How To Make A Balsamic Reduction + Peaches & Cream Dessert

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on August 14, 2012

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Since we’re on the topic of our fears this month, let’s talk about culinary fears. Most of us have a few – those dishes or techniques we’ve been wanting to try in our own kitchen, but haven’t found the nerve. Maybe it’s a pie from scratch, a fresh loaf of homemade bread, or learning how to pipe a cake… sometimes it seems too daunting to even bother.

One of my culinary fears has always been making a balsamic reduction. A balsamic reduction (also referred to as balsamic glaze or syrup) involves cooking down or reducing balsamic vinegar until it thickens into a lovely glaze or syrup. As it cooks down, the vinegar becomes lightly sweet (but still has a nice bite!) without the harsh acidity that can overpower a dish.

I’ve heard so many horror stories of people scorching the vinegar in the pot when trying to reduce, I figured there was some crazy method to it that would likely drive me insane. But deep in the back of my mind, I knew I always wanted to give it a shot. I fell in love with balsamic glaze at a restaurant many years ago and it’s always been something I wanted to incorporate into my own meals. Plus, have you ever had it drizzled over strawberries? It’s just about the best thing in the world!!

Next, to this dessert of course…

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The best part of this little adventure was finding out just how easy it is to make. Maybe it was beginner’s luck and I’m due for my horror story another day (probably), but this was a breeze to make. Read on for my tips and tricks.

How To Make a Balsamic Reduction:

Print, Email, or Text this recipe + Peaches n cream dessert

1. Add 1 cup balsamic vinegar into a medium-sized non-stick pot/sauce pan. Or use whatever amount you desire, keeping in mind you will reduce the volume by 2/3-3/4.

2. Bring the vinegar to a simmer/low boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low-medium. I left it on heat setting 3 for most of the time to be careful. Stir. Some people also add a tiny bit of sugar at this stage, but I didn’t bother and was still very pleased with the final taste. I think it will depend on the quality of vinegar that you use. I was using a good-quality organic balsamic, so maybe that helped with overall taste.

3. Here’s the tricky part. You have to keep an eye on it for the entire time, stirring every few minutes or so. This was difficult for me because I’m always doing a million things at once and often responding to email/comments on the laptop when I have down time in the kitchen. Using 1 cup vinegar and cooking it on low, it took me almost 40 minutes to reduce (edited to add: my second trial took me just under 20 minutes! I increased the heat to medium the entire time). When it’s as thick as you want it, feel free to stop! I was going for a super thick syrup-y texture.

4. Every few minutes, give the mixture a gentle stir. After about 20-25 minutes, I was convinced this vinegar was not going to thicken, but lo and behold it did ever so gradually.

5. After the better part of 40 minutes, my vinegar reduced about 2/3-3/4 in volume! Whohoo. I started with 1 cup and I was left with about 5-6 tablespoons or sweet, thick balsamic reduction goodness. Oh my gosh it is sooooo good. Make sure to keep a very watchful eye on it during the last 10 minutes. From what I read, things can quickly go from good to horrible if left unattended for even a minute…

Once you’ve made it you can drizzle it on just about anything. Salads, grilled veggies, and seasonal fruit are especially fun this time of the year. Or try dipping a fresh baguette into oil and vinegar…that’s always a good idea!

Store it in the fridge, keeping in mind that it will harden slightly when chilled. Allow it to come to room temperature before using.

As for next time, I might try cooking it at a slightly higher heat to reduce the cooking time, but I still think the key to my success was a low, consistent heat & watchful eye.

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I am a proud mama of some damn good balsamic syrup.

And let me tell you, I could not wait to make this dessert.

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Peaches & “Cream” with Homemade Balsamic Reduction

What you’ll need:

  • Non-dairy ice cream (I used Vanilla Almond Dream ice cream…love!)
  • Fresh, chopped peaches
  • Chopped pecans or other nuts
  • Homemade balsamic reduction (see above)


Add a scoop or two of ice cream in a parfait glass, followed by chopped peaches and pecans. Now drizzle on some balsamic reduction and enjoy a “fancy” summer dessert.

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Chocolate sauce < balsamic reduction

There I said it.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

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Olya August 15, 2012 at 7:41 am

You’ve got me with your Bals.Red.! While reading, I grew from zero interest up to irresistible urge to run from my office to a kitchen to try it! Thanks for throwing it on us :) I am definitely going to try it..


