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.
You will love this Homemade Gravy Recipe
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 (although I do have bacon gravy). 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.
What is Gravy made of?
- unsalted butter – this serves as the fat base of the gravy, contributing to a luscious mouthfeel and silky texture.
- all-purpose flour – this is the thickening agent that binds the liquid components together.
- broth or stock – this is the flavorful foundation of the gravy, and you can choose chicken, turkey, beef, vegetable or any other type of broth or stock.
- lemon juice – this adds a touch of brightness and subtle tang that cuts through the richness of the gravy to balance its flavor.
- soy sauce – provides an umami kick that really just intensifies the savory notes of the broth.
- kosher salt – even with the soy sauce, a little bit of salt is essential for seasoning to enhance the taste.
- black pepper – adds a hint of warmth and gentle spiciness.
- poultry seasoning – this blend of spices typically includes sage, thyme, marjoram, rosemary and nutmeg and it adds an herbaceous aroma and flavor to your gravy.
How to make Gravy from Scratch
- Melt the butter in a skillet and then add the flour. Cook until the mixture turns golden brown, while whisking it constantly.
- Slowly whisk in the broth, and then heat the mixture to boiling. Once it’s boiling, cook a minute or two until the gravy has thickened.
- Adjust the consistency of the gravy by adding extra broth or cooking a bit longer, if necessary.
- Reduce the heat and then add the lemon juice, soy sauce, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Taste your gravy and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
Best Gravy Recipe variations
Now that you’ve got classic homemade gravy down, let’s explore some popular variations that cater to different dietary needs and preferences:
- GLUTEN FREE GRAVY – To make this gravy gluten free, you can use rice flour instead of all-purpose flour. Adjust the consistency as necessary as outlined in Step 3 in the recipe card. You will also need to be sure that you choose a gluten free soy sauce (or tamari) and poultry seasoning.
- CREAMY GRAVY WITH MILK – If you’re looking to create a creamier gravy, consider replacing a portion of the broth of stock with milk or cream.
Key tips for making Homemade Gravy
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 recipe.
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. Honestly, any of them are delicious, even drizzled over blue cheese mashed potatoes.
For the gravy recipe 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 separately.
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 recipe.
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.
All about the 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 recipe 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 intuition 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!
How to season Homemade Gravy from Scratch
More often than not, when home cooks complain that their Thanksgiving gravy from scratch (or even their Thanksgiving rice or chorizo stuffing) 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 for balsamic green beans and balsamic roasted carrots.
How to store this Gravy Recipe
Yes! Just like my sweet dumpling squash soup, 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.
Tips for reheating this Easy Gravy Recipe
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. Make your Thanksgiving Rice Krispies treats in advance too!
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. It reheats perfectly to drizzle over mashed potatoes cakes after Thanksgiving, too!
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- 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.
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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.