How to Make Gravy
How to Make Gravy: An easy gravy recipe that comes out perfect every time! Lots of rich flavor, accented with a lovely blend of seasonings.
After posting that incredible make-ahead mashed potatoes recipe last week, the only logical follow-up had to be my best gravy recipe! Right?
I mean what goes better with mashed potatoes than homemade gravy? Plus it’s just a week before the Thanksgiving holiday, and I really wanted you to know how to make amazing homemade gravy in plenty of time for your big feast.
Real talk: I have often struggled with gravy in the past. Getting that balance of seasonings just right, and making sure it’s the perfect consistency (not too thick, not too thin), is often a real juggling act. Adding a little more of this, then it turns out to be too much so I have to figure out how to balance it out… It can be really tricky and if you’re making it on Thanksgiving day, while letting your turkey rest and trying to get all the sides ready too, it can really make you feel stressed.
So I created this recipe for myself just as much as for you. I took my time developing it, making sure all the seasonings were just right, so that in the future we can all just pull it out and follow along. Completely foolproof!
I think you’ll love it because it’s easy to make, works for any kind of roasted meat, and comes out smooth and lump-free. It can be made ahead or while the roast rests (using pan drippings). And it’s got a rich, meaty flavor with all the most delicious herbs and seasonings in perfect harmony.
So here’s to never struggling with homemade gravy again!
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE GRAVY
To make this gravy recipe, you’ll first need to start with a pan full of drippings. There’s more than one way to do this. For what you see in the video below, I roasted a bird first. But if you don’t want to do that, you can just saute the giblets. This is a great trick for making it ahead of time!
The most important thing is just to have some flavorful bits on the bottom of the pan, along with a little bit of rendered fat.
So, if you’re starting with a roast, remove it from the pan and set it on a board to rest. Then pour off the pan drippings into a fat separator. If you don’t have one, you can buy one here: fat separator.
Then pop your pan onto the stove, over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of fat from the drippings, plus a tablespoon of butter. The butter will brown and add even more rich flavor to the gravy.
Once the butter has melted, bubbled, and browned, sprinkle in the flour. This is called making a “roux.” This roux will thicken the gravy.
Cook the roux until it is a nice brown color.
Are you noticing a theme here? Brown = flavor.
Once your roux is a deep nut-brown color, deglaze the pan with white wine. The alcohol in the wine will cook right out, leaving just the flavor. Wine also helps to pull up any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. The browned bits are called “fond,” and there’s a ton of great flavor in them!
Whisk the wine into the roux vigorously, making sure the mixture is perfectly smooth and lump-free.
Now it’s time to add the pan juices.
If you started with giblets, you may not have a lot of pan juices. That’s perfectly ok! Just use additional stock. You’ll want about 2 cups of liquid (in addition to the wine), so however you get there is fine. If you have 2 whole cups of juices from your roast, use that. If you’re a little shy, make up the difference with stock.
Whisk the liquids in slowly, making sure to work out any lumps.
Then add the seasonings. A sprig of fresh sage, some onion powder, and a few pinches of poultry seasoning… This is the combination of herbs and spices I especially love for making turkey gravy or chicken gravy.
If you’re making gravy for beef, pork, or lamb, you might want to switch up the herbs and use rosemary, garlic, thyme, or maybe even add a little squirt of tomato paste or dijon mustard. Whatever is right for your palate!
Season the gravy with salt and pepper, then allow it to come up to a simmer.
The roux does not reach its full thickening power until the mixture begins to simmer, so if you’re worried it’s too thin, make sure it’s simmering before you make your final judgement. And keep in mind that gravy does become quite a bit thicker as it cools.
WHAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANY PAN DRIPPINGS?
If you want to make your gravy ahead of time, it’s no problem at all.
If you’re serving it with any kind of whole roasted bird, that will usually come with the giblets tucked inside the cavity. Just saute those up, nice and brown, to get some flavorful fond on the bottom of your pan. Then use additional butter and stock to make up for the lack of pan drippings.
