41 Unique Ways To Use Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is a staple in almost every kitchen and restaurant across the United States and much of the world. The fermented grape reduction has a deep sweetness, apparent tanginess, and molasses, fig, and prune undertones. It's made by reducing the juice from grapes and then aging it in wooden barrels. Originating in Italy, balsamic vinegar has been a staple, with its first recorded mention in 1046 as a gift given to an emperor. Since then, it has been used to disinfect wounds, cure ailments, and flavor food. Today, it's popularly known in combination with extra virgin olive oil as a salad dressing loved by all. But the truth is that there are endless unique ways to use balsamic vinegar that go beyond vinaigrettes.

Culinary creatives and gourmet chefs know the secret to any balanced dish is to include sweet, salty, fatty, and acidic components. And when it comes to sweetness and acid, balsamic vinegar takes the cake. That being said, don't be surprised if your favorite recipe blogger has you splashing balsamic vinegar into soups, marinades, or even cake batter. It's time you used your bottle of balsamic vinegar to its full potential, so let's get cooking.

Cook it down

You've likely heard of balsamic reduction or even seen it bottled at the grocery store. This syrupy concentrate of balsamic vinegar is made by heating vinegar and reducing it by cooking the liquid out. It comes thick and sticky and much sweeter than its liquidy, tangy counterpart. Balsamic reduction can be used on salads, pizzas, sweets, fruit, and much more. It's sweet enough to hold its own in a dessert, so keep a bottle on hand. Alternatively, make your own, as it's easier to make balsamic glaze than you might think.

Splash some into your stew

There's nothing like a slow cooker beef stew or boeuf bourguignon on a crisp fall or chilly winter day to warm your bones. Beyond beef, vegetables, broth, and seasoning, there are a few elements that home cooks tend to leave out of the equation. Adding a little sweetness and an acidic element will give your stew much more flavor without having to load it up with additional salt. Use balsamic vinegar along with red wine to give it that punch of flavor when you just can't put your finger on what's missing.

Drizzle over yogurt

Greek yogurt has made its way into almost every home across America. While flavored yogurt is sweet and fun, we love buying it plain to increase its versatility. Dollop it on soup, tacos, or granola. If you're going down the breakfast or dessert route, consider using balsamic reduction over your Greek yogurt instead of honey or maple syrup. It's less sweet than the alternatives and has a unique, rich tanginess that you just can't get elsewhere.

Give sangria a pop

When summer arrives, the only thing missing from your backyard barbecue or dinner party on the deck is a big bowl of freshly made sangria. Everyone has their secret for making the beloved Spanish adult beverage. Much of that has to do with which fruit is selected. Consider adding a small splash of ginger balsamic vinegar to your next batch of sangria to give it a sweet, tangy, and unique flavor.

Make a balsamic-infused cocktail

Have you ever heard of using balsamic vinegar in your cocktails? Likely, you haven't because it's not as common as it should be. It can give your cocktail depth, and while vinegar is classically used in shrubs, it can also be added to a variety of mixed drinks. It's easy to go overboard, so stick to the number one tip for using balsamic vinegar in a cocktail and practice everything in moderation. Just a small splash will do. Anything more may overpower the drink and other mixers.

Whip up a dip for fresh bread

Freshly baked bread served before dinner is the ultimate flex, but if you want to elevate the appetizer even more, consider making a dipping sauce. Whip together high-quality extra virgin olive oil, freshly grated parmesan cheese, flakey sea salt, crushed black pepper, pressed garlic, red pepper flakes, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. The mellow fattiness of the olive oil pairs beautifully with the pungent vinegar, while the other ingredients add personality. After trying this, you'll never serve bread with butter again.

Flavor sandwich bread before grilling it

Paninis and grilled sandwiches are elite. The crispy and crunchy bread adds a wonderful texture, and while a little olive oil, mayonnaise, or butter can help your sandwich bread sing, we think some balsamic vinegar can bring it to the next level. Add your fat of choice to help the bread become crispy. Then, splash or swirl a little balsamic right onto the surface of the bread as well. When it toasts, the balsamic will reduce, leaving you with a sweet flavor booster that can help any sandwich shine.

Marinate meat

If you're a grillmaster or meat lover, you know that it's all about the marinade. Balsamic vinegar makes an incredible marinade because of its acidic nature, helping to break down proteins and tenderize meat. It has a punchy flavor that becomes sweeter the longer it cooks and pairs well with just about any cut. Try balsamic as a base for a tenderizing steak marinade that will blow the socks off of your friends and family.

Pair it with ice cream

When it comes to unlikely pairings, ice cream and balsamic vinegar make their way to the top of the list. Arguably, it's one of the most satisfying duos because it covers a variety of flavors, textures, and temperatures. Use a light drizzle of balsamic reduction on vanilla, chocolate, or even fruit-based ice cream. It helps to balance the sweetness of the ice cream while adding a splash of flavor itself.

