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The #1 Best Condiment to Elevate Your Fried Foods Game

If you haven't drizzled french fries or chicken tenders with this rich topping, you're missing out.
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Who doesn't love a platter piled high with golden onion rings, calamari, or fries? Even better if you're seaside on a hot summer day and there's a lobster roll nearby. Of course, you'll need a dainty paper cup of ketchup on the side for dunking, and maybe some pickle-studded tartar sauce if we're going the clam shack route.

But sweet tomato sauce and tartar aren't the only condiments that bring the sparkle your favorite fried foods need.

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The next time you order a pint of fried clams or a side of fries, try a drizzle of balsamic glaze. My favorite vinegar condiment is Ponti Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Glaze, and it's the best way to instantly elevate your summertime favorites, from fried chicken to oysters. It might sound like an odd choice, but hear me out.

What is Balsamic Glaze?

Balsamic Vinegar Glaze in a Container
Photo: Shutterstock

You're probably familiar with balsamic vinegar. You may use the dark, slightly sweet, acidic condiment to dress salads. Balsamic glaze has the same flavor notes, but the sweetness and texture are enhanced by simmering grape must (a byproduct of wine production) down into a highly concentrated, almost gel-like texture. The result is a drizzle-able dressing with a delicious sweetness that balances the sometimes puckering sourness of vinegar. And it's exactly what your favorite fried foods need to shine.

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Balsamic glaze is such a perfect topping for fried foods because it adds a punch of bright acidity and sweetness that counteracts the fattiness of frying. If you've had traditional British fish and chips, you may have been offered a bottle of malt vinegar on the side. It's for the same reason: Oily foods need something bright and punchy to wake up your palate and cut through the richness. Paired together, you get an ideal balance of flavors and textures.

How to Use Balsamic Glaze

A bottle of Ponti balsamic vinegar glaze
Photo: Ponti

Nutrition: (Per 1 Tbsp):
Calories: 35
Fat: 0 g (Saturated Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 10 mg
Carbs: 8 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 0 g

You'll find a handful of balsamic glaze options at the grocery store, but one reason I'm partial to Ponti's is that it comes in a squeezable bottle that's easy to dispense in precise black lines. The texture is between a dunkable dip and a splashable liquid, and it's sticky enough to cling to whatever it lands on. I like to squeeze a generous drizzle over a plate of fries or chicken fingers, letting the dark glaze seep deep into the nooks and crannies of the breading.

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If you're more of a dipper, serve a pool of glaze on the side to ensure you get a nice coating on each bite. Balsamic glaze is excellent with nearly every kind of fried dish, from seafood to ice cream! It happily goes from sweet to savory, so prepare to stock up ahead of summer eating.

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Lizzy Briskin
Lizzy is a trained chef, food writer, and recipe developer for print and digital outlets including Insider, Real Simple, and the Chicago Tribune. Read more about Lizzy