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Sometimes, after cooking a recipe in a slow cooker, the mixture is too thin and watery, or perhaps you’re looking for a thicker consistency that will cling to the food better. I have the same problem so I want to share with you some easy ways to thicken sauces, stews, and soups in a slow cooker.

In any case, there are several simple ways to thicken stews, sauces, and soups, and in this article, we’ll discuss some of the most popular methods!

How To Thicken Sauces In A Slow Cooker: gravy, bbq sauce, tomato sauce on noodles, pan of white flour gravy, beef stew

If you are trying to thicken chili, you will want to read through my 17 Quick and Easy Ways To Thicken Your Watery Chili.

How To Thicken Sauce In Slow Cooker

There are a variety of ways to thicken sauces while retaining great flavor.

white flour, milk and a pan of white gravy mixture

Thicken Sauce With Flour

  1. For each cup of medium-thick sauce, use two tablespoons of all-purpose flour or your favorite flour blend, like gluten-free flour or even chickpea flour, blended with one-fourth cup of cold water as a thickening agent.
  2. To avoid lumps, thoroughly combine in the water. Cook and stir over medium heat until the sauce is bubbling and thickened after adding the flour and water mixture.
  3. Turn your slow cooker on high, then stir in a few tablespoons of the cooked flour mixture. Whisk and allow to simmer and thicken. If it is not thick enough, repeat with a few more tablespoons.

I find it helpful to use a gravy whisk so lumps are broken apart.

How to thicken sauces with cornstarch

For each cup of medium-thick sauce, add one tablespoon of cornstarch to one tablespoon of cold water or cold milk. (a cornstarch slurry).

I like to use a gravy shaker, this helps form a lump-free slurry.

Pour the cornstarch and water ingredients into your sauce after thoroughly combining them. Stirring and cooking at medium heat until bubbling and thickened.

How to thicken sauces without cornstarch or flour

Blend a few vegetables with an immersion blender. In particular, if they have been pureed, starchy vegetables like potatoes, winter squash, or celeriac make great thickening agents.

These vegetables can be quickly roasted or boiled and then processed in a food processor until smooth. Once you whisk the sauce into it, it will rapidly thicken.

How To Thicken BBQ Sauce In Crock Pot

pork in thick bbq sauce
  • To thicken BBQ sauce like my Bacon and Whiskey BBQ Sauce, without any thickening agents, you can simply cook it down on low heat until it’s reduced substantially. This will help concentrate the flavors and make a thicker sauce.
  • You can also simmer tomato paste with the BBQ sauce; this will give it a slightly more gelatinous texture and an even richer flavor.
  • For a quicker fix, mix one tablespoon of cornstarch with one tablespoon of cold water and then whisk it into the sauce and bring it to a boil.

How To Thicken Tomato Sauce

tomato sauce on spaghetti
  • Adding a few tablespoons of tomato paste to the sauce while cooking or adding some sugar or honey to balance out the acidity can help thicken tomato sauces.
  • You can also mash up some cooked potatoes and whisk them into the sauce; this will add body and flavor as well as a bit of thickness.
  • For thinner sauces, you can use one tablespoon of cornstarch blended with one tablespoon of cold water (a cornstarch slurry) and then add it to the sauce while stirring continuously.
  • This should thicken your tomato-based sauces without resorting to any other thickening agents, such as flour or unsalted butter.

How To Thicken Gravy

gravy going on mashed potatoes

How to thicken gravy with flour

  • To thicken gravy with flour: For each cup of liquid, use two tablespoons of flour blended with one-fourth cup of cold water.
  • Mix the flour and water together in a small bowl until thoroughly combined. Pour into your gravy after stirring it over medium heat until it’s bubbling and thickened.
  • You could also try adding in some gravy granules until your reach the perfect consistency.

How to thicken gravy with cornstarch

  1. For each cup of liquid, add one tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with one tablespoon of cold water (a cornstarch slurry).
  2. Pour the mixture into your gravy after stirring it over medium heat until it’s bubbling and thickened.

