Balsamic glaze and balsamic vinegar are both delicious condiments. And while they have similar names, they can be quite different regarding their taste, texture, and uses.
Want to Save This Recipe?
Enter your email & I'll send it to your inbox. Plus, you'll get more FREE recipes and tips from my Midwestern kitchen to yours!
By submitting this form, you consent to receive emails from Midwestern HomeLife
Balsamic vinegar has been around for centuries and is a staple in many households. But in recent years, balsamic glaze has gained popularity as a sweeter and thicker alternative to traditional balsamic vinegar.
Both balsamic vinegar and balsamic glaze are popular condiments for salads, marinades, and various recipes.
But the two differ in their consistency, flavor, and uses.
This article will explore the differences between balsamic glaze vs. balsamic vinegar and provide an easy recipe for making homemade balsamic glaze.
Delicious Recipes with Balsamic Vinegar
What is Balsamic Vinegar?
Balsamic vinegar is a vinegar with a sweet, intense flavor that originated in Northern Italy -- specifically in Modena in the region of Reggio Emilia.
Traditional balsamic vinegar is made from grape juice that has been boiled down and aged in wooden barrels.
This aging process of at least 12 years gives the vinegar its characteristic sweet taste and intense flavor. The longer the vinegar is aged, the more intense the flavor becomes.
But not all balsamic vinegars are made in the traditional way.
Let's take a quick look at some of the types of balsamic vinegar and differences between them.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar
The best quality balsamic vinegar comes from the region of Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy and carries the label Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale.
Traditional balsamic vinegar is regulated by the European Union and is marked with a DOP stamp (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) as a guarantee of its authenticity and quality.
Traditional vinegar is made with "grape must" (the juice of freshly pressed grapes) as its sole ingredient and using traditional methods.
To earn the DOP stamp, it must be aged for a minimum of 12 years.
Commercial Balsamic Vinegar
Commercial balsamic vinegars are the ones most commonly found on your grocery store shelves.
It can be made with grape must and wine vinegar, is made using a quicker process, and can be aged for as little as two months.
Balsamic vinegar of Modena PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) is one type of commercial grade balsamic vinegar.
This type of vinegar is marked with a PGI stamp and is a more affordable alternative to traditional balsamic vinegar.
Condiment-Grade Balsamic Vinegar
Condiment-grade balsamic vinegars may be made using the same process as traditional, but don't meet any of the above PGI or DOP certification standards.
This grade can also include lower quality balsamic-style vinegars, so it's important to check the ingredients before purchasing.
How to Use Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is often used in marinades, sauces, soups, casseroles, braised dishes, and salad dressing recipes like balsamic vinaigrette. It pairs well with olive oil, fresh fruits, and goat cheese.
What is Balsamic Glaze?
Balsamic glaze is essentially a reduction of balsamic vinegar.
It is a sweet glaze with a thick consistency made by reducing balsamic vinegar with a little brown sugar or maple syrup. Sometimes corn starch may be added to help thicken the glaze.
How to Make Balsamic Glaze
This homemade balsamic glaze recipe is very easy to make.
Add 1 cup of balsamic vinegar and ¼ cup brown sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, occasionally stirring until it has thickened and reduced by about half.
You can test the consistency by coating the back of a spoon with the glaze. If it forms a thick coating on the back of the spoon, it is done.
Remove the pan from the heat and let the glaze cool to room temperature. The glaze will thicken as it cools. Store balsamic glaze in an airtight container or clean glass jar.
How to Use Balsamic Glaze
Balsamic glaze has a sweet flavor and can be used as a finishing touch on dishes like Caprese salad, roasted vegetables, and grilled meats.
It's also a delicious condiment to drizzle over fresh strawberries or vanilla ice cream.
Balsamic Glaze vs. Balsamic Vinegar
As you can see, the main differences between balsamic glaze and balsamic vinegar are the consistency and the level of sweetness.
Balsamic vinegar is made by boiling down grape juice and has more of a liquid consistency, while balsamic glaze is made by boiling down balsamic vinegar with sugar into a thick, sweet, syrup.