Your hot sauce is too thin and you want to thicken it up. But what can you do, or use, to do so? What is going to give you that added texture and consistency that you simply desire? Well, thankfully, you have a few options.
So, how do you make hot sauce thicker? The fastest way to thicken a hot sauce is with the thickening agent Xanthan Gum. Other thickening agents that work well include arrowroot or pectin. Reduction is another technique that you can use to boil off the additional liquid, leaving your sauce to thicken on standing.
If you are here, chances are you want to thicken a particular brand of hot sauce that naturally runs quite thin.
I’m thinking of the likes of Tobasco here.
Because the brands of hot sauces that are naturally quite thick, like Sriracha, have thickeners in the recipe already.
If you look at a lot of hot sauce nutrition labels you’ll likely see the same ingredient popping up time and time again.
And we can use it to our advantage too.
Let us now look at how to do so below.
Thickening Hot Sauce With Xanthan Gum
Xanthan gum is a popular food additive that’s commonly added to food to change its texture; specifically to thicken or stabilize.
It’s created when sugar is fermented by a type of bacteria (Xanthomonas campestris), although it is dried and widely sold as a powder.
When this powder is added to a liquid, it quickly disperses and creates a stable solution.
And that liquid can be your hot sauce!
Xantham gum has no flavor and works instantly. You also do not need to use much.
To work with it, first and foremost, find a good brand.
From there, you just need to measure out 1/8 of a teaspoon.
Add your hot sauce to a blender/food processor along with the Xantham gum and blitz together.
You do need to blend them together, however.
Mixing hot sauce and Xantham gum manually, without the speed of a blender, will likely result in a lumpy sauce.
It works quickly and solidifies instantly, so you do need the speed of a blender here.
And if you were after a slightly thicker hot sauce, you can adjust the amount of Xantham gum you use.
Although, it is generally not advised to go over 1/4 of a teaspoon!
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Thickening Hot Sauce With Arrowroot
Arrowroot is another thickening agent to consider. It is derived from the arrowroot plant (as the name suggests), a tuber that grows in tropical regions.
Unlike cornstarch, arrowroot does very well in acidic conditions and should be your thickening starch of choice here.
If you were to use cornstarch, you would likely notice the thickening potency is reduced, and it would not come together as you would hope.
When working with it, all you need to do is:
- Create a starch-water slurry, part arrowstarch with equal parts water (1:1 or 1 teaspoon of arrowstarch to 1 teaspoon of water).
- Add your hot sauce to a pan.
- Stir the slurry into your hot sauce over a low, gentle heat.
- Simmer for a few minutes until the thickness reaches your desired consistency.
Always add slowly, you can always add more but you cannot take away!
And do not turn the heat up, that can prevent the thickening process altogether.
Thickening Hot Sauce With Pectin
Pectin is a unique fiber that is naturally found in fruits and vegetables.
And you can actually use it to thicken a hot sauce.
Again, it’s available in powder form.
This is the general process of working with to thicken hot sauce:
- Add your hot sauce to a pan.
- Simmer the hot sauce over a low, gentle heat.
- Add a small amount, 1/8 teaspoon of pectin into the sauce and stir it in. It will take between 20-30 seconds for the pectin to activate and the sauce to thicken.
If you do opt for pectin, only use a small amount and don’t cook over too high a heat.
Otherwise, your hot sauce will turn into jelly!
Thickening Hot Sauce With Via Reduction
Reduction is the easiest and ingredient-free option, but it also takes the most time.
Reduction is just the process of ‘boiling off the extra water’.
To do this, you just need to add your hot sauce to a pan and simmer it gently over low heat.
Be sure to stir your sauce intermittently to prevent the sauce from sticking or burning.
Just consider that by doing this you are in effect, concentrating the flavors of the sauce – so it will taste a little spicier thereafter and you will need to use less.
Thankfully this process can be reversed somewhat.
So if you do reduce your hot sauce too far, consider adding a drop of vinegar or water to make it a little runnier again.
Xanthum gum should be the thickening of choice.
Besides, that’s what all the major brands use in their sauces.
Just take a look at any bottle or brand of Sriracha.
You’ll see it listed on the bottle.
And it’s no real surprise that this is the thickening agent of choice.
It’s cheap, quick, relatively easy, and works well.
Although if you don’t have any lying around and can commit a little bit of time, reduction is going to be your other best bet.
Just be mindful and keep an eye on your sauce if you do decide to do so.
Hi there. I’m Jeremy – a passionate food technologist with several decades in the food industry. With a love for sauces, food, and nutrition, I decided to create WeWantTheSauce. Here I share my experience, knowledge, and recommendations; from ingredients and recipes to storage all the way through to nutrition for every sauce imaginable.