Sauces from the United States are notoriously difficult to master, unlike non-American food. It’s fairly straightforward to find one credible source for your conventional Italian, French, and English cuisine recipe. This allows you to easily compare your dish to a perfect version so you can make adjustments.
Plus, you’ll normally get a fairly definitive response right away if you ask someone for feedback or browse online. If you want to thicken tomato sauce, the recipe will have a note that explains how.
This is not how American food works. If you’ve tried to make your fave ranch or BBQ sauce from scratch, you’ve likely run into such a problem. Different states have their versions of the ideal sauce.
Spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce is no exception. This iconic American sauce doesn’t completely resemble its Italian marinara origins. Rather, it’s a completely personalized recipe that changes a lot based on who’s cooking. As a result, achieving the desired quality of spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce can be difficult.
So here are some tips for making tomato sauce thicker.
How To Make Spaghetti Sauce Thicker
Adding starch or reducing liquid are the two most popular ways to thicken tomato sauce.
These two acts cover any thickening strategy. Using less liquid initially, adding a heavier liquid, or boiling liquids are good options for reducing sauces.
Cornstarch, breadcrumbs, pasta water, flour (often used in roux), or mashed potatoes are all starch sources.
To reduce the starchy taste of added starch, cook them for a few minutes. Solids, such as powders, melt more easily in a hot liquid.
As a result, you’ll normally evaporate a small amount of liquid (because of boiling) before incorporating the starch.
When it comes to thickening spaghetti sauce, there is another way: tomato paste. It is a cooked tomato-rich, concentrated ingredient that aids in the thickening of sauces. It is technically a densely packed tomato sauce.
Combining it with the spaghetti sauce thickens the sauce by increasing the solid content without adding liquid.
How to Thicken Tomato Sauce When You Have No Tomato Paste
Save Pasta Water to Use for Tomato Sauce
The water you used to cook your pasta has a high amount of starch. As a result, it’s a pretty effective thickening agent. But, you don’t want to put it in a sauce that has become so thin. Rather, use pasta water instead of pure water for your recipe.
Thicken Up & Reduce Sauce by Boiling Away the Liquid
You might like this trick in addition to the other methods you use to thicken the marinara sauce. Allowing the sauce to cook for several minutes over low heat can allow a large amount of water to evaporate due to boiling. This process also helps in activating any starches, cooking off any starchy tastes, and blending the sauce’s herbs and spices.
You don’t have to go overboard. Usually, twenty minutes is enough. I like this method because you don’t need additional tools or ingredients—just a little patience!
Add Some Cornstarch
Cornstarch doesn’t have a strong taste and is simple to incorporate into a sauce that you’ve already prepared. There’s no reason to make it into a roux or combine it with something else. Instead, add a little cornstarch and simmer the sauce for a couple of minutes. For a surprisingly limited quantity of cornstarch, you will get good results.
Mashed Potatoes (Gluten-free)
This one seems a little strange, but it works well. Plus, it’s a gluten-free method! Potatoes, like cornstarch, pasta, and flour, are high in starch. If you have a potato on hand (make sure it’s cooked), mash it and add it to your sauce. You’ll get a special taste, and your sauce will thicken significantly.
What is a roux? It’s a mix of fat and flour which is then cooked. Although mixing butter with flour and cooking them until they avoid smelling floury takes some time, adding roux is usually how an accomplished chef thickens pizza sauce. With some practice, you’ll be able to do this easily.
Add Butter or Olive Oil
An immersion blender and some olive oil or butter can help emulsify your tomato sauce (make the oil and other stuff mix better). As a result, the sauce will thicken. Including some fat would also aid in the development of a finer texture.
Let’s face it; you were planning to put cheese on it all along! Instead of sprinkling it on the spaghetti, toss it right into the sauce. Doing this will thicken the tomato sauce and add a personal touch to the dish.
Keep in mind that cheese can burn quickly, so maintain a low cooking temperature when doing this.
Add Egg Yolk to the Sauce
When thickening pasta sauce with egg yolk, prepare the yolk by mixing hot pasta sauce with the egg yolk first in a separate container. You can then transfer that to your tomato sauce. If you apply the yolk to the sauce right away, it will cook very quickly.
Expert Ways to Reduce Sauce
Add Tomato Paste
Adding tomato paste to tomato sauce may sound like cheating, but it’s the best way to thicken it up. You don’t even have to worry, for the tomato sauce will keep its fresh quality. Consider adding tomato paste as a way of getting more of the good stuff into your pasta!
Use a Wider Pan or Pot
There’s a common trick you can use to speed up reduction significantly. Instead of increasing the heat or impatiently waiting for the sauce to thicken, consider using a larger pot or pan.
When you allow the sauce to boil, its surface area affects how quickly it can thicken.
In a perfect scenario, you’d be using a sloped-wall fancy pan or a saucier pan, but a bigger saute pan, stockpot, or frying pan would suffice. The time it takes to reduce the sauce will decrease as the sauce’s surface area increases.
Add Some Mashed Vegetables
To thicken tomato sauce, most people like using tomato paste or tomato puree. But in fact, you can use virtually any finely grated or pureed vegetable in this recipe. What you’re doing is making an increase in the solid-to-liquid ratio, thickening the consistency.
This is a resourceful way to thicken spaghetti sauce. It’s great because it enhances both the sauce’s consistency and taste!
Additionally, it allows me to get in more vegetables without picky kids knowing or complaining. More nutrients are always a good thing!
As for what vegetables you can use, you can be creative! Carrots and potatoes are my go-to vegetables whenever I want to thicken tomato sauce. Pureed carrots are one of my favorite additions because they naturally sweeten the sauce, which kids love. Furthermore, carrots contain lots of Vitamin A and beta-carotene.
Meanwhile, potatoes are excellent at thickening spaghetti sauce. Why? This is due to the high starch content of potatoes. When they are integrated into the tomato sauce, they unleash this starch, enhancing the consistency. In addition, potatoes make your tomato sauce a little sweeter and more filling.
Does Tomato Sauce Have to Be Thick?
The typical marinara sauce has a thin consistency. The thick, rich spaghetti sauce you’re undoubtedly used to is a product of the more modern American kitchen.
If you like your sauce that way, it’s not a big deal to thicken it up with plenty of nutritious ingredients.
Can You Use Flour To Thicken Spaghetti Sauce?
You can thicken spaghetti sauce with flour, but I don’t recommend it because it alters the flavor slightly. Instead, you can create a roux or even add some vegetables.
The method of thickening spaghetti sauce can be difficult, because you are not exactly sure what you’ll end up with. When applying some thickening ingredient to your sauce, the main guideline to follow is moderation.
If you like the taste of tomatoes, you should thicken your sauce using tomato paste to make your spaghetti more typical. It all depends on your preferences!
The Best Method to Thicken Spaghetti Sauce
You can mix all or some of the listed techniques above to thicken tomato sauce significantly. For example, add starch, such as roux or cornstarch. Then, to thicken it up some more and enhance the taste, add a little tomato paste (or some vegetables of your choice). Finally, give your sauce a good stir and let it boil for about ten minutes.