If you’re making a beef, pork, or lamb roast, sear the meat first to render some of the fat and create those tasty browned bits. Then (again) use additional butter and stock to make up for the missing fat and juices.
WHAT KIND OF MEAT CAN YOU USE?
This simple recipe can be used for just about any kind of meat, such as:
These are just a few of the possibilities!
For what you see here, I used poultry for the pan drippings as well as for the stock. If you’re making red meat, use beef stock.
Gravy can be notoriously tricky to make. I’m outlining some of the most common pitfalls, how to avoid them, and what to do about them, below.
NOT THICK ENOUGH
If you’re worried your gravy isn’t thick enough, first make sure you’ve allowed it to come up to a simmer. Roux does not reach its full thickening power until things are simmering, so it needs to hit that temperature before it starts to tighten up.
If it’s simmering and you still don’t feel like it’s thick enough, mix a tablespoon of fat (pan drippings, butter, or oil) with a tablespoon of flour until a smooth paste forms. Then whisk in a little of this mixture at a time until you get the thickness you prefer.
If you accidentally overdo it and your gravy is too thick and gloopy, whisk in additional stock or water to thin it back out.
If you don’t whisk your flour and liquids carefully and slowly into the roux, you could end up with lumps. So the best path to lump-free gravy is to whisk really well from the very beginning.
But sometimes things get away from us and it’s too late. I’ve had success with using a blender to work the lumps out, but be aware that this can also incorporate a lot of air into the gravy, making it paler in color as well as thicker.
Another option would be to strain the lumps out with a fine-mesh sieve.
This has been my number one failure in the past! I often get overzealous with the seasoning and then I have to figure out how to bring it back into balance.
I’ve found that adding more stock or water can help a lot, but that tends to make the gravy thinner and then you have to work to thicken it back up again.
The best solution I have found is to add a little something sweet, to balance out the flavors. My favorite addition is maple syrup because it really compliments all the other fall flavors. Add just a few drops at a time, tasting as you go, until you get the flavor you like.
CAN GRAVY BE FROZEN?
Gravy freezes very well and will keep in the freezer for several months. Thaw it in the fridge a day or so before you plan to use it.
You can also keep gravy in the fridge. It will stay good chilled for 3 to 4 days. You’ll notice it becomes very thick and gelatinous when cold. This is perfectly ok! It’s from the natural collagen in the meat juices. Everything will thin back out when reheated.
To reheat it, just place it in a small pot on the stove over low heat. Allow it to warm, whisking every so often to keep it smooth.
A FEW MORE OF MY FAVORITE THANKSGIVING RECIPES:
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How to Make Gravy
- 1 tablespoon (14.79 g) fat from pan drippings , (or substitute with the same amount of butter or oil)
- 1 tablespoon (14.79 g) butter
- 2 tablespoons (29.57 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (60 g) white wine, (or substitute with the same amount of pan juices or stock)
- 1 cup (113 g) pan juices, (or substitute with the same amount of stock)
- 1 cup (235 g) stock, (beef, pork, chicken, or turkey)
- 1 sprig fresh sage
- 3/4 teaspoon (2.46 g) onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.46 g) poultry seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.23 g) kosher salt, (or to taste)
- 1/8 teaspoon (0.62 g) freshly ground black pepper, (or to taste)
- After cooking your roast or searing your meat, remove it from the pan and pour the drippings into a fat separator.
- Place the roasting pan over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan drippings along with the butter, and cook until browned.
- Whisk in the flour and continue to cook until a deep nut-brown color.
- Whisk in the wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom.
- Continue whisking until no lumps remain and the mixture is a mahogany brown color.
- Slowly whisk in the pan juices, then the stock, making sure to whisk out any lumps.
- Whisk in the fresh sage, onion powder, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper.
- Simmer the gravy until thickened.