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How To Thicken Soups and Sauces Naturally

How to Thicken Soups and Sauces

Cooking and wanting to have things turn out perfectly is just natural. It can really be upsetting, however, when you are 'cooking right along' let's say making your soup or sauce and you find that it is not thick enough!

Here are some great tips on how to thicken those soups, stews, chowders, and sauces and a great way to apply culinary basics to making healthy and delicious recipes!


  • Add flour - I take a few tablespoons of flour and mix in a tiny bowl with some of the broth. Make sure all the lumps are out and then whisk back into the main pot. Mix the flour and a bit of broth separately will make sure you avoid clumps
  • Add cornstarch - Same exact procedure as above
  • Arrowroot works the same as cornstarch or flour
  • Another great addition is tapioca flour as it will act as a thickener also

Photo Credit: WikiCommons Antoinel

  • Make a Beurre Manie - which is quite simply the opposite of a roux. You use a roux to make a thickener at the beginning for soup or stew (mixing equal parts butter or oil and flour and stirring to combine, then diluting with stock, broth, or milk). For the Beurre Manie, you knead together equal parts of butter and flour, then add to the soup or sauce. In so doing, it will not clump - it also gives a wonderfully shiny appearance to a sauce!
  • Add cream - Just a few tablespoons or up to cups if you desire. It will increase the smoothness of the soup or sauce and will make it richer. The lower the percent of the milk or cream, the less creamy the sauce or soup will be when adding it
  • Adding silken tofu will also thicken a soup - and add nutrition as well
  • Ground nuts make a great thickener and add flavor - It also yields a lighter result than cream
  • Add yogurt - If at all possible, I use Greek yogurt because it is so good for you. You can even add some cream cheeses and sour cream, but be careful to try a bit in a separate bowl. Greek yogurt does not separate in cooking with hot liquids. Cream cheeses and sour cream can sometimes separate so best to try a bit first before adding it in - or to be safe only use Greek yogurt for thickening!
  • Puree a few slices of stale or fresh bread or rolls in a processor or blender - Add to the soup or sauce and it will act as a thickener. It also imparts a unique flavor to the soup or sauce depending on the kind of bread
  • Remove a few cups of your sauce or stew and puree it in a blender or food processor. Then add it back in and it will naturally thicken the sauce or soup
  • Puree leftover or fresh sweet potato - if appropriate for the flavor of the sauce, it will thicken it. It is delicious in soups or stews
  • Pureed or mashed squash such as acorn or butternut has the same effect
  • Mash or puree leftover potatoes and add to the soup or sauce as a thickening agent. Again, in the case of a sauce, make sure it is a good combination for the particular sauce that you are making
  • Pureed pumpkin or yam will also work - Just be aware that they have different flavors and if the flavor is compatible, it's delicious!
  • I have pureed carrots and parsnips as well but with the parsnips it needs to be a parsnip-compatible soup or stew as it is quite flavorful, too
  • I've also added canned corn to a chowder that has gone goofy by not thickening up - Decide if it is compatible with a soup or stew. If it's a chowder, it's usually a perfect addition
  • Grate raw potatoes into soups to thicken - then reheat a few minutes and it will be thickened - see video!
  • I also add cheese to a sauce that does not seem to want to thicken up. I start out very small and only add a wee bit to see if that helps correct the sauce. I have added in some Parmesan before and had great results. I've also added white cheddar or Monterey Jack and had great results. With cheese, a little will usually go a long, long way so be aware of the thickening and don't overcook. I have also used cheese to keep a sauce from separating! It has the effect of glue!

Summing Up How to Thicken Soups and Sauces

There is no need to worry if you need to thicken a soup or a sauce. Now you will have the culinary basics in terms of remedies at your disposal!

I always try to stay positive no matter what I cook. If things don't go just right, there usually is a way to fix it, to improvise and if all else fails, just start over!

As you can see though, there are many 'natural' remedies for thickening a sauce or soup. They only need be appropriate for the recipe you are preparing.

Hopefully these remedies will come to your aid should the need arise for helping along a soup, stew, chowder, or sauce. Happy thickening!

More Info on Making Sauces

Culinary Basics - Proper Way to Make a Bearnaise Sauce

More Info on Making Soups


Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 18, 2012:

Moonlake--thanks for stopping by--there are so many tricks to everything it's hard to know them all--I think that's why researching and learning new things always appeals to me~

moonlake from America on September 18, 2012:

I have thickened soup with instant potatoes. We love soups but I see soups don't seem to go over good on hubpages. Great hub good information some I knew nothing about and will try. Voted uP!

