Easy, Turkey Gravy is a low-fuss, no-frills, lower-stress method for delivering fantastic gravy for a crowd on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Plus, how to fix your gravy if it's not quite right!
I'm going to walk you through how to make the perfect turkey gravy. Feel free to jump to the topic you need, or just stick with me and I'll show you all the tips I've learned over the years.
- What ingredients are in turkey gravy?
- How do you thicken gravy?
- Will I have enough turkey juices and drippings?
- How to make turkey gravy
- How do I fix lumpy turkey gravy?
- How to fix gravy that's too thin or thick
- How to fix salty gravy
- My gravy tastes like flour—help!
- My gravy is broken or greasy. What do I do?
- What to do if gravy tastes burnt
- Can I reheat my turkey gravy?
- Easy Turkey Gravy
"Momma, you can't die until you tell me your gravy recipe!"
My mom used to tell a story about my grandmother being deathly ill (many years before she actually passed away). In movie-dramatic form, Momma grabbed her hand and sobbed that grandma couldn't die until she told Momma her gravy recipe.
Even in her awful condition, Grandma laughed.
Although my Easy Turkey Gravy is not based on Grandma's recipe, the story illustrates a point.
To many, gravy is scary.
In fact, I've been told that it's common practice for a guest to show up to Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner bearing a jar of prepared gravy.
And that hosts are delighted.
Making gravy involves some steps and attention, but it's really not that hard. But if you found this post, you're probably asking...
What ingredients are in turkey gravy?
Among the conundrums faced by the aspiring gravy maker are: Giblets or no giblets? Eggs or no eggs? Roux or slurry?? Flour or cornstarch?!?! I have tried just about every iteration of these questions that you can imagine.
First, I am not a fan of giblets. But I do add most the stuff from the giblet packet into a pot of boiling water to make stock.
The turkey neck, onion, celery, dried mushrooms, and herbs also go into the stock.
You can strain out the nasty bits later.
If you like giblet gravy, then by all means reserve and shred the cooked giblets to add to your final gravy.
Second, I realize that many people add hard boiled eggs to their gravy. When I gave it a try, I didn't care for the eggs. (But if you like your turkey gravy with eggs, simply follow my recipe for Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs - Every time! Then slice them up and add to your gravy. Simple!)
How do you thicken gravy?
A flour slurry does the thickening job quite well, but you run the risk of your gravy tasting floury.
Cornstarch slurries yield nicely thickened, silky gravy.
In my opinion, though, the flavor is not as rich as it could be.
To achieve maximum richness and to capture the essence of all things turkey, my go-to gravy begins with a roux.
Will I have enough turkey juices and drippings?
Thanksgiving dinner at the Frank house requires fountains of gravy.
I learned this the hard way from one of Phil’s brothers, who has gained notoriety for the amount of food he can put away. His preference is to eat gravy like soup, with my homemade soft dinner rolls acting as a sponge. (I exaggerate, but only a little.)
For this reason, I buy a few extra turkey legs and thighs and put them in the toaster oven with butter and herbs.
This gives me plenty of extra drippings and juices.
I probably have about half a gallon of gravy by the time it’s all said and done.
How to make turkey gravy
Phase 1: simmering stock and roasting turkey
The nice thing about my easy turkey gravy is that there's not a ton of hands-on work.
Turkey stock simmers in the background, requiring very little attention while turkey and turkey thighs roast.
Things gets a little more intense when you pull the turkey out of the oven.
While the turkey is resting after removing from the oven, you can prepare the pan juices.
Then, about 10 minutes before serving, you'll make the gravy.
Phase 2: degreasing the drippings and making the gravy
It's important to separate the fat from the pan drippings because you'll use it to make the roux for your gravy. This is critical to achieving rich, turkey flavor in your gravy.
Next, it's time to make that roux, add your stock and remaining juices, and simmer your gravy to thicken. Although this part takes only about 10–15 minutes, it requires a lot of whisking and stirring. It's the last thing I do before serving.
To make the roux, you want equal parts fat and flour. I measure out 6 tablespoons of the turkey fat (if I don't have enough, I make up the difference with butter).
