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Caramelized Leeks With Balsamic Reduction

Caramelized leeks in a skillet

In the US, we rarely think of leeks as a stand-alone dish. We use them to enhance other dishes, like soups and sauces. In Brazil, however, these sweet vegetables are served in a variety of ways alongside churrasco-style meats. Today’s recipe slowly cooks thin strips of leek in garlic-infused butter, olive oil, and a little sugar to produce a melt-in-your-mouth side dish that pairs well with any main course. Caramelized leeks also make a fantastic alternative to bruschetta when eaten on crusty french bread or toast points. 

However you enjoy them, we are sure of one thing: once you have tasted these caramelized leeks, you will wonder why you’ve never used this unassuming ingredient on its own more often! 

How Do You Caramelize Leeks?

Like onions, leeks are naturally high in sugar. This means they lend very well to slow-browning to bring out that sweetness. The method by which we will caramelize our leeks is quite similar to how you prepare yellow onions for French Onion Soup. The leeks are rinsed and the layers separated. We also recommend cutting the leeks into thinner strips for even cooking (and so they can be easily twirled up onto a fork). 

The leeks are then added to a pan of melted butter and oil, sprinkled with a little sugar, and left to cook slowly for about 20 minutes. You will stir them occasionally to allow for even cooking. The end result is a sweet and savory dish that can be slurped up like vegan pasta. 

How to Make a Balsamic Reduction for Caramelized Leeks

Our caramelized leeks are served with red pepper flakes and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. As the name implies, this sauce is made simply by reducing Balsamic vinegar until it has thickened to syrupy consistency. It is incredibly simple to do. 

Add one cup of good Balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium low. Let the liquid simmer until it is reduced by half, stirring frequently. Use it right away or refrigerate it for up to one week. If it thickens too much in the refrigerator, add a little plain Balsamic and mix. 

If you find you use balsamic glaze frequently, you can also buy ready-made bottles of it. 

Caramelized Leeks Recipe


5 large leeks, rinsed and trimmed
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2.5 oz extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp granulated sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
Red pepper flakes


  1. Separate the layers of your rinsed and trimmed leeks. On a cutting board, slice them length-ways into long, thin strips (about one quarter inch wide). 
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium low heat. Add in the butter and oil. When the butter has melted, add in the smashed garlic and simmer until fragrant and softened (1-2 minutes).
  3. Remove the smashed garlic and discard. Put your leeks into the infused butter and oil mixture and sprinkle them with the two tsp of sugar and ½ tsp of salt.
  4. Stir the leek mixture together and cook over medium low heat. If they are browning too quickly, reduce the heat to low. 
  5. Continue cooking and stirring the mixture for about 20 minutes, until the leeks are soft, buttery, and brown. If necessary, add more butter. 
  6. Serve hot with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Enjoy!

What to Eat With Your Caramelized Leeks:

Texas de Brazil Online Butcher Shop

Did you know: you can have high quality meats to serve alongside your caramelized leeks delivered right to your door? Hand curated butcher boxes or a la carte options are available to suit every taste. From our world-famous picanha and Brazilian sausages, to premium cuts of lamb and pork, your next barbecue is about to get a massive upgrade. Visit our online Butcher Shop today to get started. 

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