How to Thicken BBQ Sauce: 9 Perfect Ways

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Last updatedLast updated: March 09, 2021
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There is nothing worse in the world of barbecuing than thin sauce. Even if you have the best grill, a thin sauce can ruin your food. A BBQ sauce is meant to be good and thick. This allows it to stick to the food and impart all of its flavors directly into your mouth. So how can you fix a sauce that is too thin? Easily. You just need to know how to thicken BBQ sauce, which is a relatively easy prospect.

There are lots of differences for thickening up a BBQ sauce. Many of them can be done in as little as 10 minutes, making it that much easier to get your grill game back on track if the sauce isn’t up to your standards. You just need to figure out which method works best for you, which is why we have provided nine of the best methods out there for your consideration.

1.   Reducing in a saucepan

The first method is also one of the easiest. While you might think of adding things to a BBQ sauce to thicken it up, reducing it in a saucepan will actually have the opposite effect. This method is based on the idea of removing excess water/vinegar, which is causing it to be runny, from the sauce to help it to thicken up without reducing or changing the flavor in any way, shape, or form.

For this method, simply place your sauce in a medium pan and place it over medium heat. While you want the sauce to heat up, you don’t want it to boil. To prevent this, you should stir the sauce often. This will prevent it from overheating and also give you important insight into how thick it is getting. As it heats up, the excess water/vinegar will start to evaporate, making the sauce thicker.

2.   In a slow cooker/crockpot

This method is very much like the one listed above. The biggest difference, obviously, is the fact that this one uses a slow cooker or crockpot rather than a saucepan. To utilize the slow cooker to thicken up your BBQ sauce, you simply need to run it on medium for a little while with the lid off. This heating will cause the excess water to evaporate, which should thicken up the sauce.

Of course, slow cookers are wonderful vessels for mixing in other foods as well. If you want to speed up the thickening process, you can add some garlic or onions to the mix, as well as brown sugar. This will alter the flavor of the sauce a bit but should also get the job done as far as making it thicker as well.

How to Thicken BBQ Sauce: 9 Perfect Ways3.   Flour

Whenever an experienced cook is looking to add a bit of thickness to a recipe, their first thought is usually going to be flour. This starch is made from grains and is used in lots of baking recipes. Since it is starch, it absorbs liquids. This makes it a great ingredient for thickening up BBQ sauce. Flour is also tasteless, which is also quite ideal.

You can’t, however, just throw flour into your sauce and hope that it will thicken correctly. This could make the sauce too thick, which is not what you want either. For every cup of sauce that you are trying to thicken, you should put in two tablespoons of flour and a ¼ cup of water. Mix the flour and water before you add it to your sauce so that you can make sure to remove any and all lumps. Then, heat the sauce a bit, but do not boil it. Add the flour mixture and stir continuously till you have the thickness you desire.

4.   Cornstarch

As the name would suggest, we are talking about another starch in cornstarch. This is another great way to add a bit of thickness to your sauce without adding any taste. In fact, cornstarch, like this offering from ARGO, is a better thickening agent than flour since it has a higher capacity for water absorption. It can, however, break down and not work quite as well if your sauce has a heavy acidic content thanks to an extra helping of tomatoes in the ingredients.

Much like if you are using flour, you need to first mix the cornstarch with water before adding it to your sauce. This is a bit different of a mix, however, as you need to add one tablespoon of both water and cornstarch for every cup of sauce. Make sure to mix the water and cornstarch together beforehand to remove any lumps.

5.   Butter and cream

If you are looking for a way to add a bit of thickness and a sweetening agent, then butter or coconut cream might be a good way to go. It must be said that you need to use real butter, though. You cannot thicken up or sweeten your BBQ sauce with margarine. The fat inside of the butter is what will add the required thickness, which is something that margarine simply doesn’t contain. Cococunt cream also has lots of fat in it,

To properly add butter or cream, for every cup of sauce, you should put in 1 tablespoon of butter. First, place your BBQ sauce in a pan and heat it over medium heat. Do not allow it to boil. Then, simply add the butter and stir continuously. This should be done until the butter is fully melted and you have the consistency that you desire.

6.   Heavy cream

Another option in the dairy section that you can add to your sauce to make it a bit thicker is heavy cream. This cream is skimmed off the top of milk during pasteurization and processing. It contains a lot of fat, which makes it not only quite thick but also rich in flavor as well.

Like many other thickening options, you should add your heavy cream when the sauce is heated up. This will help it to mix in properly. Unlike other agents, you can add a little bit of cream at a time until you get the consistency that you desire. Just make sure that you keep stirring. You need to be careful, of course, that you don’t overdo it since this would make the sauce too thick.

7.   Your favorite vegetable puree

Another way that you can add a bit of flavor to a sauce and thicken it at the same time is to add a vegetable puree. As we have mentioned, many sauces are already based on tomatoes, so they make an excellent choice if you are looking to add some body to your sauce. You can, of course, add any vegetable that you desire. It all depends on your taste preferences and how adventurous you want to be with your flavorings.

To add a vegetable puree, you simply need to select the vegetable that you want to use and make a puree. First, wash, peel, and dice the veggies, and then steam them. Once they are cooked, use a food processor to chop the vegetables to your desired texture. After that, simply heat your sauce and add the puree until you get the thickness and flavor you want.

8.   Food gum

If you are unfamiliar with food gums, they are not made out of chewing gum, obviously. These foods are derived from seaweed or land plants. They are fat-free and will not change the taste of a BBQ sauce. Instead, all that they do is work to increase the texture and thickness of the sauce because they work to hold liquids and spices together.

It is best to add food gum when the sauce is quite hot. Unlike other mixes, you want to actually boil the sauce and gum together. This will activate the gelling process and should help to increase the thickness of your BBQ sauce.

How to Thicken BBQ Sauce: 9 Perfect Ways9.   Nuts and seeds

Much like your favorite vegetables, you can also puree nuts and seeds to add some texture and thickness to your sauce. Nuts are also high in protein and other nutrients, which will help to make your sauce, ever so slightly, healthier for consumption. Of course, nuts and seeds will also alter the flavor ever so slightly, so you need to plan for that as well.

To add nuts, you simply need to puree the mix that you desire and add it to your sauce while it is on medium heat. Stir in the puree a little bit at a time so that you have greater control over the thickness of your sauce.

Final thoughts

As you can see, there are lots of different ways that you can thicken up your favorite BBQ sauce so that you can become a BBQ master on your grill. Each of the methods listed above is relatively easy to perform. They also will allow you to decide whether or not you want to add any additional flavors or use a flavorless method to make your BBQ sauce thicker.

The most important thing to keep in mind now that you know how to thicken BBQ sauce is to keep an open mind. Even if you think that you would never want to try any of the strategies listed above, you should at least give them a go at least once. You might be missing out on amazing flavors that you could never have imagined. That way, you can be sure to use your sauces for delicious foods rather than let them go bad.

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