While having pasta, and by the time its taste reaches your buds, do you ever feel like there’s no sauce? Or worse, do you see the entire plate filled with gravy sauce except for the meat or potato on which you were pouring the sauce in the first place?
Well, if you experience these things often, you need to fix your sauce, more specifically, you need to thicken it.
Naturally, you’ll have to get the right viscosity of the sauce you’re serving so that it doesn’t run anywhere and stay where it should be, covering your food. If you’re wondering how to thicken sauce, we are here to guide you through it. Read till the end to find more about sauces and its thickening methods!
What is the need to know – how to thicken sauce?
If you’re still wondering why you should bother with how to thicken sauce in the first place, you must first remember that details like this make all the difference in the world of food! Well, you must’ve seen the sauce once accumulating at the bottom of the plate instead of being on top of the sausages. Besides, you might’ve felt that the white sauce you make for pasta is too thin and does not stick to the pasta!
You may have also felt that the consistency of the gravy is inadequate with the items in it. Well, facing these situations is very normal. To make your dish look much more brilliant and tasty, you should simply thicken the sauce. Not only does that add texture but it also makes the sauce ideally consistent for serving.
There are many ingredients that you can use to thicken the sauce. Now that we’ve agreed on its importance, it’s time for you to go through this guide and know more about how to thicken sauce to improve your culinary skills.
Six primary ingredients to thicken the sauce
Various ingredients can be used to thicken the sauce while cooking. However, six main ingredients are widely common. They’re either available in every household or easily accessible from the market. Look through the list below and learn how to thicken sauce using these everyday-ingredients.
- Corn Starch
Corn starch is one of the readily available items at home if you’re thinking about how to thicken sauce. Besides being inexpensive, it’s very effective and has the ability to thicken the sauce with proper consistency.
Being flavorless is a major advantage of Corn starch in thickening gravy and sauce. Add to that the fact that it mixes well and works properly when the sauce is heated. Corn starch comes from corn kernels and is a carbohydrate. It has a gelatinous effect when mixed with water and added.
Besides thickening clear sauces, stocks, soy-based sauces, corn starch is also effective as a thickener for custard and puddings. If you’re wondering how to thicken sauce while baking various recipes you can easily opt for corn starch.
- Common flour
Flour is another thickener that is widely used to thicken sauces besides corn starch. It is actually a basic ingredient if you’re making white sauce. In stews also, flour is used extensively. If you are gaping at how to thicken sauce when your gravy is inconsistent, opt for flour without even thinking twice.
It is a common item that is always available in the pantry. As it is added to any sauce, it becomes the very base of the gravy because starch naturally expands in water. You can also use flour to thicken diary-based sauces and soups.
However, keep in mind that flour, unlike corn starch, does not have a gelatin texture. Thus, your sauce and gravy may become heavy when flour is used.
- Egg Yolk
Egg yolk is rich in protein thickener that you can use if you’re confused with how to thicken sauce. It is another thickener that is easily available in the market and in your pantry. The protein in egg yolk will automatically thicken the sauce when heated.
Bear in mind that reaching the degree of thickness you desire depends on the number of yolks you put. You can start with one or two and proceed further if needed. And in addition to pasta sauces where yolks are widely used, they can also be used to thicken salad dressings, custards, and cream sauces.
Butter will not give you the same thickness like corn starch and flour. However, it has the edge of moistening other items. If you are wondering how to thicken sauce while cooking pasta you can add butter which, besides adding glossy texture, enhances the consistency of the sauce. Butter is ideal for those sauces which do not need to be so thick yet require a little oomph. It is also fit for pan sauces.
One of the biggest advantages of using arrowroot as a thickener for sauce is that it’s gluten free. If you feel confused on how to thicken sauce that can be later frozen, you can use arrowroot. It is similar to cornstarch and appears like a gelatin-based product during application.
It is obtained from an arrowroot tuber, a tropical plant, and not corn kernels. Besides being clear and smooth, it thickens excellently at low temperatures too. It does not even break down when you mix it with acids. Thus, it is ideal for being used in sauces which are acidic.
Arrowroot is ideal for gravy containing sauces, lime juice, and vinegar. Nonetheless, avoid it as a thickener in dairy-based sauces. Arrowroot is always available in your pantry, so you need not worry about how to thicken sauce if your guests suddenly arrive.
- Beurre Manié
Beurre Manié is the formal name of kneaded butter. It is similar to roux but you need not worry about the lump formation as the mixture releases the flour evenly and slowly to thicken the sauce. Beurre Manié is a mixture of butter and flour in equal proportion.
If you’re thinking about how to thicken sauce without forming lumps, Beurre Manié is your answer. It can also be used to thicken soups and stews. Besides further binding the sauce, it also enhances the taste of the dish.
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How to thicken sauce using the six primary ingredients
Thickening sauces is an easy process, but you need to know it properly so that you don’t mess up the dish you’re cooking. The six ingredients mentioned above are the primary items you can use for thickening, so you’d better know how to use them properly!
