Making gravy for your holiday turkey is easy and quite effortless. You don't even have to roast the main dish turkey to make gravy from scratch. Take it to potlucks, add it to your Thanksgiving dinner to complement the rest of the side dishes or use it for the leftovers.
Old-fashioned gravy involved dripping from the cooked turkey, and it was a collateral recipe you made that day as you waited for the bird to rest before taking it to the table.
You can make this recipe beforehand. And year-round. Who says gravy should only be eaten during the holidays?
A turkey broth is made with drumsticks and veggies. It's then mixed with thickeners and butter to create a smooth, flavorful, creamy sauce.
- Turkey stock: homemade (see below) or store-bought.
- Salt: I like using kosher salt, but regular table salt works just fine.
- Black pepper pods.
- All-purpose flour.
- Unsalted butter.
If using homemade stock:
- Celery stalk.
- Turkey drumstick or thigh with bone.
- Bay leaves.
See the recipe card towards the end of this post for quantities.
Homemade turkey broth or stock
This is a recommended step unless you use a canned or store-bought broth you really love.
It's easy to make stock from scratch and pretty effortless.
- Vegetables: the flavor trinity of onion, celery and carrots are used here, together with a piece of turkey with bone (drumstick or thigh) and flavorings.
- Brown the veggies first: use the same saucepan before you add the water. This step makes the stock much more flavorful so it's highly recommended.
How to make turkey gravy
It's not hard to prepare, and you can easily achieve a lump-free gravy.
- Turkey drippings: they'll be used as part of the liquid if they're available. If not, omit them and use a flavorful broth.
- Use a hand whisk: this is the perfect utensil to stir while you incorporate the stock to the roux (butter and flour mixture).
Make the roux: mix butter with flour and stir until it lightly browns. This is the base that will thicken the gravy.
The liquids (turkey drippings and broth) are added gradually until a smooth sauce is achieved. It can then be spiced to your liking.
Storing turkey gravy properly is essential to maintain its flavor and safety. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to store turkey gravy, but remember to always check for any signs of spoilage before reheating or consuming, no matter what you read. If in doubt, it's better to err on the side of caution and avoid consuming anything that seems questionable.
- Cool it down to room temperature before storing. This helps prevent bacterial growth. Consider dividing it into smaller portions if you have a large quantity of gravy. This allows for faster and more even cooling.
- Refrigerate it. Gravy can typically be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Transfer the cooled gravy into airtight containers or resealable plastic bags. Ensure that the containers are suitable for refrigerator storage. Label with the date to keep track of freshness.
- Freeze it for 1-2 months without significant loss of quality. Use freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty resealable plastic bags. Leave some space at the top of the container or bag to allow for expansion during freezing. Label with the date and contents for easy identification.
- Thawing and reheating:
Overnight: place the frozen gravy in the refrigerator the day before.
Microwave: you can use the defrost setting for a quicker thaw.
Stovetop: reheat over low to medium heat, stirring frequently to ensure even warming.
- Quality check: before serving, check the consistency and flavor of the reheated gravy. If it seems too thick, add a little water or broth to reach the desired consistency. Discard any gravy that shows signs of spoilage, such as an off smell or unusual color.
For the turkey broth (stock):
- 1 carrot cut into 4-5 pieces
- 1 onion
- 1 celery stalk (cut)
- 1 turkey drumstick or any other part
- 3-4 peas of allspice
- 2-3 bay leaves
For the gravy:
- 2 cups turkey broth
- ¼ cup roasted turkey drippings (if available)
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoon butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
For the homemade stock:
- Brown the chopped vegetables in the large pot you'll be using for the stock without oil for about 3 minutes over medium heat, moving them around regularly. You want them to brown, not burn.
- Add the turkey drumstick or thigh to the pot with the roasted vegetables, bay leaf and pepper pods.
- Add water to cover the ingredients. The turkey drumstick should fit in the pot, but if it's too large, cover ¾ with water. Cook the broth for an hour or more. Check for seasonings and flavor and adjust if needed, not only ingredients like salt but also a longer simmering time.
- When it's flavorful, strain the broth onto a bowl. You can use the boiled turkey as you wish.
For the homemade gravy:
- Have the broth barely simmering over low heat.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, sprinkle the flour over and cook for 2 minutes over low heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will brown and thicken.
- Slowly pour in the turkey drippings and a third of the broth as you stir with a whisk. Mix until all the flour lumps are broken up, and the mixture is smooth.
- Add salt and spices and stir to integrate everything.
- Pour the remaining broth, stirring constantly over low heat until you get the desired thickness. Add more broth if necessary, check seasonings and adjust if needed.
- You can use it immediately or let it cool down and refrigerate it for 2 days. If the gravy has cooled and thickened, reheat it over low heat before serving.
- Turkey drippings: they'll be used as part of the liquid if they're available. If not, omit them and substitute them with more flavorful broth.
- Turkey parts: drumstick and thigh with bone are recommended because they pack more flavor, but the breast can also be used.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Simmering time: 90 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Sauces
- Method: Cooking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: turkey gravy