Once you add the flour to the fat, it's important to cook the roux for a few minutes.
NOTE: if you omit this step, your gravy will taste "flour-y."
Next, we slowly add in the hot turkey stock, whisking to incorporate into the roux before adding more, until the gravy is a thick liquid.
Now for some gravy troubleshooting tips: there are lots of potential problems that come up with making gravy, but most are easily fixed.
How do I fix lumpy turkey gravy?
I sometimes rush through adding the turkey stock to my roux, which is a sure-fire way to end up with lumpy gravy. This is easily fixed! You can:
- Run the gravy through a strainer, or
- Blend the gravy.
How to fix gravy that's too thin or thick
You have a few options here:
- You can simmer the gravy vigorously to reduce.
- You can also make a cornstarch slurry by mixing cornstarch with an equal amount of cold water (I mixing a tablespoon of each and adding slowly to the simmering gravy: you can mix up more as needed, but I suggest not using more than 2 tbsp).
- I personally like to make more roux in a separate pan, then slowly whisk it into my gravy.
On the other hand, if your gravy is too thick, simply add more turkey stock.
How to fix salty gravy
BEST SOLUTION: make more gravy, but don’t add any seasoning. Mix the two batches. You can also add additional stock or even cream (but you may need to thicken the gravy—see above!).
My gravy tastes like flour—help!
If you cook the roux for a few minutes, you shouldn't have this problem. If you do run into this issue, hold the gravy at a vigorous simmer for 10 additional minutes, stirring to keep the gravy from burning. You also may need to add more stock and thicken (see above!).
My gravy is broken or greasy. What do I do?
The easiest solution is to blend it, which re-emulsifies the gravy. Otherwise, you can incorporate more starch (see thickening solutions above).
What to do if gravy tastes burnt
Unfortunately, this is the worst-case scenario in the gravy world. The usual culprit is burned turkey drippings, and fixing it means starting from scratch.
By the way, this is the other reason for making extra turkey drippings by roasting a couple of turkey thighs with butter and herbs! Even if you don't have enough turkey stock, you'll probably have some fat left. Simply add chicken stock: your gravy should still taste wonderful.
Can I reheat my turkey gravy?
Absolutely! The best way to reheat your gravy is to microwave at 50% power, stirring every couple of minutes until heated through.
This recipe makes enough delicious turkey gravy for a crowd of 12–15.
Sometimes, despite my best efforts, I need to make more gravy, which is another instance when the extra drippings are a lifesaver.
These extra turkey drippings, if you have any and don't need to make more gravy, can be frozen for a couple of months.
See? Gravy really isn't all that scary. You can do this!
Stay safe, my friend. Stay well.
Easy Turkey Gravy
This recipe makes enough turkey gravy for a crowd, with Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner in mind. Refrigerate any leftovers: they reheat just fine in the microwave.
FOR THE STOCK
- Giblets and neck from packet in turkey cavity
- 2 turkey legs
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 2 celery stalks, cleaned and broken into large pieces
- 2 leeks, white part only, cut into large slices and washed
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 3 sprigs parsley
- 2 sprigs sage
- 2 tsp. black peppercorns
- Kosher salt to taste
FOR EXTRA DRIPPINGS
- 4 turkey thighs
- 4 tbsp. butter
- ¼ teaspoon coarse salt (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- several sprigs of fresh herbs, rosemary, sage, thyme
FOR THE GRAVY
- ½ cup white wine (you can omit the wine and use 1 cup of broth instead)
- ½ cup chicken or turkey broth
- 6 cups of hot turkey stock + pan juices to equal 8 cups*
- 6 tbsp. fat from turkey drippings, add butter if you don’t have enough*
- 6 tbsp. all-purpose flour
FOR THE STOCK
- Place all ingredients into a stockpot (I start with 2 large pinches of salt). Add 12 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat. Simmer for ~1 hour, or until reduced almost by half.
- Remove the vegetables and discard. Remove the giblets: reserve if you like them (I don’t) and mince finely.
