Odds are, you have a tall vessel of balsamic vinegar sitting in your kitchen cabinet. If you’re like most Americans, you probably use it for salad dressing time and again, but not much else. We are here to show you 10 surprising uses for balsamic vinegar that you may have never thought of.
Balsamic vinegar offers a vibrant complexion of flavors that makes it ideal for including in a variety of recipes. It can be slightly acidic, woody, aromatic, bittersweet, and intense all at the same time. We’ve gathered some tips and ideas to get the most out of your balsamic vinegar. As an added bonus, this type of vinegar has a surprising number of health benefits which you can read about here.
1. Reduce into a Syrup
The richness of a balsamic reduction can work wonders on your desserts. Trying cooking down the vinegar in a small saucepan while adding a touch of sugar. For extra flavor, throw in some cinnamon or fresh ground pepper.
The list of desserts that can benefit from balsamic vinegar is extensive. It includes souffles, vanilla ice cream, and fresh fruits like pineapples, strawberries, and oranges. Simply drizzle the syrup onto your dessert of choice and enjoy!
2. Put in Cocktails
Balsamic vinegar works best as a supporting character in your meal or beverage. All vinegar needs is a little opportunity to shine, and it will make the most of your favorite menu item. Cocktail recipes are no exception.
When you pair balsamic vinegar with a slightly sweet flavor, such as fruit, it is at its best. The vinegar works to round out and deepen the profile for a distinctly pleasant experience.
3. Make a Marinade
Regardless of whether your meal is roasted, baked, or grilled, we’d argue that balsamic vinegar can make it better. Brush some balsamic on your meat and let it marinate in your refrigerator before cooking. The meat will have a savory tang that will have your family or guests thinking you’re a master chef.
4. Soften Berries
The technical term here is macerate, which means softening berries in liquid. No matter what you call it, though, the fundamental ingredients for macerating are the same: balsamic vinegar, sugar, and strawberries. Mix them and let it sit. Then, enjoy the berries atop a fluffy slice of pound cake or, if you’re looking for a healthier option, a cup of Greek yogurt.
5. Use in Soda
Balsamic vinegar has a vaguely sweet flavor profile, which makes them a perfect complement to soda. In fact, you can use the vinegar in the puree as an excellent substitute for some sweeteners, including agave nectar.
6. Add Zing to Barbecue Sauce
It is hard to go wrong with a savory barbecued-chicken recipe. But adding vinegar to the mix can kick your recipe up a notch. The tangy acidity provides a contrast of flavors to the sweetness and tomato complexion.
Vinegar is a central part of Carolina style barbecue, too. The not-so-secret ingredient is one of the things that makes barbecue in the region so distinct. Plus, the vinegar has a tenderizing effect to help you create that fall-off-the-bone meat that everyone in your family will love.
7. Splash in Your Turkey Burgers
The next time you are about to fire up the grill, consider adding some balsamic vinegar to your turkey burgers. It is especially useful when you combine it with cinnamon or berry flavors. (Think cranberry sauce complimenting Thanksgiving turkey). The addition of balsamic vinegar also works for other mild meats like chicken and plant-based protein burgers.
8. Get More Out of Your Vinaigrette
Oil and vinegar. It is a quintessential pairing on par with peanut butter and jelly. While the standard combination remains a staple, there are many more ways to use balsamic vinegar and oil.
For example, use the vinaigrette to dress the lettuce on your Italian sandwich. If you want a stepped-up seasoning, try adding it to an Oriental chicken salad, stir fry or Asian noodle salad with sriracha, shallots, and ginger. Finally, combining oil and vinegar will transform your roasted, baked, and boiled potato salad recipes like a charm.
9. Braising Benefits
Many recipes that involve braising duck, steak, pork, or lamb will benefit from a finishing splash of balsamic vinegar for flavor. Even a small amount is enough to add depth and brightness to the meat. If you love braising food with wine, consider balsamic as another excellent option.
10. Enhance Tofu
There are many ways to vary tofu recipes, but a lot of them are bland. But the healthy, flavorless staple of vegetarian and vegan cuisine is, in many ways, a blank slate. Let balsamic vinegar fill in the details. Adding balsamic vinegar to tofu can make it a perfect topping for salads or stir-fry dishes.
The only limits to balsamic vinegar use are your creativity and imagination!