How To Thicken A Marinara Sauce? Everything You Need To Know

Are you tired of watery marinara sauce ruining your pasta dishes? Do you want to know how to thicken your sauce without compromising its flavor?

Look no further! In this article, we will explore various methods for thickening your marinara sauce, from using starches to boiling out excess liquid.

Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a beginner in the kitchen, these tips will help you achieve the perfect consistency for your sauce.

So grab a spoon and let’s get cooking!

How To Thicken A Marinara Sauce?

Method 1: Corn Starch Slurry

One of the easiest ways to thicken a marinara sauce is by adding a corn starch slurry. To do this, simply combine equal parts water and cornstarch (start with 1/4 cup each) and whisk until smooth. Then, stir the slurry into the sauce and let it simmer over low heat for another minute. The starch molecules will absorb the excess liquid, thickening your sauce in no time.

Method 2: Starches

Starches like potato starch, arrowroot, or tapioca starch can also be used to thicken marinara sauce. Mix the starch with some cold water or milk (the ratio is 1:1) and then combine the resulting slurry with the sauce. Simmer over low heat for another minute and the starch will absorb the excess liquid, thickening your sauce.

Method 3: Boil Out Excess Liquid

Another easy way to thicken your marinara sauce is to boil out some of the liquid. Simply simmer the sauce on low heat for an extra 5 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. This method doesn’t alter your recipe in any way and is a great option if you have extra time.

Method 4: Slow Reduction

For a more time-consuming but effective method, let your marinara sauce slowly reduce over several hours. Heat the sauce in a saucepan on low heat for approximately six hours. During this time, the water will slowly evaporate, leaving behind a thickened, full-bodied sauce with lots of flavor.

Method 5: Tomato Paste

Adding a small amount of tomato paste can also naturally thicken your marinara sauce while enhancing its flavor. Simply add one or two teaspoons of tomato paste and let it simmer over low heat for an additional five minutes before serving.

Method 6: Combination

A combination of all of these methods can work wonders to thicken your marinara sauce. Start with a small amount of starch, like cornstarch or a roux, then add tomato paste to thicken things up more and improve the flavor. Finally, stir your sauce and simmer it for at least 10 minutes.

Why Marinara Sauce Can Be Watery

Marinara sauce can often be watery due to the high water content in tomatoes. When cooking tomatoes, they release a lot of liquid, which can result in a thin and watery sauce. Additionally, using fresh tomatoes can also contribute to a watery sauce because they are juicier than canned tomatoes. Another reason for a watery marinara sauce could be the amount of liquid added to the recipe. If too much water or broth is added, it can dilute the sauce and make it thinner. Finally, not cooking the sauce for long enough can also result in a watery consistency as the excess liquid has not had time to evaporate. However, with the methods outlined above, it is easy to thicken your marinara sauce and achieve the desired consistency.

Using Starches To Thicken Your Sauce

Starches like cornstarch, arrowroot powder, and potato starch are great options for thickening marinara sauce. However, simply adding the powder to your sauce won’t work as it will quickly clump up and not homogeneously disperse throughout the dish. To prevent this, you must first make a slurry by mixing an equal amount of starch and cold liquid together until a paste forms. Then, whisk the slurry into the hot, simmering liquid that you wish to thicken and bring it to a boil. Keep whisking and boiling simultaneously until there is no longer a starch taste.

Cornstarch is a popular choice for thickening marinara sauce, and a tablespoon of cornstarch can go a long way in thickening your sauce. Starches consist of long chains of glucose molecules that plants use to store their energy. When heat is added to starches, it takes on a gelatinous quality, soaking up excess liquid in a solution. That is why starch molecules can effectively thicken your watery tomato sauce.

To make a cornstarch slurry, mix a 1:1 ratio of cornstarch to water. An easy way to start is to combine one tablespoon of starch and one tablespoon of water. Then, add the slurry 1 tsp at a time to your sauce, stirring it in well before waiting for one minute since cornstarch takes a little time to break down. Repeat this procedure until you reach the desired consistency. This technique will provide thick consistency without changing the color or flavor of your marinara sauce.