Give your seltzer water a zing

For those who enjoy non-alcoholic beverages but find soda to be just too darn sweet, we have your answer. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar to your seltzer water to create an almost kombucha-like flavor. If you enjoy Switchel or unique carbonated beverages, this one-of-a-kind way to use balsamic vinegar was made for you. It's tangy, punchy, and just ever so slightly sweet. The vinegar will make your carbonated water extra fizzy, so enjoy the sparkling frenzy of bubbles while they last.

Make a balsamic reduction for fruit

Balsamic reduction pairs well with any dessert but tastes especially delicious on fruit. Stone fruit and dark-colored fruits, in particular, dress up well with the reduction, so consider strawberries, peaches, figs, and cherries. The vinegar helps bring out the flavor of the fruit without overpowering it. Try drizzling your new favorite sauce on grilled fruit, which have an ultra-caramelized flavor and juicy texture. The duo is sure to tantalize your tastebuds.

Enjoy it with cheese on your charcuterie board

The ultimate charcuterie board is not complete without fruits, pickled vegetables, cheese, cured meats, chocolate, and of course, sauces. Sauces range from fruit compotes to savory spreads, but we believe that balsamic vinegar deserves a place onboard. Balsamic vinegar pairs with cheese beautifully. Consider using it with mild and soft cheese as well as goat and sheep cheeses. If balsamic vinegar is too overpowering, use balsamic reduction as a sweeter alternative.

Mix a glaze for grilled or roasted vegetables

Why does meat always have all the fun when it comes to marinades and glazes? Vegetables deserve to get dressed up, too, especially if they are in competition for the spotlight on the barbecue. Create your own balsamic glaze for vegetables, using ingredients like Dijon mustard, maple syrup, tamari, freshly minced garlic, and ginger. The sauce will cook down as your vegetable roast, leaving behind a sweet glaze loaded with flavor.

Include it in red cabbage slaw

We all know that vinegar is an important part of a well-balanced slaw, along with periphery ingredients like Dijon mustard, oil or mayonnaise, and a sweetener of choice. Flavor boosters like horseradish and celery seed can bring it to a whole new level, but instead of worrying about those extra herbs and spices, it's time to consider your base ingredients. While apple cider and white vinegar may be more popular, consider using balsamic vinegar for your red cabbage slaw. It's sweeter, stickier, and uniquely delicious.

Give your chili a punch

One of the best tips for elevating your next batch of chili isn't what you'd think. Yes, you could add coffee, cola, and cocoa until the cows come home, but consider giving your chili a leg up by adding a splash of balsamic vinegar. Often, soups are missing that acidic punch, but balsamic delivers so much more. Its sweet undertones and molasses-like flavor offers depth in a way that other sweeteners or kinds of vinegar just can't.

Make your barbecue sauce sing

Barbecue sauce is famous for including mystery ingredients like pineapple juice, cherries, instant coffee, and whiskey, but have you ever considered adding balsamic vinegar? Yes, the condiment typically does contain vinegar, but we're backing the balsamic variety because it does more than just give barbecue sauce that tangy bite we are used it. It also adds a richness and caramelization reminiscent of plums and maple syrup that will leave your barbecue guests digging for your secret recipe.

Drizzle over barbecue skewers

Fire up the grill and layer those skewers with everything you've got. Who says you have to stick to meat, vegetables, or fruit? Stack your skewer will all three and enjoy a variety of textures and flavors. Luckily, there's a sauce that pairs flawlessly with all three, and that's balsamic. Balsamic glaze can be drizzled over your summer skewers, whether they're loaded with pork and pineapple or swordfish and red bell peppers.

Pair honey with balsamic

Is balsamic glaze just not sweet enough for you? Those with a sweet tooth may be itching for an even sweeter version of balsamic vinegar, and we have your answer. You can make your own honey balsamic glaze fairly easily by simply simmering the two sticky-sweet ingredients together. If you're vegan (or don't love honey), try using pomegranate juice or even agave. The outcome is a flavorful syrup to drizzle delicately on anything you'd like to sweeten.

Give caramelized onions extra pizzaz

If done right, caramelized onions can be incredibly sweet on their own. They make great additions to protein and vegetable-based savory dishes like pizzas, roasts, soups, and grain bowls. If you want to give your caramelized onions a unique layer of flavor, consider adding balsamic to them. Balsamic caramelized onions are rich, tangy, sweet, and buttery. Use them to top pork, your burgers, or on your avocado toast. These punchy onions are next-level delicious.

