Easy Homemade Gravy from Scratch
Every home cook should know how to make easy homemade gravy from scratch, and this recipe is tried and true. Make with meat or poultry drippings, or just use broth.
I’ve been pretty bored lately. Almost like I’ve been mostly at home for the past 20 months or something? Anyway, I’ve started going back and re-watching some of the old seasons of Top Chef.
One episode that I watched recently had a challenge where they had to prepare classical French recipes, which instantly transported me back to my culinary school days.
One recipe they needed to prepare was veloute, which is really just a fancy French word for gravy. This got me thinking – I don’t have a classic gravy recipe on this blog yet! What? Well, that is being corrected right now.
Knowing how to make an easy homemade gravy using a roux of flour and butter plus broth is one of the most versatile kitchen skills that you can master, and I’m sharing my technique for how to make gravy from scratch today.
How to make gravy from scratch:
Making gravy from scratch is a three part process. First, you’ll be making a roux from flour and butter. Then, you’ll be adding broth to the roux. The third and final part (and probably the most important!) is adjusting the texture and seasonings of this easy homemade gravy.
Let’s get into how to make gravy from scratch, step by step.
You can make gravy from broth OR drippings:
Before you begin your gravy from scratch, you’ll want to figure out what your liquid and fat components are going to be.
If I just want to make mashed potatoes and gravy, and I don’t have a chicken or turkey already roasting in the oven, my fat component is going to be unsalted butter, and I’m going to use broth or stock for my liquid.
You can use any variety of broth or stock here – chicken, turkey, beef or vegetable. The type of broth you use obviously determines whether you’ll end up with a chicken gravy, turkey gravy, beef gravy or a vegetable gravy.
For the gravy you see in these photos, I used Swanson 100% Natural Chicken Cooking Stock.
Now, if you have a bird or beef roast in the oven, it’d be a shame to waste those drippings! A fat separator isn’t a kitchen tool I use a TON, but I do think it’s handy to have one if you like to make homemade gravy.
A fat separator allows you to, well, separate the fat from the non-fatty drippings of whatever meat you’re roasting, and pour them out of the container seperately.
The reason that this is so handy is because you can use the fatty drippings in place of some or all of the butter for your roux, and the non-fatty drippings in place of some or all of the broth! Pretty cool, right?
You just want to make sure that you end up with the same overall amount of fat and liquid as the recipe calls for to make this easy homemade gravy.
The recipe below calls for 4 tablespoons butter. But, if you end up with 2 tablespoons drippings fat, and you want to use that in your roux, you’ll only need 2 tablespoons butter to end up with the same overall amount of fat.
Same idea with the amount of liquid. Supplement the non-fatty drippings liquid with broth until you get to 2 cups total.
How to make roux for gravy from scratch:
A roux is simply a cooked mixture of flour and fat, that acts as both a thickener and flavoring agent for sauces and stews. The four colors of roux go from white to blond to brown to dark, depending on how long you cook the roux.
Making a roux is as simple as combining equal parts butter and flour in a skillet and placing it over medium heat. Whisk it constantly while it cooks until you reach your desired color of roux.
While a traditional French veloute uses a white roux, I like to use a blond roux when I make gravy from scratch. As you can see in the photo below, the color of my roux is essentially the same color as the chicken stock I used.
What’s interesting about roux is that the darker it is, the less thickening power it has (although the darker it is, the MORE flavor it has!).
Taste of Home has an article about how to make a roux that includes visuals of what each color of roux looks like, which I think is very helpful if you’re new to making roux.
So, traditional veloute using a white roux is quite a thick sauce. But, this easy homemade gravy recipe using a blond roux is a bit thinner and more pourable (because again, the darker a roux is, the less effective it is at thickening), which is the way I like my gravy.
Adjust the texture of this easy homemade gravy, and THEN adjust the seasonings.