Arrowroot powder is another option that is gluten-free and vegan-friendly. It has a similar consistency to cornstarch but has a more delicate flavor profile. The process of using arrowroot powder is similar to using cornstarch. Mix equal parts arrowroot powder and cold water together to make the slurry, then add it slowly to your sauce while stirring continuously.

Potato starch is another gluten-free option that works well in thickening marinara sauce. It has a neutral flavor and is also suitable for vegan diets. To use potato starch, mix it with cold water in equal parts to create the slurry before adding it slowly to your sauce while stirring continuously.

Boiling Out Excess Liquid

One of the easiest and quickest ways to thicken a marinara sauce is by boiling out excess liquid. This method doesn’t require any additional ingredients and won’t alter the taste of the sauce. Simply simmer the sauce on low heat for an extra 5 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. The longer you simmer, the more liquid will evaporate, resulting in a thicker sauce. However, be careful not to overdo it and end up with a sauce that is too thick or dry. This method is perfect if you have extra time and want to avoid adding any starches or tomato paste to your sauce. It’s important to note that this method works best for sauces that already have a good flavor and consistency, but just need a little thickening up. If your sauce is lacking in flavor, you may want to consider adding some additional ingredients or using another method to thicken it.

Adding Tomato Paste Or Puree

Tomato paste or puree is a great addition to thicken your marinara sauce while also enhancing its flavor. Tomato paste is made by pureeing and cooking down tomatoes, which results in a thick and concentrated tomato flavor. On the other hand, tomato puree is made by blending and straining tomatoes, resulting in a smooth and thick sauce. Both tomato paste and puree can be used interchangeably in recipes.

To add tomato paste or puree to your marinara sauce, start by adding one tablespoon of tomato paste or a quarter cup of tomato puree to your sauce. Stir well and let it simmer over low heat for at least five minutes. This will allow the tomato flavor to meld with the other ingredients and thicken the sauce slightly.

If you want a thicker sauce, you can add more tomato paste or puree. For every additional tablespoon of tomato paste, add half a cup of water or broth to balance out the thickness. For every additional quarter cup of tomato puree, add a quarter cup of water or broth.

It’s important to note that adding too much tomato paste or puree can overpower the other flavors in your marinara sauce. Start with small amounts and adjust as needed based on your preferences. Remember to taste your sauce frequently and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Using A Roux To Thicken Your Sauce

Another great method to thicken your marinara sauce is by using a roux. Roux is a mixture of butter and flour that is commonly used in French cooking to thicken sauces. To make a roux, melt equal parts butter and flour in a separate saucepan over medium heat. Whisk the two ingredients together until a smooth paste forms. Let the roux cook for 1-2 minutes until it turns a light brown color.

Once your roux is ready, whisk it into your marinara sauce and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat. The roux will thicken the sauce quickly and give it a rich and creamy texture. Be sure to add the roux in small increments while the sauce is still warm so that it can fully incorporate into the sauce.

Using a roux does require a bit more effort than just simmering or using starches, but the change in flavor will be very mild. Plus, it’s a great option if you want to add richness and creaminess to your marinara sauce without altering its flavor too much.

Tips For Achieving The Perfect Consistency

When it comes to achieving the perfect consistency for your marinara sauce, there are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Start with a good base: The key to a thick and flavorful marinara sauce is a good base. Use fresh and ripe tomatoes, quality olive oil, and aromatic herbs like basil, oregano, and garlic.

2. Use the right pot: Choose a heavy-bottomed pot that can distribute heat evenly. This will prevent your sauce from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot.

3. Simmer on low heat: Simmering your sauce on low heat allows it to thicken slowly and develop its flavor. Avoid high heat as it can cause your sauce to boil and become watery.

4. Stir regularly: Stirring your sauce regularly prevents it from sticking to the bottom of the pot and ensures that it cooks evenly.

5. Be patient: Thickening marinara sauce takes time, so be patient and let it simmer for at least 30 minutes. If you’re short on time, consider using one of the quick thickening methods mentioned above.

6. Taste as you go: As your marinara sauce thickens, taste it regularly to adjust the seasoning as needed. Add more salt, pepper, or herbs to enhance the flavor.

By following these tips and using one of the thickening methods mentioned above, you can achieve the perfect consistency for your marinara sauce every time.