How To Make Balsamic Reduction In 10 Minutes with Tempeh and Cucumber Skewers


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This is the fastest party appetizer known to man.

Or the fastest and most flavorful snack known to busy woman.

Tempeh and Cucumber Skewers and balsamic reduction

It’s a slice it ‘n spear it special.

Tempeh and Cucumber Skewers

Make the brown sugar and balsamic reduction dipping sauce in just a few minutes.

Balsamic Reduction with tempeh and cucumber

And clear out your sinuses from the vinegar vapors in the process.

Organic 3 Grain Tempeh and balsamic vinegar

My $5 thrift store find dishes were begging to be used and I wouldn’t say I made this just so I could use them  in some photographs, but I kind of did.

Normally when I think of food on-a-stick, I think corn dogs or cotton candy. Never raw, vegan, vegetables, or healthy. I guess there’s a first time for everything.

Balsamic Reduction with tempeh and cucumber

I wish I had a party to bring my toothpick creations to but I didn’t, so I had a festive protein-packed vegan snack on the couch instead.

A party with me, my sticks, and my dip.

Balsamic Reduction with tempeh and cucumber

The balsamic dipping sauce is not for the faint of heart. A little goes a long way.

It’s powerful stuff, but I love it. I love dips of all kinds and usually like a little food with my dip.

Balsamic Reduction with tempeh and cucumber

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How To Make Balsamic Reduction In 10 Minutes with Tempeh and Cucumbers

By Averie Sunshine
For a fast appetizer or snack, chewy tempeh with crisp cucumbers is a refreshing and easy option. I enjoy the tempeh sticks dipped in homemade balsamic reduction. It’s so easy to make your own, it’s ready in less than 10 minutes, is far cheaper than storebought, and keeps for months in the fridge. I drizzle balsamic reduction on salads, vegetables, bread, or any time I want a tangy kick.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12
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  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup diced tempeh
  • ½ cup diced cucumber*, See Notes


  • Combine the vinegar and brown sugar in a medium sauce pan, stir to combine, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Reduce to medium heat and allow sauce to boil for approximately 6 to 8 minutes, or until reduced by half, or is as thick as desired. Stir occasionally while boiling and keep an eye on it so it doesn’t bubble over or get too thick.
  • Pour the reduction into heat-safe container so it can cool while preparing the tempeh and cucumber. Tip – Immediately put your dirty saucepan into the sink with running water and dish soap or it will become a sticky, stubborn mess if sauce is allowed to cool on the saucepan.After reduction has cooled (or been refrigerated), it will thicken considerably. It can be used hot, warm, or cold. Reduction will keep airtight for at least 1 month in the refrigerator.
  • Dice equal portions of tempeh and cucumber and spear with toothpicks. Serve with sauce on the side. I do not sautee my tempeh first (I use it straight from the package), but if desired, pan-sautee diced tempeh over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of oil (or just use cooking spray) in a non-stick pan for 3 minutes or until golden brown, sprinkling with salt, pepper, and other seasonings (garlic, onion powder, curry, turmeric, Mrs. Dash etc.) if desired.
  • Spear the tempeh cubes with the cucumber on toothpicks, dip into reduction, and serve.


*(English cucumbers have fewer seeds and less water than traditional cucumbers; or use zucchini, bell peppers, radishes, carrots, or mushrooms)


Serving: 1, Calories: 4kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Sugar: 1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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I love all things vinegary:

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Homemade Komboucha. There is something about the tang of vinegar I have always loved and kombucha is right up my alley

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Hot Pepper Jelly (Vegan, GF) – with an intro to canning

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Stovetop Hot Pepper Jelly (Vegan, GF) – no canning required but vinegar is required

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I’ve been on quite the tempeh kick lately. It’s so easy because unlike tofu, no pressing is required, and tempeh is packed with plant-based protein.

I love the way it tastes both raw or in a Fig Butter and Cumin Tempeh Stir Fry.

Fig Butter and Cumin Tempeh Stir Fry

This toothpick creation is slightly classier than eating tempeh straight out of the package and nearly as easy.

If I would have had carrots, radishes, bell peppers, zucchini, or mushrooms on hand, I would have added them to my mini raw kebobs but went with just cucumbers and tempeh.

Balsamic Reduction with tempeh and cucumber

Springtime at the farmers market is coming up.

Farmer's Market with carrots

There will no shortage of vegetables to spear along with the tempeh cubes.

Balsamic Reduction with tempeh and cucumber

Farmer's market zucchini and carrots and veggies

Another easy, no-fuss, wrap ‘n eat favorite to make with spring and summer vegetables are Fresh Vegan Spring Rolls with 2-Minute Peanut Sauce

Fresh Vegan Spring Rolls

Fresh Vegan Spring Rolls with peanut sauce

Do you like tempeh? Do you enjoy vinegary foods?

I’m sure you could do the same thing with tofu on sticks but the thought of raw, unpressed tofu, straight out of the package is not appetizing to me.

It’s too mushy in comparison to tempeh, which is firm, has plenty of texture, heartiness, and chewiness. Combined with the crunch of the cucumbers, and that nasal-clearing balsamic reduction, I was in heaven with my little sticks.

Do you have a favorite fast and easy party appetizer you make? Or a fast and easy go-to snack or small meal?

Thanks for the Baking Supplies Giveaway entries

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

Recipe Rating


  1. Thanks for the recipe. I am just a HORRIBLE cook and always tired from work, so I am always looking for good, simple recipes. This turned out great.

  2. How have I never used your easy method before for balsamic reduction?! Definitely have to do that next time – you have no idea how many times I have burned balsamic vinegar. Ugh.

    1. People tend to REALLY overcomplicate making balsamic reduction and ounce for ounce, homemade costs pennies to make – compared to like $4 bucks for a 2 ounce jar. I can make 2 ounce for about 20 cents! In 5 minutes :)

      1. I have tried making this reduction twice now and both time it hardens what am I doing wrong? It’s tasty as a hard “candy” but can really dip anything in it!

      2. If it’s hardening, you’re boiling too long and/or at too rapid of a rate. Either turn your temp down or reduce the time by about half. You literally are making candy :)