3 Food Thickeners and How to Use Them

You just made gravy and it came out too runny. You need to thicken it, but what do you use? You want your soup thicker. Can you thicken it? With what? Is there something special that you use to thicken food with? The answers are simple. You probably have several food thickeners in your kitchen right now. Let’s look at 3 of them.


Cornstarch may be my favorite food thickener. I like to use it because it seems to make food thicker without as many lumps. To make a gravy or soup thicker using cornstarch, simply add a tablespoon or so of cornstarch to ΒΌ of a cup of COLD water. Stir until cornstarch has dissolved completely. Make sure the food that you are going to thicken is hot and slowly poor some of the mixture in. Stir, stir, stir! Give it a minute or two and see if you like the texture of the gravy or soup. If you need more, add more. If you over shoot and get it too thick, simply add a little water, milk, tomato juice or whatever your base liquid is. (TIP: Go slow and add a little cornstarch thickener at a time.)

If you worry about GMO foods there are organic cornstarches. I use organic Rapunzel Cornstarch.


Of course flour is a great food thickener. Beginners using flour may want to pull their hair out until they get used to it though. Flour has a tendency to get lumpy when used as a food thickener. But I can tell you from experience, stirring and having extra liquid on hand really helps. If you are making gravy and you have melted some butter or have drippings in the pan, sprinkle a tablespoon or so of flour on the hot grease. Stir well. Add milk or whatever liquid you are using for the base of the gravy slowly. As you are adding the milk, stir, stir, stir. The first thing you will notice is that the milk and the flour/grease concoction do not want to mix together immediately. Keep stirring. If it is too thick, add more liquid. Give it some time and stir, stir, stir. Flour is a great food thickener. You just have to stick with it and don’t give up. I have been known to use a hand whisk to help break down some of my lumps of gravy while making it. Don’t give up..it almost always comes around to a great gravy using flour as a food thickener.

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Mashed Potatoes

If you are in need of a food thickener for say, soup, you may have the answer in your cupboard. Instant mashed potatoes can be sprinkled in the hot soup. Start stirring and notice that the soup is becoming thicker! Real mashed potatoes can be used too. Start out with a small amount of either instant or real potatoes. Remember to stir until you get the texture you are looking for.


With the above food thickeners, always remember to go slow. After you have used food thickeners for a while you will get a sense of how much you need and how they react in the thickening process. Stir, stir, stir those thickeners and don’t let lumps defeat you or scare you off. Practice definitely makes a difference. These 3 food thickeners are tried and true.

My own experience