How to Make Balsamic Reduction and How to Use It

How to make balsamic reduction and how to use it well

Complex in flavor, sweet, and easy to use in many different dishes, reducing balsamic vinegar is a very easy method that gives a punch of flavor. It mimics the more expensive balsamic vinegars but costs a fraction of the price!

What is balsamic vinegar reduction?

It’s just what it sounds like – it’s balsamic vinegar that has been reduced to a thicker, fuller flavor. I find that is has less acidic bite and a whole lot more complexity to its flavor. Making a balsamic reduction glaze is as simple as adding a little sugar or honey to it before it simmers down.

Making healthy food flavorful

Too often people associate healthy (or nourishing) eating habits with lack of flavor. There are two reasons for this. The first being that people used to highly processed foods need to give their taste buds time to adjust to a more natural diet. The second reason being under-flavoring food. Our food should be well salted (with a good, unrefined salt), spiced, herbed, it should use onions (such as this very flavorful caramelized onion recipe) and garlic, and mustard and the many other beautiful and flavor foods out there.

If one of your resolutions is to eating healthier food this year, make sure that you include a lot of flavorful and delicious options in your diet. Once you find how delicious and satisfying a nourishing diet is, you just may find it hard to go back to an unhealthy one.

What type of vinegar to use to make balsamic reduction

As mentioned above, this simple method mimics the flavor of the more expensive balsamic vinegars, but for much cheaper. If you spend the money on an expensive balsamic vinegar, I recommend you enjoy it as is (perhaps in a balsamic dressing such as the one in this sample from my salad cookbook). I recommend that you use any sort of inexpensive organic balsamic vinegar. One that I enjoy using is Bionatuae organic balsamic vinegar. It’s inexpensive but tastes great.

This brand, and other options, are available at Vitacost (an affiliate) – I buy natural body products and certain supplements from them, so it’s easy to add on some of their grocery products, which can be much cheaper. Shipping is free with order over $49.  There are some options at Amazon (also an affiliate), but right now it looks like the added shipping of the organic brands make it a more expensive choice.

How to use balsamic reduction and vinegar

  • Drizzle balsamic reduction over sliced avocados with a sprinkle of unrefined salt and enjoy as a tasty snack.
  • Or drizzle it over juicy, summer kissed tomatoes, perhaps with basil, unrefined salt, and mozzarella cheese for a flavorful mini-meal or appetizer.
  • Use balsamic vinegar to make a healthy and tasty, better-than-store-bought salad dressing. It’s my seven year old’s favorite way to enjoy green salads. (Download this sample from my salad cookbook for our favorite balsamic dressing recipe).
  • Use either the balsamic vinegar or the reduction to liven-up bowls of herbed beans. Many bean soups are perfectly suited for the tanginess of vinegar.
  • Use balsamic vinegar to bright the flavor or tomato based sauces (just a little will do it)!
  • Make a sweet reduction (perhaps with some cinnamon and cloves) and serve it with ice cream or strawberries.
  • Drizzle balsamic reduction over melons wrapped in prosciutto, peaches, figs and whatever other fruit catches your fancy.
  • Drizzle balsamic reduction over steamed or roasted vegetables.
  • Use balsamic reduction to flavor beef, chicken or fish.

How to make balsamic reduction and how to use it
Cook time:
Total time:
Complex in flavor, sweet, and easy to use in many different dishes, reducing balsamic vinegar is a very easy method that gives a punch of flavor. It mimics the more expensive balsamic vinegars but costs a fraction of the price!
  • 1 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • Optional: 1-4 tablespoons unrefined sweetener of choice (such as coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey), a cinnamon stick and/or a couple cloves, 1 bay leaf, 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary, part of an orange rind
  1. In a medium sized saucepan that is nonreactive, add the balsamic vinegar and any flavoring agents you'd like (they are completely optional, but add their own flavorful dimensions. Don't add them all! Just one or two will be enough).
  2. Turn kitchen fan on high as vinegar is going to be floating into the air!
  3. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and then turn down heat to keep at a low simmer. It will take about 10-15 minutes to thicken and reduce. Keep a careful eye near the end as you don't want to burn it. When it coats a spoon, it will be thick enough. You can thicken it slightly, or make it as thick as molasses. You can reduce anywhere from ⅓ to ¾'s of the vinegar (but not more, unless you want to really risk burning it)! When reduced more, it will thicken up considerably once cooled. You can always gently reheat (and add a little water, as needed).


