Rich, brown Turkey Gravy made from the pan drippings is a must-have Thanksgiving side. It’s also incredibly simple to make! Drizzle this homemade gravy over mashed potatoes, stuffing, and of course, turkey.
Perfect, Old-Fashioned Turkey Gravy, Made from Scratch
At holiday meals, there are always those traditional, timeless recipes that people love and look forward to. Gravy is definitely one of them! Nothing says “family feast” like pouring thick, savory homemade gravy over all of those delicious sides (and the turkey, too).
Now, many of us grew up with gravy that came from a packet or a jar, but did you know that making your own is actually really easy? It doesn’t take long, and you don’t need any fancy ingredients to make it – but it brings a nourishing, homespun goodness to your Thanksgiving Turkey. Try it, and you may find yourself inspired to make gravy a lot more often!
What You’ll Need
So just what do you need to make homemade turkey gravy? You might be surprised at how simple this list of ingredients is. This is literally a 5-ingredient recipe!
- Pan Drippings: Don’t discard the juices and fat from your roasting pan! Those are the base for the best gravy ever.
- Flour: All-purpose, not self-rising. This is for thickening the gravy.
- Herbs: Herbs are optional, but some minced fresh thyme or parsley adds a nice freshness and a bit of complexity.
- Salt and Pepper
Is Turkey Gravy Better with Flour or Cornstarch?
Some of you may be more familiar with cornstarch than flour for thickening sauces, but in this recipe, flour is definitely the way to go. You’ll be making a roux, and the flour will cook properly and color the roux correctly.
For a gluten-free roux, you can use cornstarch, but you do not need to cook it like you do flour. Instead, you will need to get the pan drippings into a sauce pan. Add the herbs and seasonings and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl create a cornstarch slurry, whisk to combine 3 tablespoons of cornstarch into 3 tablespoons of cold water. Then pour the cornstarch slurry into the sauce pan, whisking constantly. Cook for a few minutes, until thickened. If you want your gravy even thicker, repeat process again by making and adding another cornstarch slurry.
How to Make Homemade Turkey Gravy
This easy gravy-making process can be done once your turkey is out of the roasting pan. It only takes about 20 minutes.
- Measure the Pan Drippings. After you take the turkey out of your roasting pan, spoon or ladle the pan drippings into a large bowl or measuring cup. You can strain the drippings through a fine mesh sieve if you like, and discard any solid pieces. Measure to make sure you have enough. If not, you can supplement with chicken broth.
- Heat the Fat in a Saucepan. Let the fat rise to the top of the pan drippings, and then spoon off 1/2 cup of the fat and heat it in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Make the Roux. Whisk the flour into the hot fat, and cook this mixture for about 5 minutes, whisking constantly. It will thicken and turn golden brown. Be careful not to let it burn. If it burns, start over again!
- Add the Drippings to the Roux. Once the roux reaches that light brown color, gradually pour in the rest of the pan drippings. Cook, whisking constantly, for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until the gravy is thickened.
- Season and Serve. Season the gravy to taste with salt and pepper, and add the herbs if you’re using them. Serve immediately.
Why Is Turkey Gravy Brown?
The color of the gravy depends on the roux, which should be cooked to the golden-brown stage or darker for good color and flavor.
If you want a darker gravy, cook your roux until it is a darker brown color. (Note: A darker roux has less thickening power, so if you plan to make a darker roux, you may want to add a tablespoon of extra flour.)
As you can see, making this recipe is very easy – and it’s even easier with these helpful tips. Keep reading for my best advice on making perfect turkey gravy.
- Pan Drippings: If you find that you don’t have enough pan drippings, you can add chicken broth (or turkey broth if you have it) to the pan drippings to reach 2 1/2 cups total.
- Fat: If you happen to not have 1/2 cup worth of fat from your pan drippings, you can add butter to reach the full 1/2 cup. It’s important to use fat of some kind to give the gravy a rich flavor and texture. Without fat, your gravy will taste like it is missing something.
