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How to make gravy like a pro

This is the most comprehensive guide to making gravy.

A gravy boat filled with gravy, shot from above Credit: Getty Images / Tasha_Lyubina

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Though a perfectly browned turkey will always remain the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table, fabulous sides—gravy included—carry just as much weight. If you’re hosting for the first time this year, you may want to learn how to make gravy from scratch. Whether you’re looking for a traditional, vegetarian, vegan, or keto-friendly recipe, this guide will help you successfully whip up the sauce with ease.

What you need to know before making gravy

A hand holding a fat separator over a measuring cup, as the fat drips in.
Credit: Reviewed / Lindsay D. Mattison

A fat separator can save you time if you're using pan drippings for your gravy.

One of the most common ways to make a flavorful gravy is to use the drippings that accumulate in the roasting pan during cooking. This, however, requires quick work because you only have about 20 to 30 minutes to make the gravy while the turkey is resting. That also happens to be the exact same time you need to get all the side dishes served up and gather everyone around the table.

Save yourself time and energy and get a fat separator (our favorite has a built-in strainer) to collect the roasting juices and separate the fat without waiting for it to solidify.

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If you're making gravy head of time, with dripping from a roast chicken or other bird, you can cover a measuring cup with a piece of cheesecloth (as a strainer to catch the aromatics) and carefully pour the drippings into the cup. Let it sit in the fridge for an hour so the fat floats to the top before solidifying in the cool temperature. From there, you can use a spoon to scrape the fat off the top and use the liquid beneath as the base for your gravy.

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How to make gravy from scratch

A wooden spoon mixing a roux in a pot.
Credit: Getty Images / Jan Mach

Making gravy from scratch requires a base mixture of flour and butter, called a roux.

Tools:

Ingredients:

Time Needed

20 minutes

Difficulty

Moderate

Step-by-Step:

Step 1: Collect the turkey drippings

If you’re cooking a turkey, you should consider collecting the turkey dripping to flavor your gravy. Use a roasting pan with a rack for easy access to the dripping. Pour the drippings into a fat separator.

If you aren’t roasting your turkey (maybe you’re smoking or frying) skip this step as these methods won’t produce drippings.

Step 2: Melt the butter and add the flour

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium to low heat. If you’re using olive oil, you’ll want to watch the heat very closely because of the oil’s low smoke point. Gently whisk in the sifted flour when butter (or olive oil) starts to form little bubbles. Keep whisking until everything is well combined.

Step 3: Add the drippings (or stock)

Slowly add the reserved drippings (or stock) to the mixture. Whisk to make sure all ingredients are well-combined. Turn heat to low and let simmer for about five minutes till the mixture thickens.

Step 4: Season the gravy

Add the dried herbs of your choice while the gravy simmers and cook for another five minutes. Add more stock as needed to thin out your gravy. Season with salt and black pepper to your liking. If you want to make your gravy extra glossy, whisk in some potato starch at the end.

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