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How do you thicken stew without gluten?

Thickening stew without using gluten can seem challenging, but there are plenty of effective options. The key is to use starch-based thickeners that don’t contain gluten. Here are some of the most common ways to thicken stew gluten-free:

Use Cornstarch

Cornstarch is one of the most popular starches used to thicken stews and sauces. It provides thickness and body without any gluten. To use cornstarch, combine 1-2 tablespoons with a bit of cold water or broth to make a slurry. Slowly stir the slurry into the hot stew, then let it simmer for 2-3 minutes to thicken. Be careful not to boil the stew once the cornstarch is added, or it can thin out again.

Try Arrowroot

Arrowroot is another gluten-free starch that can thicken stew beautifully. It creates a glossy, clear finish. Make an arrowroot slurry just like you would with cornstarch, using 1-2 tablespoons arrowroot dissolved in cold liquid. Stir it into the stew at the end of cooking and simmer briefly to thicken.

Use Potatoes

Potatoes are a surprising stew thickener. The starch in potatoes breaks down as they cook, lending body to the surrounding liquid. Try dicing 1-2 medium russet or Yukon gold potatoes and adding them early in cooking. Mash a few potatoes against the side of the pot when the stew is finished to release more starch.

Blend in Cauliflower

Cauliflower is an easy gluten-free way to thicken stew thanks to its high fiber content. Roughly chop 1-2 cups of cauliflower florets and add them to the stew. Use an immersion blender to puree the cauliflower once tender, or carefully transfer a portion of the stew to a blender. The pureed cauliflower will evenly thicken the liquid.

Add Pureed Beans

Pureeing beans is an effective method to thicken stew. White beans, chickpeas, or cannellini beans work well. Cook the beans in the stew until very soft, then mash them with a potato masher or puree in a blender. The starch released will lend body to the stew as it simmers.

Whisk in Flour

Gluten-free flours like rice flour, chickpea flour, tapioca flour, and almond flour can all be used to thicken stew. Whisk 1-3 tablespoons of your chosen gluten-free flour into the stew at the end of cooking. Simmer for 5 minutes to eliminate any raw flour taste and achieve the desired thickness.

Add Dairy

Dairy products like milk, cream, and sour cream naturally thicken liquids. Stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of your chosen dairy product at the end of cooking. Bring the stew back up to a simmer to thicken. Dairy alternatives like coconut milk and cashew cream work too.

Puree Vegetables

Pureeing hardy vegetables is an easy way to thicken stew without gluten. Good options include carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, and peeled eggplant. Cook the vegetables until very soft, then puree them into a thick paste. Mix the puree back into the stew to thicken.

Include Oats

Oats contain starch that can help thicken stew. Use certified gluten-free oats to avoid any cross-contamination. Stir in 1/2 to 1 cup of uncooked gluten-free oats at the beginning of cooking, and allow them to break down as the stew simmers. The released starch will naturally thicken the stew.

Simmer Uncovered

Allowing your stew to simmer uncovered for 30-60 minutes at the end of cooking is a simple way to thicken it without adding anything. As some of the liquid evaporates, the stew will gradually thicken on its own from the starch released by the vegetables.

Add Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is a popular additive used to thicken gluten-free cooking. Only a small amount is needed – start with 1/4 teaspoon sprinkled into the stew. Mix well and simmer for a few minutes to thicken. Be careful not to overdo it with xanthan gum, as it can create a slimy texture.


With a variety of whole food and pantry staple options, thickening stew without gluten is easy and delicious. Cornstarch, arrowroot, potatoes, cauliflower, beans, gluten-free flours, dairy, oats, and pureed vegetables can all lend natural body and texture. A touch of xanthan gum also does the trick for a smooth, rich stew minus the gluten.