10 Easy Ways to Thicken Your BBQ Sauce You Can Use Right Now


how to thicken bbq sauce
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Most grillers will agree, there’s nothing quite like BBQ sauce. Delicious taste aside, perhaps the reason why BBQ sauce is so popular is because it can be used in so many ways. You can use it as a sauce, a marinade, a condiment, and basting.

The beauty of BBQ sauce is that you can buy it at the store or cook up your own. But what happens when your BBQ sauce is thin, runny and not at all the consistency needed to serve your meat well?

The answer is simple: you thicken it up.

How to Thicken BBQ Sauce

If you’ve been wondering how to thicken BBQ sauce, you’re in luck because today’s article is going to teach you how to do just that. There are 10 methods you can use to thicken up your BBQ sauce and we’re going to talk you through each of them.

10 Easy Ways to Thicken Your BBQ Sauce

 

how to thicken bbq sauce

1.     How to Thicken BBQ Sauce by Using the Reduction Method

The reduction method is the most popular way of thickening up BBQ sauce as it’s quick, easy and requires no extra ingredients. Reducing your BBQ sauce thickens the sauce up, intensifies the flavor and doesn’t change the sauce’s texture.

What You Need

  • BBQ sauce
  • A pan

What to Do

  • Place a pan over medium heat
  • Pour the BBQ sauce into the pan
  • Gently stir until boiling begins
  • Turn the heat down to low
  • Stir until the thickness you want is achieved

2.     How to Thicken BBQ Sauce with Fruit

Yes, you read that right. Fruit can be used as a thickening agent to help you achieve your perfect BBQ sauce consistency. Dried apricots are the perfect fruit to use as they’ll not also thicken your BBQ sauce up but create a complex flavor profile. In addition, apricots are nutritional powerhouses and have many health benefits.

What You Need

  • Dried apricots
  • BBQ sauce
  • A knife
  • A chopping board
  • 2 pans

What to Do

  • Finely chop the dried apricots
  • Place a pan over medium heat
  • Put the dried apricots in the pan and cook until soft
  • Pour the BBQ sauce in to the second pot, also over medium heat
  • Add the apricot mixture to the BBQ sauce and stir
  • Allow the mixture to simmer while stirring
  • Stir until the thickness you want is achieved

how to thicken bbq sauce

3.     How to Thicken BBQ Sauce with Other Sauces

If your BBQ sauce only needs to be thickened slightly, why not use another to sauce to help it on its way? Ketchup is a great example of a sauce that can thicken up your BBQ sauce all the while highlighting its acidic flavor profile. Other sauces that work well are hot sauces and chutney-based sauces. Some people even add mayonnaise to their BBQ sauces!

What You Need

  • Ketchup
  • BBQ sauce
  • A pan

What to Do

  • Place a pan over medium heat
  • Pour your BBQ sauce in and add ketchup
  • Stir until the thickness you want is achieved

how to thicken bbq sauce

4.     How to Thicken BBQ Sauce with Vegetables

 

Using vegetables as a thickening agent for your BBQ sauce may sound strange, but it really works. On top of thickening the sauce up and adding new flavors to it, you’re also providing your body with even more nutritional content. The best vegetables to use for this method are nightshade vegetables which include eggplant, bell peppers and tomatoes.

What You Need

  • Nightshade vegetables
  • A knife
  • Food processor or blender
  • BBQ sauce
  • A pan

What to Do

  • Steam your nightshade vegetables for around 10 to 15 minutes
  • Once the vegetables have cooled, slice them into smaller pieces
  • Place the sliced vegetables in a food processor or blender and mix until a puree is formed
  • Place a pan over medium heat
  • Pour the BBQ sauce into the pan and add the pureed vegetables
  • While continuously stirring, allow the mixture to simmer
  • Stir until the thickness you want is achieved

5.     How to Thicken BBQ Sauce with Flour

Using flour to thicken up BBQ sauce isn’t as popular as some of the other methods listed, mainly because people don’t know that flour can be used this way. Flour is a great thickening agent for BBQ sauce, just be mindful that using too much will change the taste and texture of the sauce.

