7 Effective Methods for Thickening Tomato Sauce

7 Best Ways to Thicken Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce is a versatile and delicious addition to many dishes. However, getting the right consistency can sometimes be a challenge. Homemade tomato sauce often turns out watery, which can be disappointing. In this article, we will explore the best methods for thickening tomato sauce and provide you with practical tips and instructions. By following these techniques, you can ensure that your tomato sauce is rich, flavorful, and perfectly thickened.

1. Reduce or simmer

One of the easiest and most effective ways to thicken tomato sauce is to reduce or simmer it. Tomatoes naturally contain a lot of water, which can contribute to a runny consistency. By cooking the sauce over low heat for an extended period of time, you can evaporate the excess moisture, resulting in a thicker sauce with concentrated flavors.
To reduce your tomato sauce, follow these simple steps:

  1. Test the consistency of your tomato sauce and determine how thick you want it.
  2. Place the sauce over medium-low heat and continue to simmer, uncovered. This will allow the excess moisture to evaporate and the sauce to thicken.
  3. Stir the sauce every 5-10 minutes to prevent it from burning on the bottom.
  4. Continue to cook the sauce for 10-20 minutes or until the desired consistency is achieved.

Reducing or simmering is a time-consuming method, especially if you want a very thick sauce. However, it does not require any additional ingredients or equipment, making it a convenient way to thicken your tomato sauce.

2. Adding a Roux

A roux, a mixture of butter and flour, is a classic method of thickening sauces. It serves as the base for many recipes and provides a smooth, velvety texture. By incorporating a roux into your tomato sauce, you can achieve a thicker consistency without sacrificing flavor.
To thicken your tomato sauce with a roux, follow these steps:

  1. In a saucepan, melt equal amounts of butter and flour. For a medium consistency, use a 1:1 ratio.
  2. Whisk the butter and flour together until you have a thick batter.
  3. Slowly whisk in the tomato sauce, adding 1/8 cup at a time. Be sure to whisk well between each addition to prevent lumps.
  4. When all the sauce has been incorporated, return the saucepan to the heat and bring the sauce to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes until the sauce reaches the desired thickness. Remember to whisk constantly to prevent the sauce from burning on the bottom.

Adding a roux is an effective way to thicken tomato sauce, and you can adjust the consistency by using different ratios of butter and flour. However, it is important to follow the steps exactly to avoid lumps and ensure a smooth texture.

3. Using cornstarch

Cornstarch is a common thickening agent that is readily available in most kitchens. It is a convenient option when you need to quickly thicken your tomato sauce. Cornstarch has a neutral taste and will not affect the flavor or color of the sauce.
To thicken your tomato sauce with cornstarch, follow these steps:

  1. Add 1 teaspoon of cornstarch to 1 cup of tomato sauce.
  2. Whisk the cornstarch into the sauce until completely dissolved.
  3. Simmer sauce over low heat for 5-10 minutes until thick.

Cornstarch is an easy and effective way to thicken tomato sauce. Be careful not to overcook the sauce, however, as this can result in a slightly grainy texture.

4. Incorporating Arrowroot Powder

Arrowroot powder, derived from a root vegetable, is another natural thickener. It has gained popularity in recent years due to its gluten-free and tasteless properties. Similar to cornstarch, arrowroot powder will not change the taste, color, or odor of the sauce.
To thicken your tomato sauce with arrowroot powder, follow these steps:

  1. Combine 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder with 1 tablespoon water to make a smooth paste.
  2. Heat tomato sauce over low heat.
  3. Add the arrowroot mixture to the sauce and whisk until completely incorporated.
  4. Continue to cook the tomato sauce until it reaches the desired thickness.

Arrowroot powder is an easy way to thicken tomato sauce, but it may require additional ingredients that can be difficult to find.

5. Add mashed or pureed vegetables

Pureed or pureed vegetables can serve as a natural thickener for tomato sauce. This method not only thickens the sauce, but also adds extra flavor and nutrients.
To thicken your tomato sauce with pureed vegetables, follow these steps:
1.In this section, we will discuss the remaining two methods for thickening tomato sauce. Let’s dive in.

5. Adding Pureed or Pureed Vegetables

Another natural and nutritious way to thicken tomato sauce is to add mashed or pureed vegetables. This technique not only helps to thicken the sauce, but also adds additional flavor and nutrients to your dish.
To thicken tomato sauce with pureed or pureed vegetables, follow these steps:

  1. Choose vegetables that complement the flavor of the tomato sauce, such as carrots, zucchini, or bell peppers.
  2. Cook vegetables until tender.
  3. Blend or puree the cooked vegetables in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  4. Gradually add the mashed or pureed vegetables to the tomato sauce, stirring constantly.
  5. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Adding pureed or pureed vegetables not only thickens the sauce, but also increases the nutritional value of your tomato sauce.

6. Use an egg yolk

Using an egg yolk is a traditional way to thicken sauces, including tomato sauce. The egg yolk adds richness and helps bind the sauce together, resulting in a velvety texture.
To thicken tomato sauce with an egg yolk, follow these steps:

  1. In a separate bowl, whisk an egg yolk until well beaten.
  2. Gradually add a small amount of the tomato sauce to the beaten egg yolk, whisking continuously.
  3. Slowly pour the egg yolk mixture back into the main pot of tomato sauce, whisking constantly.
  4. Cook the sauce over low heat for a few minutes to thicken and ensure the egg yolks are fully cooked.

The addition of an egg yolk provides a luxurious texture and helps thicken the tomato sauce while enriching the flavors.


Thickening tomato sauce to achieve the desired consistency is essential to enhancing the flavor and texture of your dishes. Whether you prefer to reduce and simmer, incorporate a roux, use cornstarch or arrowroot powder, add mashed or pureed vegetables, or use an egg yolk, these methods provide effective ways to thicken your tomato sauce.
Experiment with these techniques and adjust them to your personal preference. Remember to taste the sauce as you go and make any necessary adjustments to achieve the desired thickness and flavor profile.
By following these seven best ways to thicken tomato sauce, you can create delicious, hearty sauces that enhance your favorite recipes. Enjoy the process of sauce making and the rich flavors of a perfectly thickened tomato sauce!


Why is my homemade tomato sauce too watery?

Homemade tomato sauce can be watery due to the high water content of tomatoes. In addition, overcooking the sauce can cause excessive evaporation and a thinner consistency.

Can I use canned tomatoes to make a thick tomato sauce?

Yes, you can use canned tomatoes to make a thick tomato sauce. However, it is important to choose tomato varieties with less water content, such as tomato paste or tomato puree, to achieve a thicker sauce.

How long does it take to reduce tomato sauce to the desired thickness?

The time it takes to reduce tomato sauce to the desired thickness can vary depending on the amount of sauce and heat level. Generally, it can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes of simmering over low heat.

Can I use all the thickening methods together?

It is not recommended to use all of the thickening methods together as it can change the taste, texture and overall quality of the tomato sauce. It’s best to choose a method that suits your preferences and the specific dish you’re preparing.

Can I refrigerate or freeze tomato sauce after it is thickened?

Yes, you can refrigerate or freeze tomato sauce after thickening. Allow the sauce to cool completely before transferring to airtight containers. Refrigerated sauce should be consumed within 3-4 days, while frozen sauce can be stored for up to 3 months.

Can I thicken tomato sauce without changing the flavor?

Yes, you can thicken tomato sauce without altering the flavor by using natural thickeners such as reducing, incorporating roux, or adding mashed or pureed vegetables. These methods will help thicken the sauce while preserving the original flavor of the tomatoes.