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.

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

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  • 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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81 Comments / Reviews

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  1. Sallie

    I want to try this with corn starch since I have been diagnosed with celiacs. The recipe for the gravy doesn’t say how much beef stock to use?? Could you please get back with me to let me know I would greatly appreciate it very much! Thank you so much in advance!

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Maggie

    I was afraid to try gravy – but this worked great! I used the flour instructions, perfect, easy, not too thick or thin… I had a pork loin roast, next I’ll try a chicken or turkey! Thanks!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Cynthia

    Best gravy I ever made! For years I’ve been a Nervous Nellie knowing I had to make gravy. My turkey gravy has always been a pale comparison to my late mother’s. Too thin or too thick, often lumpy and tateless. All I could recall of her original recipe is that she used only cornstarch and never flour as a thickener. And that it was always perfect in every way. A tough act to follow.

    I had pre-cooked my turkey but it was too late to make the gravy the same day so I had ended up pouring the drippings through a sieve adding the tasty brown bits from the pan and refrigerating it all.

    Well, it turned out that made it simple to separate the fat from the rest as the fat rose and congealed. Using this recipe as a guide I measured out enough cornstarch and drippings to make 4 cups of gravy. (I cooked a 27 lb. bird!) I made a slurry of the cornstarch with a minimum amount of cold water. I heated the drippings/fat in a pot then whisked in the cornstarch slurry. I’m very impatient as I whisk the gravy waiting for it too thicken so I added a bit more slurry. Not smart bc it thickened a bit too much so I ended up adding more broth (homemade by boiling the turkey neck in water and straining) and some additional drippings for flavor. All at once it all came together perfectly! It was smooth and creamy and needed only a bit of pepper for taste as it was perfect. I was amazed…

    So tonight I served it with my turkey and trimmings. My husband couldn’t get enough of it using it on his stuffing and potatoes too! He even admitted it was better than his mom’s gravy! I knew my mom would have said it tasted just like her’s from so long ago. Who would think gravy could make a person so happy.

    My husband is already planning to make leftover turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sandwiches tomorrow! Best gravy recipe ever. Everything so well explained and easy to follow. Thank you Simply Recipes! This recipe is a definite keeper.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  4. MO

    Delicious! Thanks so much!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Duckchef

    Eh, you can make gravy from any meat, really. I wouldn’t recommend trying it with fish though (on the other hand, I’ve never experimented. . . . Maybe I’ll try that and see? I wonder if you could make a good sauce like a gravy from those drippings). I’ve literally made gravy from hamburger, sausage, chicken, pork, Turkey, etc. All you have to do is cook the meat until you’ve got a good amount of juices. Add some flour (NOT TOO MUCH! I made that mistake with my lunch today, and it made the gravy too thick. Delicious still, but too thick). Add some water. Mix and keep cooking it until you’ve got it nice and boiling. I tend to add lots of extra water and let it cook down to the consistency I want. Add lots of black pepper and just a pinch of salt. When you start smelling that black pepper and those juices together as you stir, that’s when you know it’s just right.

    I’ve also found adding a little chili powder or garlic can spice it up, though the black pepper is the absolute driver of the flavor in this sauce. If you don’t have black pepper, you don’t really have gravy as far as I am concerned. Usually, I don’t add the garlic or chili powder as much because I already use it (and pickle juice) while cooking my meats, so the spices and flavor is already in there, and adding more can overpower the dish.

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