Picture this: you’ve got a steaming plate of perfectly cooked spaghetti in front of you, and you’re ready to dive in. But as you take a bite, you realize that the sauce is way too thin and watery. Ugh, talk about a letdown!
Fear not, my pasta-loving friend, because we’re here to teach you how to thicken spaghetti sauce like a boss.
With our tips and tricks, you’ll be able to transform your lackluster sauce into a thick and flavorful masterpiece that will have you doing the happy dance.
Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a newbie in the kitchen, we’ve got all the tasty secrets you need to take your spaghetti game to the next level. So, get ready to get saucy, and let’s thicken things up!
Why Isn’t My Pasta Sauce Thick?
Knowing the moisture content of the vegetables you use when making your pasta sauce is important. It is natural for vegetables to release liquid when they are cooked down.
Some vegetables have more moisture than others, so you may have extra moisture after you eat them. There wasn’t enough simmering and reducing time in your pasta sauce. Sometimes we are in a hurry and don’t allow our pasta sauce to reduce enough.
Adding too many liquid-based ingredients was a mistake. Sometimes we make pasta sauce on the fly and end up with a watery sauce because of using oil, broth, cream, and water.
Does Spaghetti Sauce Need To Be Thick?
The thickness of homemade spaghetti sauce is a matter of personal preference. A thicker sauce will adhere better to the noodles themselves, but the question of how thick it needs to be has a range of possible answers.
Adding heavy cream to a sauce adds a velvety, silky texture while adding breadcrumbs or ground meat for chunkiness.
The most common starch is starch, but roux – an equal blend of flour and fat – imparts a richer mouthfeel than a simple slurry.
You must decide what approach works best for your sauce based on your preferences, what is in your pantry, and how much time you have.
Different Ways to Thicken Spaghetti Sauce
You can thicken a too-thin spaghetti sauce with thickening agents, proper reduction, or any combination of the several methods listed below:
1. Add A Drizzle Of Heavy Cream
When you are ready to serve your sauce, remove it from the heat and drizzle a little heavy cream, cream cheese, crème fraiche, or freshly grated cheese like aged Parmesan on top.
The sauce can be simmered for a longer period of time by returning it to low heat and stirring until the cheese dissolves completely.
2. Add Egg Yolks
Add egg yolks to spaghetti sauce to recreate carbonara sauce’s rich creaminess. If you want to prevent the yolks from scrambling, temper them in a small bowl.
Adding small spoonful of warm sauce to the yolks will allow them to adjust to the temperature change. Incorporate the yolk-sauce mixture gradually back into the main pot while stirring.
In the heat, your egg will scramble pretty quickly if you add it directly to the sauce. Pour a few tablespoons of the hot sauce into a mixing bowl it, then mix it until it’s smooth before slowly stirring it back into it.
3. Add Ground Beef
You can thicken any red sauce quickly by adding solids that enhance its flavor, such as ground meat. A half-pound of ground beef or prepared meatballs gives your tomato sauce the hearty consistency of a meat sauce such as Bolognese.
Cook the meat until it is tender and juicy, breaking it up with a spatula or wooden spoon and adding it to the pot. Then allow the sauce to simmer to reach the desired thickness.
Ground beef can be seasoned or unseasoned, depending on your sauce’s taste. Another fun variation is to use diced Italian sausage.
It will take longer to cook your sauce once you add these meaty ingredients, so keep it covered and constantly stir to avoid burning.
4. Add A Scoop Of Mashed Potatoes
You can add leftover mashed potatoes to your sauce at a time, stirring well between additions if you have any in the fridge. Despite what you might think, mashed potatoes are a great way to thicken spaghetti sauce.
To remove the starchy flavor of the potatoes, let them soak up the excess liquid and simmer the sauce for a long time. Season to taste and adjust as necessary before serving.
The starchy nature of potatoes makes them an excellent thickener, just like cornstarch and flour. The added sweetness makes the spaghetti sauce even more filling.
Starting from scratch is a lot of work, so I’d recommend this method only if you have leftover mashed potatoes on hand!
In addition, this method works well if your sauce has become too salty. In the end, the potatoes will be the balancing factor. Plus, you won’t overcook the sauce because you won’t add further heat!
5. Simmer And Reduce
A simple method for thickening spaghetti sauce without altering its flavor. Put your sauce on the stove and bring it to a boil. Then lower the heat and allow it to simmer.
