I’ve probably told you about the first time I made gravy for Matt (who was my boyfriend at the time). It was so thick he had to spread it onto his potatoes with a knife. I’m pretty sure it was flavorless. He still married me a year later.
Thankfully, I’ve improved my gravy-making skills. I think it gets easier with practice. Sometimes I still mess it up. I’ve been known to strain out lumps while distracting my guests by sending them outside to look for the black squirrels we sometimes have on our property. Straining works, and black squirrels are fascinating.
Below you’ll find step-by-step instructions (with pictures!) to make your gravy-making experiences easier.
While this series is called “Getting Ahead for the Holidays,” gravy is actually one part of the meal I save for the last minute. This still isn’t hard though. Here’s why:
- I’ve already made the broth for this gravy a couple of days before the holiday meal when I made the turkey. Therefore, I just have to rewarm some broth and whisk it into gravy (details below).
- I’ve made so many of our other dishes ahead of time that I have plenty of time to make gravy just before serving the meal.
- Turkey Gravy can be made in only about 10 minutes.
Why do I wait until the last minute to make gravy?
Because it tastes best this way. You can make it ahead of time and rewarm it before serving (we do this with leftover gravy, after all). But I prefer to make a fresh batch for a special meal on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Oh Good Gravy
- Turkey broth
- Cornstarch, arrowroot powder, or wheat flour (about 2 Tablespoons for every 2 cups of broth)
- Cold water (about ⅓ cup for each of your 2 Tablespoons of corn starch/arrowroot/flour)
- Sea salt
- Spoon cornstarch (or arrowroot or flour) into a small jar or glass.
- Add water to to the jar and whisk smooth with a fork.
- Pour broth into a medium saucepan. Heat to boiling.
- Slowly pour cornstarch (or arrowroot or flour) and water mixture into boiling broth, whisking while you pour.
- Stir at medium to high heat until gravy thickens.
- Turn down the heat and allow the gravy to simmer for a minute or two.
- Salt to taste and serve your gravy.
You’ll notice my recipe gives the option of using cornstarch, arrowroot powder, or wheat flour to thicken your gravy. Any will work. I prefer cornstarch because it’s easiest. Arrowroot powder works well but can sometimes result in a gooey gravy. Wheat flour works well, but I’d rather avoid it so that people with a gluten or wheat intolerance can still enjoy it.
Trouble Shooting Your Gravy
- If it isn’t thick enough for your liking, simply stir 2 Tablespoons cornstarch/arrowroot/flour into about 3 Tablespoons of water – making a consistency just thinner than paste. Stir it into your gravy while it is hot, whisking until smooth. This should thicken it up as it cooks.
- Lumpy gravy? Whisk like you’ve never whisked before.
- Still lumpy? Strain out the lumps the best you can. Pray your guests like lumpy gravy. Hey, you never know.
Here is a picture tutorial to show you the specifics of making Turkey Gravy:
Step One: Pour broth into a medium saucepan.
Step Two: Spoon cornstarch (or arrowroot or flour) into a small jar or glass.
(Surprise, surprise…I use a jar.)
Step Three: Add cold water to cornstarch/arrowroot/flour and whisk smooth with a fork.
Step Four: Bring broth to a boil.
Step Five: Slowly pour cornstarch (or arrowroot, or flour)/water mixture into boiling broth, stirring while you pour. (I usually use a whisk. On picture taking day, I used a wooden spoon. Either one works, but a whisk usually helps in case lumps want to form.
Step Six: Stir at medium to high heat until mixture thickens.
Turn down the heat and allow the gravy to simmer for a minute or two.
Salt to taste.
What has been your gravy making experience? Do you find it easy? Hard? Lumpy?
Here are the quick links to all the recipes we covered in this series:
- Make-Ahead Turkey
- Stuffing Muffins
- Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
- Oh Good Gravy
- Green Bean Casserole
- How to Make Frozen Pies
- Simple Whipped Sweet Potatoes
- How to make Whipped Cream
- Whole Wheat Stir-and-Pour Dinner Rolls
Simple Meals is here! It’s saving my brain (and many of yours too!). If you haven’t joined yet, now’s the time. Get all the details here!
I think gravy is great and it is funny how many people think it is crazy hard to make….so not! Good gravy…not just a fun saying :)
Cathy B. says
I am definitely going to try this out. I’ve made wonderful gravy before, and I’ve made awful gravy before, so I’m still looking for a reliable and tasty recipe. Hopefully, this one will be the one! Thanks for sharing it.
I am going to make gravy for sure now! Thanks for the great recipe!
I use an immersion blender for those pesky lumps that want to form in the gravy……turns out nice and smooth. I guess I am too uncoordinated with a whisk!
I am going to try this! I haven’t had success with gravy yet. I’m sure its because I didn’t know to mix the flour with water first. Thanks for the info!
Melissa W says
I used to think making gravy was an all day job until y sister showed me how to make it last summer. So easy!!!!
Thank you for these tips. I need to practice more with gravy making. My husband loves it on potatoes.
I make gravy regularly now but I do remember a time when I also didn’t know how to make gravy and ended up with a super thick mess. As a child I remember stirring the gravy often for my mom and I think I had observed the general process. I also think my mom normally used flour for her gravy. Well when I went off to college I was on my own for cooking. One day I had my brother and another friend over for breakfast and decided to make biscuits and gravy and I decided to thicken it with cornstarch. I think I put it like 1/2 a cup and it turned thick SO FAST! I think generally you need quite a bit less cornstarch than you would flour. That was an interesting breakfast. :-)
We were on our honeymoon in a cabin in Colorado when we realized that neither one of us had any idea how to make gravy. The only part we had both helped with was “keep stirring this please” or “more flour please”. We had to call our parents to ask how to start the gravy.
