How to Thicken Pasta Sauce—best Convenient Ways to Thicken Spaghetti Sauce
So, you made homemade pasta sauce for your spaghetti, but turns out a bit runny.
Cooking pasta, by all means, is an easy job. However, one of the main ingredients of a well-prepared pasta is a well-prepared spaghetti sauce— with all the spices and added sauces plus the consistency.
Many novice chefs claim that achieving the right consistency of spaghetti sauce is the most challenging part for them. And so, in this article, I will share some of the proven methods to fix watery spaghetti sauce for your pasta.
Stay with me!
Common Reasons Why Your Pasta Sauce Isn’t Thick
Whether you follow all the right instructions and add all the required ingredients, there are times when you’ll end up with watery pasta sauce. There are several reasons for thin spaghetti sauce.
High Water-content Vegetables
Vegetables like fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, and certain vegetables have a high water content. When you add them to your spaghetti sauce, they release extra moisture into the sauce, ultimately making it runny.
Not Enough Cooking Time
Hurried cooking may cause blunders like watery sauce, especially in the case of tomato sauce. If you have added ingredients like oil, broth, cream cheese, water, or tomato—always be prepared to cook it patiently and on medium heat to let the moisture evaporate through your tomato sauce. Also, continue simmering to thicken your spaghetti sauce until reduced by one-half.
One of the many reasons for watery spaghetti sauce is a small sauce pot as it has less surface area and makes evaporation slower.
Spaghetti sauce requires tomato paste to get the signature essence and flavor. However, there are different tomato products used in making spaghetti sauce—diced, whole, puree, sauce, sliced, chopped. Be mindful of choosing tomato products as using a watery ingredient such as diced tomatoes or tomato juice might affect the consistency of your spaghetti sauce.
The spaghetti sauce may turn out watery if there is a lack of thickeners such as cornstarch slurry, potato starch, starchy pasta water, or cornstarch. Some vegetables are also incorporated to thicken spaghetti sauce.
If you stir the sauce constantly, it won’t simmer and slows down the reduction process, ultimately turning the spaghetti sauce watery.
How to Thicken Spaghetti Sauce
Here are a few ways to thicken spaghetti sauce.
Boil or Simmer on Low Heat
If you don’t want to add any other thing to your spaghetti sauce, good news! There is a way!
Boiling or simmering the tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce is the most easiest and natural way to thicken spaghetti sauce. You just need to boil the tomato sauce on low heat. Allow it to simmer without any lid until your desired consistency is reached.
Though, the easiest method; it can be a little time-consuming to follow this way to thicken spaghetti sauce.
However, if you’re in a hurry… we have other solutions!
Cornstarch Slurry or Cornstarch
If you don’t want to alter the taste of your spaghetti sauce quickly, you can use cornstarch slurry or cornstarch any day. That’s because the cornstarch mixture has no flavor and still thickens your spaghetti sauce.
Make a cornstarch slurry by taking one tablespoon of water and one tablespoon of cornstarch. Mix it evenly and pour small amounts while stirring continuously. Once your desired consistency is achieved, stop adding more to the mixture.
Adding a roux is an easy way to fix any sauce—be it cheese sauce or tomato sauce, just make a quick roux and enjoy the flavorful sauce.
Melt unsalted butter and mix it with equal parts of flour to get the rich, most delicious flavor of your spaghetti sauce.
How to prepare a roux
- Take a saucepan and heat it over medium flame.
- Add unsalted butter. Once the butter melts, add equal parts of flour and whisk thoroughly.
- Cook both ingredients for at least 3 minutes while stirring
- Pour the roux into your watery pasta sauce and simmer over medium flame.
Please note: Roux can alter your sauce flavor a little bit.
Starchy Pasta Water
So, you’re boiling pasta or spaghetti anyway? Save that starchy pasta water for later use…
Just add 1/4 cup of pasta water into your spaghetti sauce and bring it to a boil. And watch your sauce thicken in no time!
Mashed Potatoes/ Leftover Mashed Potatoes
Potatoes make everything alright!
So, if your pasta sauce is a bit runny, just peel, boil, mash, and add potatoes to it. You can also add butter or cream cheese if needed. Mix everything evenly and add it to your sauce.
Tomato Paste or Tomato Sauce
You can also add tomato paste or tomato ketchup to thicken spaghetti sauce. Just remember to add it in the beginning so the flavors are perfectly blended.
Parmesan Cheese or Romano Cheese
Parmesan cheese or Romano cheese, especially grated are excellent boosters to thicken spaghetti sauce, making your salt thick and salty. Thus, add a little less salt than usual.
Some vegetables, including tomatoes, bell peppers, and carrots are excellent thickeners and taste enhancers. Therefore, adding pureed vegetables to your spaghetti sauce can increase the consistency while boosting the flavors.
Add Ground Beef
You can also add ground beef or ground meat to thicken your spaghetti sauce.
However, make sure you remove and drain any excess water from the meat before adding it to the sauce.
Here’s how you can do this the safe way:
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a saucepan and cook the ground meat until it is brown.
- Drain the excess fat water and add cooked ground beef to the sauce.
Adding ground beef is an excellent way to thicken and make your pasta more healthy by incorporating more proteins in your diet.
How Do You Thicken Watery Spaghetti Sauce?
There are many ways to thicken spaghetti sauce, including, adding tomato paste or ketchup, vegetable puree, parmesan cheese, starchy pasta water, adding a roux, etc.
How Do You Thicken Pasta Sauce Without Adding Anything?
The most natural and easiest way to thicken pasta sauce is by reducing it on low flame. Simmering or boiling the pasta for a few minutes uncovered will thicken your spaghetti sauce without adding anything or altering the flavor.
How Do You Make Marinara Sauce Thicker?
The process of thickening marinara sauce is the same as spaghetti sauce. If you don’t want to add anything and alter the flavor, simply simmer the sauce uncovered over low heat. Also, you can use tomato paste, bread crumbs, vegetable puree, cheese, and other thickening agents to achieve a thick, creamy texture.
Though, there’s nothing wrong with the savory, thin sauce, many people and cooking experts prefer their sauces with a creamy and thick texture. Therefore, your ideal bet to thicken the sauce is by reducing it to evaporate the excess liquid on medium heat.
Other ways to thicken your sauce are also common and recommended—you can add egg yolks, grated parmesan, heavy cream, mashed potatoes, cooked spaghetti noodles, and other tomato sauces for thickening spaghetti sauce while making it more flavorful.