How to Thicken Stews, Sauces, & Soups in the Crock Pot
Moisture in a slow cooker doesn’t evaporate like it does when you cook on a stove — this contributes to any added liquids not thickening up. Want to know how to thicken curry in a slow cooker? Or how to thicken spaghetti sauce in a crockpot? Keep reading for techniques on how to thicken gravy, soups, sauces, and stews.
How to thicken sauces with flour
If you aren’t following a gluten-free diet, then one easy technique to help thicken a sauce in the slow cooker is to dredge meat in flour before browning it. With this technique, your sauce may not need any additional thickener at the end.
If a dish is still too soupy, you can try another method using flour. Scoop out a bit of your cooking liquid, whisk in some flour, then whisk this slurry back into your pot and continue to simmer until the sauce thickens and the taste of raw flour is gone. You will need about 2 tablespoons of flour per cup of liquid in your recipe.
Note, using flour to thicken a sauce will make it cloudy.
How to thicken sauces with cornstarch
Wondering how to thicken stew in slow cooker without flour? Cornstarch is a gluten-free thickener. And unlike flour, cornstarch will produce a clear sauce.
Just whisk together equal parts cornstarch and water to make a slurry — using about 1 tablespoon cornstarch per cup of liquid in your recipe — then whisk this into your pot. Cook until the sauce begins to thicken.
How to thicken sauces without cornstarch or flour
Vegetables that have cooked for hours in a crock pot are often overcooked. But these can come in handy — just puree them to thicken the sauce. You can do this with an immersion blender directly in the slow cooker, or use a regular blender then stir the veggies back into your gravy.
Arrowroot is gluten-free thickener and it is GMO-free. Follow the same steps as with cornstarch above. Note, arrowroot’s texture becomes slimy when mixed with dairy products.
How to reduce liquid in your slow cooker
Reducing the amount of liquid in your slow cooker is also a good way to thicken things up. If your dish is soupier than you prefer, then you have a couple of options:
If you have time at the end of cooking, remove the cover, turn up the heat and allow some of the liquid to evaporate.
Or if you’ve previously cooked a recipe with watery results, then the next time you cook experiment with propping the lid open with a toothpick. Steam will escape as your food is cooking, which will reduce the liquid and result in a thicker sauce. But remember, this will also increase cooking time, so allow for the time difference.
Reminder, if you are adapting regular recipes to slow cooker recipes, then you need to reduce the amount of liquid called for in the original recipe.
Want more info on how to use your slow cooker?
Get more tips, tricks, recipes, and how-to’s over on The Smart Slow Cooker blog.
Need slow cooker inspiration? See the collection of 6-8+ hour slow cooker dinner recipes.