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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. Tracey says

    Thanks so much for this list of ideas! I have made a balsamic chicken using a reduction that includes chicken broth, and I drizzle it over chicken and sauteed spinach. Can’t wait to try some of the things on your list — never thought to try it with an avocado!

  2. Rachel says

    Hi! Sounds lovely!!! Do you know if it will keep in the fridge? Sounds like it could be a great staple.


  3. Denise in Winterpeg says

    I made balsamic reduction this year for the first time. Your idea for adding orange zest particularly intrigues me! I make it quite thick and love it drizzled over fruit, especially strawberries. For a gourmet touch to make a salad or dessert special try decorating the plate with a ribbon of this instead of chocolate! An instant taste wake up, and a delicious surprise for your guests! At New Years on individual wedge salads with strawberries and oranges this got kudos, even from the resident chocoholic!

  4. Terry says

    I reduced my balsamic by half starting with two cups. I cut a small onion in half, a small carrot into quarters, smashed three cloves of garlic and added this to the pot with some rosemary and bay leaves. I found that the rosemary was very difficult to remove from the reduction. Next time, I will I will employ an herb sachet to eliminate this problem.

  5. Darla says

    I use Balsamic vinegar as a salt substitute for my Dad, mostly as a marinade with balsamic vinegar, herbs, lime juice and olive oil. I’m going to experiment with your reduction recipe with just a little coconut sugar and add a few drops of braggs liquid amino seasoning and garlic to give it a more salt like flavor – fingers crossed. Thanks!

    • BONNIE SPOON says

      I have tried the balsamic reduction a couple of times. It is absolutely lovely. It takes way more than 10 – 15 minutes to reduce it. I cook it at a simmer for over 45 minutes. You need a lot of patience to make it. I use a cup and it reduces to approximately 2 tablespoons. I do not add anything to the vinegar….just use vinegar.

      Do not let it boil. Just simmer it and give it a lot of time, watching it closely and stirring often. When you are at the 35 minutes mark of cooking and you see it is beginning to reduce, you really have to keep an eye on the pan so that it does not burn.

      I usually keep mine in the refrigerator but I forgot to put it in last night (oh no….). However, I am using it tonight drizzled on thinly sliced beets along with Chevre, roasted walnuts and walnut oil. So hopefully it will be fine.


  6. Jackie says

    Every time I try making this glaze it does not thicken! I look on a lot of different recipe sites and several people ask the same questions but no one answers. I have tried several different brands. Simmer and simmer! It just evaporates!! WHY?

      • Darcy says

        In the couple times I’ve made it, though not this recipe, it seems to thicken as it cools… So I cook it until it’s reduced in volume, then as it cools it gets thick.

    • P says

      You need to reduce the vinegar with the sugar. That is the thickener, boil it to melt the sugar, then simmer to reduce so it doesn’t burn.

    • Carissa says

      The sugar is not optional. This recipe kinda suggests that it is, but that is the glue. Just not too much. I tend to reduce and add a splash of plain balsamic vinegar on top for that pop of vinegar that the sugar can cover. Also yes, look for a reduction color and let cool. It will thicken closer to room temp.

  7. LM says






  8. Yo says

    It’s vinegar and sugar so it should keep for a long time (several weeks) in the fridge if it’s not contaminated. If you mix in other stuff, that will reduce its longevity. Store in glass with a sealed lid. A mason jar will be a good option and use a clean spoon to drizzle it.

  9. says

    The reason it did not thicken is because this recipe does to tell you but you have to bring it to a hard boil watching it constantly in order for it to reduce! If it does not reduce it will not thicken.

  10. Larry says

    Hi, I have made this reduction for probably 35 years us wing several brands of inexpensive product I always have great results. I change the flavor additives depending on my mood. I store it on my pantry shelf just above my work counter, very handy. It stays perfectly fine.

    Our culture is obsessed with refrigeration! I never refrigerate eggs, ketchup, mustard, butter, relish and many other continents. I am 84 years old have traveled the globe eaten from 5 star restaurants to push carts not once have I had a negative reaction such as food poisoning or anything of that sort!!!!!

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