How do I thicken my slow cooker dish?

Slow cooking can produce dishes with more liquid due to the condensation formed on the lid and the fact the lid stays closed so that it doesn’t reduce like some stove top/oven methods would do.

Here’s a collection of tips and trick you can use to ensure a thickened consistency to your final dish….

#1     Cornflour: Mix 1-2 tablespoons of cornflour with 1-2 tablespoons of cool tap water. Mix until you have combined the two well so that it is a liquid without lumps. Pour this mix straight into your slow cooker dish approx 20-30min’s before serving. Stir it briefly into the dish as much as you are able to around whatever is in the pot. Then leave the dish to continue cooking, preferably on high but low if you need to. This added cornflour will thicken the liquids in the recipe. This step can be repeated if you need to but beware not to add too much flour to your recipe! Once or twice is usually all that’s needed. Some people like to instead ladle the liquid out of the slow cooker and add the cornflour to it over a stove while cooking. Totally up to you.
(Some like to use rice flour or arrowroot instead for this)

#2     Grated potato: Grate 1-2 raw potatoes. Approximately 30-45minutes prior to serving add the grated raw potato to your slow cooker dish. Stir as much as you are able to. This will very quickly thicken the dish and the remaining cooking time will allow the potato to cook through. *note* This will only suit some recipes eg those with vegetable or potato already in them or that which would be complimented by the addition of potato. You can also substitute grated raw potato for instant potato flakes.

#3     Gravy granules/powder:  Add gravy granules to your recipe at the same time and in the same way as you can add the cornflour as in step 1.  Again the suitability of this option will depend on the recipe and if the addition of gravy will suit it.

#4     Lift the lid: Another option is to remove the lid of the slow cooker or at least place it ajar for the last half hour of cooking to enable the sauce to thicken. This is not ideal as the very nature of the slow cooker is to have the sealed environment for the cooking temperatures to be maintained but it is an option.

#5     Use less liquid to begin with: Slow cookers by nature drip condensation from the lid down into the meal during cooking. Despite people thinking meat has to be covered in liquid to slow cook it does in fact need very little liquid. If you find a dish is regularly ending up with far too much liquid reduce the liquid in the initial recipe next time you cook it.

#6     While the tea towel trick (see here for more info) is traditionally used for slow cooking cakes and breads etc it is used by some members in other dishes to absorb some of the condensation from the dish.  Please read important safety info on the link regarding the tea towel.

#7    Tossing your meat in flour PRIOR to cooking can also thicken the end result of your recipe.

#8  Pulling/shredding your meat at the end of cooking time (for a dish that suits that) will also take up a lot of the excess liquids in the pot.

If you have any other suggestions we’ve forgotten here feel free to leave them in a comment below and we will get it added for you 🙂

Member suggestions include:
– adding red lentils to casserole type meals an hour before serving (Dave)
– adding seasoned breadcrumbs or dry stuffing mixture (Maree)
– adding pre blended/processed rolled oats (Jeff)
– adding corn meal (Tina)
– transferring the sauce at the end of cooking time to a saucepan over high heat on the stove, while stirring, to reduce (Rosemary)

46 thoughts on “How do I thicken my slow cooker dish?”

      1. Gosh! I read grate potatoes and glossed over to the next tip… I actually tried it tonight anyway in a fiesta chicken soup. Hubby always complains my crock soups are too thin but we were both pleased tonight

  1. you can use 2 tablespoons Instant or quick cooking tapioca. Put it in the blender dry and make a powder. Than add it to your recipe at the beginning with the other ingredients. If you don’t care if it is a little lumpy you don’t have to make the tapioca into a powder first.

  2. I use mcdougalls thickening granules. I’m not sure if you can get them outside of the UK but they are amazing. They are just like gravy granules but without the gravy flavour so I reckon you could use them in anything.

  3. Arrowroot or tapioca flour can be used instead of cornflour and is better for dishes where you want the fluid not to go cloudy or milky i.e. chicken and sweet corn soup. I have also used on curries that have split with mixed success (more positive than negative).

  4. When I do braised steak in my SC I like the gravy so I put in a stock with wine. When cooked I take out the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon, tip the liquid into a small saucepan and put it on high heat until it’s reduced to a syrup. In the meantime I wash the slow cooker inner pot while keeping an eye on the boiling liquid. I make a lot of gravies like this so I don’t use any thickening agent.

    1. janet missenden

      Oh yumm…. dry stuffing mix would work beautifully with SC chicken….. thanks for the tip Maree

  5. Just pick up a box of instant mashed potatoes, they pick up the flavor of whatever you add them to, but be careful, they really expand !
    I’ve used them in the crock, chili you name it, any cheap brand, better than corn starch or flour !

  6. if using red lentils for thickening which would be great even for an Indian meat dish, do I have to soak the lentils first?

    1. Red lentils don’t need soaking before cooking. Just rinse and drain them, check for any stray little stones etc, and add to your dish about an hour or so before you want to serve it. Red lentils cook in about 20-30 minutes on the top of the stove but take a bit longer in a slow cooker. You can stop cooking while they still have some shape but usually they are cooked until they’re very mushy and just about disintegrated

  7. If there are already pieces of potato in the dish, I remove some of them towards the end of cooking and mash them before I replace them back in the cooker…it doesn’t matter if other vegies get mashed as well e.g. carrots etc.

    Sometimes I have also used frozen mash that only has to be microwaved before use and that works fine too.

  8. I took some of my cooking liquid and pureed a can of chickpeas and then added it back to the dish. Worked beautifully. Now my family is eating protein and fiber rich chickpeas, and they don’t even know it! I think that is a Win-Win!!

  9. I always put pumpkin chopped up small into my dish at the beginning, and it disintegrates and makes it thick and tasty at the end ?

  10. Depending on what dish it is I put half packet of dehydrated peas in about an hour before dishing. I find they soak up a good amount of excess liquid which minimises the use of cornflour

  11. I am going to put a beef stew in a crock pot for grand and great-grandsons to have after we leave. Can I mix a couple packages of beef gravy mix and a bit of cornstarch or flour with the liquid at the start so he won’t have to do anything to thicken it?

  12. I use frozen hash browns. I throw them in and they soak up the liquid beautifully. Add as many or as little as you want to get the consistency you like.

  13. Arrowroot powder mix with gravox in a small jar of any stock (I seldom use water)
    Available from most places Woolies, Coles IGA, Foodworks etc. Usually in the cake mix section.

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