4 Ways to Thicken a Beef Stew

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4 Ways to Thicken a Beef Stew
4 Ways to Thicken a Beef Stew

Are you upset because you wanted to serve beef stew for dinner, but ended up making a broth beyond drain? Do not worry! There are several ways to thicken a beef stew in the blink of an eye.


Method 1 of 4: Making a Flour Roux

Thicken Beef Stew Step 1

Step 1. Cover the steak with flour before putting it in the stew

When browning the meat, cover it with flour before adding it to the broth.

  • The flour will not only help caramelize the meat, making it tastier, it will also thicken the stew later on when the starch is mixed with the broth.
  • After browning the meat, deglaze the pan with red wine, beer or broth to add flavor.

Step 2. Mix the flour with water to make the roux

This is one of the most used methods for thickening meat stews. The primary protein in flour is gluten. When the flour is mixed with the water, the gluten chains link together, forming a protein network that makes the stew broth thicker.

  • To make the roux, turn down the heat of the stew and remove some of the liquid from the pan. Heat two tablespoons of butter, depending on the amount of stew, or your preferred fat in a hot pan over medium heat. Add the white flour in an amount corresponding by weight to the butter. Stir with a fouet so as not to burn.
  • Some roux recipes call for six tablespoons of flour and four tablespoons of butter or meat fat.
  • The mixture will form a yellowish paste, which will melt around the edges and bubble. Keep stirring until it gets a little darker. The darker the roux gets, the more flavor it will add to the recipe, as the cooked flour takes on a brownish taste. However, it will also lose part of its ability to thicken the broth. Therefore, the ideal is for the roux to be light.

Step 3. Add the roux to the stew

When the paste has the consistency of a very thick sauce, mix it with the stew. Cook the dish for another five to ten minutes.

  • This way, the stew will not taste like raw flour. Cooking the stew too long, however, can defeat the purpose of the roux.
  • Keep in mind that the roux will slightly reduce the intensity of the spices used. Taste the stew and adjust the seasonings before serving. You can use milk instead of water to make the roux, just don't forget that the milk sticks and burns more easily. White flour can also be substituted for oat or rice flour.

Method 2 of 4: Making beurre manié

Step 1. Measure equal parts of flour and butter

Knead well.

Butter should be a little soft. For 3 l of stew, use two or three tablespoons of butter and the same amount of flour

Step 2. Bring to the boil immediately before serving

Step 3. Spoon a spoonful of the beurre manié into the stew

Bring to the boil once more, stirring constantly.

Method 3 of 4: Using Starch or Other Ingredients

Step 1. Add sour cream or crème fraiche to make the stew creamy

Season to taste. You can also use potatoes, rice starch or tapioca.

  • Mix two teaspoons of any of the above ingredients with a little water or milk. Then add to the stew, stirring slowly. Potato starch will give the stew a different viscosity, leaving it with a dessert consistency.
  • If you don't have any of the above options at hand, be creative. Try using instant mashed potatoes, instant thickeners, or even crushed crackers. It's not ideal, but it can work.

Step 2. Make the roux with cornstarch instead of flour

Transfer part of the stew broth to a medium bowl and let it cool. The hot broth will cook the cornstarch before you can mix it into the liquid, creating a lumpy goo.

  • Add between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of cornstarch to the broth. Mix until completely dissolved. Ideally, use a hand mixer. When finished, pour the broth back into the pan and mix well. The paste can also be prepared with wine.
  • Raise the heat and keep stirring. Mix well so that the mixture does not form lumps. Cornstarch works in the same way as flour to thicken broths. Guar gum is another agent widely used by the food industry to thicken sauces and other similar products. If you can find guar gum to sell, use it sparingly: gum is eight times more potent thickener than cornstarch.
Thicken Beef Stew Step 9

Step 3. Try using industrialized beef broth

In a bowl, mix the product with a little water until completely dissolved.

  • A small packet of broth is enough to thicken two cups of liquid. The broth will also add a taste of meat to the recipe.
  • Most industrialized sauces are made from cornstarch. The effects are very similar to cornstarch paste with water.
Thicken Beef Stew Step 10

Step 4. Bet on a gluten-free alternative

Arrowroot is a great gluten-free alternative. If the stew is thin, add the arrowroot thickener, half a teaspoon at a time, and mix until it thickens.

  • Stir slowly, without stopping, over medium heat. Don't lose your patience and throw all the thickener into the pan at once!
  • Arrowroot has a more neutral flavor than cornstarch. It can also be used at various temperatures without losing its thickening power, in addition to being more tolerant to acidic ingredients and being able to spend more time in fire.

Method 4 of 4: Thickening the Stew with Vegetables

Thicken Beef Stew Step 11

Step 1. Bet on meaty vegetables

Give preference to "fleshy" vegetables, which thicken and add flavor to the broth, such as potatoes, carrots, celery and cabbage.

  • When the broth boils, the vegetables will partially dissolve, leaving the broth with a richer texture.
  • Using roots is also a good idea, especially potatoes. Cook the potatoes together with the stew to thicken the broth naturally.

Step 2. Make a vegetable paste

A simple way to thicken a meat stew is to cook several vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery, in the same pot as the stew.

  • After the vegetables have cooked and flavored the broth, take them out of the pan and make a paste with the broth or liquid of your choice. Separate part of the boiled carrots and potatoes and mash them with a fork or potato masher. Return the puree to the stew and mix to thicken.
  • You can also place a hand mixer directly into the stew to beat some of the broth ingredients, thickening it. Mix after beating for consistency. This is also a great way to increase the fiber content of your stew.
Thicken Beef Stew Step 13

Step 3. Ready


  • Sauces and broths made with cornstarch change consistency after freezing. Those made with arrowroot tend to retain consistency even after going to the freezer.
  • So your stew doesn't get thin next time, reduce the amount of liquid, such as water or broth, used in the soup base. Instead, fry the meat before putting it in the stew to add fat and flavor to the dish.
  • You can also use starchy foods to add flavor and consistency to your stew. Try thickening the recipe with rice, potatoes or pasta.
  • Lower the fire. The broth will thin out rather than thicken if it boils for a long time. Try adding flour to thicken it.
  • Around the world, you can find versions of roux that use fats other than butter, including peanut butter, lard, bacon fat and duck fat. In Cajun cooking, flour is mixed with vegetable oil to make a very dark roux.

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