Ariel @ WestWithFlight August 15, 2012 at 8:35 am

Hmmm. Should I feel proud of myself that I’ve done a balsamic reduction with neither fear nor failure? You can get good results at a higher heat, you do just have to keep an eye on it — I usually do a higher heat at first to speed things up, and then lower for the last 15+ minutes.


Rachel August 15, 2012 at 9:41 am

I’ve never tried doing this before, but I might have to cause I LOVE anything chocolate and apparently this is better haha


Amber from Slim Pickin's Kitchen August 15, 2012 at 10:12 am

Balsamic reductions have always come easy to me! I’ve never had a problem making it. Now, a pot of rice on the other hand?!? Yeah…not so much. I’m a poor southern soul who can’t cook a pot of rice to save my life. I *have* to have a rice cooker…and sometimes I even screw that up!


Sonal August 15, 2012 at 11:39 am

I’ve never heard of balsamic vinegar reduction and cannot imagine balsamic vinegar being a sweet syrup! But that dessert looks gooood so i might just try this new phenomenon ;)


Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See August 15, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I absolutely adore balsamic vinegar, but I’m never willing to splurge on a $50 bottle. This sounds like the perfect solution :)


michelle August 15, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I do a balsamic reduction at least every 2 weeks but do it a little differently. First off I have no problem using the cheaper brands as I find that it doesn’t make much of a difference once the sugars come together and thicken. I like to do 2 bottles at once and reduce in a small pot for close to 1 1/2 hrs with virtually no stirring. Once it’s thick on my wooden spoon, I let it cool and then jar it and refrigerate for at least a month. I’ve not dared to try it in dessert yet so I think that’s next.


Tricia August 16, 2012 at 11:51 am

I really like your website. I just found out that I have several food allergies /intolerances. They include beef, milk, chicken and peanuts. I’m overwhelmed. Ive been a big dairy, meat & nut consumer my whole life. Any suggestions for a overwhelmed newbie to a more vegan lifestyle?


Leah August 16, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Wow. So excited to try this. Do you think it would work in the slow-cooker? If I put it on a low temp for a while?

I’m thinking it would go great with the almond-milk pistachio ice cream I’m planning to make next week :-)


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 17, 2012 at 8:38 am

Im not sure, if you did you’d have to stir it frequently I’d think :)


Marilyn @ Lipgloss and Spandex August 18, 2012 at 12:35 am

I loooove balsamic reduction! So much flavor but not too many calories :) Although my favorite way to eat it is to mix the reduction with some butter, and then toss with some pasta. HEAVENLY.


Lauren @ The Homeostatic Mindset August 19, 2012 at 12:04 pm

That’s crazy how much it looks like chocolate syrup! Not sure I can wrap my head around the idea of balsamic on desserts though…Guess I can’t knock it till I try it! :P


Moni Meals August 20, 2012 at 9:32 am

Thank you for this! I love love love balsamic reduction and I do not Make it nearly enough. Great post and recipe!


Whitney "To Live and Diet in L.A." August 21, 2012 at 10:17 pm

I just made a Peaches & Cream recipe and blogged about it today! I used balsamic too but didn’t make a reduction…definitely trying it next time. Looks fabulous!


Monique August 27, 2012 at 9:59 am

There are so many posts that I did not read them all. But, balsamic reduction is very easy. The most important thing is to make sure you have real balsamic and not white vinegar colored with grape juice. Check the ingredient list. The best I’ve found is the costco brand balsamic. I will reduce an entire bottle at once. Just put it in a pot, turn on the heat and let it works its magic. You don’t have to stir or do anything else. However, you want to have windows open or the fan on high. The fumes are intense. I use a wooden skewer to measure how deep the vinegar is then use that as my gauge for how much it’s reduced. You can do it on low heat but I tend to turn it up to speed up the process. Nothing scary here!


Molly September 2, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I just made my first balsamic reduction the other day and, yep, I felt awfully accomplished. I’m also pretty sure I’m going to start putting it on everything ever. I think it might make even make a shoe taste good.


Angela (Oh She Glows) September 3, 2012 at 9:59 am



Amie May 24, 2013 at 9:47 am

If you like the regular balsamic reduction on ice cream with peaches, there is a place to get peach flavored white balsamic.


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