How to Thicken Spaghetti Sauce

Watery or thin spaghetti sauce can ruin a meal. Learn how to thicken spaghetti sauce without ruining its taste with our seven easy hacks.

thicken spaghetti sauce

Reduction

One of the ways to thicken spaghetti sauce would be to leave it to simmer. Regardless of how you make it, any sauce will have some water or stock as part of the ingredients. When you allow the sauce to simmer, you evaporate the water that it has. Allow the sauce to simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, in the same way water evaporates when you boil it. 

When you simmer the sauce down, you allow the herbs and ingredients to simmer down and blend in well. This will help enhance the taste, and you end up with a thick sauce for your pasta.

Pros

  • It blends the ingredients down well. 
  • It’s a good way to thicken the sauce without using tomato paste.
  • It activates starches which help create a thick sauce.
  • Simmering also helps you cook off starch flavors in the sauce. 

Cons

  • If you don’t keep a close eye, you could burn the sauce.
  • You also need to be prepared to lose some of it as it simmers, so make sure you make more than you need. 

Pasta water

You can also use pasta water to thicken the sauce. The starch in the water is what makes it a good candidate for thickening sauce. When you cook your spaghetti, drain the water, and save it. Do not add the pasta water to the already cooked sauce. Instead, use the water to make the sauce. You will need to add about half a cup of pasta water to your sauce to thicken it.

Pros

  • It binds the pasta and the sauce together. 
  • It is tasty flavorful.
  • You already have it, so it’s not an extra ingredient that is needed. 
  • It thickens pasta sauce. 

Cons

  • If you drain the water the wrong way, you may not get the same flavors. 

Cornstarch

Cornstarch is a great way to thicken a lot of dishes, pasta sauce included. One of the reasons it is a fan favorite is that it doesn’t need too much skill to use. It’s easy to use, and you only need small amounts to thicken sauces a great deal. All you will need to do is add a small amount to the sauce and stir it in for about two or three minutes. 

Pros

  • It thickens the sauce
  • It’s easy to use
  • You can add it to a pre-made sauce
  • You only need small amounts to thicken the sauce.

Cons

  • It doesn’t add any extra flavor.
  • If you add too much cornstarch, it can ruin your sauce’s texture.

Roux

Another great hack would be to use a roux. This is a combination of butter and flour. The tricky thing with this is that you will need to know how to make it first. It will take more time and skill than other methods of thickening a sauce. 

To make the roux, you will need equal parts of butter and all-purpose flour. Melt the butter on medium heat and add the flour a bit at a time. 

You will need to stir the mixture until it’s smooth and has no lumps. It is important to continue to stir and ensure the flour cooks and that it doesn’t stick to the pan’s bottom. The amount of roux you will need is 2ounces for every cup of water used for the pasta sauce. While the roux’s preparation may take some time initially, when you get the hang of it, it can quickly become your go-to pasta sauce thickening tactic.

Pros

  • It is flavorful
  • It helps thicken your sauce
  • It helps bind the ingredients together
  • It adds good color to the dish

Cons

  • It’s not ideal if you have cholesterol problems. 
  • It needs some time to prepare the roux, so it’s not as quick as other pasta thickeners.

Mashed vegetables 

You may also thicken your pasta sauce using mashed vegetables, such as mashed potatoes, celery, or even carrots. The vegetable that you choose will determine the color of the dish. While this is not a very common way, it is effective and will add the vegetable you choose to use. 

All you will need to do is mash the vegetable and then blend it into the sauce. You will quickly notice the sauce thicken. All you will need is a spoon or two of mashed vegetables. 

Pros

  • It is versatile, as you can use what you have in your kitchen
  • It helps thicken the sauce quickly
  • It is a flavorful way to thicken the sauce

Cons

  • Adding too much can ruin the sauce.

Egg yolk

You may also choose to use the yolk of an egg to thicken your sauce. However, this will not work if you are vegan or don’t eat eggs. Egg yolks will make the sauce taste different, and it is noticeable. However, it will also thicken it nicely. To prepare the yolk for the sauce, add half a cup of hot sauce to a bowl and then whisk in one egg yolk. Make sure to whisk until the mixture is smooth. When this is done, you can then simmer the sauce for about a minute. Just make sure that it doesn’t boil.

Pros

  • They are flavorful
  • They thicken the sauce.

Cons

  • Be careful when you add them to the sauce, as they may scramble when introduced to heat. 

Arrowroot

Arrowroot is a great way to thicken your sauce if you are vegan. It is neutral and, as such, will not change the color or taste of the sauce. This is helpful if you have added ingredients to your sauce that you don’t want to be degraded. To use it, you will need to either grind the root or use the powder.

Mix one tablespoon of water with one tablespoon of powder to form a form of liquid. Just be careful not to mix it with the hot sauce because this can change the flavor. Simmer the mixture for about a minute.

Pros

  • It is a vegan alternative
  • It’s easy to use
  • It thickens the sauce.

Cons

  • It has no flavor of its own