how to thicken bbq sauce easy

How To Thicken BBQ Sauce

Nothing signals the arrival of warm weather quite like a hearty barbeque sauce. Whether you're utilizing an old family recipe or you plan on buying some local sauce from the farmer's market, there's nothing better than a homemade sauce for grilling; however, things rarely work out the way we want. In general, seasoned smokers are going to find that thicken sauces will bind better to the meat you're cooking, meaning your sauce will be cooked onto and into the sauce instead of falling by the wayside. Not cooking with your sauce. For those who are planning to use their barbeque sauce in sandwiches such as chopped pork, it can help to hold your sandwich together if you use a thicker sauce. If you're making your own sauce, it can be difficult to get the thickness just right and buying premade sauces can sometimes leave you with a wet mess.

​Easy Ways To Thicken Your ​Barbeque Sauce

Luckily, there are a good variety of ways that you can quickly -- and efficiently -- thicken your favorite sauces. Keep in mind, each sauce is made a little differently, and it's important to fully understand what is in your favorite sauce to know how to best thicken it. If you're ready to learn how to thicken barbeque sauce, we're ready to teach! Check out the post below and you'll be well on your way to achieving the perfect barbeque sauce.

Method One: Remove Excess Liquids

heat bbq sauce to thicken

The first method we're going to go over is probably one of the most common sense. If there's extra liquid in your sauce, one of the easiest methods is to carefully boil the water off. This method can be a little difficult for the simple fact that you do have to watch it pretty carefully, but it's easy in the fact that it doesn't take a bunch of extra ingredients. Overall, the steps are pretty simple: 

  1. Pour your barbeque sauce into a pot. Turn your heat to medium.
  2. ​Leave your sauce until it starts to boil.
  3. ​After you see your sauce start to boil, you'll want to turn your sauce down to a low heat. At this point, you'll want to be constantly watching the mixture until it gets to the thickness level you desire.

Why it works: This one is just your grade school chemistry. When you're simmering your mixture on low, with the lid on, you'll notice the steam, which is simply the water evaporating from your mixture. The more water that evaporated from your sauce, the thicker it will become.

Method Two: Use Flour or Cornstarch

For those who are experienced cooks, you may be familiar with this method. It's pretty regularly used to make stews thicker as well as a variety of other soul foods. While some are not a fan of the texture this method adds to their sauce, it is great news that this is such an easy solution to a watery sauce. The vast majority of us are going to have flour in our pantry, and if you don't want to use flour, you can also try using cornstarch. 

  1. ​While you get everything together, you'll want to put your sauce in a pot. Similar t the method above, we want to heat this sauce carefully before we add our mixture in.
  2. ​Gather your ingredients next! If you're thickening one cup of sauce, you'll want to use two tablespoons of flour and a quarter cup water. If you're planning on using cornstarch, you'll want to mix one tablespoon of cornstarch with one tablespoon of cold water for every one cup of sauce.
  3. ​Regardless of which mixture you're using, you'll want to mix together the water and powder as thoroughly as possible. Make sure there are no lumps at all in your mixture before adding them to your sauce!
  4. ​Bring your sauce to a boil, turn to low, and stir for about two minutes.

Why it works: Flour is routinely used in baking to thicken ingredients, which will be common knowledge to anyone who uses flour to make stew. The reason flour is perfect is due to its high starch content, which works to interact with water molecules and create a thicker sauce.

Method Three: Use Fat

This is a fantastic option for those who aren't afraid to add a bit of calories to their sauce. Once again, this is a fantastic option to thicken sauces because it can be done quickly, and it also only uses ingredients you'll probably already have laying around your home. The most common way to thicken barbeque sauce with fat is to use butter. Alternatively, you can also use something like heavy cream or a small amount of coconut oil if you're looking to avoid adding unnecessary butter.

  1. ​If you're using butter, the very first thing you'll want to do is melt your butter in a pan.
  2. ​After the butter is melted, you can add your sauce to the same pan, turning it up to medium until it boils. Once your sauce is boiled, you'll want to let it sit on low for a few minutes.
  3. ​Stir until you reach your desired thickness.

Why it works: The fat content is what thickens the sauce. Butter, in particular, works so well because of its water-in-fat emulsion, meaning that the water is dispersed throughout the fat. When butter is added to a sauce, it changes to a fat-in-water emulsion, meaning that there will be fat distributed evenly throughout your sauce, resulting in a thicker sauce.

 Method Four: Use Your Veggies

Nightshade Foods Thickener

This one is one you may have seen your mother use while growing up, as well as being an easily accessible thickening agent. There are a variety of veggies you can puree and add to your sauce in order to add some thickness. In particular, tomato paste tends to be one of the most popular options, which will give your sauce a bit of a sour taste. Try using some nightshade plants to add a bit of healthy fiber to your sauce. Red potatoes can be pureed to help thicken but add a creamy texture, while something like pureed tomatoes will give a more robust taste. 

  1. ​Pour your sauce into a pot over medium heat.
  2. ​Add your tomato paste to your sauce. Keep in mind, you can also swap out the tomato paste for your favorite ketchup, which can help if you're in a jam.
  3. ​Stir and heat your mixture until it becomes the thickness you desire.

Why it works: Complex carbohydrates, such as the ones found in nightshade plants and tomatoes, will help thicken your sauce and also help to keep the meal low-carb.

thick bbq sauce

​Final Thoughts

Whether you're using a bottled sauce or putting in the work to make your own batch, it's important to remember that there's always a way to thicken your sauce. If it comes out more watery than you'd like, try one of our above suggestions and see what works for you. IF you're looking for a buttery texture, try using a fat option; if you're looking to add some healthy dietary fiber, don't be scared to try pureeing some veggies for your next sauce. All in all, don't be afraid to experiment and find what's best for you and your favorite sauce.

About the Author Nathan

Hi! My name is Nathan and I’m a passionate meat-lover and certified grill connoisseur. I fell in love with grilling food back when I was a little kid when my grandfather used to cook tasty burgers in our backyard every Saturdays.

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