March 11, 2020

BBQ sauce, that thick, sweet and tangy condiment that pairs so well with grilled and smoked meats, veggies, beans and more, is one of the most readily used sauces in the world. And in fact is super easy to make, but sometimes you need to make a thin sauce thicker. In fact, it’s a must in my household when it comes to cooking anything remotely Southern and smoked. However, I don’t particularly like to cook with store-bought BBQ sauce, which is why I always make a hearty batch of BBQ sauce at home. 

If you have ever cooked BBQ sauce at home, then you know that at times, the consistency of your sauce can be a little off; your sauce can end up a little too runny, which may have its place in some kitchens, but not everywhere.

So, how to thicken BBQ sauce at home? Well, read on to find out!  

Does BBQ Sauce Thicken as It Cools? 

BBQ sauce tends to thicken a little as it cools. This is especially true when you add any thickening agent such as cornstarch or flour to the sauce. The same is the case when you reduce the sauce on low heat. However, incredibly soupy BBQ sauce won’t magically thicken to your desired consistency on its own as it cools.  

The best time to thicken soupy BBQ sauce is while you are preparing for the first time, but you can always pull it out of the fridge to thicken it later. So, read on to find out 3 easy ways to thicken BBQ sauce.

✔ Is it a grill or is it a barbecue? The experts duke it out: Best Propane Grill for Outdoor BBQ

How to thicken BBQ Sauce in 3 Simple Ways

Here are 3 easy ways to thicken delicious BBQ sauce at home. You can choose the method that works best for you and with the ingredients you have on hand. 

1. Reduce the Sauce

For me, reducing the sauce is the easiest way to thicken it to the desired consistency. The best bit about reducing BBQ sauce is that you don’t even need any additional ingredients or utensils to do it. It takes the most time, though. 


Here’s how you can reduce BBQ sauce:

  1. Pour the sauce in a saucepan or pot and heat it on medium.
  2. Wait for the sauce to start simmering but don’t let it boil, because it could burn the sugars.
  3. Stir occasionally, scraping down the sides. (Life tip: Use non-metal utensils if your pot is non-stick coated.)
  4. Lower the heat if the sauce starts to boil.
  5. Let the sauce come to your desired thickness. The steam that escapes is essentially the excess liquid evaporating from the sauce.
  6. Remove the sauce from the stove when it reaches the perfect thickness.
  7. It takes about 15 minutes on simmer to reduce about a cup of bbq sauce, depending on how watery it is when you start out.

2. Add Cornstarch or Flour

If your sauce is too thin to be reduced in a short amount of time, then you can add a thickener such as flour or cornstarch to it.

Things You Will Need

  • 2 T of flour (or 1 T of cornstarch)
  • 2 T of cold water
  • 1 c of BBQ sauce
  • A small mixing bowl
  • Small whisk or fork

Instructions

  1. Place the BBQ sauce in a saucepan and turn heat to low.
  2. In the small bowl, whisk the flour or cornstarch with cold water. This will prevent the starch from clumping when added to the sauce.
  3. Add the mixture to the sauce and turn the heat to medium.
  4. Let the sauce come just barely to a boil and then reduce the heat to low.
  5. Allow the sauce to simmer for about 5 minutes.
  6. Use a wooden spoon check for desired consistency—you want it to stick to the spoon.
  7. Remove the saucepan from the stove and let your sauce cool. It will slightly thicken more when cooling.

3. Add Fats (Yes, Really!)

If you aren’t afraid to add some calories to your diet, then you can always opt for thickening your BBQ sauce with some fat. You simply need ingredients lying around in your kitchen, such as butter, coconut oil, or heavy cream, to add to your sauce. These ingredients will make your sauce creamy and thick but without changing that zesty, tomato-y, garlicky flavor we love! 


Using butter is the most common way to thicken BBQ sauce by adding fat in it. So, let’s see how you can thicken the sauce using butter:

Butter: 

Things You Will Need

  • 1 c of BBQ sauce
  • 1 t of butter
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a pan and once it has melted, add it to the sauce.
  2. Heat the sauce on medium heat.
  3. Once the sauce starts to boil, lower the heat so that it can simmer.
  4. Keep stirring the sauce for about 2 to 3 minutes until it thickens to your desired texture

Heavy Cream:

Things You Will Need

  • 1 c of BBQ sauce
  • 1 T of heavy cream
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon

Instructions

  1. Fold the heavy cream into the sauce and heat it over medium heat.
  2. Let the sauce come to a boil and then reduce the heat to a low flame.
  3. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes and make sure to stir it occasionally until it reaches the desired thickness.

Pro Tip: Depending on the consistency that you want, make sure to adjust the amount of heavy cream that you add into your BBQ sauce. If you add too much cream, the flavor of your BBQ sauce will alter significantly. So, make sure to adjust the seasoning of the sauce accordingly.

Coconut Cream:

This is the ideal vegan option to thicken BBQ sauce using fat.

Things You Will Need

  • 1 c of BBQ sauce
  • 1 t  coconut cream (not to be confused with cream of coconut, which is sweetened)
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon

Instructions

  1. Pour the coconut cream into the sauce and heat it over medium.
  2. Bring the sauce to a boil and then lower the heat.
  3. Let it simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Keep stirring the sauce while it simmers to check the consistency.
  5. Remove the sauce from the heat when it reaches the desired thickness. 

How Long Does Homemade BBQ Sauce Last?

Homemade BBQ sauce doesn’t have processed preservatives that bottled sauce has, so it lasts in optimal condition only for about a week, maybe 10 days. So, if you plan on making a huge batch of BBQ sauce, make sure to freeze it. 

Pro Tip: BBQ sauce deteriorates the longer you store it. So, always make sure to test homemade and even store-bought BBQ sauce before adding it to your dish. If it smells funny, has even the slightest signs of mold growing on it, or has a changed texture, then discard the sauce!

Check out these healthy BBQ sauce recipes at home!

The Bottom Line

We hope you enjoyed this guide on how to thicken BBQ sauce. Make sure to try out the 3 easy ways mentioned above to thicken BBQ sauce. Also, make sure to devour your homemade BBQ sauce as quickly as possible if you want to enjoy its amazing, fresh taste. 

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About the author

Meet Go-Go-Gadget Renee'. Her passion for #kitchen gadgets is matched only by her love for tech. A real #foodie, she's all heart for red wine and delicious meals. #CookingChewTribe

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