You’ve gone to all the effort to make spaghetti sauce, from scratch. The problem is when you’ve gone to serve it – it’s too watery! Noy good, not good at all; that’s one way to ruin your meal for sure. But why did this happen and what can you do to remedy it? Let’s find out!
So, why is my spaghetti sauce watery? Your spaghetti sauce is likely too runny because you didn’t evaporate the water off prior to serving. You likely need to simmer your sauce for much longer; preferably in a wide pan on low heat. It could also be a result of not draining fluids from other foods added, such as mince or vegetables.
For the most part, this is likely a result of insufficient cooking time.
Or at the very least, that’ll be your #1 remedy to resolve it.
But you have other causes and solutions to this problem too.
So keep reading because it could be one, or several of them.
And by implementing the following fixes you should find that this is an issue you can leave behind.
No more watery spaghetti sauce!
How Do You Fix Too Watery Spaghetti Sauce?
You can fix watery spaghetti sauce by simmering, leveraging the starch from the pasta water, adding tomato paste and draining all ingredients properly before adding to the sauce.
There are some other solutions too, so let us look at each one:
Simmer For Longer
9/10, the most common reason a spaghetti sauce is too runny is that it hasn’t been cooked or simmered down long enough. This is otherwise known as reduction.
And as the name suggests, you are reducing the sauce.
And you can do this very easily.
All you need to do is simmer the sauce in a pan to evaporate the water off.
Wider pans are best here as they have a wider surface area and can fasten the process.
So all you need to do is add your spaghetti sauce into a wide pan, bring it up to a boil and then quickly drop it down to low heat.
Simmer the sauce for as long as you need until you notice the sauce thickening.
The longer you simmer, the thicker the sauce will become.
But be sure to stir continuously and do not put a lid on top of the pan either.
At the same time, remember that the sauce may thicken further on standing so you may actually overdo it too!
Also, consider that this method intensifies the flavor of the sauce, and you can burn it to the bottom of the pan if you are not careful, creating that burnt taste throughout the sauce.
And lastly, this process is reversible. Should you go too far, a few splashes of water and a bit of string can reduce it again.
Use Pasta Water
Another excellent fix is to use some of the water you cooked your pasta in.
So before you throw it away, you can repurpose some of it into your sauce.
Sounds contradictory right, but it works.
That’s because this water will actually be quite abundant in starch particles.
And that starch can be used to thicken the sauce.
Just be sure not to overdo it.
1-2 cups of pasta water should do. And only add a small amount at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
For the best results, be sure to use a limited amount of water when you cook your pasta. Just enough to cover it.
That will ensure your pasta water is highly concentrated in starch.
Add Tomato Paste
Another option is to simply boost the tomato content by adding tomato paste which is naturally thick.
Just be mindful that this can alter the flavor and balance of the sauce, and may not be suitable for all spaghetti sauce types.
It’s great for Marinara but not all spaghetti sauces.
Don’t Wash The Pasta
Another common mistake that can lead to watery spaghetti sauce is washing the pasta under cold water once it has been drained.
That essentially washes off and removes valuable starch which naturally combines with the sauce when the two are put together.
The result can be the sauce that falls through and results in a watery puddle on the bottom of the serving plate.
Drain All Additions
If you are adding other ingredients to your spaghetti sauce, be sure to properly drain them first.
If it’s mince, then is sure that the water (and likely fat) is drained properly. Otherwise, that can cause a runny spaghetti sauce.
The same can be said for vegetables, which naturally contain a lot of water.
Carrots, aubergine, peppers, zucchini; are all popular additions to spaghetti sauce but all can add a lot of water unless cooked/drained before.
Cornstarch is a popular and common thickener; routinely added to all different sauces as a means of adding consistency.
It’s perhaps not the easiest of fixes, but one nonetheless.
What you need to do if you opt for this approach is mix equal parts cornstarch with equal parts cold water. Ensure they are combined thoroughly.
From there, add a small amount of the resulting ‘slurry’ into your spaghetti sauce.
Be slow and careful; a little goes a long way. Stir gradually into your sauce to thicken it up.
An ideal approach is to add a small amount of slurry. Stir in. Wait a few minutes before adding any more, if required.
Keep going until your sauce is as thick as you desire.
Drain Pasta Properly
If you notice the watery issues arise in your sauce once you have added the pasta, then another solution is to ensure your pasta has been completely drained prior to serving.
Otherwise, the water left on the pasta will run off and sit at the bottom of your plate.
Don’t Spoon Onto The Pasta
Lastly, if you are serving with pasta, do not spoon your spaghetti sauce over the pasta.
Instead, finish the pasta in the sauce in your pan, and simmer until the consistency is thick and ready to serve!
As you can see, there is a multitude of reasons that could be causing your spaghetti sauce to be too watery.
In fact, many of these could be contributing all at the same time.
But if you do implement the above fixes, you should soon have the thick consistency you desire.
And at the very least, simmering should make the problem go away right now.
So if you have a sauce that you need to fix, start with that.
The rest, well I suppose they are for next time!
Have other questions about spaghetti sauce or encountered other issues? My guides may be for you:
- Why Do You Put Sugar In Spaghetti Sauce?
- How To Thicken Spaghetti Sauce
- How To Get The Burnt Taste Out Of Spaghetti Sauce
- How To Cut Sweetness In Spaghetti Sauce
Hello. I’m Jeremy – an experienced saucier who has worked in some of the top kitchens over the last few decades. With a love for sauces, food, and nutrition, I decided to create WeWantTheSauce. Here I share my knowledge and expertise; from ingredients and recipes to storage all the way through to recommendations for every sauce imaginable.