Learning how to make gravy from scratch is essential for serving a flavorful sauce to complement turkey, chicken, pork, or beef. Use this stovetop method for making a quick gravy with or without pan drippings.
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Throw out those store-bought cans of coagulated goop and easily make this homemade gravy recipe. In just a few minutes, you can have a sauce that instantly adds moisture and ties the flavors of an entire meal together. A roasted turkey dinner, mashed potatoes, or biscuits would not be complete without this delicious gravy drizzled on top.
You can make gravy from the pan drippings from any roasted or sauteed piece of meat, poultry, or fish. My family loves a simple turkey gravy recipe, but you can make giblet gravy if you have more time. However, no drippings? No problem! A quick sauce can be whipped up by combining a roux and stock. Very few ingredients are needed, but a basic understanding of how the science of thickening agents works will make you a pro.
Types of Gravy
There are different types of sauce that can be made using this easy gravy recipe. Add vegetable, turkey, chicken broth, or stock to the roux mixture to make a classic gravy. Make a homemade brown gravy recipe using beef broth or stock, and season with Worcestershire sauce for more dimension. Make a rich and creamy country gravy or white gravy recipe using milk. I use this base for bechamel sauce or sausage gravy.
Thickening agents are what give gravy its rich texture and help cling to food. The starches in these ingredients absorb moisture, swell up and turn a thin liquid into a voluminous sauce. Knowing how to incorporate them into the liquid is key. A roux of all-purpose flour and butter is the most common thickening agent to make gravy. To make gravy gluten-free, make a slurry using cornstarch or arrowroot powder.
Collect the pan drippings
The little bits of fond (browned particles), juices, and fat pooling at the bottom of the roasting pan are loaded with flavor. Make sure to scrape the pan to remove the drippings. If it’s dried and stuck, you can add a small amount of water to help loosen things. Heating the pan over low heat helps accelerate this process.
Separate the fat
Transfer the drippings to a fat separator or measuring cup. Giving the fat time to rise to the surface will make it easier to separate from the juices. I like to refrigerate or freeze the drippings to speed up the process. Then you can easily scoop off the fat on the surface.
You can control how pourable the gravy consistency will be based on how much thickening agent is added. For a roux, use all-purpose flour and fat like from the drippings, butter, ghee, or olive oil. Use 1 cup of liquid like juice from the roast, stock, broth, or even cold water in a pinch. I use these ratios:
- Light-bodied gravy: Use 1 tablespoon of fat, 1 tablespoon of flour, and 1 cup of liquid.
- Medium-bodied gravy: Use 1 ½ tablespoons of fat, 1 ½ tablespoons of flour, and 1 cup of liquid.
- Heavy-bodied gravy: Use 2 tablespoons of fat, 2 tablespoons of flour, and 1 cup of liquid.
I prefer a heavy-bodied gravy that clings to the meat, which is reflected in the recipe. It’s very easy to customize! Check out these thickening agent conversions for cornstarch and arrowroot powder.
Make a roux
A basic roux is made with equal parts fat and flour to thicken the sauce. In this case, the fat collected from the drippings is used. If there is not enough fat, make up the needed amount with butter or oil. The fat adds richness to the sauce and coats the flour to prevent clumping as the starches in the flour cook and thicken in the liquid.
How long you cook the roux and the color developed affects thickness and flavor due to the Maillard reaction. The longer the roux is cooked, the more the starches break down, lowering the amount of gelatinization and thickness of the sauce. A white-to-blond roux takes about 1 minute to cook and is good for seafood, poultry, pork, and lean beef. A brown roux can take up to 10 minutes and pairs nicely with lamb and heartier meats.
Thicken the liquid
Always use room temperature or cool liquid to add to the hot roux. This prevents the flour from overcooking and getting clumpy. Gradually add and continuously whisk to separate the starches and thicken the gravy. Bringing the mixture to nearly a boil enables the starches to swell to their max potential. This process takes about 3 to 5 minutes.
Finishing the gravy
You can strain to remove any particles from the gravy for an extra smooth sauce. It’s best to make the gravy before serving because it will thicken more as it cools. It can be reheated but may lose some of its viscosity.
