Whether you forgot to buy more cornstarch at the store or it's not your favorite thickening agent, there are several alternatives to thicken any sauce. In a matter of minutes, you can easily create your own thickening agent with just a few ingredients. You can get your sauce to that perfect consistency by using a roux mix, thickening it with beurre manié, or exploring other alternatives.
Create a roux mix
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon of flour
Thicken the sauce with beurre manie
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon of flour
Using egg yolks for desserts and creamy sauces
1 yolk for every 240 ml (1 c) of liquid
Method 1 of 4: Create a Roux Mix
Step 1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat
Start by melting 1 tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan. You will know the butter is hot when you can sprinkle a pinch of flour over it and the mixture begins to slowly bubble.
You can substitute oil with butter for a dairy-free alternative
Step 2. Stir the tablespoon of flour with the butter to form a thick paste
Keep the mixture over medium heat. Stir constantly while the flour begins to bubble. As the flour and butter cook, they will become homogeneous and begin to thin.
Step 3. Stir the mixture while you cook it for 5 minutes
The roux does not require much time to prepare. It is ready when the flour loses its raw smell and turns into a thin, white paste.
- Use roux to thicken milk-based sauces, like cheese sauce for mac and cheese.
- You can let the roux cook longer for a golden, brown, or dark roux. However, these types of roux are commonly used to thicken soups and seafood creams, not sauces.
Step 4. Add room temperature roux to the hot liquid
Stir the mixture vigorously. Chill the hot roux in the refrigerator or let it sit on the counter until it reaches room temperature.
- You can add the hot roux to hot or cold sauces right away.
- Do not add roux to a hot liquid, as it will create lumps that you cannot remove unless you use a strainer.
Step 5. Boil the sauce for a minute over high heat
Set the stove to high heat and bring the sauce to a boil. The mixture will only take a minute to thicken. Keep it boiling until it reaches the desired viscosity.
Step 6. Pour any leftover roux onto a baking sheet or ice bucket
Place in the refrigerator to chill overnight or until set.
- Keep any remaining roux in an airtight container and freeze or refrigerate for up to a month.
- You can store oil-based roux at room temperature for 2-4 weeks.
Method 2 of 4: Thicken the sauce with beurre manie
Step 1. Mix equal parts of softened butter and flour in a small bowl
Start with 1 tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of flour. Add more if necessary. Soften the butter by placing it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds at a time.
You don't completely melt it
Step 2. Knead the mixture and roll the dough into teaspoon-sized amounts
You can mix the butter and flour with a fork until the mixture looks smooth. Then, knead it with your fingers until it forms a paste.
You can make larger amounts of beurre manié in a food processor and store the balls in the freezer. Before using them, let them come to room temperature
Step 3. Stir one ball at a time into a simmering sauce
Once you have mixed the beurre manié balls well, bring the sauce back to a simmer and cook for at least a minute.
- Add another ball of beurre until you get the desired viscosity.
- Beurre manie is great to use in a sauce that is already made, but it will require more stickiness.
- That works well with casserole sauces for battered shrimp, turkey, or soup.
Method 3 of 4: Using Egg Yolks for Desserts and Creamy Sauces
Step 1. Stir the egg yolks in a saucepan over low heat
Use one egg yolk for every 1 cup (240 ml) of liquid that you need to thicken. Stir the yolks until they are loose.
If you are using a whole egg, separate the whites from the yolk before stirring the egg
Step 2. Add 2 tablespoons of hot water to the egg yolks
This will soften the eggs and increase their temperature. The hot water will heat the eggs without making it too hot to cook.
Step 3. Stir the eggs into the sauce and bring them to a slow boil over medium heat
Your sauce should be hot when you add the eggs. Stir continuously while simmering.
Make sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the saucepan as you stir. That way, the sauce won't stick to the pan or burn
Step 4. Let the sauce boil for one minute
Don't let the sauce boil too long. Once it reaches its boiling point, a minute will be enough for the sauce to thicken.
- Since you are using raw eggs, you should check the temperature of the sauce to eliminate the possibility of bacteria.
- The sauce must be at a temperature of at least 160 ° F (70 ° C) before it is safe to serve.
Method 4 of 4: Explore Other Alternatives to Cornstarch
Step 1. Make a flour thickener to thicken creamy sauces
Combine equal parts flour and cold water in a mug. Mix everything until the mixture looks homogeneous and stir it into the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer for 5 minutes.
A general rule of thumb is to use 2 teaspoons of flour to thicken 34 fl oz (1 liter) of liquid
Step 2. Use the reduction method for tomato-based sauces
This method takes a little longer than others. However, it works well for tomato-based thickening sauces. Keep the sauce over medium heat. Then, remove the lid from the saucepan to let the liquid evaporate until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.
You can also thicken the grill sauce using that method
Step 3. Thicken the teriyaki sauce by cooking it over low heat
Teriyaki sauce is one of the few sauces that will thicken if left on low heat. Remove from heat when it begins to have the consistency of syrup.
Step 4. Puree almonds or cashews for a vegan alternative
Dip the walnuts in water until they are soft. Puree them into a smooth, thin paste. Then add them to the sauce, stirring vigorously while it cooks over low heat.
This option works well for thickening Indian-style sauces
Step 5. Use tapioca if you are on a Paleolithic diet
Tapioca is also gluten and grain free. It is flavorless, and will leave the sauce with a bright, clear finish.