How To Thicken Barbeque Sauce So It Clings With Love

Every avid meat man or barbeque loving gal has a killer recipe for barbeque sauce. With the increase in popularity of bbq dishes like pulled pork or melt-in-the-mouth ribs into the mainstream, more and more people are perfecting the perfect saucy accompaniment.

But you might be having the same problem as a lot of others, which we solve here for you today; how do I thicken my bbq sauce?

Now bear in mind this is not a recipe for bbq sauce, this recipe presumes that you’ve already got to that stage. If you’d like to check out some awesome bbq sauce recipes try here or here.


​The key is you want it thickened just enough so that it clings lovingly to your food while you devour it, you don’t want to decrease the flavours in your sauce or give it clumps of glue or a claggy taste.

​Now you can try simmering your sauce until it reduces in quantity to the thickness you desire. You will remove water from the sauce and concentrate the flavors. This method does result in a very rich sauce with bold flavors, but it can take a very long time (at a minimum 30 minutes).

​For those of you who are really hungry, here’s a quicker way.

​What Do You Need?

  • Your Best Secret BBQ Sauce


You should have a quantity of bbq sauce that is a little too runny for your liking. The recipe for this will vary as you need and like.

  • Bowl Or Coffee Mug

You will need a small bowl or I also find a coffee mug works really well for this.

  • A Small Whisk Or Fork

Don’t think you need to run out and buy a small whisk (although they are very cute to look at, you can pretend you’re a giant!), because a fork will do just fine for mixing here.

  • Cornstarch

Cornstarch, also known as cornflour. If you don’t have cornstarch plain wheat flour will also work. You can also use arrowroot or tapioca starch.

These come in small quantities and if keep in an airtight container can last pretty much forever, so you don’t need to buy some fresh every time you find yourself in a runniness bind. Just always keep a little handy.

  • Cold Water


You will need about 1 tbsp of water for each cup of sauce you are trying to thicken. You can also use apple juice, stock or wine, but make sure it is cold.

​Step by Step Instructions

Step 1: Make A Slurry

Combine 1 tbsp cornstarch and 1 tblsp cold water in your bowl or mug. Mix until it is smooth paste. Add these quantities again each time for each cup of sauce that you have to thicken (you can estimate a little here).

If you have flour use 2 tbsp flour and ¼ cup cold water for each cup of sauce. This mixture is called slurry, which is my new favorite word.

Step 2: Add To Your Sauce

Pour the mix into your bbq sauce, stirring as you go. The little starchy molecules will become like sponges and expand, thickening the sauce as they do.

Step 3: Cook The Starch

Continue to stir as you heat your sauce on a medium heat until it thickens to your liking, then cook it a minute or two longer. This will cook the cornstarch.

Step 4: Check For Taste

Taste your sauce and make sure any starchiness has cooked out. Don’t cook any longer than this because the starch molecules could break down and the sauce will thin out again.

Step 5: Eat And Enjoy

Enjoy your awesome ribs or wings or pulled pork with a perfectly textured sauce. And you’re welcome.

​A Few Pointers:

Do not try to mix your cornstarch with warm or hot water, or add cornstarch straight into the sauce, as it will just result in lumps of cornstarch in runny sauce.This trick also works really well with sauces for stir fries and has been commonly used in Oriental recipes for years.

You can also use it for sweet sauces and pie fillings.If you are planning to freeze your sauce it is recommended that you choose arrowroot or tapioca over cornstarch, as cornstarch goes a little temperamental when freezing and when reheating.

What Else Can You Try?

Now this of course is not the only way you can thicken up a sauce, but it is generally pretty foolproof. If you’re doing it right it shouldn’t change the flavor of your sauce, but it can change the color, and may make the sauce a tinge pink.

Other chefs and meatlovers will have other recommendations for thickening agents, and depending on the exact makeup of your sauce, you might find that something else works.If your recipe is tomato based you can substitute some of the whole tomatoes and tomato sauce for tomato paste.

This is basically tomatoes already reduced. Another trick is to add honey, although this has such a distinct flavour of its own and this can change the flavour of the sauce to something other than what you wanted.

Another method involves using kudzu powder, which comes from a Japanese vine, and can be a little harder to source. Try health food or organic supermarkets, or Asian stores. This is suitable for people on paleo diets and anyone eating grain-free, also for vegans or vegetarians, although if you’re vegan or vegetarian I’m not sure you should be at the bbq anyway.

There is a method that uses egg yolks, usually used for custards, desserts and sauces like hollandaise, but is harder to master, as it’s easy just to get scrambled eggs in your sauce. I wouldn’t recommend this method for vinegar or tomato based sauces however.

You can also try gelatin or other gums, but be careful because if you add too much you just end up with jelly. But bbq sauce jelly could have its own uses, so don’t count this method out. Perhaps a blog for another day.


Use this great method to quickly thicken your secret bbq sauce to the perfect consistency for consumption without messing with your flavor blend. I find it works really well, and adapts to all kinds of sauces.

Let us know in the comments section if it’s worked for you, and make sure to share this post if it has. If you disagree and have another suggestion, feel free to add that in the comments too.

Jessica Leary

I’m Jessica, I’ve been a foodie since I was young. That explains my passion for the food movement and food blogs. In addition to being a content creator and recipe developer, I’m also into food photography and blogging. I’m an exercise enthusiast, wine aficionado, and green smoothie addict. The fact that I’ve tried countless recipes is what makes me passionate about food blogging. I write on anything related to food.

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