BBQ Essentials – How To Thicken The Sauce
Imagine perfectly tender meat coated in a tangy, smoky sauce. Are you intrigued yet?
Barbecue sauce has earned its place as one of the holy grails of cooking. It has its reputation partly because of its flavor and partly because of its texture.
There are many variations of barbecue sauce. It can range from sweet to spicy, but one thing is consistent. It has to be thick enough to slowly run down the side of whatever protein you use with it. No matter what recipe you use, it will miss the mark if the sauce is too thin.
Here are some of the thickening methods you can thicken your barbecue sauce to make it next-level amazing.
The general ratio of roux is one-part flour to one part butter. However, the measurements will slightly change depending on the type of flour you use. Cake flour will result in a thicker sauce than bread flour because it has more starch in it. You can adjust the amount of flour to get the thickness you want.
Beurre Manie Method
Tomato Paste Method
Before getting into the different ingredients you can add to your barbecue sauce, you should consider trying the easiest way to get the sauce to thicken. It is simply to allow the sauce to simmer.
Pour your barbecue sauce into a pan. Make sure that the pot is uncovered. Otherwise, the water will just condense and return to barbecue sauce.
Simmer it on low heat until you reach the desired consistency. This works because the heat encourages the liquids in the sauce to evaporate. Less hot liquid means thicker sauce.
The advantage of this method is that you do not have to add anything else to the sauce. The resulting flavor is also stronger because it is more concentrated.But, if you are in a hurry, you can try the different methods listed below.
Thickening Sauce with Cornstarch
It is important to mix the cornstarch with a liquid before adding it to the sauce because it prevents the sauce from clumping.
Cornstarch works to thicken sauce because of the starch molecules. They act like sponges and soak up water. When this happens, the molecules expand so it ends up being more viscous.
The advantage of cornstarch is that it gives the sauce a glossy sheen. However, it may not be the best method for overly acidic variations of barbecue sauce. The acid will interfere with its thickening ability.
Thickening Barbecue Sauce with Arrowroot Powder
Arrowroot powder will not affect the taste of the barbecue sauce. It can also withstand the acidity of the sauce better than cornstarch. However, if your sauce has milk or cream in the ingredients, better try another method. Arrowroot can turn the sauce slimy if it mixes with dairy.
Thickening Barbecue Sauce with Flour
Just like the other starch-based thickeners, flour thickens the sauce by absorbing the water. If you are going to use flour in the barbecue sauce, you will need to cook off the taste of the flour. The sauce will taste chalky if the flour is undercooked. Make sure you try the sauce first before you remove it from the stove.
Thickening Barbecue Sauce with Roux
Roux can be an effective method to thicken barbecue sauce. It is a French technique, and the French have cooking methods down pat, right?
The thickening happens in two ways: first, the flour has starch in it, which will make the sauce more gelatinous. It is similar to the way oatmeal thickens because it absorbs the liquid.
The second part of the thickening process is the butter. The butter is fat, which separates the starch grains. It basically keeps the sauce smooth, instead of letting it clump.
You should know that roux will likely alter the taste of the barbecue sauce. Browned roux adds a nutty flavor to the finished product.
Thickening Barbecue Sauce with Beurre Manie
Beurre manie is the uncooked version of a roux. Its fancy name simply translates to “kneaded butter”. It also thickens the sauce the way roux does. Water is absorbed by the starch and the butter gives a smooth consistency.
Since beurre manie is not browned like a roux, its taste leans towards buttery rather than nutty and toasty. Use this method if you want a richer, creamier barbecue sauce.
Thickening Barbecue Sauce with Gelatin
Gelatin might sound unusual, but it can be an effective thickener of sauces. Powdered gelatin has no flavor and will not alter the taste of the barbecue sauce. Another advantage is that it is made out of animal protein. If you are avoiding gluten or grains, then this is the thickening agent for you.
Thickening Barbecue Sauce with Tomato Paste
Adding tomato paste (and not tomato sauce) is an easy way to thicken the sauce. It works especially well for tomato-based barbecue sauces. Not only will it help the sauce reach the right, smooth paste consistency, it will add a deeper tomato flavor to it.
No matter what kind of thickening agent you use, you should end up with a luscious, medium thick sauce. The texture if half the battle when it comes to barbecue sauce. You want a sauce that is smooth in your mouth. Make sure to learn these cooking basics.
Also, a thick sauce is a sauce that is able to cling to the food better. If the sauce is too thin, you will likely end up with a slick of sauce at the bottom of your plate and none in your mouth.
Did you like these suggestions on how to thicken barbecue sauce or do you have your own technique? Sound off in the comments you might have your own method you would like to let others know about. You can also share this article with someone on the lookout for an improved barbecue sauce recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Make a Sauce Thicker?
There are many different ways to thicken a sauce. The best way to do it depends on your needs. If you’re gluten-free, you couldn’t use a roux, but flour and butter is a great way to thicken sauces if you don’t have any gluten intolerance. You can also use cornstarch (or, arrowroot if you’re interested in a GMO-free way). Finally, you can use other products like tomato paste or gelatin to thicken your sauce. It’s up to you which way you decide to go!
What Can You Use Instead of Cornstarch to Thicken a Sauce?
Some people don’t like cornstarch because it’s usually made with GMO corn. There are some GMO-free cornstarch brands, but they may be hard to find. The closest substitution is arrowroot, which is a naturally occurring product that thickens in a similar way to cornstarch. Or, you could use any of the other methods mentioned in this article.
Is Cornstarch The Same Thing as Corn Flour?
If you find a package labeled corn flour, it will work the same way as cornstarch. They are both gluten-free ways to thicken sauce. You will most often see corn flour in the UK and cornstarch in the USA.
Can You Thicken Barbecue Sauce with Gelatin?
Gelatin is becoming a popular way to thicken sauces because it has no flavor and works exceptionally well as a thickening agent. Gelatin is also considered good for your gut and joints, which is why so many people drink bone broth these days! Add the powdered gelatin to some water to help it bloom before adding it to your sauce.
Should You Add Your Thickener Directly to The Sauce?
Tomato paste is the only thickener on this list that can be directly added to the sauce. The other types of thickeners need to be mixed with water first, or they must be cooked separately in order to activate their thickening power. If you add flour, cornstarch, or gelatin directly to your sauce, you’ll end up with clumps of raw, uncooked powder. No one wants that!