How to Thicken BBQ Sauce: A Comprehensive Guide

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Are you frustrated with constantly watery BBQ sauces? Do you want to create a thicker and more delicious glaze for your grilled meats? Look no further than this guide on how to thicken BBQ sauce. By following these simple steps and using common kitchen ingredients, you can elevate your BBQ game and impress your friends and family.

1. Reduce the Sauce

One of the easiest ways to thicken BBQ sauce is to reduce it. Simply simmer your sauce over low heat until it thickens to your desired consistency. As the sauce reduces, it will become thicker and more intense in flavor. However, be careful not to burn the sauce or reduce it too much, as it may become too thick and difficult to spread.


  • Use a wide, shallow saucepan to increase the surface area and facilitate evaporation.
  • Stir frequently to prevent sticking and burning.
  • Reduce the sauce to about 1/3 to 1/2 of its original volume for a thick, glaze-like consistency.

2. Add a Thickening Agent

Another method to thicken BBQ sauce is to add a thickening agent such as cornstarch, flour, or arrowroot powder. These ingredients work by absorbing the excess liquid and forming a thick paste. When added to your sauce, they will thicken it while also enhancing its texture and mouthfeel.


  • Start by mixing cornstarch or flour with cold water to create a slurry before adding it to the sauce. This will prevent lumps from forming.
  • Use a 1:1 ratio of cornstarch or flour to water.
  • Add the slurry slowly to the sauce while constantly stirring, until it thickens to your desired consistency.
  • Arrowroot powder is a good alternative to cornstarch for those who prefer a gluten-free thickener.

3. Use Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is an excellent ingredient to use when you need to thicken BBQ sauce quickly. It has a natural sweetness and a thick texture that makes it perfect for adding body to watery sauces. Additionally, it adds a rich tomato flavor that complements the smoky BBQ taste.


  • Add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste to your sauce and stir well to incorporate.
  • Add more tomato paste if necessary until the sauce reaches the desired texture and flavor.
  • Use organic tomato paste for a healthier option and to avoid added sugars or fillers.

4. Incorporate Mashed Vegetables

Mashed vegetables are a healthy and flavorful way to thicken BBQ sauce without compromising its taste or nutrition. You can use any vegetables you like such as onions, carrots, and peppers. These vegetables add texture, flavor, nutrition, and also thicken the sauce naturally.


  • Cook your vegetables until soft, then mash them with a fork or blend them in a food processor.
  • Use around 1 cup of mashed vegetables for every 2 cups of BBQ sauce.
  • Add the mashed vegetables to the sauce and stir well to combine. Simmer the sauce for a few minutes until the vegetables thicken it.
  • Experiment with different vegetables to find a flavor and thickness that suits your taste.

Concluding Thoughts

In conclusion, thickening your BBQ sauce doesn’t have to be a complicated or frustrating process. By using simple ingredients and techniques, you can achieve the desired thickness, texture, and flavor for your sauces. Experiment with different thickening options until you find what works best for you. Whether you’re a BBQ pro or a beginner, follow these tips and enjoy a delicious, thick, and flavorful sauce for your meats.


Q: Can I use dairy to thicken BBQ sauce?

A: While dairy products like cream and cheese can add thickness and flavor to sauces, they are not recommended for BBQ sauce. The acidity of the ingredients in BBQ sauce can cause dairy to curdle, resulting in an unappetizing texture and flavor.

Q: How do I know when my BBQ sauce is thick enough?

A: A good indication that the sauce is thick enough is when it coats the back of a spoon. You should also be able to draw a line across the spoon and the sauce should not run or fill in the line. However, keep in mind that sauces will continue to thicken as they cool, so it’s better to slightly under-thicken versus over-thicken.

Q: Is it necessary to thicken BBQ sauce?

A: Thickening BBQ sauce is not always necessary, and some people prefer a thinner, more liquid consistency. However, a thicker sauce will adhere better to the meat and provide a more intense flavor. Additionally, a thicker sauce is more versatile and can be used as a glaze or a dipping sauce.


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