How to Thicken Tomato Sauce (5 Methods)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, ‘How to thicken Tomato Sauce?’. We will look at natural additives to thicken our tomato sauce and cooking practices that prevent the tomato sauce from becoming runny.

Some methods to try include:

  • Cook for longer


  • Thickeners
  • vegetables
  • tomato paste
  • pasta water 
  • oil 

How to Thicken Tomato Sauce

More often than not, tomato sauce will turn out to be an unexpected consistency. There are always actions you can take to make your tomato sauce thicker. A loose tomato sauce can be disappointing and diminish your experience. No matter how good it tastes, a watery tomato sauce can be undesirable.

A note before you start

When you start cooking the tomato sauce, let the temperature reach the boiling temperature or at least higher than 140 Fahrenheits. Doing so helps to kill the Pectinase enzyme, and your tomatoes will not naturally dilute the sauce.

The reason is that tomatoes, like other fruits, come with a natural thickening agent called pectin. Pectin naturally thicken your sauces and juices. If by exceeding a temperature of 140 Fahrenheit, you are letting the pectin survive and assist you in thickening the sauce.

Even if you blend and cook your tomatoes carefully, there is a chance you might end up with a thin sauce. Leave it on the stove for about an hour at low heat.

Cooking for long also makes the sauce lose the strong, metallic taste and smoothes the blend.

Cook for Longer

Cooking tomatoes for longer is inarguably the best way to enunciate the flavor notes. Also, the advantage of the thickening effect by letting it cook for long is there. 

Feel free to cook it longer than you used to, to let the sauce lose the water and make your sauce concentrated. Let the lid off and check up on and stir occasionally. Try a deep kettle instead of a pan with a large surface area exposed to heat.

 You may find the denser tomatoes at the bottom of the pan, while the liquid rises to the top. You need to be wary of the denser tomatoes at the bottom of the pan possibly getting scorched.

Simmer it on low to moderate heat. To reduce a sauce, you need not bring it to a rolling boil. Otherwise, the sauce may end up burning.

You can also ditch the stove and put it in a low oven to avoid the hassle of overlooking the stovetop frequently.

Using Thickeners ( Arrowroot and Tapioca Starch)

Artificial thickeners are always there to save the foods from becoming too aqueous. For some, the taste alteration by adding thickeners is bothersome, but for many, it is the only option. 

Also, some thickeners are not very effective with acidic foods. If you choose to add corn starch or potato starch, consume the sauce in one go rather than storing it.

Use arrowroot or tapioca starch instead, as they are well-suited to thickening acidic foods.

To prevent lump formation, stir in some starch into no more than a quarter or a half cup of sauce. 

Pour it out, cool it, and then stir in some of the starch. Repeat if necessary.

Other FAQs about Sauces which you may be interested in.

How to make soy sauce less salty?

How to reduce acidity in tomato sauce?

How to make the hot sauce less hot?

Using Oils

Add an oil. For instance, olive oil gives the tomato sauce a complementary flavor and texture without the addition of polyunsaturated fats. You can add other oils such as Canola if you like. Make use of an immersion-style blender to prevent the oil from separating. 

Using Vegetables of your choice

Your tomato sauce doesn’t need to have only tomatoes in them. You can add other vegetables as well to make it thick. Most people prefer ground carrots or caramelized onions. However, the choice is yours here from celery, peppers, mushrooms, or even diced tomatoes.

Mashed Potatoes

You can also add mashed potatoes, the naturally-present starch of potatoes do an efficient job of thickening liquids. 

You can also add heavy cream or ground meat alongside the mashed potatoes. 

Using Tomato paste

You can add some store-bought tomato paste or sauce to it. If it doesn’t improve the taste of your tomato sauce, it won’t sabotage it either. The paste is quite thick already, and you won’t need to add much of it. The paste will not compromise the distinct homemade taste of your tomato sauce. Just be sure to mix it thoroughly. 

Using Pasta Water

If your tomato sauce is for pasta, you can use pasta water to thicken your sauce. Pasta as well leaches out starch while boiling and would make a sufficient thickening agent.

In this brief guide, we answered the question, ‘How to thicken Tomato Sauce?’. We looked at natural additives to thicken our tomato sauce and cooking practices that prevent the tomato sauce from becoming runny.