Flavor your strawberries

While all fruit benefits from a drizzle of balsamic reduction, strawberries, in particular, taste incredible with straight-up balsamic vinegar. This is perhaps why strawberry salads are often paired with a balsamic vinaigrette. The two do swimmingly on their own as well. Marinade your sliced strawberries in the vinegar, or use them in combination in a recipe like strawberry bruschetta. Even a small splash will bring out that fragrant and fruity strawberry flavor.

Add to your fried rice

Fried rice is incredible, but it's loaded with sodium. Not only does soy sauce have a high concentration, but salt is also adding typically added to the rice. While this is fine for most, there is a flavorful workaround that won't compromise flavor. In your next fried rice sauce recipe, use a 50:50 ratio of soy sauce to balsamic vinegar instead of entirely soy sauce. The balsamic will add sweetness as well as acidity that is quite attention-grabbing but won't alter the overall flavor too noticeably.

Fold into your meatballs

Mama's famous meatballs have plenty of secret ingredients in the mix, but here's one you're welcome to share with your friends. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar to your meat, eggs, bread crumbs, onions, garlic, and herbs. The vinegar will elevate the natural flavors of your base recipe and will help the meat to caramelize on the outside in a unique way when it comes in contact with the hot, oiled pan.

Glaze pork

Pork and balsamic are a natural pairing, especially when you add fruit to the mix. The trio goes unmatched because it contains just about every element of flavor and texture you can think of. Because balsamic is made from a fruit, you can kill two birds with one stone. For instance, air fryer pork chops with maple balsamic marinade, along with rosemary and garlic, provide that savory sweetness that brings foodies to their knees. Consider balsamic vinegar in your next pork marinade.

Make your own strawberry balsamic ice cream

If you've never made your own ice cream before, you're missing out. You can find recipes as simple as blending frozen bananas in a food processor to creating your own ice cream-churning contraption using salt and ice. When it comes to flavoring, it's all up to you. Consider adding balsamic vinegar to your strawberry ice cream for a fancy and unique flavor that refined tastebuds will enjoy.

Include it in your berry compote

There are two types of people in this world: those who put berries directly into their pancakes and those who make a maple-berry compote to spoon on afterward. If you fall into the latter category, consider adding a little balsamic vinegar to the mix before reducing the berries on the stovetop. A hint of butter never hurts either, but you may just find that the vinegar brings out the flavor of your fruit and packs a little more punch than straight syrup.

Mix balsamic vinegar into your batters

While it's common to find apple cider vinegar or white vinegar in baked goods recipes, it's rare to see balsamic vinegar. We think that's a shame. Typically, vinegar is used to help a batter rise and become fluffy when combined with baking soda. Balsamic works in the same sense but carries rich and deep flavors as well. For chocolate-flavored baked goods, consider the almost molasses-like vinegar with cherry and woody undertones. Some recipes, like chocolate pavlova, even call for dark balsamic.

Drizzle on avocado toast

From turmeric-roasted onions to poached eggs to hemp seeds, there are endless ways to dress up avocado toast. And if we are being honest, we can't get enough of these fantastic combinations. Everything just seems to taste better on avocado toast, including balsamic glaze. Balsamic glaze brings just the right amount of sweetness to the table without transforming it into a dessert-like dish. Try it along with garlic salt next time you get a hankering for millennials' favorite overpriced breakfast food.

Garnish baked goods with a balsamic reduction

While we've discussed including balsamic in a batter for baked goods, there's another way to incorporate our favorite vinegar in desserts. Consider making your own balsamic reduction by heating balsamic vinegar until it's sticky and thick. Then, drizzle it over chocolate cake, cupcakes, brownies, or even cookies. Chocolate and balsamic are a devilishly tantalizing combination. Although vinegar may not come to mind when thinking about sweet treats, keep it on your radar.

Potatoes deserve more than just salt and oil

Traditionally, salt, pepper, and oil have dominated the roasted potato scene. Every once and a while, you'll find a little garlic powder or paprika making an appearance, but it's easy to stick with the basics since they've never let you down. We dare you to stray from the ordinary and consider splashing your oven-roasted potatoes with a little balsamic vinegar. As the potatoes bake, the balsamic will reduce, leaving little bits of crispy, sticky potato goodness.

Glaze salmon

In general, seafood holds up well with both sweet and savory sauces. Salmon, in particular, does well with a sweet, sticky glaze. Try using a maple balsamic glaze for your salmon, whether you plan to plank grill, oven roast, or pan-fry it. Load a pan full of salmon and vegetables, and pour your glaze over the whole thing for an easy one-pan dinner. Because seafood can be rather mild in flavor, expect your balsamic glaze to be center stage.

