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How To Thicken Bbq Sauce

How To Thicken Bbq Sauce

Runny BBQ sauce is the worst! BBQ sauce should coat BBQ chicken drumsticks, not slide off the meat.

Nevertheless, if you’ve got a runny BBQ sauce on your hand, all is not lost. You probably have the ingredients to thicken your BBQ sauce in your kitchen.

Will Homemade Bbq Sauce Thicken as It Cools

Yes, homemade BBQ thickens as it cools. This is especially true if you add a thickener such as cornstarch or all-purpose flour to your BBQ sauce.

Why Should I Thicken Bbq Sauce

There are so many reasons to thicken BBQ sauce or any sauce. Thickening BBQ sauce enhances its mouthfeel. 

Specifically, it will improve the smoothness of the sauce.

How thick the BBQ sauce is determined by how it will cling to the food. If you have made a special spicy BBQ sauce, you want it to actually stay on the food, not sit on the plate.

How To Thicken BBQ Sauce 

Nothing irritates more than runny BBQ sauce, especially after I have put in the work to craft a homemade sauce. BBQ sauce should be BBQ sauce, not flavored water or broth.

Fortunately, there is a way to fix runny BBQ sauce.

Reduce It

Reducing it is the easiest way to thicken BBQ sauce. Cornstarch or flour are the go-to thickeners of most people.

However, reducing BBQ sauce does not require any additional ingredients.

In fact, reducing BBQ sauce is quite the opposite. We are removing ingredients instead of adding them. 

Essentially, the goal of reducing BBQ sauce is to remove the excess water or vinegar in the sauce. 

To reduce your BBQ sauce, pour it into a small saucepan and set it over low heat. Stir the BBQ sauce constantly while it is coming up to the heat.

Do not allow the BBQ sauce to boil. Slowly the water or vinegar will start to evaporate and what is left behind is a thickened BBQ sauce.

The water will continue to evaporate from the BBQ sauce once you take it off the stop. Therefore, you must remove it from the heat when it is almost your desired thickness.


Flour is a flavorless ingredient that’s added to sauces to thicken them. In short, the flour will absorb the liquid in the BBQ sauce and thicken it. 

Flour is the perfect thickener for BBQ sauce because it gets the job done without adding any unwanted flavors to the BBQ sauce.

In addition to this, flour also won’t decrease the spice levels of your spicy BBQ sauce.

For every cup of BBQ sauce, you want to combine 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup of water.

First, whisk the flour and water in a small bowl to make sure that it does not contain any lumps.

Next, add your BBQ sauce to a small pot and heat it over medium-low heat. Let the BBQ sauce come to a simmer, but do not let it boil.

Whisk in the flour and water mixture and whisk it constantly for 1-2 minutes until the BBQ sauce thickens.


Thickening BBQ sauce with cornstarch is very similar to the flour method. However, it uses a different ingredient.

The cornstarch method is actually best if you are applying BBQ sauce to your 3-2-1 ribs. 

The cornstarch will give your BBQ sauce a glossy sheen that makes your ribs look even more appetizing.

Cornstarch is the superior thickener. However, its Achilles heel is that is broken down by tomatoes which is a staple ingredient in BBQ sauce.

For every cup of runny BBQ sauce, you need a ratio of 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water. 

Add the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and whisk until it is free of lumps.

Pour the runny BBQ sauce into a pot and add the cornstarch slurry. Let the BBQ sauce come to a simmer over medium-high heat while constantly whisking until it thickens.

Do not let the BBQ sauce boil.


Even though it sounds weird, butter can actually thicken BBQ sauce. It can also add a creamy flavor to your BBQ sauce. 

If you take the plunge and thicken your BBQ sauce, use organic grass-fed butter. Furthermore, never use margarine to thicken BBQ sauce.

Coconut Oil

Thickening BBQ sauce with coconut oil is probably just as surprised as using butter. If you are a vegan, using coconut oil is probably the best and healthiest way to thicken your BBQ sauce.

Tomato Purée

BBQ sauce is made of tomatoes, so it’s really not that surprising that they can thicken BBQ sauce too.

Furthermore, tomato puree will give your runny BBQ sauce a smooth body and thicken it.

Final Thoughts

Nothing grinds my gears like runny BBQ sauce. Luckily now that you know how to thicken BBQ sauce, you will never have to deal with a runny sauce again.