HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Reducing balsamic vinegar

Hi all!

While reading through a previous post, I heard someone suggest pairing balsamic vinegar with strawberries in a dessert, but first reducing it with a pinch of black pepper and some sugar. I've tried it twice, and love the flavor combination! However, I can't seem to get it to "reduce" - it simmers along and mixes, but no matter how long I leave it on for (and this is on low heat) it never thickens at all. Am I expecting something unreasonable? Any tricks of the trade that I'm missing out on?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. blast the heat - and watch it closely - it will reduce and get syrupy.

    1. Keep cooking. Watch it though because mine got too thick.

      1. I have had trouble with this as well. Some balsamics take longer to reduce than others. The last bottle I did took almost an hour to reduce but when it started to get thick, it went pretty quickly. It should be on more than low heat tho, med. is good and give it plenty of time.

        1. I do 4tbsp balsamic 4tbsp brown sugar.....medium to medium high heat....should reduce quicker than an hour though.

          here is a picture.


          1. I know for sure it reduces cus I've burned a couple of batches in my time.

            1. In agreement with everyone, got to turn the heat up and let it simmer good. I was afraid of this at first and it took forever like yours. I recently did a nice sauce for pork with tangerine juice and balsamic - yum!!!

              1. Get a bottle of cheap balsamic -- I believe Monari is best, about $4. Pour the entire bottle into a narrow saucepan, and measure the depth with a wooden skewer. Mark the skewer somehow at that level -- I break it slightly. Then, over medium high heat, with the kitchen fan on high, reduce the vinegar to one-third its former volume. You can tell what one-third is by looking at the original skewer mark and eyeballing one-third. Measure the simmering vinegar and use your skewer to measure when it's done reducing. The reduced balsamic will be slightly viscous when it cools, perhaps not exactly syrup-y. I don't, but you can add a couple of teaspoons of brown sugar to this. But it's perfect as is. When cool, use a funnel and transfer it into a regular kitchen squirt bottle. That's it. BTW, don't do this on a day when you'll have company because the entire house will smell like vinegar for a few hours.

                1. btw, there is this GREAT 18 year old aged balsamic vinegar that i purchased in laguna beach -- store called Olivers...it is absolutely wonderful. I've reduced it and drizzled it over salmon. SOOO good. this balsamic vinegar is amazing with bread, salads..its practically good enough to drink by itself. (btw, this place sells a variety of flavored balsamic vinegars, like fig, strawberry, pear...and you can sample it. it is rather pricey though...and no i don't get any benefits from them for advertising them. hahaa)

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mycreampuffy

                    Dear mycreampuffy,
                    Do you remember the brand? Unfortunately, I'm in Michigan and would need to order it by mail.

                    1. re: MsMel608

                      i would guess it's the very top balsamic listed on this page of their site:

                  2. I make a balsamic reduction that I sell to stores. I use 1 part balsamic to a 3rd part brown sugar. mix together and stir over low heat (mid simmer point) for about 2 hours, or until it syrup-y coats the back of the spoon. (It will further thicken on cooling) I sometimes add star anise or a few drops of hot sauce for a bit of a flavour boost.

                    As has been said, your house will smell of vinegar for a day or so.. and watch out when you're smelling the steam, it can literally take your breath away!!

                    Another trick I have found, is to use a saucepan MUCH larger than I need for the volume, as when I return the wooden spoon to the hot vinegar, it can bubble madly and overflow a too-small pot.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: purple goddess

                      Can someone help?
                      Purple goddess said: "I use 1 part balsamic to a 3rd part brown sugar."

                      Exactly what is meant by "a 3rd part brown sugar".
                      Does this mean 1C vinegar to 1/3 C brown sugar?
                      I'm assuming the brown sugar is not packed?

                      Thanks ahead of time for any responses.

                    2. Turn up the heat, and make sure to use a wide-opening saucepan or skillet - you want a lot of surface area to boil off the liquid..

                      Simmering is generally below the boiling point, so you aren't bubbling off very much..

                      And reducing isn't just boiling off liquid - you will get some carmelization, flavor changes- the liquid on the sides of the pan, just above the water line, for example.. so do some gentle whisking..

                      And if it gets too thick, just add some more BV to thin it up a bit..

                      1. I've also heard ... somewhere, I forget where ... that after you reduce it you should add some fresh, unreduced balsamic back in, to bring the acidity back up. Anyone else know about this? How much to add, etc.?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Bat Guano

                          Nope. Not necessary. The reduction stll has lots of tangy acidity.

                        2. As many others have said:

                          - turn up the heat
                          - watch real carefully, when it turns it goes very fast

                          One more item. You should also keep the fan on and try to avoid sticking your nose in the fumes. The vinegar fumes will snap your head back. Similar to smelling salts.

                          1. Thanks so much for the advice guys - my guess is that I was putting it on too low of a heat and also being a bit impatient. I've definitely gotten a noseful of the fumes, they're powerful!

                            1. When I make reduced balsamic I add 1/4 cup of ruby port for every cup of vinegar and do not use any sugar. Next time I will try adding the pinch of black pepper.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: PamelaD

                                that sounds like a good idea - try adding some fresh rosemary while it reduces and then strain it out - it adds great flavor.

                                1. re: howchow

                                  I do one with fresh rosemary as well as some orange zest and honey. It goes great on grilled skirt steak.

                              2. yum, great thread for new ideas with BV reductions.