How to Thicken Tomato Sauce With These Proven Methods

how to thicken tomato sauce

Thick tomato sauce is a staple in many people’s diets. It can be used for so much more than just pasta, though that’s what most of us are familiar with.

Here are some easy ways to get thicker tomato sauce without having to buy expensive ingredients or complicated appliances.

These methods have been proven effective by home cooks all over the world, and I’m sure they’ll work for you too!

Let’s take a closer look at them, shall we?

How to thicken tomato sauce?

You can thicken your tomato sauces by either:

  • Simmer it for a few hours to make all water evaporate thus leaving you a thick sauce
  • Or you can try adding some thickeners like starches, butter, mashed veggies, or roux

Now, it’s time to explore these methods in-depth.

how to thicken tomato sauce

Evaporate water to thicken your tomato sauce

To reduce the water content in tomato sauce, you have to simmer it for a few hours. You can decide how long to simmer it for depending on how much time you have and the thickness of your sauce.

To make your tomato sauce thicker, you can do one more thing. Slice the tomatoes in advance and put them in a bowl with some water underneath to drain the juice out.

This will make your sauce thicker when you cook it, but will probably change the taste. To get the best consistency, simmer the sauce long enough for it to thicken properly.

It may take all day to do this depending on what temperature you are cooking at.

Use an oven

You can make the sauce in the oven by pouring it into a casserole dish. Then let it thicken on very low heat. The sauce might sputter, so you will have some cleaning up to do.

But if you have a great way to clean your oven, this may be the best method for you.

Use a shallow and wide pan

To thicken your sauce quickly, cook it on the stove. Use a frying pan or saute pan. The larger the surface area, the quicker that you can cook it.

However, if you want to simmer your sauce for a long time, then you will need to watch it closely so that it does not burn.

If you have a small amount of tomato sauce, it will not work. To fix this, cook the tomato sauce in big batches when you need it. Freeze the sauce when it is cooked for twelve hours or so so you can use it later.

Add other ingredients to thicken your tomato sauce

Depending on what kind of texture and flavor you are looking for, you can go for different things to thicken the tomato sauce.

You can do this faster, but then you will have to simmer it for an hour. This helps reduce the acidity and makes a better sauce. You may need to adjust the seasoning if some of these fillers change the flavor a little bit.

Tomato paste

Adding tomato paste is a good way to make tomato sauce thicker very quickly. Most of the time, you can find a thick additive that will increase solid vegetables in the sauce without adding too much water.

Lemon Juice

Squeeze some lemon juice into tomato sauce to thicken it. Tomatoes have pectin, which makes the acid from the lemon juice make the sauce thicker. But do not put too much or you will make your sauce very sour and unpleasant for people to eat.


Roux is a mixture of flour and butter. It is good for cooking with tomatoes because the roux will thicken the sauce, just like it does in tomato sauce.

For making a roux, take some butter and mix it with some flour. Add some milk or water to help cook the flour and then stir well before adding to your tomato sauce.

Butter and flour are used here by mixing them in a pan to make a sauce. Add the tomato sauce for every cup of butter and flour mix you use.

Mashed vegetables

Mashed potatoes can be put into tomato sauce to make it thick. You could also add chopped carrots, onion, peppers, celery, or potatoes. If you don’t want a change in texture or a crunchy topping for the sauce, you can add well-cooked onions.

There are many ways to make a thick sauce. You can mix things together, or you can do one at a time. It is up to you how you want the sauce to be.

Store-bought sauces cannot compete with your homemade sauces because of all the different flavors and options for making them.


To thicken the sauce with this ingredient, you need to add a lot of butter. For every cup of sauce, you need to add a cup of melted butter.

Adding the same amount to tomato sauce yields a mix that’s perfect for pizzas and pasta. You might want to be careful not to use too much because it will make the sauce too greasy.


To make tomato sauce, you can add cheese. Grated cheese will help the sauce have a thicker texture. You can also use shredded cheese or mozzarella, romano, and parmesan cheeses. If you put the cheese in early in the process, it will melt into the sauce better.

This is a good idea because if you forget to put it in early on your recipe, then your other ingredients might not be cooked enough by that time and could end up raw.

Remember that since this is an ingredient that changes the flavor of the sauce (for example from Italian to Mexican), do not put too much of it, or else things will taste strange.

And make sure you include chunks of vegetables or meat with your tomato sauce.


It is best to add only a little cornstarch to your tomato sauce. For each cup of tomato sauce, you should use about one teaspoon or more.

When you are ready to mix the cornstarch into your sauce, mix equal amounts of water with it first. You can then put the solution into the sauce at any time during cooking, but it does not change the flavor if you wait until near the end.

Add cornstarch solution slowly while stirring the tomato sauce. You should do this to make sure it does not get too thick and also for flavor.


Breadcrumbs are good when you want to make tomato sauce thicker. Breadcrumbs soak up a lot of liquid so they can help thicken the sauce.

But breadcrumbs have no flavor except for spicy breadcrumbs. You should use about one-third cup of bread crumbs for every cup of sauce.

Yeast in the bread could also add a little sourness to the sauce, so you might need to adjust seasoning.


How do you thicken a sauce that is too watery?

Add equal parts cornstarch and cold water to your sauce. Stir together until it is smooth. Add the mixture to your sauce and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously. Taste the sauce to see if it’s thick enough for you.

Why is my tomato sauce so thin?

The tomato sauce is thin because it does not have any thickeners. You can use some cornstarch, potato starch or flour to make the sauce thicker. But if you do add any of these, mix them with a little water first and put the sauce in right away so they don’t break down over time.

Does simmering thicken the sauce?

Yes, a sauce will thicken as it simmers. This is because the water evaporates and leaves behind a thicker sauce.

Can you use baking soda to thicken the sauce?

You can’t use baking soda to thicken the sauce. It doesn’t have the same ingredient as cornstarch, which is what binds wet ingredients together to make them smoother and thicker.

But if you want to try it anyway, be careful because baking powder isn’t always very good at thickening sauces.

Do sauces thicken as they cool?

It is not always true that sauces will get thicker when they cool. If you add starch, the sauce will get thicker when it cools.

How long should tomato sauce simmer?

Tomato sauce should cook for 30 to 90 minutes. You can make it on the stove over medium heat and stir it every once in a while.


Summing up, there are two main methods you can utilize to thicken your tomato sauce:

  • Simmer it for a few hours to make all water evaporate thus leaving you a thick sauce
  • Or you can try adding some thickeners like starches, butter, mashed veggies, or roux

What you want to use is up to you and what you have around you. But make sure to try one of the above-mentioned tips and let me know how well it goes for you, alright?

Tamara Pierce

Tamara Pierce is a food writer at Elapasony, passionate about exploring diverse cuisines and sharing recipes and food experiences. From trendy restaurants to local hotspots, she's always on the lookout for new and exciting flavors.

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