How to Thicken Tomato Sauces

Updated February 21, 2017

A rich, flavourful tomato sauce is the base ingredient for many types of cuisine, including Italian and Mexican. One challenge faced by chefs and home cooks is working with runny, watery sauce. A thick, hearty sauce will cling to pasta, meats and vegetables easier than a thinner variety. You can thicken the consistency of fresh tomato sauces; even bottled sauces thicken with the right ingredients and cooking techniques. Give a thin tomato purée a thicker body and deeper flavour by enhancing its consistency.

Pour the tomato sauce into a non-stick skillet along with 1 tbsp olive oil. Simmer the sauce on low heat, with the skillet lid on, until the sauce thickens. Stir the sauce with a wooden spoon every 2 to 3 minutes to keep it from sticking. The sauce should thicken in 15 to 30 minutes.

Spoon in 2 to 3 tbsp of tomato paste. Blend the paste into the sauce using a wooden spoon. Allow the paste to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. The sauce will thicken as it simmers.

Pour 1 tbsp cornstarch into 1/4 cup of cold water. Mix the two together. Stir the cornstarch liquid into the simmering sauce, stirring as you pour. Continue to simmer and stir until the sauce thickens.

Things You'll Need

  • Non-stick skillet with tight fitting lid
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Wooden spoon
  • Can of tomato paste
  • Tablespoon
  • Cornstarch
  • Cup
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As a former senior sales director with Mary Kay and the co-owner of a renovation company, Monica Patrick has firsthand knowledge of small business operations. Besides start ups, she has extensive skills in recruiting, selling, leadership, makeup artistry and skin care.