When you are cooking, things don’t always go as planned, which is why it is nice to know different ways to thicken sauces. If you have ever gone to make a sauce and discovered you didn’t have all the ingredients necessary, or your sauce doesn’t turn out just right, you know how frustrating it can be. Thankfully, there are always ways to fix a recipe, and sauces are one of the easiest things to fix. There are so many different ways to thicken sauces; all of which are easy, simple, and only require one ingredient.
One of my favorite ingredients to thicken sauces is arrowroot. It works so well for so many different things, which is why I always have some on hand. Because arrowroot has a neutral flavor, it will work well in lightly flavored sauces. It will also thicken at low or high temperatures, and it will even thicken sauces with acidic ingredients. The only drawback to arrowroot is that it doesn’t work well with dairy. For dairy based sauces, you will need to pick one of the other ways to thicken sauces.
Cornstarch is something my mom always had in the kitchen when I was growing up. She always used it to make her gravy thick. Cornstarch is a great all-purpose thickener that works well for most sauces. The only sauces that it doesn’t work well for are acid based sauces, which do much better with arrowroot. When using cornstarch, and most thickening agents, you will want to mix it with a little water before adding it to your sauce. This will prevent clumps from forming.
When I think of tapioca, I think of tapioca pudding. However, tapioca can be used for much more than just making pudding. Tapioca can be used for thickening most sauces, and it is great for making pie fillings. If you want to make a sauce thicker with tapioca, make sure you use tapioca starch, otherwise you will end up with a sauce that has a similar texture to tapioca pudding.
Kudzu comes from the root of the Kudzu plant, and it is commonly used in Asia. You can find it in the ethnic section of grocery stores or in Asian markets. Kudzu comes in white powdery chunks that you have to break apart, and it works great for thickening sauces. Interestingly, kudzu was traditionally used medicinally for digestive complaints, but now it is used for culinary purposes.
5. Potato Starch
Although you may think potato starch has a potato flavor, it doesn’t actually taste like anything, which is why it is a perfect thickener. While potato starch can be used in almost all sauces, you do want to make sure not to boil a sauce with potato starch because it will develop a weird consistency.
6. Agar Agar
Agar agar is an unusual ingredient that is often used in Asian cuisine. It comes from red algae, and can be used in both desserts and savory dishes. For desserts, it can be used to make vegan jello because it gels very well. For sauces, you just have to add a very small amount to get a thicker consistency because a little goes a long way.
7. Water Chestnut Flour
Water chestnut flour is made from dried and ground water chestnuts. You can use it just like you would cornstarch to thicken a sauce. If you are looking for other ways to use it, you can even use water chestnut flour as a coating for fried foods.
There are so many different ingredients that can be used to thicken sauces, and most of them can be used interchangeably. Any one of these ingredients will work well as a thickener. How do you make your sauces thick?