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.
Only Eats

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”

  1. I like tempeh, but I don’t eat it enough.
    I like your recipe since it’s so quick and easy!

  2. Just had to say that I adore those first few photos of the tempeh and cucumbers on a stick. Love the colors.

  3. I’ve never worked with tempeh before, but this looks delicious!

  4. Love me up quick + yummy recipes like this. Leaves lots more time for all of the other stuff we need to do everyday!

  5. I love tempeh & vinegar.. I literally could drink vinegar by itself. I go through phases where I will do the apple cider vinegar thing before meals & in the mornings. I don’t mind the taste one bit. Now I am craving tempeh.. must head to wholefoods soon! mmmm. Thanks for this great recipe/idea!! can’t wait to try it out! you rock!

  6. Those look awesome and so easy! I love roasted red pepper hummus with veggies, although your idea looks much more exciting!

  7. I love, LOVE those serving platters/plates. They are simple and elegant.

  8. I really like vinegary foods. One of my favourite things to eat is focaccia bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I could live on it.

    The easiest appetizer I throw together is the hot pepper jelly dumped on a block of cream cheese, served with crackers.

  9. Thanks for the idea; I have a package of that same TJ’s tempeh I’ve been meaning to use. Maybe I’ll try it with a low-sodium soy sauce dip, perhaps with your idea of a little brown sugar, too.

  10. What a creative and simple recipe, awesome! Love the plating and colors in the pics too. And of course I can’t get enough simple tempeh recipes. :-)

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  12. You know how much I love me some tempeh! Fantastic, easy, recipe — and I, too, do not always sautee mine.

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  14. The tempeh with cucumbers and balsamic dipping sauce sounds great! I just bought tempeh for the first time and have been looking for recipes to use it in!

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  23. I’ve never tried tempeh before….will definitely pick some up!

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