Cooking Food Recipe Vegetables

Balsamic Caramelized Shallots

Back when I used to buy steaks in bulk at Costco, and before I owned my Food Saver vacuum sealer, I used to make four NY strips at a time for my wife and myself. Unless we had an especially hungry evening we would intentionally save the remaining pair of steaks, and use them to make a specific type of open-faced steak sandwiches. Though the precise recipe has changed over time, the two basic ingredients which have stayed the same are (1) steak, and (2) these shallots caramelized in balsamic vinegar.

In case you don’t know, shallots are tiny members of the onion family (alliums) that often go overlooked. I’ve heard their taste described as “a cross between an onion and some garlic”, but I don’t think that’s accurate. In my opinion shallots taste like a sweet, mild onion, without the characteristic ‘sharpness’ of their classic red or yellow cousins. They’re equally great diced and mixed raw into vinaigrettes, or sliced and cooked into recipes in place of other onions. I also hold that they’re superior to chopped red onions in homemade guacamole.

In the case of this steak-sandwich, I started using shallots with a balsamic reduction simply because I was out of onions. It turned out being pretty delicious, so it’s been that way ever since. It’s as simple as that.

Caramelizing onions takes a long time, but it’s worth it to draw out all that unctuous goodness, and the addition of the balsamic vinegar just pushes this recipe over the top. Give it a try and let me know what you think.


  • 2 cups of sliced shallots (about 7 good sized shallots)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp red wine (or more balsamic vinegar if you prefer)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Stir the sliced shallots into the heated oil, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Cook the shallots on the low side of medium-low for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes to separate the slices.
  4. Add the 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, and reduce the heat to low.
  5. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the 2 tablespoons of red wine (or more balsamic vinegar), and cook (stirring occasionally) until the liquid is nearly gone, another 20 minutes or so. You may want to increase the heat a touch if you want to shave a few minutes off the end of your cook time.
  7. You’re all done! Serve it up as you see fit, and enjoy!


Oil in the pan
2 cups of shallots
Stir in the shallots and season with salt and pepper.
About 10 minutes in.
Add the 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar.
15 minutes into cooking with the vinegar – about 45 minutes all told.
This is about 70 minutes into the cooking time, about 20 minutes after adding the extra 2 tablespoons of red wine.
Grilled bread, with goat cheese and these caramelized balsamic shallots.

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