Watery Tomato Pasta Sauce? Here’s How To Thicken It

Tomato pasta sauce is a staple in many households, and for a good reason. Its tangy flavor and versatility make it a go-to for many pasta dishes. However, sometimes a watery tomato sauce can damper an otherwise delicious meal. 

Whether it’s due to the type of tomatoes used or cooking methods, a watery tomato pasta sauce can be frustrating to deal with. 

But fear not! There are several easy ways to thicken your tomato sauce and turn it into a rich, velvety concoction that will take your pasta dishes to the next level. 

Today, we’re going to explore some of the best techniques to transform your watery tomato pasta sauce into a thick, flavorful masterpiece.

Watery Pasta Sauce: A Problem

It is not ideal to have your pasta sauce slip off. If the sauce is watery/too runny, it won’t stick to the pasta and stay on it until you eat it.

You will probably have to mop up pasta sauce if the sauce isn’t thick enough. Particularly if you’re eating spaghetti, this is a problem. You get plain pasta when you have plenty of spaghetti noodles but no sauce on them.

You’ll only end up with a puddle of soup beneath your pasta if your pasta sauce is too watery.

Why Isn’t My Pasta Sauce Thick?

Pasta sauce can become watery for a variety of reasons. Whether or not you follow a recipe exactly, a few things can affect the consistency of the pasta sauce.

  1. Most of the time, it’s the type of tomato you use. Our favorite tomatoes are plums or Romas because of their meaty texture and lack of seeds. Your tomatoes can produce extra moisture if they are quite juicy.
  2. You need to know the moisture content of the vegetables you use. During cooking, vegetables release liquid. The moisture content of some vegetables can differ from that of others, leaving you with an extra layer of moisture.
  3. The pasta sauce you made wasn’t simmered and reduced enough. Often, we make pasta sauce in a hurry and don’t allow it to reduce long enough.
  4. The amount of liquid-based ingredients was too high. A watery pasta sauce is sometimes the result of using everything we have, such as oil, broth, cream, and water.

How To Thicken Pasta Sauce?

What if you make a delicious pasta dish, but the sauce isn’t thick enough? Don’t worry; your pasta sauce can still be saved. Let’s talk about ten different ways you can thicken pasta sauce very quickly!

1. Make A Roux

The easiest way to thicken pasta sauce is to make a quick roux. Whether you’re making cheese sauce or thickening tomato pasta sauce doesn’t matter.

Roux is usually made from equal parts flour and fat (1:1). The ingredients we use are all-purpose flour and unsalted butter. A roux makes a richer pasta sauce.

2. Starchy Pasta Water

There is nothing better than starchy pasta water for pasta sauce since you don’t have to do much to prepare it. Remember to save the pasta water before straining it.

3. Make A Cornstarch Slurry

Cornstarch slurry can also be used to thicken pasta sauces quickly and easily. When making a slurry, the general rule of thumb is to use a 2:1 ratio (water: cornstarch). Cornstarch is activated when heated.

Pasta sauces with strong flavors, like Asian-inspired pasta dishes, tomato sauces, etc., benefit from adding a cornstarch slurry. Why? Because using cornstarch in simple pasta sauces can overpower the flavor.

Instead of adding cornstarch directly to pasta sauces, we like to make a slurry to prevent cornstarch crystals.

4. Reduce The Sauce By Simmering

Your sauce will thicken in no time if you boil out some of the liquid! Allow the sauce to simmer for five to twenty minutes on low heat.

You should keep an eye on it and stir it frequently to avoid burning. This method won’t alter your recipe at all, so it’s a great option if you have the extra time.

5. Add Tomato Sauce

If your sauce is too liquid, you can balance it out with more solids. Though tomato sauce does not have a solid consistency, its thickness will still be reflected in the sauce’s consistency. It makes sense to add more tomato in a tomato paste sauce.

