Thickening Soups and Sauces: The Carb Content of Cornstarch

If you limit carbohydrates, it can be hard to thicken a soup, sauce, gravy or stew. Knowing the carbs in cornstarch compared to the other options can help you choose the thickener that is best for your diet. It will also tell you how much you should use.

If you only need a small amount, a traditional thickener like flour or cornstarch will work. However, a low-carb alternative starch could be better if a recipe calls for more thickener. No matter how many carbs you want to consume, there is a thickening agent for every dish.

Whole Wheat Flour or White
The most common thickener used in sauces is white flour. White flour contains 6 grams of carbs per tablespoon. This is enough to thicken a cup of gravy or thin sauce (which may contain thickeners from meat). For thicker recipes, you might want to add more flour and carbs. You’ll need two tablespoons to get a medium-thick sauce, and three tablespoons for a thick one.

A tablespoon of wheat flour contains 4.5 grams carbohydrates. It is important to remember that adding a little more wheat flour to a dish will thicken it. The flavour may not be affected. Rice flour, which is gluten-free, can thicken sauces in the same way as wheat flour. It also has the same amount of carbohydrates.

You cannot add flour straight to a sauce once you have used it to thicken it. It can cause lumps. It’s easy to incorporate it in a roux. Warmth the flour with fats like butter or oil, then cook it for about a minute (while stirring constantly) to remove the raw flour taste. Whisk in the liquid.

The roux will gradually get darker as you cook it. While some recipes call for a darker color, the flour’s thickening power decreases as the roux cooks. For low-carb events, a lighter roux will be best.

Cornstarch contains 7 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon but has more thickening power than flour. You can therefore use less than the amount specified in a recipe. According to cornstarch manufacturers, you only need half the amount of cornstarch that flour requires for the same thickening results. If your recipe only calls for one tablespoon of thickener, then cornstarch will be a low carb option.

Substitute gluten-free cornstarch for flour

Cornstarch-thickened sauces are less opaque, and they will be glossier. You can add cornstarch to cold water and then to the sauce. (whisk in a small bowl to mix) There is no need to cook it beforehand. Cornstarch, however, can make food taste chalky when it is not cooked properly.

Arrowroot Flour
If you’re looking for a way to thicken sauces without changing the taste of your food, arrowroot is the answer. Arrowroot flour, a white powder that is made from dried tubers, can be used to thicken sauces. The amount of carbohydrates in arrowroot flour is similar to cornstarch.

The arrowroot flour is twice as thickening as wheat flour when used in cooking. It doesn’t change the taste of food like wheat flour.

Use arrowroot to thicken sauces which should be kept clear. While it can be frozen, it cannot be reheated and is not suitable for recipes with high temperatures or long cooking times.

Different Thickeners
You can use different thickening agents if you don’t want to use starches. These include greens, dairy products, eggs, seeds, and nuts. Your selection will depend on the type of food you’re cooking and any dietary restrictions.

Vegetable Gums
Vegetable gums may not sound appealing, but they are not as bad as you think. These thickeners, which are both gluten-free, are made from vegetable fibers that absorb water and form a viscous gel. They are available in health food shops and online.

The carb content of guar or xanthan gum is usually between 6 and 9 grams per tablespoon.

You may not need a whole serving, depending on the recipe. To thicken sauces with vegetable gums, for example, sprinkle just a little bit into the sauce while whisking. Slowly add the quantity as an excessive amount will thicken the sauce, leaving a slick texture.

Pureed Greens
Greens can be used to thicken creamy soups, and they also work well for sauces. You can use almost any cooked vegetable to thicken soups or sauces. However, you should consider how the flavors work together. For example, pureed spinach would taste good in pumpkin soup.

Blender for Weight Loss

You can use different pureed vegetables to embody:

Tomato paste (three grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon)
Eggplant, squash, and zucchini (between 3 to 5 grams per cup).
Cauliflower (5 grams per cup)
Root greens (between 5 and 10 grams per cup).
Dairy Products
Cream thickens as it reduces. If you add cream to sauces and then boil them, they will thicken more than if the sauce was reduced without the cream. Bitter cream, which is a thickened version of cream, can be whisked into sauces. A tablespoon of bittercream adds only one-third of a gram carbs to any dish.

Substituting Dairy Free Options for Butter

It is possible to thicken food with cream cheese. Cream cheese has a distinct taste, but it’s thicker than bittercream. A tablespoon of cream cheese contains 0.6 grams carbs. Add chilly butter to a pan sauce at the end of cooking it for a thickening effect. Butter does not contain carbs but it adds fat and energy.

A giant egg contains about 0.6 grams carbs. Combining egg yolk with fat is a great thickener. Think of the consistency of mayonnaise and hollandaise made from oil, butter, and yolks.

It is best to avoid adding yolks to hot sauces as they can scramble. To avoid this, temper the yolk by adding a small amount of sauce to it. This will gradually bring it up to temperature. Add the tempering yolk to the sauce.

This traditional method of thickening sauces with floor nuts is effective. Almond and peanut butters also work well. Peanut butter contains about 3.6 grams carbs per tablespoon (some peanut butters include sugar so carbs may be higher). Almond butter contains 3 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon.

Coconut oil can be used as an alternative. You won’t add carbs. The carbohydrate content of pure coconut butter is about 3.5 grams per tablespoon (without any added sweetener). To thicken your food, you can buy coconut cream in jars or desserts. Coconut butter should not be confused with similar-named drink mixes containing sugar.

Almond, Cashew, or Peanut Butter? Which is better for you?

Chia seeds thicken liquids but are grainy and can sometimes be unsuitable for sauces. The best use for them is to thicken liquids, turning juices and smoothies into shakes. Chia seeds contain about 6 grams carbs per teaspoon.

Verywell’s Phrase
You can enjoy sauces, soups and gravies that are lower in carbohydrates, but still have the thick consistency you desire, with a few new kitchen tricks. These variations may even be more enjoyable than the traditional methods.

8 Different Low-Carb Soups that are Easy and Delicious