There are many foods that are somewhat okay on their own, but are far better when they are mixed into other foods. A very good example of one of these types of foods is going to be broth.
Some people will eat regular broth on its own with a few vegetables or noodles mixed in for the sake of nutrients, but most people will prefer to add the broth to another recipe, using that broth as a base for something much more.
As with anything that can be used as a base for other foods, it makes sense that there are many ways that one can customize and change the dish to their needs. People can change many aspects of chicken broth to fit their specific needs.
Some people might be more inclined to use the chicken broth completely as is, while other people may need to make some fundamental changes to it so that it can match the recipe that they are working from.
Out of all of the adjustments that people will eventually need to make for their chicken broth, one of the most common changes that people are going to make is going to be changes to the thickness of the broth.
The thickness of chicken broth is actually pretty easy to change and there are a few different methods that you can try depending on what exact properties you need for your recipe.
Some people may be interested in thickening their chicken broth to simply add a bit more texture and substance to a soup or stew that they are brewing. Other people may want to thicken their chicken broth because they are turning the broth into a gravy.
No matter what reason you may have for needing to change the broth’s consistency, you will surely be able to find a way that works for you.
Using Flour to Thicken Chicken Broth
When all is said and done, the most common ingredient that people use to thicken their chicken broth is going to be all-purpose flour. Flour is incredibly common and easy to find, meaning that you will be able to get a hold of it easily if you do not already have it in your pantry.
Flour is also quite easy for any beginner chef to work with, meaning that even if you aren’t sure about what you are doing, you will be able to make the adjustments necessary without altering your broth too much.
Before adding the flour to the dish, there are a few things that you should be aware of. For one, different types of flour are going to have different thickening properties.
If you have a gluten intolerance or allergy, it is not recommended to use other gluten-free flours, as it is the gluten that helps to thicken the broth. There are other, naturally gluten-free, methods that you can employ if using standard all-purpose flour is not going to be suitable for you.
Flour also runs the risk of altering the overall flavor of the chicken broth mildly. This doesn’t matter as much for thick stews and soups that have other ingredients and a hearty flavor, but it can make a difference if the flavor of the chicken broth is going to be a major component in your dish.
Typically, you are going to want to prepare your chicken broth by bringing it up to a simmering boil on the stove.
From here, you will want to take about a quarter cup of cold water and two tablespoons of flour and turn this into a mixture of its own. You should mix these two together until it turns into an evenly mixed paste.
You should add this flour slurry to your broth a little bit at a time, stirring while you add it, until you reach the desired consistency.
If, somehow, the broth is not at the desired consistency by the time you get through the entire quarter cup of slurry, you can always add more and make more because it takes next to no time to prepare.
Once the broth reaches the desired consistency, you can continue cooking with it as you otherwise would, as you now have your properly thickened chicken broth to work with.
What About Cornstarch?
If you need a gluten-free alternative to flour that will properly thicken your chicken broth, cornstarch is the commonly accepted ingredient to add.
Keep in mind that it has about twice the amount of thickening power than your standard all-purpose flour does, so you are not going to need a lot of it to achieve a thickened broth.
You will want to start out with your chicken broth heated to a simmering boil once again. From here, you will want to take a separate bowl and mix one tablespoon of cornstarch with one tablespoon of cold water.
You will need to mix these two ingredients together until they are both completely dissolved into a soft paste.
Just as with the flour, you will want to slowly stir this corn paste into the chicken broth, cooking it all over medium heat and stirring it the whole time. You should add it slowly, as you will eventually need to stop when the dish reaches the desired consistency.
Before you know it, you will have thickened chicken broth that just about anyone can enjoy.
Doing a Reduction
Another way that you can thicken your chicken broth is through a process known as a reduction. Reductions are a common way that people will thicken liquid ingredients in cooking, though it may take a bit more time and practice than adding flour or cornstarch to the broth would.
This should only be done if you have some experience doing a reduction, because if the temperature is slightly off, you may end up turning your chicken broth completely bitter instead.
To begin the reduction phase, you will need to turn the heat up under the broth so that the broth can simmer in an uncovered pan. More often than not, assuming that it is just pure chicken broth in the pan, a medium heat setting will get the job done, but all stove tops are different.
When choosing a pan to put the chicken broth in, the wider the pan is, the better chance you will have at a successful reduction. Wider sautéing pans (compared to a deeper pot) will allow more of the broth to boil more quickly, which helps to perform the reduction faster.
From here, you will just need to give the broth the time that it needs to properly reduce. You will be able to check on the broth every so often to ensure that it is reaching the desired consistency.
Keep in mind that if the temperature of the pan is too hot, the broth is going to reduce to the point where it becomes bitter. You should start checking in on the taste and consistency of the reduction after about 10 minutes on a stove on medium heat, assuming that it is a typical stove.
Adding Food to the Broth
If the broth is set to become a stew rather than being a base for another food, you may want to consider the option of adding foods to the broth. There are some types of food out there that have natural thickening properties to broth that you can expand upon.
Keep in mind that these following methods will absolutely affect the taste of the broth as well as the texture, so you should only consider adding foods to the broth that would work well with whatever you are planning to do to the broth.
A good example of what types of food can thicken broth include bread. While you won’t add a slice of bread directly to the broth, the process is the same with a few extra steps.
Instead, you will want to soak the pieces of bread in a hot liquid, drain that liquid, and then turn the melting bread into a bread puree. You will then want to reincorporate that bread puree into the broth through mixing and time.
This will naturally thicken the broth, as the bread puree will have much of the same properties as adding regular flour to the broth.
You can also grind down nuts and add those to the broth to give it both nuttier undertones as well as a thicker consistency. Nuts have been used for the purposes of thickening broths for generations and generations.
The hardest part of this is going to be grinding the nuts down to the point where they become paste-like, as this can take a little bit of time. Once the nuts have been ground down to that point, they can be added to the broth and stirred in. Cashews are widely accepted as one of the best nuts in this department.
Adding a dairy product can also thicken the chicken broth while adding a creamier undertone to it. The dairy in question can vary between cream, yogurt, and even milk.
One thing you will need to keep in mind for this is that you should not add the dairy if the broth is currently boiling, as this will cause the dairy to curdle.
Cream and milk are the common starting points when it comes to adding dairy to broth, as both of these have a fairly neutral flavor profile. You can start by adding a few spoonfuls at first and then adding more of them as needed.
If you want to make the broth a little bit lighter and you do not mind a bit of a tangier taste, you can also add some yogurt to the broth, as this will offer the same effect.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.