How to Thicken Your BBQ Sauce (5 Methods)

Want to thicken your BBQ sauce? Simmer it longer or mix in cornstarch with water. Add tomato paste, or chill it in the fridge. These methods will give you the thicker sauce you crave.

Curious to learn more about perfecting your sauce though? Keep reading for detailed tips, tricks and methods to get that BBQ sauce just right.

Thickened BBQ Sauce in a Bowl
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With Cornstarch 🌽✅

To thicken BBQ sauce WITH cornstarch:

  1. Mix cornstarch with cold water in a separate bowl until smooth.
  2. Heat your BBQ sauce in a saucepan over medium heat until it simmers.
  3. Slowly pour the cornstarch mixture into the sauce while stirring continuously.
  4. Keep stirring until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency.
  5. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly before using.

Without Cornstarch 🌽❎

To thicken BBQ sauce WITHOUT cornstarch:

  1. Simmer the sauce: Heat your BBQ sauce in a saucepan over medium heat until it starts to simmer.
  2. Reduce heat: Lower the heat to medium-low and let the sauce continue to simmer.
  3. Cook it down: Allow the sauce to cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until it reduces to your desired thickness. This can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the initial consistency of the sauce and how thick you want it.
  4. Check consistency: To test if the sauce is thick enough, dip a spoon into it and see if it coats the back of the spoon. If it does, it's likely ready. If not, continue simmering until it reaches the desired thickness.
  5. Adjust seasoning(optional): Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary, adding more salt, pepper, or other flavorings to balance the taste.
  6. Remove from heat: Once the sauce reaches the desired thickness and flavor, remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly before using or storing.
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With Flour 🧑‍🍳

BBQ Sauce and Flour in a Thickening Pot

To thicken BBQ sauce with flour:

  1. Make a slurry: Mix flour with cold water in a separate bowl until smooth.
  2. Heat the sauce: Heat your BBQ sauce in a saucepan over medium heat until it begins to simmer.
  3. Add the slurry: Slowly pour the flour mixture into the simmering sauce while stirring continuously.
  4. Stir well: Keep stirring the sauce for a few minutes to ensure the flour is evenly distributed and to prevent lumps from forming.
  5. Cook and thicken: Allow the sauce to cook for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens to your desired consistency.
  6. Adjust seasoning: Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary, adding more salt, pepper, or other flavorings to balance the taste.
  7. Remove from heat: Once the sauce has thickened and reached the desired flavor, remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly before using or storing.
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With Tomato Paste 🍅

One additional tip to thicken BBQ sauce is to use tomato paste. Here's how:

  1. Add tomato paste: Stir in a tablespoon or two of tomato paste into your BBQ sauce while it's simmering. The concentrated tomato flavor will help thicken the sauce.
  2. Incorporate gradually: Add the tomato paste a little at a time, stirring well after each addition, until you reach the desired thickness.
  3. Simmer and blend: Allow the sauce to simmer for a few extra minutes to let the flavors meld together and the sauce to thicken further. If you prefer a smoother consistency, you can blend the sauce with an immersion blender or in a regular blender after simmering.
  4. Adjust seasoning: Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed, adding more salt, pepper, or other spices to enhance the flavor.
  5. Let it cool: Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool slightly before using or storing. This allows the flavors to settle and the sauce to thicken even more as it cools.

Adding tomato paste not only thickens the sauce but also adds a depth of flavor that complements the BBQ sauce well.

Beurre Manié (French for “Kneaded Butter”)

Bowl of Beurre Manie (French for Kneaded Butter)

Beurre manie is a mixture of equal parts softened butter and flour used to thicken sauces and soups. To use beurre manie as a sauce thickener:

  1. Mix equal parts softened butter and all-purpose flour to form a paste.
  2. Add small amounts of the beurre manie to your simmering sauce while whisking constantly.
  3. Continue whisking until the beurre manie is fully incorporated into the sauce.
  4. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes to cook out the raw flour taste and allow it to thicken.
  5. If the sauce is still too thin, repeat the process with additional beurre manie until you reach the desired thickness.
  6. Once thickened, remove the sauce from heat and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Beurre manie adds richness and body to sauces, making it a versatile option for thickening BBQ sauce or any other sauce.

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The "Best" Method

Obviously the "best" way to thicken your BBQ sauce will depend on the sauce you are working with.

I will say that my go-to thickening method is the "WITHOUT Constarch" method described above. It essentially boils the sauce down and allows the water to evaporate.

It's my favorite method because it doesn't change the taste of the sauce, unless you add seasoning.