How to Thicken BBQ Sauce? Six Proven Techniques!

December 5, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

You can thicken BBQ sauce by reducing the liquid in the sauce and adding flour, cornstarch, xanthan gum, gelatin, or coconut cream. The best thing about these methods is that they are easy to prepare, and the ingredients are easy to find.

I’ve been guilty of making watery homemade sauces a couple of times; fortunately, these thickening methods have always bailed me out. So, continue reading to learn how to thicken BBQ sauce.

how to thicken bbq sauce

Six Ways to Thicken BBQ Sauce

You can thicken your homemade BBQ sauce with a few tricks. Here are six ways to thicken most BBQ sauces.


I’ll start with the easiest thickening method of the bunch. The reduction method reduces excess liquid via evaporation and concentrates the sauce’s flavors to produce a thick sauce with a rich flavor. I like using this method because you don’t need to add any ingredients; all you need is your pan and a stove. 

  • First, on medium heat of 300-375 degrees F, add the sauce to a pan and gently bring to a boil. Make sure you stir the sauce at intervals to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. 
  • Once the sauce has reached its boiling point, reduce the heat to medium-low of 250-300F and allow it to simmer. The more time you allow the sauce to simmer, the more liquid will evaporate, which will result in a thicker and richer sauce. Make sure you check the sauce and turn off the heat when it reaches your desired thickness. Allow the sauce to cool, then serve with your favorite dishes.
  • Remember, the reduction method will make your sauce’s flavor really strong. Therefore, make sure you taste the sauce as you boil it to guarantee it’s perfect for you.
Hot Spicy BBQ Sauce on the Jar

Coconut Oil or Cream

Coconut oil or coconut cream can also thicken your homemade barbecue sauce. It is not just a great technique to thicken your sauce; it can also add a nice flavor to your sauce. That said, they only use this technique with sauces that complement the coconut flavor.

  • Simply add one tablespoon of coconut cream or oil, or you can continue adding more cream or oil until you get the desired consistency. 
  • Note that coconut cream doesn’t need to be cooked, so you can add it once the sauce has finished boiling and stir it in as the boil comes to room temperature.
Coconut Oil with Coconuts


You can also add cornstarch to your BBQ sauce to make it thicker. The most crucial step in this procedure is making a thick mixture out of the cornstarch and water before stirring it into the sauce. The reason for mixing the cornstarch is that the cornstarch will be clumpy and unpleasant if you add it directly to the saucepan. 

  • First, determine the quantity of BBQ sauce you will thicken. Use a mixture of 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1/4 cup of water for every 1 cup of BBQ sauce.
  • Mix the cornstarch and water thoroughly in a small bowl. Make sure there aren’t clumps in the cornstarch mixture so it smoothly mixes into the sauce.
  • Next, add the BBQ sauce to a saucepan over medium heat of 300-375 F. 
  • As the sauce boils, add the cornstarch mix to the sauce and stir continuously until it is properly incorporated into the sauce. Turn the heat to low (200-250F) once the mixture has boiled. 
  • Continue stirring the mixture until the sauce thickens to your liking. The sauce will get thicker the longer you leave it in the heat. 
  • Take the sauce off the stove afterward and let it cool.
Corn Kernels with Bowl and Jar with Cornstarch


Regular flour can be used in the same way as cornstarch to thicken BBQ sauces. I advise you to use white flour instead of whole wheat flour because it works better for thickening due to the quantity of starch it contains. First, you’ll need to make a slurry out of the water and flour mix before stirring it into the sauce to prevent clumps.

  • First, measure the BBQ sauce you want to thicken. For each cup of BBQ sauce, mix 2 tablespoons of white flour and 1/2 cup of warm water in a bowl.
  • Stir the mixture until the water and flour are completely smooth, without any clumps.
  • Now heat the BBQ sauce in a saucepan on medium-low heat (300-375F). Then, add the flour and water mix to the BBQ sauce and stir.
  • Allow the mix to simmer for a bit, then reduce the heat and continue stirring with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes. The sauce should have the perfect consistency by now, but you can heat the sauce for longer if you want an even thicker sauce.
  • Once you’re done cooking the sauce, allow it to cool and pour it into a container.
White Rice Flour in a Bowl


Gelatin is another effective thickening agent you can add to thicken BBQ sauces. Moreover, gelatin is flavorless, so it won’t alter the taste of the sauce in any way. You’ll also need to dissolve the gelatin in water before mixing in the sauce to avoid creating clumps. 

  • For every cup of BBQ sauce, mix 1 tablespoon of gelatin and ¼ cup of warm water in a small bowl. 
  • Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes to bloom for a few minutes to activate the gelatin. Don’t forget this step, or else your sauce won’t have a smooth texture.
  • Add the sauce to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat (300-375F). Then, heat up the BBQ sauce and then stir in the gelatin mixture. 
  • Bring your BBQ sauce to a boil while stirring, then reduce the heat when the sauce starts bubbling. 
  • Keep stirring the mix until the sauce thickens. 
  • Take the sauce off the heat and allow it to cool before storing. 
Gelatin Powder in a Glass Bowl

Xanthan Gum 

Xanthan gum is a fantastic alternative because you only need a small amount to thicken BBQ sauces. Moreover, you don’t need to dilute Xanthan gum in water, unlike some of the methods we’ve discussed, so it’s easier to prepare.

  • Xanthan gum also readily dissolves in both hot and cold liquids and gives your BBQ sauce a buttery smoothness. 
  • Start by bringing your sauce to medium heat of around (300-375F). 
  • For each cup of BBQ sauce, add 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum. 
  • Bring the sauce to a slow boil while stirring, and then turn the heat to low (200-250F) once it has boiled. 
  • Continue stirring the sauce occasionally until it becomes thick enough, then take it off the heat. Allow the sauce to cool before using it for your roasts.
Xanthan Gum Thickening Agent on a Wooden Bowl


Barbecue sauce is a delicious addition to any dish, and a watery consistency can reduce the overall flavor of the sauce. That’s why knowing how to thicken your delicious homemade BBQ sauce is an important skill to have. 

You can get a thicker consistency with your sauce using any of the six methods we’ve discussed. So, select the thickening method that best fits your needs and enjoy your delicious BBQ sauce. 

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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