As someone who gets home late on weeknights and wants to do a minimal amount of cooking, I'm a big fan of easy, versatile pick-me-ups that instantly add flavor to whatever it is I'm throwing together. In lieu of simmering a sauce for hours or grinding and toasting my own spices, I'd rather turn to a flavorful, savory ingredient or condiment (often Sriracha or miso paste in my house) that can help me whip up a bold and satisfying meal in a matter of mere minutes.
Recently, as I've begun playing around with weekend meal prepping, I've learned these pick-me-ups can also be homemade — prepped in a big batch and ready to grab on weeknights. This could be a pesto made from the wilting herbs in my fridge, a simple lemon-tahini dressing that's also great as a dip, or, in this case, a tangy and sweet balsamic glaze that's seriously good on everything.
You Only Need 1 Ingredient for the Best Balsamic Glaze
The best part about this new-to-me discovery? You only need one ingredient — a bottle of balsamic vinegar — for the very best balsamic glaze. Although a lot of recipes call for added sweetener (often in the form of granulated sugar or honey), balsamic vinegar is naturally sweet, and becomes even sweeter as it cooks down into a glaze.
Because balsamic vinegar evaporates as it ages, high-quality aged balsamic vinegars (often the most expensive ones at the store) are actually pretty syrupy to begin with. This recipe is designed to create that same experience with any bottle of balsamic in your pantry, but remember that depending on how concentrated your vinegar is to begin with, the time it takes to cook down into a glaze will vary. You're looking for the vinegar to coat the back of a spoon — it should be thick yet pourable, similar to warmed honey. The glaze will continue to thicken as it cools, so switch off the heat a minute or two before it's ready.
The Best Uses for Homemade Balsamic Glaze
Once your glaze is cooled, it's time to have at it! Drizzle over caprese salads; thick slices of bruschetta; grilled vegetables, chicken, pork, steak, or salmon; juicy summer berries; thin-crust pizza; even vanilla ice cream. It's also the perfect addition to a cheese plate.
Makes 1/2 cup
Cooking time: 20 minutes to 25 minutes
Pour the vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vinegar thickens, coats the back of a spoon, and is reduced to about 1/2 cup, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes — the glaze will thicken slightly as it cools.
Storage: Balsamic glaze can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.