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. Here are easy ways how to thicken sauce in a slow cooker. These tips will also help thicken stews, chili, tomato sauces, and soups that were cooked 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!

Save This Recipe Form

Send A Copy Of This Recipe To Your Inbox 

Enter your email below & I will send it straight to your inbox. Plus you’ll get great new recipes each week and a free surprise bonus!

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

If you enjoy using your slow cooker, be sure to visit my Using A Slow Cooker Over Night Safty Guide and 25 Easy Substitutes For Beef Broth In A Crock Pot.

I’m here to help rescue your slow cooker recipe that has a thinner consistency than what you wanted to serve.

Sauces

How to thicken sauces with flour

white flour, milk and a pan of white gravy mixture
  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 easily roasted, boiled, and then processed in a food processor until smooth. The sauce will rapidly thicken once you whisk it into it.

BBQ Sauce

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.

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.

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.

Soups and Stews

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

How to thicken soups and stews depend on the type that you are making. This Creamy Crock Pot Chicken Corn Soup is considered a cream soup.

Broth-based soups: use a combination of flour and water (for each cup of cooking liquid, two tablespoons of flour with one-fourth cup of cold water).

Cream-based soups: you can add heavy cream or a mixture of cornstarch and water. The same method is used for thicker stews; however, you can also add root vegetables like potatoes to make them more filling.

Add a starch: adding pasta or crushed tortilla chips can also help thicken up your soup or stew.

Chili

red crockpot

Visit my post thickening a watery chili, for more tips. Some simple suggestions are adding a can add 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 use a mixture of equal parts cornstarch and water to help thicken the chili. Use two tablespoons of this mixture for every cup of liquid in your chili and add it at the end of cooking.

You also may want to try adding in some cheddar cheese, corn chips, or even a tablespoon of mesa flour and wold water whisked together to help thicken the chili. They all add flavor and make a delicious hearty chili.

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.

Crock Pot Beef 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.

With a little bit of experimentation, you can master the art of thickening stews, sauces, and soups in your slow cooker!

Conclusion

TIP: No matter which technique you choose, slow cooker recipes will require some extra patience as the sauces and stews take longer to cook than on the stovetop.

However, if you are patient enough to wait it out, you will be rewarded with a delicious and thick sauce or stew that is sure to please.

With these simple techniques, you can thicken sauces and stews in the slow cooker without having to use any thickening agents. Try it next time you want a thicker dish!