How to Thicken BBQ Sauce (8 Super Simple Methods)

There is nothing worse than dipping fries into a runny sauce!

I am here to help save your homemade BBQ sauce.

Check out my top methods for thickening BBQ sauce.

I’ve also added a recipe for the perfect sauce!

how-to-thicken-barbecue-sauce-how-to-make-bbq-sauce-thicker-how-to-thicken-bbq-sauce

BBQ Sauce & the Right Consistency

BBQ sauce is very popular and for good reason.

It can be used for basting ribs as a mop sauce, as a binder, a condiment, or for marinating.

Flavor profiles include acidic, sweet, and savory.

A great balance of flavors.

It ticks all the boxes for what our taste buds crave!

The perfect consistency does vary depending on where it’s from.

You do not want any excess oil or a water mix on the top.

It should be emulsified together and have a sticky consistency.

My Top Thickening Techniques for BBQ Sauce

Thickening agents come in all forms to add viscosity.

The idea is to not drastically impact the taste but to help with the body.

Most of these have common ingredients that you will have at home.

Follow these simple thickening methods to bring your sauce back to life!

Cornstarch or Flour Thickening Method

The classic go-to for thickening sauces!

The proteins in starch molecules bind and thicken and swell in liquids.

This molecular swelling in turn will thicken your sauce.

The best thing about this is it doesn’t impede on any flavor whatsoever.

Plus it is very simple to do.

For every cup of sauce dissolve 1 tbsp water in 1 tbsp of flour or cornstarch. 

Use cold water and stir to avoid adding any lumps!

Combine the flour or corn swell with your BBQ sauce and watch the magic happen.

Note: Using cornstarch compared to white flour?

This will give your sauce a shiny velvety texture.

Reduction in a Saucepan

If you’ve got the time then reducing slowly in a saucepan is one of my top methods.

This will even develop the flavors and give you a more robust flavor profile.

Pour your sauce into a saucepan on low heat.

Slowly let it simmer but not boil.

Do not leave it!

Keep stirring while the excess water evaporates and the thickening process finishes.

It might only take 1 or 2 minutes to get the balance of water right again.

Note: This is also great if you have an imbalance of flavors.

Applying heat will cook it out and also remove a grainy texture.

This is because you are dissolving the ingredients.

Emulsifying With Butter

French chefs are proud!

Butter in BBQ sauces goes well and is a great thickener.

Due to the fat emulsifying into the sauce and adding more volume.

A tablespoon of butter goes a long way per cup of sauce.

I reccomend using butter with no salt.

It will add a creamy texture and thicker consistency.

Melt the butter in a saucepan.

Do not leave it on too long, we don’t want it to go brown or burn.

Add the melted butter back into your BBQ sauce and mix well.

Tomato Purée

The base for a good BBQ sauce is actually tomato sauce.

So adding a touch of tomato purée as a key ingredient for thickening will not hinder the flavor.

You could also combine with types of starches like the white flour method.

Do this if it is really watery.

The high concentration of fiber in the purée help give it a thicker body.

Plus a more developed base taste of rich tomato.

Add 1 tbsp of purée per 1 cup of sauce.

Mix in until smooth.

Heavy Cream

Heavy cream emulsification to your preferred consistency is much like our butter method.

Expect you to cut down on the preparation process.

Add in a splash of cream and mix.

Don’t add loads, just enough for it to come together.

No one can say no to a neutral but beautiful creamy flavor.

Whatever the sauce.

Starchy Vegetable Purée

Grab your favorite starchy veg.

This might be a potato, carrot, or even caramelized onion.

Boil the vegetables first to remove any bitter taste or rough texture.

Blend them in a food processor with a tiny drop of hot water.

Add the pureed vegetables to your BBQ sauce 1 tablespoon at a time and stir.

Natural Food Gums

My last recommendation is to use Xantham gum or Guar gum.

These are both products made from natural origins.

Xantham gum comes from sugar.

Guar gum comes from guar beans.

These can be a bit of a specialty and are usually used in bulk by manufacturers.

However, with a bit of shopping around you will find them.

These make for a great sauce thickener because that is what they were produced to do!

Using these products is the same as making the flour or cornstarch mixture.

However, you do need a lot less of the food gums.

Dissolve 1 gram of Xanthum or Guar gum into a tbsp of cold water for every cup of sauce.

The gums will thicken as soon as they hit the water.

Make sure you are ready to add them quickly and stir.

My Favorite Homemade Barbecue Sauce Recipe

I hope I’ve helped you understand the best methods for thickening a BBQ sauce.

Remember, these techniques can also be applied to other sauces and gravies.

Just remember you don’t want to impact the balance of flavor profiles.

Ingredients

  • Ketchup (2 cups)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (20ml)
  • Brown Sugar (1/4 cup)
  • Honey (2 tbsp)
  • Worcestershire sauce (20ml)
  • Kosher salt, black pepper, onion & garlic powder (1 tsp)
  • Dijon Mustard (1 tbsp)
  • Hot Sauce (20ml)

Recipe Steps

– Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan.

– Mix together thoroughly.

– Gently heat over medium flame.

– Wait until it bubbles.

– Remove from the heat.

– Serve immediately or save in a mason jar.

Smoke On!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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