How to Thicken Up Your Beef Stew – 9 Easy Ways

Beef stew is a hearty, comforting dish that is perfect for chilly nights. A good beef stew should have a rich, thick gravy that clings to the chunks of beef and vegetables. However, sometimes beef stews can turn out thinner than intended. If your beef stew looks a little too soupy, don’t worry – there are several easy ways to thicken it up.

Use a Spoon to Mash Some Potatoes

One of the easiest ways to thicken a runny beef stew is to take a spoon and mash some of the potatoes right in the stew. Mashed potatoes will help absorb some of the excess liquid and add body and thickness to the gravy. Gold or russet potatoes work best for thickening as they have a fluffy, dry texture when mashed.

To thicken beef stew this way, take a spoon and press down on a few chunks of cooked potatoes, mashing them slightly right in the stew. Keep mashing more potato pieces until the stew reaches your desired consistency.

Add Potato Starch

Potato starch is another easy way to thicken beef stew. Potato starch is a fine white powder made from potatoes that can be used as a thickening agent. It has twice the thickening power of flour so you only need to use about half as much.

To use potato starch, mix 1-2 tablespoons with a little cold water to make a slurry. Slowly stir the slurry into the simmering stew until it reaches the desired thickness. Add more slurry if needed. You can find potato starch in the baking aisle of most grocery stores.

Sprinkle with Flour

One of the most common ways to thicken a stew is by sprinkling in some flour. The flour will absorb moisture from the stew and release starch molecules to thicken up the gravy.

To use flour, sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons over the stew, a little at a time, while stirring constantly. Make sure to thoroughly incorporate the flour so no clumps form. Let the stew simmer for a few minutes to allow the flour to fully thicken the liquid.

Whisk in a Flour Slurry

Instead of adding dry flour directly, you can also make a flour slurry. This helps prevent clumping. To make a slurry, whisk together 1-2 tablespoons of flour with an equal amount of cold water in a small bowl until smooth.

Slowly pour the slurry into the stew while stirring constantly. Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes to thicken up. The slurry will also help add a nice glossy sheen to the gravy.

Add Cornstarch

Cornstarch is another popular thickener for stews and gravies. It has twice the thickening power of flour so you only need half as much. Mix 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch with cold water to make a slurry then stir it into the simmering stew.

Let the stew simmer for a few minutes until it reaches the perfect consistency, then remove from heat. Cornstarch needs heat to activate and thicken, but it can start to thin out again if cooked too long.

Stir in Instant Tapioca

Instant tapioca is an easy solution for thickening up beef stew. Tapioca comes from the starch of the cassava root and has a mild flavor that won’t overwhelm the stew.

To use, simply sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of instant tapioca over the stew and let it sit for 5 minutes to soften. Then stir to fully incorporate. Simmer the stew for 10-15 minutes until thickened. The tapioca will continue to thicken as it cooks.

Add Gelatin

Unflavored gelatin powder can be used to add thickness and richness to beef stew. Gelatin is colorless and flavorless so it won’t alter the taste. It gives a glossy, silky texture to the gravy.

Mix 1 teaspoon gelatin with 2 tablespoons cold water and let it sit for a minute to bloom. Then stir the gelatin slurry into the simmering stew. Let cook for 5 more minutes until the gelatin is activated and the stew has thickened up.

Use Beef Gravy Granules

Beef gravy granules are an instant way to thicken and add more beefy flavor to your stew. Gravy granules are dehydrated gravy that thicken when added to hot liquid.

Simply sprinkle 2-4 tablespoons of beef gravy granules over the stew while stirring. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes as the granules dissolve and absorb liquid to thicken the stew. Adjust to taste.

Reduce the Stew

For a more natural thickening method, you can reduce the stew to concentrate the flavors and thicken the liquid. Bring the stew to a boil in a wide pot, then lower to a simmer. Let it simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes to allow some of the liquid to reduce down.

Keep an eye on the stew so it doesn’t get too thick. You may need to add a bit more beef broth or water if reducing too much. Reducing intensifies the flavor so you may want to season again at the end.

Keep Neutral Thickeners on Hand

It’s always handy to keep some neutral starch thickeners in your pantry so you can easily fix a thin stew. Some good options are:

  • Arrowroot starch
  • Cornstarch
  • Potato starch
  • Tapioca starch

These starches can be turned into a quick slurry to mix into any stew. Keeping them on hand means you’ll always be ready to thicken up a runny stew or gravy.

With these simple tricks, you’ll never have to worry about a watery, diluted beef stew again. If your stew turns out too thin, simply reach for one of these easy thickening methods. In just a few minutes, you can transform a soupy stew into a rich, luxurious dish with a luscious gravy.

Stew Recipes : How to Thicken Beef Stew Gravy


Is flour or cornstarch better for thickening stew?

Cornstarch has twice the thickening power of flour. When a gravy, sauce, soup or stew recipe calls for flour, use half as much cornstarch to thicken. To thicken hot liquids, first mix cornstarch with a little cold water until smooth. Gradually stir into hot liquid until blended.

How do you thicken a watery slow cooker stew?

As a rule of thumb, dissolve 2 parts cold water and 1 part cornstarch. Add the slurry to your sauce as it simmers in the slow cooker. Cornstarch is always a good way to thicken a sauce or soup but personally I would recommend going a different route as the cornstarch slurry may change the flavor of the meal.

How do you thicken beef stew with potato starch?

Whisk our potato starch in a little cold water to make a paste, then stir into the stew towards the end of the cooking process, once the liquid is hot, for best results. For thickening approx 500mls of sauce, mix 3-4 teaspoons of the Potato Starch with 3-4 tablespoons of cold liquid.

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