Use Crushed Crackers To Thicken Up Your Runny Sauces In A Pinch

overhead shot of various crackers
overhead shot of various crackers - Fotografiabasica/Getty Images

Nothing can ruin a meal quicker than a runny sauce. You could go about the standard ways of thickening a sauce with a slurry or a roux but those methods take time and aren't always the most accessible option. Luckily, there's another simple way to thicken watery sauces, and it's probably already in your pantry. Crushed crackers can work as a thickening agent in a pinch and add flavor to your sauces. This is one of the many creative ways to use crackers such as saltines. Crackers contain a high amount of starch, and starch granules soak up liquid when heated and release starch molecules that reduce your sauce. Normally the starch is flour or cornstarch, but crackers will also do the trick.

Crackers work best to thicken sauces you don't want to heat up. Unlike cornstarch and flour, you don't have to cook off anything. Think of sauces like creamy salsas or dressings when considering how to use this method. It's important to crush up the crackers very finely. If your cracker crumbs are too big, they can create a mushy texture instead of a thickened one. For the best texture, consider pulverizing your crackers in a food processor or blender. If you don't have one, crushing them with a rolling pin or meat tenderizer works as well. They should be almost a dust-like texture for best results.

Read more: 26 Types Of Pasta Sauce Explained

Experiment With The Types Of Crackers You Use For Different Flavors

romesco sauce in white bowl
romesco sauce in white bowl - OlgaBombologna/Shutterstock

Saltines are one of the easiest crackers for this hack, as they crumble nicely and contain lots of starch. But you don't have to limit yourself to just saltines. You can get creative with your cracker usage to find unique flavor combinations. Try crackers coated in a spicy seasoning to bring a kick of heat to your next creamy salsa verde. You can give your dairy-based salad dressings an extra buttery flavor by using crackers like Ritz for even more savoriness.

Fun crackers to experiment thickening with are cheesy ones, such as Cheez-Its. You can give sauces such as a smoky romesco sauce an added umami flavor by using cheese-flavored crackers. Sweeter sauces also work for this hack if you use graham crackers. The combinations for sauce and cracker pairings are endless. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the possibilities feel free to stick with plain crackers. Next time making a roux or slurry feels like too much effort, try reaching for your sleeve of crackers first.

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