Pricey Mark,

I’m attempting to remain strictly primal/paleo, however I at all times run into issues once I have to thicken sauces or soups. I grew up studying to make use of flour/cornstarch like everybody else, however is there an excellent low-carb/primal different?


I obtained this electronic mail some time in the past, however it wasn’t the primary. Plenty of readers have expressed their confusion in relation to thickening sauces, gravies, or soups with out utilizing conventional floury strategies. The query of thickening sauces is without doubt one of the hurdles I face each time I put up a recipe put up – it’s turn out to be a little bit of an inside battle (as seen with final week’s beef and broccoli stir fry recipe, wherein I hesitatingly referred to as for a teaspoon of flour as a thickener) as a result of whereas including a little bit of flour or cornstarch to a bigger recipe could not drastically impression the carb depend, it does complicate the constantly Primal message I attempt to convey. This put up, I hope, will resolve that battle.

There are many methods to thicken a sauce with out resorting to subtle starches. In actual fact, thickening a sauce utilizing Primal strategies can produce a richer, extra satisfying meal.

Carbs in Cornstarch

There are 7g of carbs in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Because you solely use a tablespoon or two in an entire recipe that serves 4 or extra individuals, cornstarch received’t ship your carb depend by means of the roof.

Lots of people who comply with paleo, Primal, or keto will wish to keep away from corn and its derivatives due to its naturally-occurring sugar and starch, and since it isn’t a nutrient-dense meals.

Make a Discount

Essentially the most rewarding strategy to thicken a sauce is by discount. Certainly, studying tips on how to cut back a sauce is vital for any prepare dinner – house or skilled. It’s fairly easy, truly, however it’s an integral step within the thickening of any sauce or soup (whether or not you retain it Primal or use starches). Cut back the moisture content material of a possible sauce by simmering over low warmth and letting evaporation take over. The water goes, however the flavors keep. For those who cut back an excessive amount of, be ready for extremely potent flavors. Including fat towards the top of the discount course of can full the thickening course of (extra later).

Add Fats

Ah, the epic battle between fat and carbohydrates rages on. Fat could make efficient thickeners, particularly butter and particularly with reductions. Say you’ve simply seared a garlic-and-shallot-studded steak in your cast-iron pan. See these browned bits and bubbles of scrumptious beef fats and juices left behind? Hold the warmth low and add some purple wine. Scrape the great things off the underside and let the wine cut back Towards the top, add a pat of chilly butter and whisk all of it collectively till easy and creamy and viscous. Drizzle over your completed steak and veggies.

Heavy cream works properly, too, particularly for white sauces and soups. Once more, the secret’s cut back, cut back, cut back.

Rendered duck, bacon, beef, or rooster fats can act like butter, if you wish to keep away from dairy altogether or add a distinct taste profile. Simply be sure to add the fats in the direction of the top in its stable (chilly) state.

Gluten Free Roux

A roux is a sauce starter or thickener that entails whisking flour right into a pan containing heated fats. I’ve discovered that arrowroot flour is a superb substitute for flour in most, if not all functions that decision for a roux.

Right here’s my favourite turkey gravy recipe that makes use of arrowroot.

Are you able to make a roux with almond flour?

Almonds should not have any starch, and starch is what provides construction to the cooking liquid. So, almond flour won’t make an excellent roux.

Keto Roux

In order for you a gravy-like consistency however you don’t need the carbs of arrowroot or cassava, go for recipes that use a small quantity of xanthan gum.

Pureed Veggies

Including a number of scoops of pureed greens is an alternative choice, particularly to thicken soups. Virtually any acceptably Primal veggie will work: squash, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, or mushrooms, simply to call a number of. Merely steam or soften the greens after which throw them in a meals processor or in any other case pulverize them. Canned tomato paste works properly, too. For those who’re already cooking a vegetable-filled stew or soup for hours, this would possibly occur by itself because the veggies break down and add density to the broth.

Primal Flours

You already understand how a lot we love almond meal round right here, and the opposite nut meals/flours can work as sauce thickeners. In contrast to conventional flours, these don’t actually clump when added on to a sauce, however they’ll add flavors you may not count on or actually need in your sauce, so watch out. You can even use nut butters – a bit of bit goes a good distance.

I’ve heard good issues about defatted coconut flour. By no means used it myself, however it’s an successfully low-carb (excessive in fiber, although). Anybody tried coconut flour?

Vegetable Gums

Vegetable gums sound a bit unappetizing, however they’re utilized in numerous Asian cooking. Primarily pure fiber that absorbs moisture to kind a gel, the most well-liked of the vegetable gums are xanthan gum and guar gum. Sprinkle over sauces whereas whisking to thicken, however be cautious – a bit of bit goes a protracted, good distance, and an excessive amount of will make your sauce “gummy” and “gooey” reasonably than creamy.

Vegetable gums generally is a bit difficult to make use of correctly, however there are merchandise that make it simpler. I’m to listen to what your favorites are when you’ve used them.

Is Xanthan Gum Keto?

There are 7g of carbs per tablespoon of xanthan gum. Just a little bit goes a good distance, and most recipes name for a tiny quantity of xanthan gum – a pinch or a fraction of a teaspoon or much less. Due to this fact, xanthan gum might be thought of keto and works properly as a thickener.

Some individuals expertise gastrointestinal signs with gums like xanthan gum. Experiment for your self and see how you’re feeling.


I’d say discount is essentially the most purely Primal strategy to thicken a sauce, however it’s not precisely the quickest or the best. It stays my favourite (excepting, after all, the truth that I haven’t tried the gums) as a result of it produces the richest flavors and textures, particularly with some form of animal fats as a thickener. The nut flours work properly sufficient, however the resultant textures won’t ever fully evaluate to these of conventional flour thickeners; nuts are simply too coarse and non-absorbent. Vegetable purees are scrumptious, nutritious thickeners, however they’ve restricted use (primarily in soups and stews). As for the vegetable gums, I suppose these are technically PB-friendly – they arrive from pure sources they usually’re undoubtedly low-carb – however I’m unsure I’d wish to depend on them fully, and I’m skeptical of “low-carb”packaging. After all, I plan on attempting them in some unspecified time in the future, and I’d love to listen to your experiences with them.

Oh, and for the broccoli beef recipe? I feel a vegetable gum can be your finest wager. I don’t understand how properly butter or cream would praise the flavors, and I doubt nut flours would mix seamlessly into the sauce; with this one, you’re simply going for texture alone, and the gums would in all probability obtain that with out compromising taste or cooking time.

Additional Studying

Guide to Fats and Oils

8 Primal-friendly Flours

Keto Bread Recipe


Concerning the Creator

Mark Sisson is the founding father of Mark’s Every day Apple, godfather to the Primal meals and way of life motion, and the New York Instances bestselling writer of The Keto Reset Weight loss plan. His newest e book is Keto for Life, the place he discusses how he combines the keto food regimen with a Primal way of life for optimum well being and longevity. Mark is the writer of quite a few different books as properly, together with The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the expansion of the primal/paleo motion again in 2009. After spending three a long time researching and educating people on why meals is the important thing part to attaining and sustaining optimum wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food firm that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Complete30-friendly kitchen staples.

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