What You Need

  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup of BBQ sauce
  • A mixing bowl
  • A whisk
  • A pan

What to Do

  • Add the flour to the bowl, pour in the water and whisk until smooth
  • Place a pan over medium heat and pour the BBQ sauce in it
  • Add the water-flour mixture to the BBQ sauce and stir continuously until boiling begins
  • Turn the heat down to low
  • Continue stirring for 2 or 3 minutes

how to thicken bbq sauce

6.     How to Thicken BBQ Sauce by Using Food Gums

Food gums can be used to thicken BBQ sauce up without risking the sauce’s flavor or appearance. They do however change the texture and consistency of BBQ sauce & often result in a super sticky mouthfeel. Food gums include tree sap gum, seed gums, root extract gums and seaweed extracts.

What You Need

  • Food gum (Xanthan gum is recommended)
  • BBQ sauce
  • A pan

What to Do

  • Place a pan over medium heat
  • Pour in the BBQ sauce
  • Add in the food gum
  • Vigorously stir and remove from heat until the thickness you want is achieved

7.     How to Thicken BBQ Sauce with Cornstarch

Cornstarch is the starch obtained from corn grains and kernels. It is also the most commonly used thickening agent used in cooking. Using cornstarch will thicken up your BBQ sauce without impacting its base taste or texture. If you aren’t a fan of cornstarch, consider opting for arrowroot, potato starch or physllium husk.

What You Need

  • 1 table spoon cold water
  • One tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup of BBQ sauce
  • A mixing bowl
  • A pan

What to Do

  • In a bowl, mix the cornstarch and water & mix until smooth
  • Place a pan over medium heat and pour the BBQ sauce in it
  • Add the water-cornstarch mixture to the BBQ sauce and stir until boiling begins
  • Turn the heat down to low
  • Continue stirring for 4 minutes

how to thicken bbq sauce

8.     How to Thicken BBQ Sauce with Butter

Butter is great for the thickening of sauces and BBQ sauce is no exception. Butter will thicken the sauce, promote a creamy texture and a richer taste.

What You Need

  • Butter (preferably organic)
  • BBQ sauce
  • A pan

What to Do

  • Place a pan over medium heat
  • Melt the butter in a pan and add in the BBQ sauce
  • Stir the mixture until boiling begins
  • Turn the heat down to low
  • Stir until the thickness you want is achieved

9.     How to Thicken BBQ Sauce with Heavy Cream

If a thick sauce and rich flavor is what you’re after, consider thickening your BBQ sauce by using heavy cream. Heavy cream can be made from the fats found in goat’s milk, cow’s milk and other natural sources. Heavy cream is full of vitamins and minerals—but it’s also full of calories so weight watchers may want to skip this method.

What You Need

  • Heavy cream of your choice
  • BBQ sauce
  • A pan

What to Do

  • Place a pan over medium heat and pour the BBQ sauce in
  • Stir the mixture until boiling begins
  • Turn the heat down to low
  • Slowly add in heavy cream until the consistency you want is achieved
  • Turn the heat back up to medium and stir until boiling begins
  • Turn the heat down once again and stir for another minute or two

10.  How to Thicken BBQ Sauce by Adding Sugar

If you enjoy a sweeter BBQ sauce, you’ll love this method. Using sugar as a thickener not only thickens up the BBQ sauce but also gives it a sweet taste that is favored by many. Use an unrefined brown sugar over refined white sugar as it retains most of its health benefits. Perfect for sticky BBQ ribs on the grill!

What You Need

  • Brown sugar
  • BBQ sauce
  • A pan

What to Do

  • Place a pan over a low heat
  • Pour the BBQ sauce into the pan
  • Gradually sprinkle brown sugar over the BBQ sauce until the desired taste is achieved
  • Stir until the thickness you want is achieved

how to thicken bbq sauce

Oops! Is Your BBQ Sauce Too Thick?

On your quest to thicken your BBQ sauce you might end up with a sauce that is too thick. This typically happens when you don’t remove your BBQ sauce from the heat in time or when you add too much of a certain ingredient. If this happens to you, you can easily thin the sauce out by using one of the two methods listed below.

How to Thin BBQ Sauce

Method 1: Adding Liquids

BBQ sauce can be thinned down by adding water or other liquids that will compliment your BBQ sauce’s flavor like apple juice or alcohol. Be careful not to add too much liquid at a time as this can dilute the taste and you’ll be back here reading up on how to thicken BBQ sauce all over again.

Method 2: Adding Ingredients

Use one of the ingredients found in the BBQ sauce to thin it down. For example, if your BBQ sauce contains tomato you can add equal parts ketchup and stock to achieve a thinner consistency.