Pair with root veggies

Root veggies are famous for making their yearly appearance come fall. Nevertheless, they are a delicious and flavorful culinary favorite all year round. They typically have a bold sweetness, so it's no wonder that they pair well with balsamic vinegar. Create a balsamic glaze to roast your root vegetables in, or drizzle them with balsamic when they are fresh out of the oven. Don't forget to add your root aromatics like onions and garlic.

Create a mayo balsamic dip

These days, ketchup just doesn't cut it when it comes to dipping. Both flavored mayonnaise and aioli have taken the world by storm, and we aren't looking back. Try making your own dipping sauce using mayonnaise and balsamic vinegar. Mix the two for a tangy, subtly sweet, creamy, and fatty sauce that can be drizzled or used for dipping. Whip up a batch for steamed artichoke leaves, hot wings, zucchini fries, and more.

Garnish your pizza

Have you ever enjoyed your pizza crusts dipped into salad dressing or sauce? Well, why not drizzle it over the whole pizza? This especially works well for veggie-centric pizzas or those with fresh toppings like arugula or raw vegetables. If balsamic vinegar is just a bit too liquidy for you to consider splashing onto your pizza, then try balsamic vinegar reduction. It's sweeter but can accompany artisanal pizzas, like brie and fig or beet and goat cheese, beautifully.

Splash it onto fresh watermelon

As we all know, watermelon is a summer staple for kids and adults alike. There's nothing like hydrating under a hot sun with the juicy, sweet, and mild fruit. For those who prefer a little more pizzazz with their summer snacking, consider drizzling watermelon in balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction. Either option can be added to a hand-held slice or drizzled onto fresh skewers of watermelon with mint, basil, and mozzarella. It also makes a great addition to any watermelon salad, especially those with feta cheese and olive oil.

Elevate your ketchup

Ketchup is a classic kid favorite. It's perfect for dunking dino nuggets and fries and squirting on cheeseburgers. What adult doesn't love ketchup, too? There are a few things you can do to elevate your ketchup, like adding curry or making it from scratch. One of the top-tier additions is balsamic vinegar. Ketchup already has a vinegary tang, but balsamic helps to add depth, more punch, and an undertone of figs or dark cherry. Enjoy on your baked parmesan fries or blue cheese and oyster mushroom burger.

Include it in your Bloody Mary mix

These days, bloody marys contain just about every condiment and garnish you can think of. Horseradish, pickles, shrimp, and even fried chicken wings with hot honey seem to be making an appearance. Add a few splashes of balsamic vinegar to your tried and true bloody mary recipe for a tangier and subtly sweet boost. Whether you're used to adding pickle juice, lemon, or Worcestershire sauce to give it that zing, we can assure you that just a splash of balsamic will work in tandem to make your bloody mary stand out.

Mix it with maple syrup

Balsamic maple reduction can make an elite glaze for anything from salmon to pancakes. Simply simmer balsamic vinegar until it begins to reduce, then stir in your maple syrup. Use fresh New England or Canadian maple syrup, and avoid imitations that contain corn starch and caramel coloring. Once it's thick and sticky, drizzle it delicately on any dessert, vegetable, or protein dish you wish to give a sweet and tangy punch.

Add it to your marinara sauce

There are quite a few ways to make jarred tomato sauce taste homemade, and one of them is adding balsamic vinegar to the saucepan when it's heating up. The vinegar can help mellow an overly sweet jarred sauce while adding undertones of flavor similar to red wine, which is a staple of homemade pasta sauce but rarely finds its way into the jarred stuff. Enjoy quality pasta sauce every time, even if you're working with a cheap grocery store brand.

Flavor your tofu

No more complaining that tofu is bland! It's a vehicle for flavor, so it reflects the abilities of those preparing it. For anyone just getting into the tofu game or who feels they haven't quite gotten the hang of a good vegan marinade, turn to balsamic. Balsamic works wonders in combination with soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic, sesame oil, and ginger to create a balanced and bold flavor. Let your tofu sit in the sauce for a minimum of 15 minutes before roasting it or overnight if you are able to plan ahead.

Mix it into your turkey burgers

Anyone who has mastered the turkey burger knows that simply shaping ground turkey into a patty shape won't cut it. There are so many flavors you can add to make your burger sing. Why settle for bland? Mayonnaise can help keep your burger nice and juicy, while a little splash of balsamic vinegar can highlight the natural flavorings while adding a little caramelized sweetness. Don't forget to include aromatics like onions or garlic. Hey, a hint of maple syrup never hurt anyone.

Create a veg-tastic side

Brussels sprouts have made a name for themselves over the last half-decade, going from the mushy side dish your grandmother served to the trendy flavorful appetizer that gastropubs can't get enough of. How did it make that leap, you might ask? It's all about the preparation and cooking methods. Out are the days of salt, pepper, and steaming. Instead, try easy balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts that are so crispy and delicious that you'll forget your loading up on green veggies.