- Remove the neck and turkey legs and reserve. Pick off the meat, chop finely, and reserve for the gravy (if you like it meaty). Strain the stock through a fine-meshed sieve at least once, discarding any additional solids. To be extra careful and remove any grit, strain the stock through the sieve again—but this time, line it with cheesecloth, paper towels, or coffee filters.
FOR EXTRA DRIPPINGS
- If you need extra drippings (i.e., in addition to those you'll get from your turkey), preheat toaster oven to 400º (if you don’t have a toaster oven, do this the day before in your oven; save the drippings in the refrigerator). Rub turkey thighs with the butter and season with salt and pepper. Place in a small roasting pan and top with herbs. Place the roasting pan in the toaster oven (or oven) and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350º and continue roasting for 2 hours.
- Remove thighs from oven and take out of roasting pan: you can shred this meat to add to your turkey platter.
- Pour the drippings into a fat separator. Reserve juices and fat seperately.
FOR DRIPPINGS FROM YOUR TURKEY
- Set the turkey roaster on the stove top over medium-high heat, spanning 2 burners if necessary. Pour the wine and stock into the pan and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, for 2 minutes or until the liquid has reduced slightly. Pour the mixture into a fat separator and let sit for a few minutes until the fat rises to the top. Alternatively, you can a) pour the mixture into a measuring cup, put it in the fridge, and let cool for 30 minutes. You should be able to scrape the fat off the top. Add the fat to a large saucepan. OR, b) pour the slightly cooled mixture into a Ziploc bag. Allow the fat to rise to the top, then snip off a tiny corner of the bag while holding it over a bowl. Drain the juice into the stock, and add the fat (on top) to a large saucepan.
TO MAKE THE GRAVY
- In a large saucepan, heat the turkey fat over medium-low heat. Sprinkle in the flour, whisking continuously until the mixture takes on a blonde color, 4-5 minutes.
- Very slowly add in your stock and pan juices: at first, working one ladle at a time, whisking vigorously to incorporate it completely into the roux so that you don’t get lumps. Continue slowly adding the liquid until you have added it all.
- Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, still whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low. The gravy will thicken slightly: if necessary, thin it out by adding additional stock. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed with salt & pepper. Serve in a tureen or gravy boat.
If you like giblet gravy, add the giblets to the stock as it simmers, then remove them, shred, and add to the final gravy. If you like a meaty gravy, shred and chop some meat from the turkey thighs and add to the final gravy.
You can add hard boiled eggs to your gravy, if you like. Check out my Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs!
To reheat any leftovers, microwave on 50% power, stirring every minute until hot.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: ¼ cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 200Total Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gSodium: 400mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 52g
Nutrition data provided here is only an estimate: if you are tracking this information for medical purposes, please consult a trusted external source. Thanks!
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Jessica l Tao of Spice says
This sounds so good I could just skip the turkey and potatoes altogether and slurp it down as is. This year will be the first year I cook a turkey and make the gravy from said turkey. I look forward to trying this out.
Ooohh, how exciting! I hope it turns out well for you!
Thanksgiving isn't complete without an outstanding gravy and I cant wait to give yours a go!
Jeff Albom says
My gravy has always come out a bit tasteless. All the spices and veggies in yours should make it great and be a great accompaniment.
Ah yes, that flavor-packed stock is key. My Ultimate Classic Roast Turkey recipe also ensures that the turkey drippings are full of herby flavor.
Wow, that stock is packed with flavour and making the gravy with the stock will make it just delicious. Great recipe.
Thank you, Sabine!
This turkey gravy recipe looks perfect- nice and thick and easy is always good:)
Thank you, Scarlet! I agree! 🙂
I'm about to help an American friend make Thanksgiving dinner (in the weekend as we're living in France so don't get a holiday day to eat!). We have been making it together for nearly 10 years and gravy is always the thing we have problems with. I'll try your recipe this year!
We seem to have a lot in common, by the way: from reading your about bit I see that we are both ex-scientists who studied and worked in the physiology and microbiology area who have now turned to cooking! 😀
I hope the recipe works out well for you! I'm off to check out YOUR about page. How cool!