Tips for Thickening BBQ Sauce

As you can see for yourself by looking at the above listed methods, thickening up your BBQ sauce is extremely easy and can be done in a matter of minutes with ingredients you probably already have at home. how to thicken bbq sauceWhen thickening BBQ sauce, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Use a shallow pan: By using a shallow pan the surface area decreases the amount of time needed to thicken up the sauce.
  • Pay careful attention when cooking: As you stir the sauce while it’s cooking, you’ll be able to feel it get thicker. Make sure to pay careful attention to avoid ending up with a sauce that is too thick
  • Choose your method wisely: Pick the methods that feature ingredients that will work with the meat you’re barbequing and not against it. For instance, the dried apricot method works well with beef and lamb.

Why Do We Thicken BBQ Sauce?

Other than an enhanced taste and flexibility to play around with different consistencies, people tend to thicken BBQ sauce for one of two main reasons. These two reasons are: to improve the mouthfeel or to improve the cling. But what do those terms even mean?

What is Mouthfeel?

Mouthfeel refers to the texture of the sauce and how it interacts with the taste receptors in your mouth. Mouthfeel can be anything from smooth and creamy to grainy & powdery. I know which mouthfeel I prefer my BBQ sauce to have, that’s for sure!

What is Cling?

Cling is exactly what it sounds like, being how well a sauce ‘clings’ to the meat. Cling is important because if a sauce doesn’t have the right amount of cling it won’t stick to your meat and will instead pool on your plate. In addition, sauces with a low cling are often wasted.

BBQ Sauce Around the United States

South Carolina

South Carolina Mustard Sauce is one of the most well-known BBQ sauces. The sauce is instantly recognizable thanks to its bright yellow coloration and distinct taste. This BBQ sauce is vinegar-based and includes mustard, sugar and a variety of spices.

East Carolina

It’s said that most BBQ sauces of today are derived from the sauce that originated from the eastern areas of North and South Carolina. The original recipe contains vinegar, black pepper grounds and a dash of chili pepper flakes. This BBQ sauce is thin in consistency, dark in color and sharp in taste.

Florida

The BBQ sauce native to Florida is a vinegar-based sauce that often includes ingredients such as pineapple, guava, orange, mango and peppers. Florida BBQ sauce varies in color from dark brown to yellow-hued. Its fruity flavor profile is perfectly paired with pork, chicken and seafood.

Texas

Texan BBQ sauce normally has quite a kick to it thanks to the addition of chili peppers and powder as well as strong spices such as cumin. In addition to the heat-generating ingredients BBQ sauces in Texas feature tomato and sugar to create a unique flavor profile. This BBQ sauce is typically used as a basting or marinade, is brown to red in color and is a little thinner than other BBQ sauces.

Alabama

North Alabama is well known for its white BBQ sauce. This BBQ sauce variation is mayonnaise-based and consists of apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt & pepper. Alabama white sauce is most often used on chicken or pork. Color aside, Alabama white sauce can be identified by its thick, milky texture.

6 Fun BBQ Sauce Facts Every Grill Enthusiast Needs to Know

Before we wrap this article up, we thought we’d share a few fun facts about BBQ sauce with you. After all, what could be a better topic to discuss while standing in front of the grill?

  • Legend has it the origin of BBQ sauce can be traced all the way back to the formation of the first American colonies in the 17th
  • One type of BBQ sauce, South Carolina Mustard Sauce, was used by German settlers in the 18th
  • The first BBQ sauce was available to purchase in Atlanta, Georgia, in January of 1909. The sauce was produced by the Georgia Barbeque Sauce Company.
  • BBQ sauces come in variations of four different colors: brown, red, yellow and white. The color is dependent on the region from which it comes from.
  • South Carolina has four native barbeque sauces and each one features a different flavor profile.
  • Evander Holyfield released his own brand of BBQ sauce and Mike Tyson promoted it by saying ‘…Holyfield’s ear would’ve been much better with his new BBQ sauce.’

Conclusion

A good BBQ sauce is hard to beat, and everyone wants their sauce to be thick, glistening and delicious—use any of the methods listed above to make sure your BBQ sauce ticks all these boxes.

Will you be trying any of these BBQ sauce thickening methods? Or do you have your own tried and tested method to thicken up BBQ sauce?

Either way , what are you waiting for? Go get grilling and enjoy!


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