Easy Balsamic Reduction

Easy balsamic reduction recipe

The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

Prep: 0 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 30 mins
Yield: 1/4 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
224 Calories
0g Fat
43g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 224
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Sodium 59mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 43g 16%
Total Sugars 38g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 69mg 5%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 286mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Balsamic vinegar (Aceto Balsamico di Modena) comes from Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. The vinegar is made from grape juice, simmered down to create a very concentrated liquid. It is then put into wooden barrels to ferment, sometimes for decades. This is the sweetest and most expensive vinegar to buy.

Balsamic reduction, aka glaze, is a wonderful condiment loved by cooks and chefs worldwide for its complex, thick vinegary sweetness. However, you can create your own concentrated sweet vinegar at home which mimics—but can never replace—the genuine one at a fraction of the price. And it is so very easy to do.

The balsamic vinegar to use for the reduction should not be an aged one, but one of the commercial and much cheaper ones, which tend to be less sweet and colored, using caramel rather than fermentation. They are excellent to use in salad dressings and are perfect for making a balsamic reduction.

Once you have made your balsamic reduction, you can use it for everything from decoration to adding an extra dimension of flavor to many dishes, such as meats, fish, cheeses, and vegetables—even strawberries (yes, you read that right) and even ice cream. This recipe is surprisingly versatile. 


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredient for balsamic reduction gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Katarina Zunic

  2. Put the vinegar into a nonreactive saucepan, preferably one with a thick bottom.

    Put vinegar in saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Katarina Zunic 

  3. Gently heat the vinegar, ever so slowly, until it starts to simmer. Lower the heat to keep the vinegar simmering, and patiently allow the vinegar to reduce. Do not try to rush this bit, it is a long process, and the vinegar is ready when it turns into a syrupy glaze. It will continue to thicken as it cools, so remove from the heat a little ahead of it becoming too thick. You can always pop it back on the heat again if you need it to be thicker. 

    Heat vinegar

    The Spruce Eats / Katarina Zunic

  4. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the vinegar to cool.

    Remove the pan and allow balsamic reduction to cool
    The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

Recipe Variations

  • The recipe above is for a straight vinegar; you can take creative liberties by adding flavorings to the vinegar as it reduces.
  • Herbs add good strong flavors but avoid any soft herbs (basil) as they are likely to rot in the acidity and with the heat. Instead, use the hard-stemmed varieties such as rosemary and thyme. Always strain the reduction to remove the herbs and stems before using or storing.
  • If you fancy a little extra sweetness, then add a tablespoon of honey or agave
  • A little light spice is always good, especially cloves and cinnamon. Or even a small pinch of chile flakes. Be careful not to use too much; you do not want to overpower the sweetness.


  • Before you begin, turn the extractor fan on high or open all the windows as there are going to be quite substantial vinegar fumes.
  • You can store your glaze in a glass jar or bottle, and it will keep for several weeks; the vinegar does not need refrigerating.  

Three Fabulous Recipes Using a Balsamic Reduction

  • A classic combination you will find all over Italy and the rest of the world is a caprese salad, consisting of exquisite Buffalo mozzarella, squeaky fresh tomatoes, basil, and here, drizzled with a heady balsamic reduction.
  • A fabulous way to dress up beets is balsamic barbecued beets. Before cooking, they are drizzled with the vinegar and then dressed again, but with a balsamic reduction. Delicious.
  • Enjoy a lovely scent and the flavor of honey infused into the balsamic reduction in this sweet potato spinach and onion tart.

Do you need to shake balsamic vinegar?

Unlike a vinaigrette, you do not need to shake balsamic vinegar before use.