Kimberly W. says
I used to fear making gravy until I found a recipe that works great for me. I didn’t realize how simple it could be!
I forget where I got it from but I melt butter in a saucepan then add flour (about the same amount as butter, usually around 3 TBLS). Then whisk in the broth a little at a time. Then season to my liking. I’ve never had lumpy gravy and can easily adjust the thickness of the gravy by adding more broth if it’s too thick.
*confession* I’ve never made homemade gravy…my husband likes all the crap–I mean gravy– in a jar(and mac/cheese in a box and on and on and on…). I’m gonna try to make it though–I hope my family enjoys it. thx
The first dinner I had at my in-laws house I stepped in and saved the gravy which was getting lumpy. I made lots of points with my in-laws that day. :-)
We always add little chopped bits of turkey and chopped hardboiled egg to our finished gravy. It is really good, although the egg probably sounds weird to most people.
Could you share a stuffing recipe? I’ve never had my stuffing turn out well and would love some help. God bless.
Here’s the recipe I shared earlier in this series that is super easy and yummy! https://www.heavenlyhomemakers.com/easy-make-ahead-stuffing-muffins
Karen H. says
Thank you, Laura. This looks so much better than those gravy bag things they sometimes package inside the turkey.
I’m laughing at the gravy pictures because I’m imagining you cooking+taking pictures is similar to you cooking+talking. I hope it tastes ok! LOL.
Just wanted to let you know I make gravy all the time using brown rice flour so it is gluten free. It seems like the rice flour makes a creamier gravy than wheat flour.
I plan on trying your tips for making turkey ahead this year. Thanks for sharing these great ideas.
Thanks for the recipe. I make your biscuits and gravy often.
I’ve always struggled with making gravy! Thanks for the tutorial!
I love all of these make ahead posts but I never have liked leftover turkey. But I will definitely try some of the others.
#1 thing to remember is that you absolutely MUST either make a slurry (as you describe in this post) or make a roux. Just sprinkling your starch into the hot liquid is the quickest way to get lumps.
I prefer the roux method and have found that 2T fat + 2T starch to every 1 cup of liquid is the perfect ratio. My mom always used the slurry method with great success so it’s just a matter of preference, I guess.
I, too, prefer freshly made gravy!
I was going to mention the roux method also–a great way for making gravy. Especially when the fat has already been taken from the broth. However, if using fresh broth that hasn’t been skimmed, using the roux method makes the gravy quite greasy appearing. It tastes wonderful with all the fats in it, but just doesn’t look too good. In that case the slurry method would be better. My mom also liked the slurry method– only she would take a ladleful of hot broth and add it to a bowl or jar with flour. This way the slurry is already hot and not as likely to make lumps when adding slowly to the rest of the pot. And though my gravy is pretty good–no one could beat my mom’s!
Gravy has always been very challenging for me. I’m puzzled why I can make a good white sauce pretty easily, but gravy – not good.
My dad is the one who always makes the gravy, so it’s useful to see the process broken down, thanks!
I have never made homemade gravy, but this seems pretty simple!
Dorthy M. says
I’m not a big gravy fan but the rest of the family is. Thank you for this.
I am so excited this year to do all of this ahead of time. I could go for some gravy right now. With bread and butter….
Christina Dazey says
Easy! Love it! I would add pepper to mine though. (And knowing me onion powder!). :)
K. Ann Guinn says
Thanks for the useful gravy information!
We have finally “perfected” (as soon as I use this word, we are bound to have gravy humbling), the art of making gravy. We have used flour or cornstarch and mixed it either by shaking it in a small jar with a lid, or using a nice “blender” type container (such as a salad-dressing, blender-type container we have from Tupperware).
One thing I wanted to mention that we have learned (and the recipes will tell you this), is definitely to get rid of most of the grease. We have family members who just add the thickener and water to the pan, without removing grease, and the resulting gravy tastes good, but is less healthy, and gets way too thick as soon as it starts to cool.
Making the broth ahead (or refrigerating the drippings), is the easiest way, as once it thoroughly cools, you can simply scrape/scoop off most of the fat (keeping only the few tablespoons you need for gravy.
My final note: although fresh-made gravy is best that day, we have also frozen gravy and reheated with great success. I’m not sure we could even tell the difference.
Awesome -thanks for the tips!
The first time I made gravy, or attempted to, I spilled the drippings from a 24 lb. turkey all over my kitchen floor. It took me like 9 years to try it again. Now I’m a pro, and I think I got the method from you couple of years ago!
Lump free gravy is over rated! :) And it takes a surprising amount of salt to make a gravy taste good if the turkey hasn’t been pumped with salt water.
I’ve had trouble with gravy in the past, either it getting lumpy or else not thickening at all. I’ll have to try this method!
kim t. says
Personally, i don’t like gravy. (gasp!). but, i don’t like anything. so we don’t often have gravy around here. I notice that cornstarch makes the gravy more transluscent and globby, while flour is thinner and just what I”m used to. funny, I never thought to take our homemade broth and make gravy from that. I always thought we didn’t have enough drippings to make gravy from…so, thanks for that lightbulb moment, haha.
Jennifer Cummings says
I make my gravy in my blendtec. Put water and starch in and blend then add the boiling broth. No lumps easy peasy.
Another excellent tutorial!
Rachel Anna says
I learned how to make gravy from my father who is a great family cook. We like to use an immersion blender when mixing the flour into the water before adding it to the broth, etc. We never have lumps!
My husband always makes the gravy, but there may be a time when I need to do it!
This is going to make the holidays a lot easier.Thank you
We don’t usually do gravy for Thanksgiving, but I make your biscuits and gravy recipe all the time, and it works great!
We love gravy! Thanks for the recipe!