A hearty, thick stew is the quintessential comfort food, especially during the colder months. The slow cooker offers an ideal method for preparing such stews, as its low, steady heat allows flavors to meld beautifully over several hours.

However, one common challenge many face is achieving the desired thickness in slow cooker stews. This guide will share useful tips and techniques on how to thicken a stew in a slow cooker, ensuring you end up with a rich and satisfying meal every time.

Flour and butter/oil

Combining flour with melted butter or oil creates a roux, which serves as an excellent thickening agent for your stew.

Start by melting about 2 tablespoons of butter or heating the same amount of oil in a separate pan. Once warm, whisk in an equal amount of flour until a smooth paste forms. Gradually pour this mixture into your hot stew in the slow cooker, making sure to stir it in thoroughly.

This ensures an even distribution of the roux, avoiding any lumps and resulting in a perfectly thickened, rich and hearty stew.

Flour at the start of the cook

Adding flour at the start of the cooking process is another effective method to thicken your stew. Simply dust 1-2 tablespoons of flour over your meat and vegetables before placing them in the slow cooker.

As your stew cooks, the flour will combine with the stew’s natural juices, creating a thick, robust sauce. This method is particularly useful if you can anticipate how thick you want your stew to be, or if you have a good sense of how the stew’s consistency will be without additional thickening.

Keep in mind that the flour needs to cook for a sufficient time to rid it of its raw taste, making it an ideal ingredient to add at the start of the slow cooking process.


Cornflour, also known as cornstarch, is another viable option for thickening your stew. Start by mixing a few tablespoons of cornflour with a small amount of water, creating a mixture akin to the consistency of milk.

This method, often referred to as making a slurry, ensures that the cornflour is evenly dispersed throughout the stew and prevents lumps from forming. Once your slurry is smooth, gradually add it to your hot stew in the slow cooker, stirring continuously. The heat from the stew will cause the cornflour to thicken the liquid almost instantly.

A significant advantage of using cornflour is that, unlike flour, it does not need to be cooked out for a long time to remove its raw taste. This makes it an ideal choice for thickening a stew towards the end of the cooking process.

Gravy Granules

Gravy granules can also be used to thicken a stew, and this method is typically the quickest. Simply sprinkle a few tablespoons of gravy granules directly into the stew and stir thoroughly.

The granules will quickly absorb the liquid and thicken the stew. However, a word of caution when using this method – gravy granules are prone to forming small, black blobs within the stew if not stirred in properly. To avoid this, it’s recommended to dilute the gravy granules in a little hot water to make a smooth paste before adding it to the stew.

This ensures an even distribution and prevents the formation of unappealing black blobs. Remember, the taste of gravy granules can be quite strong, so add them cautiously, tasting as you go.