Seasonings like salt, pepper, and chopped herbs like rosemary, tarragon, thyme, and oregano should be added at the end of cooking.
Make gravy without pan drippings
There are times when no pan drippings are available, and you want a quick and easy sauce to accompany a meal. A simple solution is to use butter, flour, and a stock or broth to thicken the gravy. Depending on the dish you’re planning to serve, any stock or broth can be used, such as vegetable, fish, chicken, and beef.
I use unsalted liquids to control the gravy’s salt levels. Like gravy with pan drippings, gradually whisk the cool liquid into the hot roux over medium-high heat until it thickens. To add more depth to the sauce, chopped garlic, shallots, reduced wine, a splash of balsamic vinegar, or soy sauce are tasty additions. These can be incorporated before adding the roux for more aromatic flavors.
Storing and reheating
A flour-based gravy stores well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. This works great when you are wanting to make it ahead of time for a big feast like Thanksgiving. It reheats well on the stovetop. You can freeze the gravy for 4 months, defrost and reheat it before serving.
When making a gluten-free gravy using cornstarch or arrowroot powder, they do not reheat as well. Reheating and stirring causes the thickening properties to break down and get thinner. It’s best to make these types of gravies the day you plan to serve.
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Frequently asked questions
It’s used to thicken and add body and richness to the sauce. It’s used in equal amounts of flour to make a roux, a very effective thickening agent for gravies.
When making homemade gravy, collect the drippings. Separate the fat from the juices. This way, you can control how much is added to make the sauce. This adds richness and a lot of flavor to the sauce.
Flour gives the richest consistency in gravy. It reheats well, so you can make it in advance. A cornstarch slurry is translucent, giving a shiner appearance. However, it does not reheat well due to the starches breaking down and losing texture with additional heat and stirring.
The key to a smooth gravy
Make sure to add room temperature or cool stock to the hot roux. As you gradually add in the stock, vigorously whisk to keep the starches separate as they cook. Not stirring constantly creates a lumpy gravy. The sauce will thicken once the liquid reaches a boil. This takes about 3 to 5 minutes.
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How to Make Gravy (2-Ways!)
Gravy with Pan Drippings
- 2 tablespoons reserved fat, from pan drippings
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup roasting juices, from pan drippings
- kosher salt, as needed for seasoning
- black pepper, as needed for seasoning
Gravy with No Pan Drippings
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsalted stock or broth, chicken, beef or vegetable
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Method #1) Gravy with Pan Drippings
- Collect the Drippings – After cooking the roast, scrape the browned bits (fond) stuck to the bottom of the pan, using the juices to help dissolve the drippings. A small amount of water and heating the pan over low heat can help loosen the fond.
- Separate the Fat – Pour the juices, fond, and fat drippings into a measuring cup or fat separator. Allow to sit and separate until the fat rises to the surface. Refrigerate or freeze to speed up the process. Reserve the fat. Measure out 1 cup of the juices. Use additional store-bought stock or broth if needed to reach the required volume.
- Make a Roux – In a medium saute pan, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved fat, and 2 tablespoons of flour. Heat the pan over medium heat, whisk, and cook for 1 minute.
- Thicken the Consistency – Turn the heat to medium-high. Gradually whisk the juices into the pan, cooking for about 3 to 5 minutes or longer for a thicker consistency. For a thinner sauce, add more juice or stock.
- To Finish – Season gravy with salt and pepper to taste. For a smoother consistency, strain the sauce. Serve hot, and rewarm if needed.
Method #2) Gravy with No Pan Drippings
- Make a Roux – In a medium saute pan, melt the butter. Add flour to the pan and whisk to combine, cook until the roux turns blonde in color, cook for about 1 minute.
- Thicken the Consistency – Turn the heat up to medium-high. Gradually whisk the chicken stock into the pan, whisking continuously to break up any clumps of flour. Cook until the gravy is smooth and thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. For a thinner sauce, add more stock.
- To Finish – Turn off the heat and whisk in salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. For a smoother consistency, strain the sauce. Serve hot, and rewarm if needed.
- Short Video: Watch this recipe come together.
