How to Thicken Stew: Easy Tips and Tricks

how to thicken stew
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / RitaE

The beauty of stew is that it's thicker, heartier, and more filling than soup. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your stew is a bit runny. Luckily, that's a problem you can fix. Here, you'll learn how to thicken stew

As the weather shifts from long sunny days into cold fall and winter nights, our diets switch from light and fresh summer produce, to warm and hearty dinners like stew. Whether you’re a seasoned pro in the kitchen, or new to cooking, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. If you’ve been dreaming about a thick and hearty stew, but find yours is on the watery side, don’t panic. There are a few tricks you can use to thicken it up. Let’s take a look. 

How to Thicken Stew With Flour

Flour is a versatile pantry staple.
Flour is a versatile pantry staple.
(Foto: CC0 / Unsplash / Immo Wegmann)

Flour is the most traditional way of thickening stews, and it can be used in a few different ways to achieve results. 

For meat stews: For non-vegetarian stew, add the flour when you sear the meat. Not only will this take care of any raw flour taste, but it will also add a delicious crust to the meat, which helps to lock in flavors. 

Tip: If you’re using meat, remember to choose organic whenever possible to help support the environment. If you can get organic meat from a local butcher or farmer, even better!

Making a roux: A roux is a mixture of equal parts fat and flour, which are whisked together to make a sort of paste You can use butter, oil, or margarine, so you can adapt it to any dietary restrictions. 

Whisk in a slurry: Another common way to use flour to thicken a stew is by whisking in a flour slurry. You can make one by combining equal parts flour and water, and stir until it’s completely combined. Then slowly whisk into your stew. 

Read More: Is Flour Vegan? Tips for Cruelty-Free Baking

Using Cornstarch to Thicken Stew

Start with small amounts of cornstarch to thicken stew. You can always add more, but you can't remove it!
Start with small amounts of cornstarch to thicken stew. You can always add more, but you can't remove it!
(Foto: CC0 / Unsplash / HowToGym)

Cornstarch is a gluten-free alternative to flour and can be quite effective in thickening up stews and sauces. One thing you do need to watch out for is that cornstarch can get quite lumpy if added incorrectly. The best way to utilize cornstarch is by mixing it into a slurry and adding that mixture to the stew at the end of cooking. 

Here’s how to make and use a cornstarch slurry:

  1. Measure out 1 tbsp of cornstarch for every cup of liquid you want to thicken, and place it in a small bowl. 
  2. Add an equal amount of cold water and stir until a smooth paste forms – this is your slurry. 
  3. Make sure your stew is at a simmer on the stove, and then whisk your slurry in. It helps to add it in slowly, so you don’t end up putting too much in. 
  4. Bring to a boil and cook until the starchy taste is gone. 

Tip: If your stew is tomato-based, consider using arrowroot powder instead. The acidity in tomatoes can take away some of the effectiveness of cornstarch. 

Reduce or Purée

Removing the lid from the pot helps the excess moisture to escape and can help thicken up your stew.
Removing the lid from the pot helps the excess moisture to escape and can help thicken up your stew.
(Foto: CC0 / Unsplash / Becca Tapert )

Thicken Stew by Simmering

If you find yourself with too much liquid in the pot, you can try and reduce it by removing the lid and keeping your stew at a gentle simmer until the desired consistency is reached. Be careful when using this method as it can end up overcooking some of the elements in your stew, and concentrate the flavors. If you want to play it safe, remove any meat or vegetables first and place them off to the side.

Tip: If you find that your stew has become too salty after reducing it, read on: How to Make Food Less Salty

Using a Stick Blender 

Depending on the type of stew you’re cooking, another easy method to help thicken it up is by using a stick blender. If you’re making a vegetable stew, like scafata for example, you can use a stick blender to purée some of the vegetables in it. This will help to make a heartier base. 

Tip: For stews with meat in them, ladle out the meat before blending. 

Slow Cooker Tips

A slow cooker is a great way to cook a hearty dinner that doesn't require much attention.
A slow cooker is a great way to cook a hearty dinner that doesn't require much attention.
(Foto: © K.Stankiewicz)

Slow cookers are a wonderful invention and make cooking stews easy. However, there are some downsides:

  • Slow cookers trap moisture inside and don’t allow liquid to evaporate.
  • They also operate at low and slow heat, so many thickening starches won’t get hot enough to activate. 

If you end up with a slightly runny slow cooker stew, try out the following tricks to thicken it: 

  1. Prop the lid of your slow cooker with a wooden spoon to allow some of the moisture to evaporate. 
  2. Purée some of the stew directly in the slow cooker. 
  3. Pour off the liquid into a small saucepan and heat it on the stove. Then whisk in a slurry to help thicken your stew. 

Read more:

** Links to retailers are partially affiliate links: If you buy here, you actively support Utopia.org because we get a small portion of the proceeds.

Do you like this post?

Thank you very much for voting!

Tags: