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How to Thicken BBQ Sauce

Have you ever tried to make your own bbq sauce or even bought BBQ sauce and it’s runny like a salad dressing?! Well, you can thicken it a few different ways so that it coats and actually sticks to your chicken, ribs, or whatever it is that you are cooking up.

When it comes to how to thicken BBQ sauce I feel the best way is to reduce the BBQ sauce until it is to the thickness that you’re looking for. One thing to look out for is when you reduce the sauce it will enhance the flavors in it as it loses moisture.

It can be a simple process to thicken BBQ sauce but some processes take longer than others. Let’s go over the 3 best ways to thicken BBQ.

bbq sauce in a dish

3 Best ways to thicken BBQ sauce

It is an easy fix when you are dealing with BBQ sauce that is thin and runny. If it is thin then it won’t stick to your foods when you are cooking and won’t be as tasty as it should be.

Some people like it thin and that is just fine. When I put BBQ sauce on my ribs or chicken that am BBQing I was the sauce to be thick, sticky, and messy. That’s what BBQ is all about!

You can thicken it using many different methods and or ingredients but these are my three simple and fairly quick go-to’s.

I have a healthy chicken sandwich that you could make not so healthy with a thick sauce!


The process of reducing a sauce is to evaporate the liquid. This is the easiest way and doesn’t require adding anything else to the sauce.

You want to use a shallow pan to help the liquid come out of the pan. You also want to leave the pan uncovered on med-low heat and stir it occasionally.

This may take anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes depending on how much you want to reduce it. Stay with it and keep stirring it until you reach your desired thickness.

Add starch

You can use flour or cornstarch to achieve this method. Both of these are common thickening agents whether you are thickening a soup or sauce and won’t change the flavor!

Mix together 1 tablespoon of COLD water and 1 tablespoon of either flour or cornstarch. It is pertinent that you mix these together BEFORE you add them to your sauce.

If you just add in the starch by itself it clumps up and it becomes impossible to fully incorporate it into the sauce.

Once you have mixed the water and starch together then add it into your simmering sauce and stir until it has thickened. It will take a minute or so to see it start to work so be patient.

It is important to cook the starch not just add it to some cold BBQ sauce.

Add fat

Adding a form of fat like butter or a heavy cream is great for thickening a sauce. It is a simple way thicken your BBQ sauce but it can change the flavor slightly. You want to be careful and not add too much.

Mix together 1 tablespoon of butter or heavy cream with 1 cup of sauce until it is incorporated. Put your sauce on medium to low heat and bring it to a simmer.

Now, stir in the fat and sauce mixture into the sauce pan and simmer and stir until it reaches the thickness you are looking for.

Pork ribs and BBQ sauce go hand in hand but did you know there are different types of pork ribs? Find out more in my post that explains what types of pork ribs there are.

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