- Recipe Yield: 1 cup (240 ml)
- Serving Size: 1 tablespoon (15 ml)
- Thinner Gravy: Use 1 tablespoon fat and 1 tablespoon flour for a light consistency. For a medium consistency, use 1 ½ tablespoons fat and 1 ½ tablespoons flour.
- Substituting Cornstarch or Arrowroot Powder: If using cornstarch or arrowroot powder to substitute flour, heat the juices, stock or broth first until boiling, and then whisk in the starch slurry. The drippings and butter are not needed unless a small amount is added for flavor.
- Cornstarch: For every 1 cup of liquid, use 1 of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water to the slurry. Whisk into the hot liquid until thickened, about 30 to 60 seconds.
- Arrowroot Powder: For every 1 cup of liquid, use 4 ½ teaspoons of arrowroot powder combined with 3 tablespoons of water. Whisk into the hot liquid until thickened, about 1 minute.
- For Extra Flavor: Chopped herbs like thyme, rosemary, and sage can be added at the end of cooking.
- Storing: Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- Freezing: Store in a resealable bag or airtight content for up to 4 months. Defrost and reheat.
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11 Comments Leave a comment or review
Judy Caywood says
That looks beautiful and I needed this badly Jessica. Mine always looks too thin. The texture and color on the photos looks perfect. Thank you.
Jessica Gavin says
Thank you for your feedback Judy! How much flour and butter to liquid do you usually use for your gravy?
Judy Caywood says
Well until I had your recipe here I didn’t have a formula. I just tried to recall what my mom use to do which was to add some flour to the drippings in the pan and then when that was smooth looking I began to add water or milk. My milk gravy always turns out nice but I have never had a brown gravy that looked right to me in texture or an appealing color. I was surprised to see you add balsamic vinegar but when I read that it made perfect sense to me. You always help me be a better cook.
Ronald F. Seto says
Hi, I have been cooking a whole turkey every Thanksgiving for about 60 years, using a recipe passed down to me from my father who was a fabulous cook. The turkey has always garnered a lot of praise, so I am reluctant to change the recipe. This year, I want to try something new, since it is getting hard for me to spend so much time in the kitchen, preparing. Your roast turkey breast sounds like the ticket and I want to try it. The only concern I have is the amount of gravy I can get from only a breast ( I plan on cooking two breasts; I have about 12 people over for dinner). My family has other relations to visit for Thanksgiving, but they usually eat early in the day. I always serve dinner around 6:00 PM, so when everyone arrives for dinner, they are already pretty much filled up. I think two breasts will be enough, plus all the other trimmings. I was originally planning to do the breasts in a smoker, but there would not be any drippings for gravy, so it’s back to the oven. I usually add oyster sauce to my gravy for a rich brown color. After Thanksgiving, I will let you know how it turned out. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
Jessica Gavin says
Hi Ronald- I can’t wait to hear how it turns out! I love the idea of adding oyster sauce to the gravy! If there isn’t enough dripping from the gravy, I add some chicken or turkey stock.
jacque hall says
Thanks for the gravy recipe. There never seems to be enough gravy from drippings and a good recipe to add additional gravy is fabulous. BTW, I usually cook a turkey roast because my whole turkey’s always seem dry. However, this year I cooked a 20# unstuffed turkey. I added 1-1/2 cups of fresh savory, oregano, rosemary, thyme, (mixed), and 1 TBS of fresh garlic to the cavities. I slit the skin on the breast side 1″ and inserted 2-3 TBS of butter between skin and meat. Loosely wrapped in foil and baked at 375° for 5 hours. OMG, it was the moistest turkey I have ever had. Thanks for the gravy recipe.
Jessica Gavin says
Wow Jacque, you are a turkey pro! Thank you for sharing your culinary insights 🙂
Why is it important that the liquid added to the roux is room temperature or cool?
Jessica Gavin says
This prevents the starches in the roux from heating too quickly and clumping up. While whisking and gradually allowing the starches to swell, giving a smooth and thickened gravy.
Mariet Eressa Sanchez says
Is the butter and flour really needs to be 1:1 ratio? Can I lessen the butter because my gravy taste so buttery.
Jessica Gavin says
The fat helps to coat the flour so that it doesn’t get lumpy, making a smoother sauce. You can reduce the butter slightly, then strain the gravy if you see lumps.