Adding tomato sauce to the sauce will only enhance its flavor if you have any extra in your kitchen. It’s also possible that you’ll end up with more sauce than you intended, but it stores well in the freezer, so you’ll never waste it.

6. Add Mashed Potatoes

A potato is basically all starch, so it thickens things by absorbing the liquid. Using leftover mashed potatoes is a super easy solution.

The alternative would be to peel a potato and either boil it in a separate pot or microwave it. You should then mash it up and add it in small spoonful, mixing it thoroughly before adding more.

7. Add Egg Yolks

You might not have thought of this option. While egg yolk will alter the taste of your sauce, for carbonara lovers, it’s a great thickening agent and a great way to experiment with a new recipe.

When you add your egg to the sauce directly, it will scramble pretty quickly because of the heat. Rather, mix it into a mixing bowl with several tablespoons of The Hot Sauce Before Slowly Pouring It Back Into The Sauce, Stirring Frequently.

8. Cook Your Pasta In The Sauce

You can also thicken spaghetti sauce without affecting its taste. Hopefully, you haven’t cooked your pasta to the very end yet! It’s important that they’re a few minutes shy of al dente when you’re cooking them.

If you’re cooking pasta, take it out of the boiling water early, so it’s not completely done. After draining thoroughly, make sure it is almost completely dry. After that, stir it into the sauce.

As pasta absorbs excess moisture and thickens your spaghetti sauce, its starch contributes to its thickness.

Apart from having no effect on taste, this method also makes the dish richer and tastier by tying all the flavors together!

9. Add Vegetables

It’s a great idea to add vegetables to a soupy spaghetti sauce to thicken it and add texture. Additionally, this adds an additional layer of flavor to your dish.

Using shredded carrots is an excellent choice. When it comes to making a sauce, traditional Italian cooks actually do this, so it is definitely worth a shot!

Be sure to cook your carrots until they are soft and mushy. Adding it to tomatoes will even balance their acidity.

Eggplant could be another vegetable you can add! The creamy texture and flavor of eggplant make it an excellent addition to your sauce. You want your sauce to be smooth, so make sure you remove the skin!

The addition of pureed or sauteed onions is a great way to add flavor to your sauce if you feel it needs it. 

10. Add Ground Beef or Sausage

Unless you’re vegan or vegetarian, adding ground beef can add flavor and texture in a hurry!

Ideally, you should recook the sauce at a very low temperature. Let the acidic and meaty flavors meld together with the ground beef. 

Depending on how you like it, it is possible to add seasoned or unseasoned ground beef to your sauce. Diced Italian sausage is also an interesting variation you can try.

Be sure to keep your sauce uncovered and stir it regularly, so it doesn’t burn after adding these meaty ingredients!

Can Flour Thicken Spaghetti Pasta Sauce?

Thickening anything with flour is often the go-to method. There is no difference when it comes to Spaghetti Sauce, and it can definitely be used. In spite of this, it isn’t a good option. In addition to changing the taste of your sauce, flour may not be suitable for all diets.

How To Thicken Spaghetti Sauce In A Crockpot?

In a crockpot, the best way to thicken your spaghetti sauce is to add a cornstarch slurry (a mixture of 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water). Cook the sauce until it thickens, whisking the slurry into the pot.

Does Adding Pasta Water Thicken Sauce?

You can thicken the pasta sauce by adding pasta water after you add it. Once you’ve added the pasta water, let the sauce simmer for at least 10 minutes.

How Do You Thicken Pasta Sauce Without Cornstarch?

To thicken your pasta sauce, we recommend making a roux or using starchy pasta water.


In conclusion, a watery tomato pasta sauce can be a real disappointment, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your dish.

You can easily turn your sauce from a watery mess into a thick and flavorful masterpiece with a few simple tricks and techniques.

From using a roux or cornstarch to adding extra tomato paste or simmering for longer, there are plenty of options to choose from. 

Don’t let a watery sauce ruin your next pasta dish – use these tips and tricks to thicken it up and elevate your meal to the next level.

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