Soy sauce is a great ingredient to add flavor to a dish, as it is rich, savory, and has an umami flavor that is difficult to match.
The one issue with soy sauce is that it is often thin and runny, and you might need something a little thicker for your recipe.
How do you thicken soy sauce?
There are a few ways you can thicken soy sauce, but the best option is to use a thickening agent such as starch or flour. Alternatively, you can thicken it by adding brown sugar, or you can reduce it down to a thicker consistency.
Read on to find out all the different ways you can thicken soy sauce, and how the various methods affect the flavor of the soy sauce, which is definitely worth considering before adding it to a meal!
Method 1 – Using Cornstarch Or Flour
Using starch or flour is possibly the best way to thicken soy sauce, and both cornstarch and flour have neutral flavors, so they won’t alter the flavor of the soy sauce, other than possibly diluting the taste a little bit.
You can use cornstarch or flour depending on what you have at home, but cornstarch does work better to thicken soy sauce than flour.
To thicken soy sauce using cornstarch or flour, you will need your soy sauce, some water, and around 2 teaspoons of cornstarch or flour. You could also use rice starch, potato starch, or any other starch of your choice.
Here is what to do:
- Start by mixing the cornstarch or the flour into a half cup of water. Mix together very well to ensure there are no clumps. It should be a runny consistency, so you can add in more water if it is too thick.
- Place the soy sauce into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Once the soy sauce is simmering, add in the cornstarch or flour mix and stir it continuously. Stirring continuously is key to ensure that there are no lumps or bumps in the soy sauce.
- Keep simmering the soy sauce for around 5 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Once the soy sauce is thick enough, you can remove it from the heat. Allow it to simmer for a few minutes so that the flavor of the cornstarch or flour is not too strong.
- If the soy sauce becomes too thick, then you can add more soy sauce in to thin it down and add more flavor.
This method will tone down the flavor of the soy sauce slightly, but it is a great way to thicken it easily.
Method 2 – Leave To Simmer
If you do not want to add anything to the soy sauce, then a good way to thicken it is to leave it to simmer on the stove, to thicken on its own through evaporation.
As the soy sauce simmers, the excess water will evaporate, and it will leave behind a more concentrated soy sauce.
The issue with this method is that the concentrated soy sauce left behind will be very strong in flavor, and will be quite salty and rich. However, if you are only going to be using a little bit, this should not be a problem.
Here is how to thicken soy sauce by simmering it:
- Place soy sauce into a saucepan, using more than you need as it will reduce down and lessen in quantity once quite a bit of the water has evaporated out.
- Set the stovetop to medium heat, and allow the soy sauce to come to a boil.
- Once the soy sauce is boiling, lower the heat and leave the soy sauce to simmer.
- Make sure to keep stirring the soy sauce every now and then as it simmers, to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. If it does stick, it can develop a burnt taste.
- As the soy sauce simmers, the water will evaporate out, and it will become thicker, so once it has reached your desired thickness, remove it from the heat.
This will take quite a bit of time, but it is a good option when you do not want to add anything to the soy sauce, and when you want a rich, concentrated result.
Method 3 – Add Brown Sugar
Adding brown sugar to soy sauce, and placing it on heat, is a good way to thicken the soy sauce slightly, and give it a sweet finish, which is great to add to many dishes.
You do need to be careful to get the ratio right, so you do not sweeten the soy sauce too much and it takes away from the core flavors.
Here is how to thicken soy sauce with brown sugar:
- Mix around 2 teaspoons of brown sugar with a ¼ cup of water in a bowl. Mix together well, and make sure the sugar dissolves in the water. The best way to do this is to use hot water.
- Place the soy sauce into a saucepan on the stove on low heat. Once the soy sauce is simmering, pour in the sugar and water mixture and stir it in well.
- Keep stirring the soy sauce and sugar mixture as it simmers, to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
- Once the sugar mix has thickened the soy sauce enough, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool before using it.
This can still be added to various meals and dishes, you might just have to compensate for the added sweetness but use a little more salt.
Method 4 – Make A Glaze
If you want to get a little creative with how you thicken your soy sauce, then you could use multiple ingredients to make a glaze with the soy sauce, which will thicken it and create a complexity of flavors.
The added ingredient which will thicken the soy sauce is honey, but along with other ingredients added, it will create a sweet and sour glaze.
The best ingredients to use include:
- Chopped garlic
- Chopped ginger
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Here is what to do:
- Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan.
- Place the saucepan on the stove and set to low heat.
- Allow the soy sauce mixture to come to a simmer, stirring constantly so it does not stick to the pan or burn.
- Once thickened enough, remove the soy sauce from the heat.
You can strain the glaze if you do not want the chopped garlic and ginger pieces in it, but these do add a good kick of flavor.
Method 5 – Add It To A Meal
If the soy sauce you are using is going to be added to a recipe and cooked, then you might just want to add the soy sauce to the meal as it cooks as is, to allow it to thicken with the rest of the ingredients that you are cooking.
Another option is to add the soy sauce directly to rice or noodles as they are cooked, and they should absorb most of the soy sauce, so there isn’t much liquid left behind.
By adding the soy sauce to the rest of the ingredients during the cooking process, it will thicken as it cooks and you won’t need to add a thin or runny soy sauce to the meal once it has been prepared.
You will still get the benefits of the umami flavor that soy sauce gives if you add it to a meal as it cooks.
Things to consider when trying to thicken soy sauce.
There are a few different ways to thicken soy sauce, as we have listed above, so you are sure to find the method that suits you and your meal best!
When choosing a method of how to thicken soy sauce, think about whether or not you would want to add any other ingredients into the soy sauce, if you want a stronger flavor, a more diluted flavor, or additional flavors, such as to create a glaze.
Most methods include heating the soy sauce on the stove to thicken it, and heating the soy sauce is the best way to thicken it to the right consistency.
Try out a few different methods until you find the one that suits you best!
How do you thicken stir-fry sauces?
The best way to thicken stir-fry sauces is to make a slurry of cornstarch and water and mix this into a simmering stir-fry sauce. This allows the stir-fry sauce to thicken to a point where it will not be too runny to add to noodles.
Should you cover a sauce if you want it to thicken?
You need to leave sauce uncovered if you want it to thicken, as the moisture will need to evaporate out, and it will not be able to do so if the lid is placed onto the pot. Be sure to not place the sauce on too high a heat either, as it could burn.