- How to use Corn Starch
To use corn starch for thickening, you must mix it properly in cold water. The proportion for using the corn starch is one tablespoon for each cup of sauce. You must whisk the corn starch in water appropriately to get a slurry base.
Whisking is important because it will prevent lump formation. As the corn starch is gelatin-based, it mixes well when added to hot sauce. However, you need to stir and whisk it properly after mixing for proper consistency.
You also need to boil the sauce for a few minutes so that the starch mixes properly because corn starch starts working and thickens adequately only when it gets heat.
- How to use flour
As you use flour as a thickening item, you must try to remove the raw taste of it at the first go. If you are worried about how to thicken sauce using flour, create a roux so that the raw flavor slopes. Roux is prepared by mixing flour and butter in equal proportion.
Make sure you use melted butter or otherwise it will be difficult to mix. You can also heat the butter on a pan and whisk it with flour until it turns brown. You will know that the roux is ready once you get a nutty smell.
When it becomes ready, add it to your sauce and go on whisking so that it mixes well and thickens. Also bear in mind that the sauce will get not only thicker but also heavier because flour does not have a gelatin-like texture like corn starch.
- How to use egg yolk
While using egg yolk, make sure to separate it from egg whites in a bowl. You must be careful that the eggs don’t scramble when added to the sauce. To ensure that, whisk the egg yolk by adding a little hot sauce so that it is tempered.
Once you’ve whispered it for some time, add the whole mixture into the sauce. If you’re troubled with how to thicken sauce using egg yolk, follow this method to get better results.
- How to use butter?
Once you’re done with cooking the sauce, add a few spoons of melted butter to the recipe. Butter tends to thicken when it is cooled. Add melted butter and swirl the sauce properly so that the whole butter mixes with the sauce, eventually thickening it.
Besides that, the dish will get a glossy look and the taste will also improve. However, you must add butter off the heat so that it does not break up leading to a greasy texture instead of a glossy one.
- How to use arrowroot
The procedure of using arrowroot is similar to that of using corn starch. You need to mix arrowroot with cold water and whisk it properly. The ratio of mixing arrowroot to sauce is 1:1. One spoon of arrowroot should be used for every cup of sauce.
Once you have mixed it with cold water, add it to the sauce and stir it properly in medium heat so that it mixes well. Boil the sauce for a minute so that the starch expands and thickens the sauce. If you are too nervous about how to thicken sauce, you can always use arrowroot, but not with dairy products.
- How to use Beurre Manié?
You can get freshly baked Beurre Manié from stores and directly mix it with the sauce you are cooking, or you can make a roux using equal portions of butter and flour. Once it gets mixed, you should knead it into a dough.
Later, depending on your preference, you can add bits of it in the sauce to make it thicker. You should also stir the sauce when you mix so that no lump is formed. If you are speculating on how to thicken sauce using Beurre Manié while making sure at the same time that the raw flavor of flour does not stay – go on tasting and boiling as you mix and stir it.
How to thicken the sauce by reducing water
Another way through which you can thicken the sauce is by reducing its liquid or water content. To do this you need to keep boiling the sauce so that the water evaporates and the residue becomes thicker.
Moreover, it also concentrates the flavor which is preferred with many dishes and makes your sauce adequately thick. It is an ideal method for pan sauces and pasta sauces.
If you’re thinking about the right way for how to thicken sauce by reducing water, go on heating the sauce in medium flame till the amount is reduced and the consistency looks thick. You need to season the sauce properly so that, after you reduce water, the sauce does not seem too salty!
Other ingredients to thicken the sauce
Besides the most common ingredients to thicken the sauce, some other items can be used to thicken the sauce are available in the market. Check them out so that you can change the ingredients at times!
- Tapioca Starch: If you are wondering how to thicken sauce using something other than the commonly available items, you can use tapioca starch. It comes in powdered packets and effectively thickens the sauce or gravy. You need to add three to six spoons of tapioca starch powder for every six cups of sauce.
- Potato starch: Though popular among European countries, potato starch is another important ingredient to thicken sauces. This gluten-free starch is used because of its flavorlessness that is good for all foods.
- Gur gram: Gur gram is a seed that is powdered to be used in thickening sauces. It is obtained from gur beans grown in India. If you are speculating on how to thicken sauce by adding a little thickeners, the Gur gram is the best option. One cup of sauce will need just ¼ of the powder to effectively thicken.
- Psyllium husk: If you are wondering about other ways on how to thicken sauce, adding psyllium husk is a great option. It is a plant-based fiber that is free of gluten, low in calories, and low on carbs. Half a spoon of husk per cup of sauce will efficiently thicken your gravy properly.
Now that you know about the ingredients which thicken sauces, get them and be ready to use them. Be it your special dinner, or with sudden guests whom you can serve delicious food with thick gravy sauces!