How To Thicken BBQ Sauce(7 Easy Tips)


Set or watery condiments with our seven easy and effective ways to thicken BBQ sauce. From using flour to cornstarch, here are the best ways to make it thick and gooey.

how to thicken bbq willow

We all have our own favorite barbecue sauce, whether it’s a store-bought sauce or your own homemade version . It comes in so many different flavors and spice levels that there’s a version for everyone.

One of the best things about it is that if you’re a mega fan of BBQ sauce like me, it can go with anything. Burgers, sandwiches, pizza, fries…even soup.

However, what I find really off-putting is a sauce that is too thin. I can tolerate almost any flavor or level of spice, but when I pour gravy over my food, I want it to be gravy… Not just spice water.

Luckily, this is really easy to avoid, and there are several ways to thicken it up. Here are 7 of the best.

Prepare barbecue with sauce

Reduce in a sauce pan

This first one is really quick and easy.

When we talk about thickening things when cooking, we often talk about adding ingredients like cornstarch or flour to try to thicken it. Not with this first method.

Instead we will remove the ingredients .

This method focuses on removing any excess water or vinegar that has found its way into the sauce.

Simply heat a small saucepan over low heat and add your sauce, stirring constantly. Slowly increase the heat without letting it boil so the water starts to evaporate.

When the water has evaporated, your sauce will have thickened. Just be aware that it will continue to evaporate for about a minute after you remove it from the heat. So, SHE prefers to stop heating the sauce when it gets close to the desired thickness rather than waiting until it’s too late.

Add flour

The next two ways to thicken BBQ sauce are to use starches.

Generally, store-bought starches are white, tasteless powders. When added to liquids like sauces, they soak up the liquid and help thicken it.

This makes them perfect for thickening BBQ sauce because they can help give us the texture we need without carrying unwanted flavors or reducing the spice levels we love.

For each cup of sauce YOU want to thicken, YOU should use the following ingredients to make a thickening solution.

flour thickening solution

  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • ¼ cup of water

Combine the two ingredients thoroughly in a small bowl, making sure they are consistent and free of lumps. One off-bound reserve.

Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add your BBQ sauce. Bring the temperature to a simmer, but be careful not to boil. Once simmering, add the flour and water mixture and stir well. Stir constantly with a spoon and simmer for 1-2 minutes, or until sauce reaches desired consistency.

Add cornstarch

Much like flour, we can use cornstarch to thicken BBQ sauce. If you want to use your sauce on the ribs, this might be the best way to do it. Cornstarch can also help carry a brilliant shine to anything we apply, which is exactly the kind of aesthetic that barbecue ribs do so well.

BBQ sauce served with sweet potato fries

It’s actually a much better thickener than flour, but what may disappoint you is that it sometimes breaks down with ingredients like tomatoes that can be present in many BBQ sauces.

For each cup of BBQ sauce, you’ll need to make a mixture of 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water. As with the flour mixture, mix the cornstarch and water together well in a small bowl, smoothing out any lumps. Once a good consistency is achieved, mix with your BBQ sauce and combine well.

Not that you can add the flour and cornstarch directly into the sauce if you’d like, but I think the best way to ensure there aren’t any lumps is to mix the flour or cornstarch with water first, to soften it before adding it to your sauce.


Now listen to me here. Butter can serve as a great thickener and add a nice creamy flavor to your sauce.

If you do choose butter, be sure to only buy grass-fed, organic butter. Skip the margarine.

Coconut beer

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but the use of coconut oil seems to be growing every year. From cooking oil substitutes to coffee cream and thickeners for BBQ sauces.

If you’re vegan, you might prefer this option over cream or butter.

Thick cream

Like butter not only adds thickness and body to your sauce, but also gives it a very rich flavor. Add while your sauce is simmering, being careful not to thicken it too much.

Tomato puree

Many vegetables in pureed form add a nice amount of fiber to a sauce, which allows them to thicken while adding some nutritional value.

The tomato puree gives your sauce a nice smooth body as it thickens it and should match the flavor profiles of most BBQ sauces.

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