whole range of different dishes in order to elevate their flavor.
What is balsamic vinegar?
Balsamic glaze or balsamic reduction is the result of cooking down balsamic vinegar until it is thickened to a syrupy consistency, comparable to maple syrup.
Balsamic vinegar or aceto balsamico is an Italian vinegar made from grape must. It is very dark in colour, almost black, and has a very concentrated and intense flavor. The original balsamic vinegar is traditionally made in Modena, a city in the Italian region of Emilia Romagna. This vinegar already has a pretty strong, intense and delicious taste. Reducing the vinegar by cooking it down only intensifies its beautiful aroma. While other vinegars are tart, tangy and have a stronger acidity, balsamic vinegar has a naturally sweet aroma and is less acidic which makes it a very pleasant condiment.
Which ingredients to use
- Balsamic vinegar: As there are various types of balsamic vinegar available, be sure to use one of a good quality. But, it definitely does not have to be the most expensive one, by any means. Boiling it down intensifies the flavor, so start with the one you prefer and you’ll end up with an amazing tasting glaze.
- Sweetener of choice (optional): It is up to you if you’d like to add a sweetener as this recipe does not call for adding any as you can make a delicious balsamic reduction using just the vinegar all on its own. However, it does intensify the sweetness and helps to thicken the glaze. You can use white or brown sugar, honey or maple syrup.
How to make balsamic glaze
This balsamic glaze recipe is so easy to make. You may well stop buying it in the store and will just make your own at home. The great news is that you can perfectly make a larger batch and use your own homemade balsamic reduction every day on your salads, fish, chicken or vegetables.
So, follow these few simple steps on how to make this homemade balsamic glaze recipe:
Pour the balsamic vinegar in to a saucepan, add a teaspoon of sugar, or a sweetener of choice and bring it to the boil over medium heat. Once the liquid is boiling, slightly reduce the heat to medium-low. Leave to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, while stirring regularly. While the vinegar is cooking, keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. The balsamic glaze is ready when it is reduced by at least half and coats the back of a spoon.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and leave to cool at room temperature before using. You will notice that it further thickens when cooling down.
How long does it need to cook
The exact time of cooking depends on various factors which have to be taken into account when making this balsamic reduction.
- Size of the saucepan: The wider the pan, the faster the liquid evaporates and thickens.
- Thickness of the saucepan: Depending on the thickness of the bottom, the liquid will boil faster or slower.
- Quality of the balsamic vinegar: As not all vinegars are the same, the cooking time can vary as the consistency is different with various types of vinegar.
- Personal preference: Considering that the liquid will reduce by at least half, it will also depend on what your personal preference is as to how thick the final product should be.
With all of the above said, keep a close eye on it and check the thickness when boiling by coating the back of a spoon. When it is to your liking simply remove from the heat. Keep in mind that when cooling down, the glaze will further thicken.
How to use balsamic glaze
Balsamic vinegar used to be my favourite condiment. I used to drizzle it over all my salads and vegetables, until I discovered balsamic glaze. We now use it at home on so many different dishes, sometimes well drizzled, but other times just a few drops will do to intensify the taste.
I use it to enhance the flavor of grilled and roasted vegetables when making balsamic roasted beets, balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts, grilled Italian green beans and grilled sweet potato and halloumi salad. The thick and rich balsamic reduction is perfect to drizzle over a burrata Caprese or persimmon Caprese salad.
Use this balsamic glaze over grilled or fresh fruits to elevate their sweet taste:
- Strawberry bruschetta with balsamic glaze
- Grilled persimmon salad
- Fresh fig and pomegranate salad
- Spicy grilled pineapple spears
Homemade balsamic glaze
- 1 cup (or 250 ml) balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sweetener sugar, honey or maple syrup
- Heat the balsamic vinegar in a thick bottom small saucepan or pot over medium heat. Optionally add in the sugar, honey or syrup and stir to combine.
- Bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a light simmer. Leave to simmer, uncovered, until the volume has reduced by half. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Stir frequently, especially at the end of the boiling time.
- When adding extra sugar or honey the boiling time will be lower.
- Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool. You can check the thickness on the back of a spoon. The reduction will thicken further when cooling down.
- Transfer the balsamic glaze in to a clean jar with an airtight lid.
- Sweetener: Adding a teaspoon of your sweetener of choice such as sugar, syrup or honey helps to thicken the glaze and intensifies the sweetness of the final product.
- Cooking time: The length of the cooking time will depend on the type of saucepan, quality of vinegar and personal preference. Check the thickness by coating the back of a spoon. Keep cooking when the desired thickness is yet to be achieved.