How to Thicken Stews, Sauces, and Soups in a Slow Cooker

How to thicken sauces with flour

All-purpose flour is a staple that most people have on hand. Note, thickening a sauce with flour can make it cloudy.

  • Whisk in beurre manié. Most cooking experts say beurre manié is one of the best last-minute ways to thicken a sauce. Mix equal amounts of softened butter and flour together, rub or knead until well combined to form a smooth paste. Whisk in small amounts of the beurre manié at a time, let your dish return to a simmer, then add more as needed. Refer to Fine Cooking for more information.

  • Dredge your meat in flour. If you aren’t following a gluten-free diet, then an easy technique to help thicken a sauce in the slow cooker is to dredge your meat in flour before browning it. With this method, your sauce may not need any additional thickener at the end.

  • Make a slurry. If a dish is still too soupy, you can try another method using flour. Scoop out a bit of the 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.

How to thicken sauces with cornstarch

Wondering how to thicken stew in slow cooker without flour? Cornstarch is a gluten-free thickener. Unlike flour, cornstarch produces a clear, glossy sauce.

  • Make a slurry. 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.

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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.

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  • Potatoes can be used in dishes that already have potato in them. Grate a raw potato into the slow cooker 30 minutes before you want to eat (giving the potato time to cook). Some people suggest instant potato flakes — stir in a very small amount at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

How to Thicken Stew or Soup

Does your beef stew look like soup? Or is your soup too thin? In addition to the suggestions above, a few more options:

  • Barley is a traditional ingredient in stew and helps to bulk up dishes. Add pearled barley to your slow cooker about 1 hour before you want to eat.


  • Orzo is a small pasta that can be added directly to slow cooker soups. It cooks quickly and will absorb some of the liquid. Add the orzo about 15 to 30 before you want to eat.

  • Rice can be added to thicken things up. Or serving a watery stew over hot cooked rice is another quick fix. Learn more about adding rice to slow cooker recipes.

How to reduce liquid in a slow cooker

Simply reducing the amount of liquid in your slow cooker is another way to thicken up stews or sauces. If a dish is too watery, you have a couple of options:

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  • Use less liquid. Remember, if you are adapting regular recipes to the slow cooker, you need to reduce the amount of liquid called for in the original recipe.

  • Remove the lid. If you have time at the end of cooking, take the lid off the slow cooker, turn up the heat and allow some of the liquid to evaporate.

  • Prop the lid open. If you’ve previously cooked a recipe with watery results, some sources suggest 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. Note, this will also increase cooking time, so allow for the time difference.

Start with Good Recipes

The best slow cooker cookbooks have recipes that are properly adapted for the appliance. Overall, recipes will use less liquid than regular recipes. Click to see books on Amazon:


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About the Author: Thien Bao

Hello, my name is ThienBao. I am a freelance developer specializing in various types of code.