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

This is the fastest party appetizer known to man.

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

It’s a slice it ‘n spear it special.

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

How To Make Balsamic Reduction In 10 Minutes (vegan, GF) - Save money and stop buying overpriced balsamic reduction. Make your own in 10 minutes with this fast, easy, foolproof recipe!

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

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.

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.

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.

How To Make Balsamic Reduction In 10 Minutes with Tempeh and Cucumbers (vegan, GF if GF tempeh is used)

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.

Did you make this recipe?


1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup diced tempeh

1/2 cup diced cucumber (English cucumbers have fewer seeds and less water than traditional cucumbers; or use zucchini, bell peppers, radishes, carrots, or mushrooms)


  1. Combine the vinegar and brown sugar in a medium sauce pan, stir to combine, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Spear the tempeh cubes with the cucumber on toothpicks, dip into reduction, and serve.

Related Recipes

I love all things vinegary:

Homemade Salad Dressing (vegan) with apple cider vinegar

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

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

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

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.

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.

Springtime at the farmers market is coming up.

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

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

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

88 comments on “How To Make Balsamic Reduction In 10 Minutes with Tempeh and Cucumber Skewers”

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  2. 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.

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  8. 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.

    • 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 :)

      • 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!

      • 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 :)

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