Thickening a sauce, stew, gravy, or soup will be tough if you end up limiting carbohydrates. Figuring out the variety of carbs in cornstarch in comparison with the alternate options will enable you select the thickener greatest suited to your weight-reduction plan, in addition to information how a lot of an agent you will want to make use of.

Conventional thickening brokers reminiscent of flour or cornstarch may go in case you solely want a small quantity, however a lower-carb starch different could also be preferable when a recipe requires extra thickener or incorporates different carb-heavy substances. It doesn’t matter what your carb consumption objectives are, there’s a thickening agent that can work for any dish you are getting ready.

White or Complete Wheat Flour

White flour is the most typical thickener utilized in sauces. There are 6 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon of white flour, which is able to thicken one cup of a gravy (which has some thickeners from the meat) or a skinny sauce. Remember that you will want so as to add extra flour, and due to this fact carbs, for thicker recipes: You will want two tablespoons of flour to thicken a sauce to medium thickness, and three for a thick sauce.

A tablespoon of entire wheat flour has 4.5 grams of carbohydrates. Bear in mind that it normally takes a little bit extra wheat flour than white flour to thicken a sauce, and it could barely alter the flavour of the dish you add it to. Gluten-free flours reminiscent of rice flour work the identical approach as wheat flour in the case of thickening sauces, and have roughly the identical quantity of carbs.

Once you use flour to thicken a sauce, you can not add it immediately as it should create lumps. One of the simplest ways so as to add it’s in a roux—warmth it with a fats, like oil or butter, and cook dinner it for a minute or two (stirring continuously) to eliminate the uncooked flour style. Then, whisk within the liquid.

A roux will slowly get darker the longer you cook dinner it. Some recipes will name for a darker roux, however the thickening energy of flour decreases because the roux cooks, so for low-carb functions, a white roux is greatest.


Cornstarch has 7 grams of carbs per tablespoon, however extra thickening energy than flour, so you may typically use lower than what the recipe requires. In accordance with cornstarch producers, you solely want half as a lot cornstarch as flour to attain the identical thickening outcomes. In case your recipe solely requires one tablespoon of a thickener, cornstarch is usually a low-carb possibility.

How one can Substitute Gluten-Free Cornstarch for Flour

Sauces thickened with cornstarch are much less opaque and might be glossier than ones with flour. Cornstarch is usually added to chilly water after which to the sauce (whisk or shake in a small container to mix), and also you do not need to fret about cooking it first. Nonetheless, cornstarch can go away meals tasting chalky if undercooked.

Arrowroot Flour

In case you are on the lookout for a straightforward solution to thicken a sauce with out altering the style of your meals, flip to arrowroot flour as an alternative. Arrowroot flour is a nice white powder constructed from dried tubers. It’s just like cornstarch within the variety of carbs it has and is used the identical approach, besides it has a glossier look. It additionally stands as much as acidic liquids higher than cornstarch does.

When utilized in cooking, arrowroot flour has twice the thickening energy of wheat flour. In contrast to wheat flour, it doesn’t alter the flavour of the meals.

Use arrowroot flour to thicken sauces that ought to stay clear. Notice that whereas it freezes properly, it doesn’t reheat efficiently and can’t be used at excessive temperatures or in recipes that contain lengthy cooking occasions.

Various Thickeners

If you wish to keep away from utilizing starches as thickening brokers altogether, there are a number of alternate options, like greens, dairy merchandise, eggs, nuts, and seeds. The selection of different is determined by what that you must cook dinner and some other dietary restrictions.

Vegetable Gums

With names like guar gum and xanthan gum, vegetable gums might not sound appetizing, however do not let that scare you. Each thickeners are constructed from vegetable fiber that absorbs water to make a gel-like, viscous consistency. Vegetable gums are gluten-free and are sometimes used as thickeners in industrial merchandise. You should buy them in well being meals shops and on-line.

Most manufacturers of guar and xanthan gum have between 6 to 9 grams of carb per tablespoon.

Relying on what your recipe requires, chances are you’ll not even require a full serving. For instance, to make use of vegetable gums to thicken sauces, you solely have to sprinkle a small quantity into the sauce whereas whisking. Go slowly, as a result of an excessive amount of will over-thicken the sauce and go away a slick really feel to the meals.

Pureed Greens

Pureed greens are particularly good for thickening creamy soups and in addition work properly for sauces. Virtually any cooked vegetable will be blended and used to thicken a soup or sauce, however take into account how the flavors will work collectively; for instance, pureed broccoli would most likely style good as a thickener for pumpkin soup.

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Different pureed veggies you should utilize embrace:

  • Tomato paste (3 grams of carbohydrate per 1 tablespoon)
  • Eggplant, zucchini, different squash (3 to five grams per cup)
  • Cauliflower (5 grams per cup)
  • Root greens (5 to 10 grams per cup)

Dairy Merchandise

Cream thickens because it reduces, so in case you add cream to a sauce and boil it, the sauce will thicken greater than it should if lowering with out the cream. Bitter cream is an already thickened model of cream and will be simply whisked right into a sauce. One tablespoon of bitter cream provides only a third of a gram of carbs to a dish.

Substituting Dairy-Free Options for Butter

Cream cheese, which is thicker than bitter cream, can be used as a thickener, though it imparts a particular taste. One tablespoon of standard cream cheese has 0.6 grams of carbs. You can too add chilly butter on the finish of cooking a pan sauce to attain a thickening impact. Whereas butter will not add any carbs, it does add fats and energy.


One giant egg has about 0.6 grams of carbs. Egg yolk combined with fats is an efficient thickener; think about the consistency of mayonnaise or hollandaise, that are made with oil or butter and egg yolk.

As a rule, don’t add yolk on to a scorching sauce or it should scramble. To keep away from this, mood the yolk by including a small quantity of the sauce to it to step by step convey it as much as temperature. Then, add the tempered yolk to the sauce.


Floor nuts have lengthy been used to thicken sauces, and this conventional method is efficient. Nut butters, like peanut and almond, additionally work properly. A tablespoon of peanut butter provides about 3.6 grams of carbs (some peanut butter manufacturers include added sugar, so the carbs could also be greater). Almond butter provides 3 grams of carbs per tablespoon.

Coconut oil is an alternative choice. It will not add any carbs to your dish. Pure coconut butter (with none added sweetener) incorporates about 3.5 grams of carbohydrate per tablespoon. You should buy jars or truffles of concentrated coconut cream to make use of as a thickener. Watch out to not confuse coconut butter with similarly-named coconut drink mixes, as they’ve added sugar.

Almond, Cashew or Peanut Butter: Which Is Higher for You?


Chia seeds broaden and thicken liquids, however they are often grainy, in order that they sometimes do not work for sauces. They work greatest to thicken drinks, turning juices into shakes. Chia seeds add about 6 grams of carbs per tablespoon.

A Phrase From Verywell

With a number of new kitchen tips, it is possible for you to to take pleasure in sauces, soups, and gravy which can be decrease in carbohydrates however retain the thick consistency you are on the lookout for. You might even uncover you take pleasure in these variations greater than the standard strategies.

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