How To Thicken BBQ Sauce [6 Ways]

How To Thicken BBQ Sauce

This content contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase after clicking a link on this page, we might receive a commission at no cost to you.

Whether it be store-bought bbq sauce or homemade, no grilling afternoon or BBQ party is complete without the best BBQ sauce.

In fact, it could be argued that the sticky consistency and sweet-spicy flavors of the BBQ sauce are almost as important as the meat itself.

Any BBQ lover will know that BBQ sauce is the go-to choice, as it goes with everything. Whether it be burgers, ribs, or fries, a good BBQ sauce goes beautifully.

However, if your BBQ sauce isn’t perfect, you and your guests might finish your food feeling disappointed.

One big problem we can encounter with BBQ sauce is poor consistency. If the sauce is too watery or not thick enough, it can be like pouring spiced water on your food.

Luckily for you, we have the answers for any time you encounter this problem. In this post, we have detailed the best and easiest ways to thicken BBQ sauce in times of emergency.

If your sauce has gone wrong, make sure you check out our list and follow the simple steps!

The Best Ways To Thicken BBQ Sauce

Add Some Flour To The Sauce

If you’re looking for the quickest, most hassle-free way to thicken your BBQ sauce, you should start by adding some flour before giving it a good stir.

Store Bought flours are usually white and tasteless, so you don’t need to worry about them affecting anything other than the texture of the sauce.

As you add flour to the sauce, it will start to absorb the sauce’s liquid, thickening the sauce in the process.

The speed at which flour absorbs the sauce is why it is such a good choice when it comes to thickening BBQ sauce. You will see changes to your sauce in a matter of seconds without having to change any of the sauce’s flavors.

To add the flour to your sauce, follow these steps:

  • For every cup of sauce you need to thicken, get 2 tbsp of flour and ¼ cup of water.
  • In a bowl, combine the water and flour and give it a really good mix.
  • Now, this is done, heat your BBQ sauce in a small saucepan. Do this on medium heat.
  • Once the sauce is simmering, add the flour and water mixture to the sauce.
  • Stir the sauce consistently for 1 to 2 minutes, or until your sauce has reached its desired thickness.

Use Cornstarch To Thicken Your BBQ Sauce

While flour is probably the most convenient ingredient to use when thickening your BBQ sauce, if you happen to have cornstarch in the house, you’ll be better off using that.

This is definitely the case if you’re planning on smothering a rack of ribs with your BBQ sauce.

In reality, cornstarch works better with meats like ribs as it gives the meat that lovely glossy sheen we strive to achieve, but never seem to perfect.

The only downside to cornstarch is that unlike flour, it can occasionally break down when mixed with ingredients in some BBQ sauces. An example of this would be tomatoes.

For each cup of BBQ sauce, mix 1 tbsp of cornstarch with 1 tbsp of water. You can then mix it with your BBQ sauce until it has reached the desired consistency, as you can do with the flour.

It is worth noting that with cornstarch and flour, you don’t have to simmer the sauce. You can just mix it straightaway. However, we have found that the best results can be achieved when the sauce is simmering.

Reduce The BBQ Sauce

How To Thicken BBQ Sauce

Another very simple way in which you can thicken your BBQ sauce is by using a saucepan to reduce the sauce over your stove. The beauty of this method is that all you need is your sauce, a saucepan, and heat.

Instead of adding ingredients to the sauce, this method involves removing them. The aim of reducing the sauce is to simply remove the excess vinegar and water from the sauce. During this process, the sauce will thicken.

All you need to do to reduce the sauce is heat it up in a saucepan with the heat turned too low. As the sauce begins to heat up, you should stir continuously.

You can then start to bring the temperature up a little more, being careful not to boil the sauce. Doing this correctly will ensure the excess water from the sauce evaporates.

The more the water evaporates, the thicker your sauce will get. You should note that the water from the sauce will continue to evaporate for a minute or two after the sauce has been removed from the heat.

Therefore, you should stop heating the sauce as it approaches the consistency you’re after. Then smother it on your smoked meats and enjoy!

Alternative Methods To Thicken BBQ Sauce


If you’re running low on options and time, you could always use some butter to thicken your BBQ sauce.

This may seem like an odd choice, but butter does have very good thickener properties. Interestingly, it can also add a nice creamy flavor to the sauce.

When using butter to thicken your BBQ sauce, you should only add it a little at a time. You can then stir the butter in and see the result before deciding whether you need more or not.

It is important to only use organic, grass-fed butter when using this method. Avoid using margarine if you can.

Tomato Purée

Another great way to quickly thicken your BBQ sauce is to add a dash of tomato purée. Tomato purée adds a level of fiber to any sauce, so it is well worth adding some to your BBQ sauce.

While it might not work as well as the other methods we have discussed in this post, it will add some extra nutritional value to the sauce too.

Tomato purée is also a good choice because it also already has a similar flavor profile to BBQ sauce. Therefore, the flavor of your BBQ sauce shouldn’t change much at all.

Coconut Oil

The final method to thicken BBQ sauce on our list may seem absolutely crazy, but it could be your go-to option if you have limited supplies or follow a vegan diet.

There isn’t too much to say about adding coconut oil to your BBQ sauce other than that it demonstrates properties that will thicken BBQ sauce. Like some other thickeners on our list, you should only add coconut oil in small amounts.

By adding the oil in small amounts, you can give the sauce a good stir first before then deciding if it needs to be thicker or not.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, thickening your BBQ sauce doesn’t need to be difficult. In this post, we have talked you through 6 different ways you can thicken your sauce in no time at all.

In all truth, some are better than others, but if time is against you, and you’re running low on ingredients, other methods can come in very useful.

Using the best BBQ sauce with your barbecued or grilled food is a must. Without that beautifully sticky, sweet sauce, our BBQ parties just aren’t the same.

Hopefully, now you have these methods at your disposal, you can quickly and effectively thicken your BBQ sauce so that it won’t be as watery or thin, keeping your guests super happy in the process.