While the ratio of fat to flour to liquid in the recipe below is a starting point that should yield a good gravy from scratch each time, the truth is that every single time you make gravy, the roux is going to thicken slightly differently.
The thickening properties of the roux can depend on color, as discussed above, or even something like the freshness of your flour! And of course, the temperature of your stove and the size of your pan matters, too.
Whatever the reason, I prefer to adjust the consistency of my homemade chicken gravy before worrying about seasoning.
The great thing about homemade gravy is that it is SO easy to adjust the consistency. Use the recipe below as a starting point, but then use your cook’s intiuition to adjust it to your liking.
Gravy a little too thick? No worries – just add a dash of broth (or even water) a little bit at at time, while whisking, until the gravy is thinned out enough for your liking.
Gravy too thin? Not a big deal. Just simmer over medium heat until it reduces down and thickens a little. Shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. And if you over-reduce and it thickens too much? You guessed it – add broth!
The secret to the best homemade chicken gravy from scratch is the seasonings. And it’s more than just salt and pepper!
More often than not, when home cooks complain that their Thanksgiving gravy from scratch turns out bland, they aren’t seasoning at all, or only seasoning with salt and pepper.
Salt and pepper is a great starting point! But for a well-rounded flavor, I also like to add poultry seasoning, lemon juice and soy sauce.
Poultry seasoning blend is primarily made with dried sage and thyme, and also can include things like nutmeg, rosemary, marjoram and black pepper.
I keep poultry seasoning on hand for my old fashioned Thanksgiving dressing recipe, but if it’s not something that you commonly purchase, a combination of dried sage and thyme is just fine.
By nature, homemade chicken gravy is a rich, heavy sauce (all that butter!). Adding an acid like lemon juice cuts through some of that fat on your tongue and brightens up the overall flavor. The end result won’t taste lemony like lemon creme brulee or anything, just vibrant and delicious.
And finally – my absolute FAVORITE seasoning for easy homemade gravy is soy sauce! It certainly isn’t a classical French technique, but try it once and you’ll be hooked. It’s not just for breakfast fried rice and miso ginger dressing!
Not only does soy sauce add saltiness, it adds savory umami (the Japanese word that essentially means “essence of deliciousness”). Soy sauce also adds rich brown color to the gravy. Soy sauce is also my secret ingredient in the sauce for my baked ham with pineapple sauce, and my homemade balsamic glaze!
Can you freeze homemade gravy?
Yes! This homemade chicken gravy freezes well for months if kept in a sealed container. Thaw the gravy overnight before rewarming over medium-low heat on the stove.
One thing to beware of is that when you’re re-warming frozen gravy, you WILL need to thin it out. Somehow, reheated frozen gravy always seems to be about twice as thick as when it went into the freezer.
This actually makes it IDEAL to make ahead for Thanksgiving (even a month or so before the holiday) and reheat on the big day.
Since you’ll need to thin the gravy out anyway, you can use the pan drippings from your turkey as the thinning liquid! You’ll end up with a thinned out gravy with LOTS of extra flavor from the drippings. Win win!
If you don’t have drippings, simply whisk in broth or water to thin the gravy out when reheating it.
More foolproof recipes for your holiday meal:
I’ve been cooking holiday meals for my family for a long time, and these are some of my favorite tried-and-true recipes.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups broth or stock, plus additional if needed
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook 4 to 6 minutes or until mixture becomes light to medium golden brown, whisking constantly.
- While whisking, slowly add broth until all broth is incorporated. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat and cook 1 to 2 minutes or until gravy is thickened.
- If gravy is too thick, whisk in a bit more broth or water. If gravy is too thin, cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until desired consistency is achieved.
- Reduce heat to low. Add lemon juice, soy sauce, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning and whisk until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Foxes Love Lemons, LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and links to Amazon.com. There is no additional cost to you.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4.5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 197Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 489mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 0gSugar: 3gProtein: 6g
Per 1/2 cup gravy.