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Low-Carb Thickeners Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Low Carbohydrate Thickeners

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


What can you do to replace flour in your soups for thicke­ning, adding some absorbency to your baking, or making sure those mashed, pureed vegetables zip your bip – all without the glutens or higher­-carb staples used to use back in the old days?

Here are a few tips for easy substi­tutions based on your personal needs.

Dry Starches

Dry Substi­tutes

While wheat flour is the standard in baking, what’s pretty remark­able, however, is that regular wheat flour requires 2-3 times the amount to thicken as either cornstarch or the arrowroot. In short, a little arrowroot goes a long way, and cornst­arch, while not perfect, is inexpe­nsive, is double the potency of flour for thicke­ning, and is easy to find.

Chia seeds and flax seed meal are also useful, but since both tend to absorb and expand, the results depend on the recipe. I will, as an example, use chia and flax in brownies or cakes where I need added absorbency from a solid (links below to those recipes), but I tend to avoid chia and flax seed in gravies, soups, or sauces, where the seeds are visual (and sometimes a little unappe­tiz­ing). I save these primarily for baking.

Almond and coconut flours are also valid possib­ilities for thicke­ning, providing your guests like the taste of coconut (coconut flour), or aren’t harboring nut allergies (nut flours). I am not typically thrilled with either in soups, roues or sauces, and typically relegate these to baking status as well.

Moist Thickeners

Moist Substi­tutes

Making a soup, thickening a puree, or pumping up a sauce? Consider giving these options a whirl:
Cream Cheese. While you’re going to add more calories in the form of fat to your soups, sauces, and mashed, pureed vegetables with cream cheese than you would with the dry, single ingred­ients, look at what you’re not adding to your dish: carboh­ydr­ates. In fact, the gums in cream cheese helps thicken not only the cream cheese, but the dish to which you add it. Protein is off the charts in this ingred­ient, too, for even greater staying power.
Sour Cream. Lower in calories, sour cream works wizardly wonders as an ingredient for thickening your moist sides, soups and sauces. It adds a bit of pep, too, so consider adding this wherever sour cream would be welcome, from your mashed caulif­lower to your meatball soup.
Greek Yogurt. A thick, Greek yogurt is a terrific thickening agent, partic­ularly in place of sour cream or where you need to add some zip to the dip.
Heavy Cream. In many soups and sauces, the heft of the cream, when cooked gently and reduced, thickens. I didn’t add this one to the spread­sheet, since typically you’re using more of it than a wee bit to thicke­n–y­ou’re basing the entire base on the cream.
Egg yolks. Perfect for adding heft to egg drop soup, be careful to not cook the eggs if added to a hot soup or sauce, or they will curdle and harden. Each large egg yolk nets only about .75 carboh­ydrates and about 99 calories.

Commerical Thickeners

I have reviewed this product and can attest to its efficacy in dishes, soups and sauces. A propri­etary mix of tree, vegetable and other gums, a tsp will perform as well as a tablespoon of other flours. And while the price tag is a little spendier than you might be used to, each 3 ounce bag contains 36 servings.