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Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on September 18, 2012:

Thanks SG - they do work, too~

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on September 18, 2012:

I normally just use cornstarch or flour. I had never thought of these other ideas. You have some really great ideas here to add a little additional flavor while thickening your sauce! I will definitely be trying some of these. Voted up and useful! :)

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 18, 2010:

Thanks aparna - those sound great as well!

aparna on June 18, 2010:

You can also add a handful of red lentil to thicken soup.

Some soupes taste good when you add about 6-10 ground almond to ticken soup.

But you have given quite good hints to improve soups....

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 17, 2010:

EnLydia Listener - that is a great idea too - never thought of potato flakes! Thanks so much for stopping by.

EnLydia Listener on June 17, 2010:

I love soups and making soups...and often wondered about other options of thickening soups, so this was very helpful to thing I use is potato flakes, but that doesn't always go with all soups. I think the squashes sound good for things like bean soups.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 16, 2010:

Thanks so much K9keystrokes - I'm not sure about the wisdom part but I have a passion about cooking and using 'natural' ingredients and doing things a kind of old-fashioned way. If that helps, I'm thrilled!

India Arnold from Northern, California on June 16, 2010:

Many new ideas on how to thinken soups. Many I wasn't aware of and can't wait to try. Thanks for always giving us wonderful tid-bits of culinary wisdom AK!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 11, 2010:

Thanks Holle - I love the shaved potato one!

Holle Abee from Georgia on June 11, 2010:

Awesome tips - some I've never tried!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 11, 2010:

Thanks again, Pamela - I love using grated fresh potato too as a natural thickener!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 11, 2010:

akirchner, This is a very helpful hub. I love all those ways to thicken up soup. Good hub.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 10, 2010:

Thanks, Sandy - sometimes I read my emails backwards!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 10, 2010:

Thanks msannec - that's where we all start out and I'm still learning. Thanks so much for reading.

msannec from Mississippi (The Delta) on June 10, 2010:

Thanks for sharing the info. I need all the cooking tips I can get, lol. Great hub!

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on June 10, 2010:

Thanks for the tips on thickening soup.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 10, 2010:

BJ - you crack me up endlessly! I need a daily fix these days so thanks so much for fulfilling my menu request for a good chuckle!

I am very passionate about food - perhaps because we were relatively poor when I was growing up and somehow I have grown into myself as an adult associating food with making people feel good or food as part of family/friend get-togethers.

Somehow there is nothing quite like having your house filled with good smells and people chatting it up and loving what you made....unless it is being tackled by my malamutes or my husband!

BUT - I love to go out to restaurants - that is my other passion! Seeing what other folks can cook up for me! It's a real treat.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on June 10, 2010:

Your hubs, Audrey, are never fulsome, always fulfilling.

Always friendly, never forbidding. Despite your knowledgeable assistance, I eat, therefore I frequent restaurants.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 10, 2010:

You're welcome - thanks for stopping by!

Katie McMurray from Ohio on June 10, 2010:

Thanks for the great tips on how to thicken soups and sauces. :)

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 10, 2010:

Purple Perl - Thanks for your kind comments!

Hello, hello - You're more than welcome.

Judydianne - I usually think of things when I'm panicked that something isn't turning out 'perfect' but then if I just step back and think for a moment, it makes more sense. I also use mashed squash or potatoes, sweet potatoe in potpies too for thickening if I need to and it really is good! Thanks so much for stopping in.

judydianne from Palm Harbor, FL on June 10, 2010:

You have so many great ideas! I like the sweet potato one. Never thought of that one.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on June 10, 2010:

A lot of good and helpful tips. Thank you.

Esther Shamsunder from Bangalore,India on June 10, 2010:

A hub very well put together!akirchner,you are truly inspiring! :)

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 09, 2010:

Thanks oceansnsunsets - I live, therefore I cook!

Paula from The Midwest, USA on June 09, 2010:

Great hub, thank you for sharing

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 09, 2010:

Thanks, Charlie - I am, therefore I cook!

Alek - I totally hear you. I tried once with the B-sauce as I call it and failed miserably. I actually have a couple of healthier 'mock' versions that work very well though so I stick with those! I do not like failure.

I hear you on the time factor. If I only had more time, I'm sure I could perfect my weak spots in the culinary department but usually am going through life at warp speed. When I find something that works though, I try and stick with it - those thickening things really do work and love the shaved potato idea! That's one I DID not think of. Thanks for stopping by y'all!

Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on June 09, 2010:

I love sauces and Bearnaise is my absolute favorite. I've never made it at home and now I realize what a good decision that was, after watching the video...Maybe now that I've sold my business I'll have time to concentrate on such a delicate process. I love French cooking and this looks like a real challenge.

And what a great idea to thicken the vegetable soup...never saw that one before. I'll have to try it.

Thanks, ak, for some great culinary ideas.

ralwus on June 09, 2010:


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