Learn how to make easy turkey gravy from scratch! Once you taste this delicious, creamy gravy, you will never go back to the packet again. Using only 3 ingredients, this gravy can be made ahead of time with turkey drippings, broth, or stock and then kept warm in a slow cooker.
Plus, it’s a great tool to spruce up holiday leftovers the next day.
If you are adding this to your Thanksgiving menu, don’t forget about these classics:
- Mashed Potatoes (IP Method here!)
- Cranberry Sauce
- Homemade Cornbread Dressing
- Oven Roasted Turkey
- More Holiday Recipes, Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Best Turkey Gravy
Making turkey gravy from drippings has always been an intimidating feat and a stressful one at that. There’s never been an easy way to make gravy right before you serve a big holiday feast.
You remember: The turkey is finally ready to serve. There’s hungry vultures circling the kitchen counter, an electric cutting knife spraying turkey debris, and there you are attempting to scoop boiling-hot turkey drippings from a roasting pan into a sauce pan to make the gravy. Don’t forget not to burn the flour!
Gone are those days! This recipe cancels all of the chaos out of making gravy right before dinner. Instead, you can make this ahead of time and keep it warm on the stove or in a slow cooker. There’s no more panicky gravy making or worrying about enough drippings – it’s a no-stress gravy recipe!
What is gravy made of?
There are many types of gravy: chicken gravy, turkey gravy, brown and white gravy.
For the most part, all gravies consist of a liquid, fat, and a thickener. Typically, the liquid and fat come from the juices the meat releases during cooking, which pools in the bottom of a roasting pan.
The fat comes from the top layer of the drippings, or butter if you aren’t using drippings. This layer will begin to form as the drippings cool.
The trouble with drippings is that 1) you have to wait until the meat is cooked before making the gravy and 2) there’s a chance there aren’t enough drippings to make the gravy.
The liquid is almost always the drippings that are underneath the fat. Broth or stock is often substituted when there aren’t enough drippings. In some gravies, milk is also used.
Thickeners for gravy are flour and cornstarch. Making gravy with flour can be tricky as flour burns very easily, which can ruin your entire batch of homemade gravy. Therefore, many people use cornstarch instead.
How to Make Homemade Turkey Gravy
To make the best homemade gravy, keep your kitchen running efficiently with these product recommendations:
Roasting Pan Baster Saucepan Whisk Slow cooker(if you are making this ahead of time!) Gravy boat
This is a basic gravy recipe. Depending on the way the turkey was seasoned, you may need to add additional herbs and seasonings to the gravy.
Herbs that complement gravy well:
Preparing this recipe requires a few basic steps:
- Warm the drippings or broth.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan.
- Make the roux for the gravy.
- Cook until thickened.
- Serve or keep warm.
Roux for gravy
A roux is a simple mix of flour and butter that results in a thick paste cooked to a variety of shades depending on the use of the roux.
The secret to not burning a roux is to maintain enough heat to melt the butter and brown the flour without scorching them both.
Using an induction stovetop, I recommend medium-low to medium heat.
- Melt the butter and continue cooking just until it begins to froth and foam, then add in the flour a little at a time.
- Continue whisking until the ingredients are well-combined, then add more flour.
- Continue the process until the butter and flour are well incorporated and the roux has reached the desired color.
For turkey gravy, a light brown color, or blonde roux, is just right!
After the roux is complete, the liquid will be added to the pot and whisked until the desired thickness is reached.
Gravy from turkey drippings
Making gravy from turkey drippings is the truly authentic way for delicious gravy. The herbs and seasonings are already incorporated into the liquid released from the bird so there is little more to do!
The steps are mostly the same: Warm the drippings (if not already), make the roux, combine, and cook until the desired consistency is reached.
Gravy without turkey drippings
If you are in a pinch, you can still make great turkey gravy with broth or stock instead of the drippings. In fact, learn how to make bone broth and store in your freezer for soup and holiday season.
As mentioned before, the trouble with making gravy from turkey drippings is that your bird may not release enough drippings to get the job done and you have to wait until the last minute to make the gravy.
However, the process to make the gravy with stock or broth is the same as the drippings:
- Warm the stock or broth in a saucepan.
- Make the roux in a separate saucepan.
- Combine the warm liquid with the flour and butter mixture.
- Whisk and continue cooking until the mixture is thickened to your liking.
Make ahead turkey gravy
Whether you are making gravy with or without the drippings, it’s easy to make this ahead of time and avoid the last minute scramble to carve the turkey, make the gravy, and get everything on the table while it’s hot…all while everyone’s watching!
Freezing Turkey Gravy. Flour-based turkey gravy (like this recipe) can be made ahead of time and frozen for up to four months. Freeze in zip top bags, mason jars, or ice cube trays.
A few days before the holiday, remove from the freezer and defrost in the refrigerator. Warm on the stove top and serve.
Keeping Gravy Warm. After the gravy has reached the desired consistency on the stove, carefully transfer to a slow cooker and place on the “keep warm” or “low” setting for up to several hours. Stir occasionally to prevent separating.
When it’s time to serve, ladle into a gravy boat and place on the table.
Easy Turkey Gravy (with Drippings or Stock!)
- ¼ cup butter or fat from off the top of the drippings
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ cups drippings OR broth (see note)
- Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Additional Seasonings (optional)
- Skim off 1/4 cup of fat from the top of the drippings and set aside. Discard the remaining fat.
- Place the remaining drippings on low heat in a saucepan on the stove to keep warm. If necessary, add additional broth to the drippings to make 2 1/2 cups of liquid.
- In a separate saucepan, heat the fat over medium heat. Slowly add the flour one tablespoon at a time while whisking constantly until the flour and fat is well incorporated. [mv_schema_meta name=”Make a roux”]
- Gradually add the warm drippings, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Once the liquid has been added, continue simmering until the gravy reaches desired thickness, about 7-10 minutes. Whisk frequently.
- Season as desired.
- In a large saucepan, warm the broth or stock on medium-low heat.
- In a separate saucepan, melt 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat. Slowly add the flour one tablespoon at a time while whisking constantly until the flour and fat is well incorporated.
- Gradually add the warm broth or stock, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Once the liquid has been added, continue simmering until the gravy reaches desired thickness, about 7-10 minutes. Whisk frequently.
- Season as desired.
Make Ahead Tips:
- Make up to 3 days ahead of time (without drippings) and store in the fridge. Warm before serving.
- Freezing Turkey Gravy. Flour-based turkey gravy (like this recipe) can be made ahead of time and frozen for up to four months. Freeze in zip top bags, mason jars, or ice cube trays. Defrost in the refrigerator. Warm on the stove top and serve.
What to serve with gravy:If you are making a full Thanksgiving Dinner, make sure you add these other holiday recipes to your menu. Mashed Potatoes (IP Method here!)
Homemade Cornbread Dressing
Oven Roasted Turkey
More Holiday Recipes, Thanksgiving Side Dishes Recommended tools used in this recipe: