How to Make Gravy

HolidayHow ToSauceGravy

Two easy gravy recipes with photos and step-by-step instructions.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

There are lots of ways to make gravy from a roast. Some can get rather complicated. What we do is simple. You can easily build a luscious, lip smacking gravy from the pan drippings!

As soon as the roast is done cooking, we remove it to a cutting board to rest. While the roast is resting, we place the roasting pan and all of the drippings it contains on the stovetop and start making the gravy.

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We’ll use either cornstarch or flour to thicken the gravy, the process is similar for both.

How to Make Gravy from scratch

How much flour or cornstarch to use to make gravy

Follow this ratio. For each cup of gravy you want, start with two tablespoons of drippings and fat, and two tablespoons of flour or cornstarch. (This will produce a rich and thick gravy. If you would like a thinner gravy, either start with one tablespoon each of drippings and starch, or add more liquid to thin the gravy.)

So, if you want to make 2 cups of gravy, remove all but 4 tablespoons of fat and drippings from the roasting pan (set aside for future use).

These instructions will yield about 2 cups of gravy, but you can easily divide or multiply to adjust for how much gravy you want to make.

How to Make Gravy

  • Cook time: 15 minutes

When you cook a roast, whether it's turkey, chicken, beef, or lamb, you should end up with plenty of browned drippings and fat from the roast when it's finished.

The "drippings" are browned juices and fat. All of the flavor a gravy you make from the drippings comes from those browned bits. You need fat as a base for the gravy.

If you have pan juices, but they haven't browned at the bottom of the pan after the roast is done, you can put the empty pan back in the oven. Set the temp to 450 or 500°F and cook until the juices evaporate and begin to bubble and brown at the bottom of the pan.

In this approach to making gravy, we break up the drippings as well as we can with a whisk, but don't worry about any browned bits in the gravy itself. If you want, you can pulse the gravy in a blender to make it smoother, but we never bother. The browned bits are the best part!

Method

Making Gravy with Flour

1 Remove all but 1/4 cup of fat from pan: Remove the roast from the pan. Remove excess fat leaving 4 Tbsp of fat plus juices and browned drippings in the pan.

2 Scrape up drippings and place pan on stovetop on medium heat: Use a metal spatula to scrape up any drippings that are sticking to the pan. Place the pan on the stovetop on medium high heat.

How to Make Gravy

3 Sprinkle 4 Tbsp flour onto the drippings. Quickly stir with a wire whisk so that the flour gets incorporated into the drippings. Let the flour brown a bit if you want, before adding liquid in the next step. (You can also start with a slurry of flour and water if you want.)

4 Whisk while slowly adding liquid: Slowly add stock, water, milk, cream, or a combination to the pan, whisking vigorously to dissolve the flour into liquid.

Allow the gravy to simmer and thicken, and continue to slowly add liquid until you have about 2 cups of gravy. (You'll probably need to add 3 to 4 cups of liquid.)

5 Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Always taste first before adding more salt! It may not need it.)

 

Making Gravy with Cornstarch

1 Remove all but 1/4 cup of fat from pan: Remove the roast from the roasting pan. Pour off all but 4 Tbsp of the fat in the pan. If you don't have enough fat in the pan, add butter so that you have at least 4 Tbsp of fat in the pan.

2 Scrape up browned drippings: While the pan is still warm, scrape the bottom of the pan with a metal spatula to loosen any browned drippings that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan.

3 Place the pan on the stovetop on medium heat. If you are using a roasting pan that won't work well on the stovetop, scrape up all of the drippings and fat and put into a large shallow sauté pan.

4 Make cornstarch slurry: Dissolve 4 Tbsp of cornstarch in the minimum amount of water needed to make a thin paste - about 1/2 cup.

5 Pour the cornstarch slurry into the pan with drippings and use a wire whisk to blend into the drippings.

6 Whisk while slowly adding liquid: Stir with a wire whisk until the gravy begins to thicken. As the gravy thickens, slowly add stock, water, milk, or cream, or some combination to the pan (I like to use stock, my mother usually uses water).

Alternate stirring and adding liquid, maintaining the consistency you want, for several minutes (about 5 minutes).

You will probably add about 3 to 4 cups of liquid all together. Taking into consideration the evaporation that is occurring while the gravy is simmering, you will end up with about 2 cups of gravy.

If the gravy isn't thick enough, make more cornstarch slurry and whisk it into the pan.

7 Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Cornstarch versus Flour for Gravy

What's the difference between using cornstarch or flour to make your gravy? Cornstarch does have more thickening power than wheat flour (because it's pure starch, while flour has some protein in it). So usually you need a little less cornstarch than flour for the equivalent thickening power.

That said, we are using equal amounts for either flour or cornstarch in this method because we vary the amount of liquid we add and we reduce the gravy by simmering it, to get to the desired thickness.

Cornstarch also has this property that if you cook it in the gravy too long, it will lose its thickening power and the gravy will become thin again. It will also lose some thickness if refrigerated and reheated. If that happens, you'll have to add more cornstarch slurry and heat the gravy to thicken it up again.

If you use flour, you'll want to brown the flour a bit in the fat before adding liquid. Browning adds more flavor to the gravy and gets rid of the raw flour taste. You're basically making a roux.

We find that a flour-based gravy holds up better and reheats better later, which is why we tend to prefer using flour over cornstarch to make gravy, unless we have a guest who is eating gluten-free.

Links:

Giblet Gravy here on Simply Recipes

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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89 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Merle

    You can make a roux as suggested above or do something simple like my Momma did. Get a small jar. Put the flour and some warm water into it leaving space. Get your son (in her case, me) to shake it like heck till mixed and incorporate into the drippings. Add more water or preferably stock to desired thickness. Never any lumps.

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  2. Leo C. Tripole

    Excellent! Thanks a lot.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Bryce

    First time making gravy with a roast. I made a slow-cooker pork butt. Since I didn’t have it in a pan, I just transferred some of the fat to a pot and made the gravy in there. It really stepped up the meal! Delicious.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  4. Johanna

    Made the roast, saved the drippings and made it today. Turned out great.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Laura

    I’m wondering if you add water or chicken stock to the roasting pan or not while you cook the turkey? All the photos I see show very little liquid with drippings. Most directions for cooking a turkey say to add liquid to the pan but I don’t see the liquid in the gravy directions? First timer here…

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