- Double the Recipe: These substitutions also help if you need to double the recipe. If you want more gravy, but don’t have more pan drippings, just use additional chicken broth, turkey broth, and/or butter.
If you make a saucepan of gravy and it’s not quite right, can you save it? Luckily, the answer is almost always “yes.” Here are some quick fixes to common gravy emergencies:
- Too Thick? Whisk in an extra splash or two of pan drippings, broth, or even water.
- Too Thin? Mix equal parts flour and soft butter to make a soft paste, and whisk this into boiling gravy. I would start with 1 tablespoon of butter to 1 tablespoon of flour and see if it thickens it enough. Add more if needed.
- Lumpy? This should not happen if you whisk your flour and fat together well while making the roux and slowly add the remaining turkey drippings. But if it does, you can strain the gravy through a fine-mesh sieve to remove lumps. Easy!
- Bland? The best fix for bland gravy is often as simple as adding a little more salt. You can also add your favorite seasonings, like onion powder and additional herbs, for a little flavor boost. I recommend starting small and adding a little more as needed, so you don’t accidentally end up with over-seasoned gravy.
What to Serve with Turkey Gravy
Honestly, this turkey gravy is so simple and tasty, it’s great with everything. It’s definitely a Thanksgiving classic, so try serving it with other great Thanksgiving recipes like these:
- Mashed Potatoes: Garlic Mashed Potatoes are creamy, buttery, and addictively delicious – perfect for drenching in gravy. Or, try my Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes, perfect for the holidays!
- Stuffing: Some call it stuffing, some call it dressing, but no one can deny that it’s amazing on its own or with a drizzle if turkey gravy. This recipe for The Best Homemade Stuffing is sure to become a family favorite. I also love this Easy Sausage Stuffing recipe!
- Turkey: What could be better than juicy, tender turkey with homemade gravy? Check out this tutorial on How to Cook the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey for all the details on making a crispy-skinned, flavorful, and juicy main course.
- Rolls: And of course, you have to have some soft rolls to soak up all that gravy! I highly recommend trying these copycat Texas Roadhouse Rolls!
Storing and Reheating
Leftover gravy can be stored in your fridge for 3 – 4 days. Make sure to cover it tightly or transfer it to an airtight container. To reheat, microwave the gravy or heat it in a saucepan over low heat.
Can I Freeze This?
Sure! Just pack the cooled turkey gravy into a freezer bag or airtight freezer container, and mark it with the date. Freeze for up to four months, and thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
- 2 1/2 cups pan drippings from turkey
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or parsley, optional
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- After moving turkey from roasting pan to a cutting/serving board for carving, scoop up all of the pan drippings from your roasting pan into a large bowl. Strain turkey drippings (if desired) through a fine mesh sieve and discard any solid pieces. Hopefully you have two cups worth of pan drippings, if not you can add some chicken broth to reach two cups total.
- Let the fat rise to the top of the pan drippings in the bowl, then spoon off 1/2 cup of the fat and place it in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour into the pan, whisking constantly, and cook for about 5 minutes, until thickened and golden brown. (With these steps you are making a roux and cooking the flour to thicken your gravy.)
- Once you reach that light brown color, gradually add the remaining pan drippings. Allow the gravy to cook, whisking constantly, for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until thickened.
- Stir in optional herbs and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.
- Leftover gravy can be stored in your fridge for 3 - 4 days. Make sure to cover it tightly or transfer it to an airtight container.
- To reheat, microwave the gravy or heat it in a saucepan over low heat.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 55Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 51mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 5g
More Easy Thanksgiving Recipes
- Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
- The Best Green Bean Casserole
- Instant Pot Mashed Maple Sweet Potatoes
- Apple Cranberry Sauce
- Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows
- Baked Ham with Orange Ham Glaze
- Classic Candied Carrots
- Easy Green Bean Casserole
- Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping
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