Reducing the amount of sauce adds more cooking time than other methods, but it will not alter the original recipe. You should be careful not to burn or overcook the sauce while doing this. While simmering, make sure it’s uncovered and stirred frequently.
6. Make A Roux
A thickening agent like roux might be needed if simmering your sauce wasn’t enough to get that rich, thick consistency. You can easily thicken any pasta sauce with a quick roux, whether you are making a cheese sauce or just thickening your sauce.
Roux usually consists of equal parts flour and fat (1:1). In most cases, we use all-purpose flour and unsalted butter. Making a roux is easy if you’ve never done it before! Most French recipes use roux, which is made up of butter and flour.
You’ll need equal parts butter and flour to make your own roux to add to spaghetti sauce. Melt your butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the flour slowly.
By doing so, the mixture is guaranteed to be smooth. Add the roux to your sauce once the roux starts to bubble. To fully incorporate the roux into the spaghetti sauce, add it in small increments while it is still warm.
While this method requires a bit more effort than simmering, it will produce a very mild flavor change.
7. Add Starchy Pasta Water
Starchy pasta water makes making a thicker pasta sauce easier because it doesn’t require much chopping. Whenever you strain pasta, make sure you set aside pasta water.
The neutral flavor of cornstarch makes it less likely to affect the taste of food. To ensure it combines well, I add cornstarch with a bit of water first before adding it to the sauce. You can then add it to the spaghetti sauce in small amounts.
Cornstarch doesn’t have a taste, but it’s a very powerful thickener. It is best to add just a little bit at a time to not ruin the sauce’s consistency. Make sure there are no gooey messes!
8. Make A Cornstarch Slurry
Adding cornstarch slurry to the pasta sauce is also a fast and easy method for thickening. To make a slurry, you should use a 2:1 ratio of water to cornstarch. Heating activates the cornstarch.
We’re fond of using cornstarch slurry in pasta sauces with strong flavors, such as Asian-inspired pasta dishes or tomato sauces. Why? Because if you use cornstarch in a basic pasta sauce, the flavor can be overpowering.
To prevent little clumps of cornstarch in the pasta sauce, we like to add cornstarch as a slurry rather than just adding cornstarch.
9. Add More Tomato Paste Or Tomato Sauce
You can thicken tomato sauce made from fresh tomatoes by adding a tablespoon or two of canned tomato paste or a fourteen-ounce can of tomato sauce.
Remember that adding both flavors enhance the tomato flavor and thickens the sauce slightly. Once either addition has been made, reduce further.
10. Add Vegetables
If you have soupy spaghetti sauce, adding vegetables helps thicken and add texture to it. In addition to enhancing your dish’s flavor, this is an excellent way to add additional layers.
You can use shredded carrots as an excellent alternative. Italian cooks actually use this method when making sauces, so you shouldn’t be afraid to try it. Make sure you cook your carrots until they are soft and mushy.
You can even balance out the acidity of the tomatoes with it. Eggplant is another veggie you can add! Your sauce will taste better if eggplant is added to it. It has a smooth texture and a creamy flavor.
You want the sauce to be smooth, so remove the skin. Onions pureed and sauteed work great, too, especially if your sauce needs more flavor.
Does Adding Pasta Water Thicken Sauce?
It is possible to thicken the sauce by adding pasta water, provided you allow the pasta sauce to simmer after it has been added.
Is There A Reason Why My Pasta Sauce Doesn’t Thicken?
The lack of starch in your pasta sauce will prevent it from thickening.
What Is The Best Way To Thicken Pasta Sauce Without Cornstarch?
We recommend making a roux or using starchy pasta water to thicken your pasta sauce.
Is It Possible To Thicken The Sauce When Using Flour?
Thickening anything with flour is often considered the best method. Spaghetti Sauce is no different and can be used without hesitation.
While it may seem like a good option, it isn’t. Your sauce may taste different with flour added, not all diets suit flour.
Congratulations, you’ve officially become a spaghetti sauce boss! You now know all the tips and tricks to transform a lackluster sauce into a thick and flavorful masterpiece that will have everyone licking their plates.
With our easy methods for thickening spaghetti sauce, you can finally say goodbye to watery messes and hello to pasta perfection.
So, whether you’re in the mood for a classic marinara or a rich Bolognese, you can confidently whip up a delicious and hearty sauce that will impress even the toughest food critics. Now, go forth and get saucy!