How To Thicken Soups

Creamy Crock Pot Chicken Corn Soup with bacon and green onions on top for garnish. Soup has potatoes, carrots, corn, chicken in a white cheesy sauce

Creamy Soups

  • This Creamy Crock Pot Chicken Corn Soup is considered a cream soup. To thicken creamy dairy-based soups, you can add a mixture of cornstarch and water. Use one tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with one tablespoon of cold water (a cornstarch slurry) for every cup of liquid in the soup. Add the slurry to the soup while stirring continuously until it thickens.
  • You can also add heavy cream to the soup to achieve a thicker consistency.
  • Additionally, adding root vegetables like potatoes can provide natural thickening.

Broth Based Soups

  • To thicken soup with a roux, start by melting butter in a pan over medium heat. Add an equal amount of flour to the melted butter, stirring constantly to form a smooth paste. Cook the roux for a few minutes to eliminate the raw flour taste. Then, gradually ladle in small amounts of the hot soup into the roux, stirring continuously to prevent lumps. Once the roux and soup mixture is smooth, pour it back into the soup pot and stir well. Let the soup simmer for a few minutes until it reaches the desired thickness.
  • Adding a starch such as pasta or crushed tortilla chips can effectively thicken your soup or stew. The starch in these ingredients absorbs liquid and helps to create a thicker consistency. When using pasta, it’s important to cook it directly in the soup or stew, allowing the noodles to release starch as they cook, thus contributing to the overall thickening. Crushed tortilla chips can be added directly to the soup, as they will disintegrate and disperse starch, aiding in thickening the liquid. Both pasta and tortilla chips also add texture and flavor to the dish.

How To Thicken Chili

red crockpot

Visit my post thickening a watery chili, for more tips.

Red Chili

  • Some simple suggestions are adding a can of beans. You can then blend some of the beans, or you can even add refried beans. Also, if there is too much liquid in your chili, you can try adding some more meat, like ground beef, to absorb the excess liquid and thicken it up.
  • You can also thicken the chili by adding a mixture of equal parts cornstarch and water at the end of cooking. Use two tablespoons of this mixture for every cup of liquid in your chili.
  • Stir in some mix-ins like cheddar cheese and corn chips.
  • Blend a tablespoon of masa flour and cold water together, then cook in the chilies for 5 to 10 minutes to help thicken them. This is a star ingredient in my readers’ favorite Texas Chili Recipe.

White Chicken Chili

  • If you’re looking for thicker white chicken chili, then you can try adding cream cheese or sour cream to the mixture. Start by stirring in one tablespoon of your chosen thickening ingredient at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
  • You can also add some cornstarch and water (one teaspoon of cornstarch with one tablespoon of cold water) to thicken up the chili, but be sure to stir constantly when adding this so that it doesn’t clump up.
  • If you are on a gluten-free diet, you can use arrowroot powder instead of flour or cornstarch as an excellent thickener. Just be sure to mix the arrowroot powder with twice its weight in cold water before adding it to the chili.
  • No matter which thickening agent you use, be sure to add it at the end of cooking so that you don’t overcook it and lose flavor or texture.

How To Thicken Stew

slow cooker filled with beef stew

When making a beef stew in the slow cooker, adding some flour to the mixture can thicken it up without having to use any dairy products or cornstarch.

  • Simply add two tablespoons of flour to every cup of liquid and cook it for a few minutes until it thickens. You can also mash up some cooked potatoes and whisk them into the sauce; this will add body and flavor as well as a bit of thickness.
  • If you want something even thicker, you may need to add more flour or potato starch. Try stirring in Worcestershire sauce before serving your crock pot beef stew for added flavor.
  • The nature of slow cookers is that they allow ingredients to simmer slowly over low heat for long periods of time. 
  • This cooking method gives lots of time for the flavors to develop and for ingredients like flour, potatoes, and beans to break down and thicken the sauce.

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