Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

Rich, dark, and silky, this make-ahead gravy frees you up on turkey day! Learn how to make turkey gravy in advance and turkey day will be smooth sailing. Be sure to share the recipe with friends and family!

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy in a gravy boat
Sally Vargas

How to Make Gravy Without the Drippings

A typical Thanksgiving scenario: The turkey is out of the oven, and you've just finished making the mashed potatoes. Now, you're scratching your head, trying to remember exactly how Mom made her gravy (Mom cleverly took off for the Caribbean this year. Insult to injury: she took Granny with her).

Meanwhile, the entire family is milling around the kitchen asking how they can help, even though that ship sailed about four hours ago.

This year, however, you're on top of it! No running around with your hair on fire: The gravy you made weeks ago is in the saucepan heating on the stove (or in the microwave!) thanks to a little foresight.

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy
Sally Vargas

Video: How to Make Turkey Gravy


How To Make Turkey Gravy

How to Make Gravy Ahead of Time

I wanted to pack just as much flavor into this make-ahead gravy as you'd get if you were making it after roasting your Thanksgiving turkey. So, I started by roasting some turkey wings with onions, carrots, and celery in the oven. This gives the stock you'll make, and the resulting gravy, a deep, roasted flavor.

After roasting, transfer the wings and vegetables to a stock pot, deglaze the roasting pan with chicken broth, and simmer with more broth to make an ultra-rich stock for your gravy.

While it definitely takes some time to roast the vegetables and make this stock, you'll be rewarded with the most flavorful gravy you've ever made. Also, this whole process is more hands-off time than actual work -- in other words, you can catch up on binge watching your favorite show while the stock is simmering.

After cooking down the stock, you can either leave it to chill overnight, so the fat solidifies, or skim off the fat immediately to make the gravy.

How Long Does Turkey Gravy Keep?

You can refrigerate your finished gravy for up to 4 days, or freeze it for up to 4 months.

How to Reheat Gravy

When ready to serve, just reheat the gravy in a saucepan. There's no need to thaw: frozen gravy can be reheated on the stove-top over low heat, covered with a lid. And the good news: frozen gravy made without milk or cream (like this gravy) should not separate upon reheating.

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy
Sally Vargas

What to Do with Leftover Turkey Stock

This method makes 1 to 2 cups more stock than you will need to make 6 cups of gravy. If you want to make less gravy, adjust the proportions of stock to flour and fat according to your needs, but make all of the stock.

The extra stock can be frozen for up to 4 months, or refrigerated for up to 5 days. It also comes in handy for last minute gravy or stuffing adjustments.

More Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes!

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 40 mins
Servings 18 to 20 servings
Yield 6 cups


For the stock:

  • 2 large turkey wings (about 4 pounds), or 4 pounds bone-in turkey thighs

  • 2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch chunks

  • 3 medium carrots, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 8 cups chicken or turkey broth, divided

  • 3 cups water

  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley

  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 1 bay leaf

For the gravy:

  • 1/2 cup turkey fat, reserved from roasting the turkey wings or thighs

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 4 cups turkey stock (above), plus more if needed

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Make the Roasted Turkey Stock

  1. Roast the turkey wings and vegetables:

    Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a roasting pan, combine the turkey, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Sprinkle the oil, and toss with your hands to coat the turkey and vegetables.

    Roast the turkey and vegetables, tossing and flipping occasionally, for up to 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat and vegetables are well browned.

    Make Ahead Turkey Gravy
    Sally Vargas
    Make Ahead Turkey Gravy
    Sally Vargas
  2. Make the stock:

    Transfer the turkey, onions, carrots, celery and garlic to a large pot.

    Pour 2 cups of the chicken or turkey broth into the bottom of the roasting pan and set the pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir with a flat wooden spoon to scrape up and release the brown bits.

    Make Ahead Turkey Gravy
    Sally Vargas

    Pour the broth, including any accumulated fat from the pan or vegetables that stuck to the bottom, into the pot with the turkey and vegetables. Add the remaining broth, water, parsley, thyme and bay leaf.

    Bring the stock to a boil over medium heat. Adjust the heat, so the stock maintains a gentle simmer. Simmer for 2 hours.

  3. Strain the stock:

    With tongs, remove the turkey wings and discard the skin and bones. (If the meat is not too dry, you can refrigerate it and use it in soup later.)

    Set a large strainer over a large container, and strain the stock into it. When the stock settles, skim off the fat with a ladle, transfer it to a bowl, and reserve it for making the gravy.

    Alternatively, if time permits, refrigerate the stock overnight. The fat solidifies and is easier to remove. Also, don’t be surprised if your stock turns into jelly overnight in the fridge. That’s a good thing!

    Make Ahead Turkey Gravy
    Sally Vargas

Make the Gravy

  1. Make the roux:

    Reheat the stock if you have refrigerated it overnight.

    Spoon 1/2 cup of the reserved turkey fat into a large saucepan and set the pan over medium heat. Slowly whisk in the flour, and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes to cook the flour.

    Make Ahead Turkey Gravy
    Sally Vargas
  2. Add the stock:

    Slowly add 4 cups of stock while whisking the roux. Simmer, whisking often, until thickened, another 2 to 5 minutes.

    Add additional stock, if you like, to bring the gravy to the consistency you prefer. Add the salt and pepper and taste. Add more salt and pepper to your liking.

    Make Ahead Turkey Gravy
    Sally Vargas
  3. Freeze or refrigerate the gravy:

    Let the gravy cool for about 30 minutes and transfer it to a storage container.

    Refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 4 months. Reheat in a saucepan when ready to use. Frozen gravy made without milk or cream should not separate upon reheating.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
310 Calories
19g Fat
7g Carbs
27g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 18 to 20
Amount per serving
Calories 310
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 81mg 27%
Sodium 569mg 25%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 27g
Vitamin C 2mg 11%
Calcium 38mg 3%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 372mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.