How to Make a Gastrique

Sarah MickeyAll Recipes, Berry Recipes, Culinary Tips & Techniques, Dessert Sauce Recipes, Dessert Techniques, Meat, Poultry, and Seafood Sauce Recipes, Sweetener Recipes, Vinegar Recipes & Techniques 8 Comments


A gastrique is a vinegar and sugar-based sauce that can be used for either savory or sweet dishes. Its assertive sweet and sour flavor means a little goes a long way. Good balsamic vinegars are often used to make gastrique, but you can also use wine vinegars or fruit vinegars. We chose red wine vinegar for this Cranberry Port Gastrique, which pairs especially well with venison.

  • 1 cup granulated sugar, superfine sugar, or organic evaporated cane juice
  • 1 cup water (approximately)
  • A handful of dried cranberries or dried black cherries
  • 1 ¼ cup ruby port
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar


  • Make caramel:

In a saucepan, mix the sugar and enough water (almost a cup) to reach the consistency of wet sand.

Bring to a boil and continue boiling until the mixture begins to take on color. Keep in mind, as water is boiled out, the temperature of the sugar rises above the boiling point of water. The hotter the sugar gets, the faster it cooks. It is possible for some of the sugar to caramelize faster than the rest. If you see darker spots developing in your caramel, stir gently to incorporate them, giving you a better idea of how dark the caramel is becoming overall.

Safety Warning: Cooked sugar (be it for caramel, candy, brittles, meringues, sugar art, etc) is dangerous stuff. It is very sticky and will burn you badly if it touches your skin. Please be extremely careful.

  • Build the sauce:

Remove the caramel from the heat and gently (no splashes) add a handful of diced dried fruit.

Return to the heat and drizzle in the red wine vinegar. Allow the mixture to reduce slightly.

Remove the sauce from the heat again and add the port, return it to the stove and reduce. Pull the sauce from the heat when it has reached the napper stage (it coats the back of a spoon without running off and running your finger through it leaves a clean stripe of visible spoon). The gastrique will continue to thicken as it cools. It will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator.
Serve gastrique as a sauce on the plate, or put it on the side for dipping purposes.
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