What makes a barbeque special? It could be the cuts of meat that you chose with care or that right off the stalk corn you scored at the farmer’s market. That and your grandma’s potato salad recipe is sure to make your cookout the talk of the season, right?
You have coolers ready to be chock full of iced beer and soda, checkered tablecloths, leak proof paper plates, super industrial oven mitts and heavy duty spatula at the ready.
But wait, there’s something critical missing, the thing that will take your dishes from just okay to absolutely fabulous…yes, it’s the sauce! Barbeque sauce to be specific, which is as individual as each devoted cook.
What’s even more important than the ingredients that go into homemade barbeque sauce is the consistency.
Runny sauce will only run off the meat and into the fire, your time and flavor wasted. Use a runny sauce to top off the pulled meat off the pork loin you smoked for twelve hours and it’s a disaster.
No one wants pulled pork soup.
So here’s what to do to make your homemade barbeque sauce a hit whether it’s a dinner for your family or a grand holiday! It’s fairly easy to learn how to thicken BBQ sauce!
Step 1: Blend all ingredients thoroughly
First, check your ingredients. A sweet sauce tends to have more thickness and “stick” than a tangy one. That’s because the tartness comes from adding citrus juice, vinegar or even wine to add sharpness. This isn’t to say, however, that a sugary hickory or whisky sauce can’t end up runny, but as you are adding in ingredients simply use a wire whip to make sure that everything blends together while you are cooking.
Step 2: Simmer at least 5 minutes while constantly stirring
Second, be sure to cook it your sauce long enough. Just like making brown gravy, you want to keep your sauce on simmer a good long time…at least five minutes, while stirring constantly to avoid lumps or separations.
Step 3: Cool down for 10 minutes
Then, let it sit for about ten minutes. Letting it sit and “set up” is necessary to preview your final product.
From that point you can judge the consistency.
From that point it’s a slam dunk to get it right.
You can easily thicken it with cornstarch, flour, or even gluten free flour if you or your guests are allergic to gluten. It’s not so much what you use but how you use it.
Step 4: Mix at slow speed consistently
Get your wire whip handy and get ready for some wrist action. You might want to wear an oven mitt that extends up your arm as barbeque sauce heats up fast and can splash up to give you quite a nasty burn.
Get all the young kids and pets out of the room to avoid distractions.
The trick is to go slow…mix two tablespoon of cornstarch or flour to one cup cool water in a measuring cup or pitcher.
Mix together by beating with the wire whip until smooth with no lumps.
Then add in the mixture a little at a time into your pot of sauce, stirring gently yet continually with the whisk while simmering on low heat.
Do not let it stick! A few moments attention will make all the difference.
Then (once it’s cool enough) take a little taste. It should be perfect! If not, don’t fret!
Step 5: Wait, what?! It’s not perfect….
Nothing about thickening a BBQ sauce to the right smoothness is so hard that you can’t fix like a boss!
If it’s too thick and has a chalky under taste, just add some more citrus juice, or even a bit of water to smooth it.
If it’s not thick enough, (after you’ve let it cool and settle a bit) repeat adding the thickening mixture a little at a time until its just right.
If there are some lumps that you just can’t get rid of, don’t panic.
Wait till it cools a bit and then run it though a strainer. Keep in mind too, that if you are preparing your barbeque sauce the night before, it’s going to thicken a bit more right in the refrigerator.
Step 6: Should have the perfect thickness now….
Each time you use this method for how to thicken BBQ sauce you will become better at gauging right away how much thickener to add and just how long to stir it.
End Result: Practice, practice, and more practice!
The first time seems like a challenge but later it will become an easy peasy, no brainer.
So, with just a little effort, there you will be, serving up the best barbeque meal in town.
If your family or invited guests ask how to thicken BBQ sauce, as theirs always comes out too thin, it’s up to you whether to just smile innocently and say “it just turns out that way” or give away this simple secret!