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What to Do If You Add Too Much Cornstarch?

Overdid the cornstarch? These steps will help you bring your dish back to balance and turn it from gluey to silky once more.

Many home cooks rely on cornstarch as a thickener.

But if you’re not used to thickening dishes with cornstarch, it’s easy to overdo it since you need to dissolve it first before mixing it into your sauce or dish.

So, what to do if you add too much cornstarch? Is it so late now that you must start your recipe over again? Thankfully, no.

There’s a way to fix the abundant use of cornstarch, which we’ll discuss shortly. But first, let’s understand how you can tell you’ve added too much cornstarch and how that can be a problem.

How Can You Tell You’ve Added Too Much Cornstarch?

There’s no one-size-fits-all ratio of cornstarch to water because it varies based on the recipe. So if you’re hoping for exact numbers, you might be out of luck.

Still, that doesn’t mean that too much cornstarch isn’t hard to detect when you’re cooking.

You can easily tell if that’s the case by watching the consistency of the sauce or dish you’re preparing. You’ll find it thickening at a rapid rate, sometimes even causing clumps that get stuck to the spatula you’re stirring with or the sides of the pot.

Another sign that you’ve added too much cornstarch is when your dish turns out gluey—the way potato soup does when it’s blended a little too much.

Don’t freak out, though. We’ll soon tell you how to act to save your recipe!

What Happens If You Use More Cornstarch Than Necessary?

Adding a bit more cornstarch won’t cause too much trouble. It’ll only make your sauce thicker than you want.

On the other hand, if you use too much cornstarch, your liquid ingredients will turn into starchy clumps that’ll be hard to work with. Since the consistency will differ from what the recipe requires, the entire dish may be compromised.

If you keep adding ingredients at this point, you’ll end up with something that doesn’t resemble the original recipe. As a result, you’ll have to throw it away and start all over again or give up and order takeout!

What to Do When You’ve Added Too Much Cornstarch

As soon as you see the sauce getting too thick, take action. The good news is, it’s a pretty straightforward fix!

Your best bet is to dilute it using water, milk, eggs, or any liquid that you see fit. Your choice will ultimately depend on the recipe itself—if you’re already using milk, the wise decision is to use it for a lighter consistency.

While adding the liquid, make sure to pour it gradually while stirring over medium or low heat. You don’t want to defeat the purpose of what you’re doing by using too much liquid!

Instead, mix everything slowly until you’re satisfied with the texture that you have. Then, depending on the amount of extra liquid you’ve added, you may need to adjust the amount of the ingredients you’ll be pouring next.

Tips for Using Cornstarch Like a Cooking Pro

Here are some important guidelines to help you cook anything with cornstarch without worrying about clumps or inconsistent sauces:

1. Pay Attention to the Recipe’s Instructions

The first step that you can take to minimize the chances of ending up with a too-thick or too-thin sauce is to carefully read the recipe. Pay attention to the water-to-cornstarch ratio, and you should have no problems with the consistency.

Issues with ratios are often a result of inexperience in cooking. For example, some people make the mistake of not using accurate measurements of different ingredients in a recipe. Others don’t read recipes all the way through. And so on.

2. Don’t Mix the Cornstarch with a Hot Liquid Directly

Next, it’s crucial not to add the cornstarch directly to ingredients that are cooking over heat. If you do that, the fine powder will cause clumps as soon as you mix it with the hot liquids.

Instead, you should make a slurry by adding the required amount of cornstarch powder to cold water or whatever liquid you’re using. It’s preferable to mix those in an airtight container or a tightly-sealed jar so that you can shake the solution well instead of stirring.

In most recipes, the rule of thumb for making a slurry is one tablespoon of cornstarch to two tablespoons of water.

3. Avoid Over-Stirring Corn Starch

Did you know that over-stirring cornstarch may counter its thickening ability?

See, starch granules thicken a liquid by trapping the water in them. If you go around vigorously mixing the sauce after it has set, you may break these bonds, resulting in a thin, watery sauce.

4. Stir Your Slurry Once Again if You Set It Aside

Some people like to prepare a cornstarch slurry first before working with the other ingredients. This is a great idea to save time and keep the hassle at bay. 

However, when the time comes to add the slurry to the other ingredients in the recipe, be careful not to pour the slurry into your pot without giving it a good stir. When you leave a slurry aside for a long while, the cornstarch molecules tend to sink to the bottom of the cup or bottle.

Pouring it over cooking ingredients may lead to clumps, jeopardizing the entire recipe!

5. Don’t Freeze a Sauce Made with Cornstarch

Lastly, it’s best not to put a sauce made with cornstarch in the freezer. This will cause the cornstarch-thickened sauce to have a spongy texture after you leave it to thaw.

Instead, place it in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life and try to consume it as soon as you can.

In Conclusion

Now that you know how to fix over-thickened sauce, cooking should feel a bit less daunting!

All you’ll have to do is try to make the sauce or gravy a bit thinner by adding more liquid to the corn starch. To get a smooth texture in the future, make sure all your measurements are right and always prepare a cornstarch slurry with cold water.

Also, make sure you don’t put the powder directly in hot liquids so as not to end up with a lumpy gravy.

Know your author

Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.