How to make the BEST Turkey Gravy

Once you know how to make the best Turkey Gravy, you’ll never buy it again. Homemade gravy is the best way to upgrade your holiday meals and very simple to make. 

A gravy boat holds turkey gravy next to a platter of roasted turkey

The Best Turkey Gravy Recipe 

Any special dinner is made all the more special with homemade touches. 

If you’ve been reading a while, you will know I am all about a shortcut, too—especially when you are entertaining guests. 

But there is one shortcut I will never take: buying gravy for turkey. You will never catch me with a packet of gravy in my pantry! (Or cranberry sauce. From scratch, always.)

Homemade turkey gravy is surprisingly easy. Once you try it, I hope you never make the store-bought gravy shortcut again! 

And if you are giving it a try for the first time, I hope you’ll read this whole post, especially the troubleshooting section at the end. 

Why I love this recipe:

This gravy involves making a light-colored roux with butter and flour, also known as a blonde roux. A roux sounds scary, but it’s really not. 

Roux makes for an easier gravy process than adding a slurry at the end, and with virtually no lumps! This method is (almost) foolproof, but I’ve got lots of troubleshooting tips at the end of this post if you need them. 

Here’s why I think you will love this recipe—it really is the best turkey gravy recipe! 

  • Homemade turkey gravy instantly elevates turkey, mashed potatoes, biscuits and so much more! 
  • It tastes soooo much better than store-bought! 
  • It comes together in less than 15 minutes. You can make it while your turkey cools! 

More turkey recipes to try: Cajun Turkey | Herb Butter Turkey Breast | Sage Browned Butter Turkey

Ingredients to make turkey gravy in bowls and measuring cups on marble with a dark blue towel

What you need to make this recipe:

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Let’s talk ingredients!

In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.

If you need to downsize this recipe, go for it! I originally made it with a huge turkey and it makes approximately 10-12 servings, if not more. If you want less gravy, you can easily halve the recipe.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • All-purpose flour–We like to use unbleached AP flour in our household, but the regular kind works, too. I have not tried this with a gluten free flour blend, so I do not recommend making that swap.
  • Unsalted butter–I always buy European butter for special occasions because it is so good in everything from butter biscuits to pie crust. 
  • Turkey drippings–these are the juices that drip off of your turkey as it cooks in the oven into the roasting pan. You can’t buy pan drippings! And even if you could, you’d want to use what comes off of your turkey because it will contain the flavors of your rubs, herb butters, marinades, stuffings, etc. 
  • Turkey or chicken stock–you can also use vegetable stock if that’s what you have. 

Customizations and substitutions

If you want to make dairy-free turkey gravy (assuming your turkey drippings are free of butter), you can use a neutral oil, like vegetable or canola oil, in place of the unsalted butter to make the roux. The flavor will be a little bit different, but it will work just fine! 

Not enough turkey drippings? You can mix in some chicken stock with the drippings that you do have. You need to have about 1 cup’s worth of drippings total. 

What is a roux?

A roux is a mixture of equal parts fat and flour cooked together on low heat. It’s used to thicken sauces and soups. 

The base of this gravy is what’s called a blonde roux, which cooks in just a few minutes. We’re looking for a golden brown color. 

If you cook a roux for longer, it becomes a dark roux. That’s what I use in my favorite gumbo recipe, and it takes what feels like forever. This is not that kind of roux though! 

How to make a blonde roux

Making a blonde roux isn’t scary at all! Promise. 

Here’s what to do: 

First, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. 

Then sprinkle in the flour, stirring simultaneously with a wooden spoon to mix it with the butter.

Sprinkling and stirring is key to make sure that it’s not lumpy and will thicken it beautifully. 

Stir the mixture constantly as it cooks over medium heat for 2-5 minutes, or until the flour has browned slightly and smells a little bit nutty. 

When I say constantly, I mean it—it’s important to move the roux around constantly so that it doesn’t burn and cooks evenly.

Once you have your roux, we can finish up the gravy! Let’s keep going.

Turkey drippings are poured into a skillet to make gravy
Turkey drippings pour into the roux

How to make gravy from turkey drippings 

First, make a blonde roux with butter and flour. It only takes a few minutes on the stove, as discussed above.

Next, slowly pour the turkey drippings into the pan, stirring constantly. Let the mixture continue to cook and thicken as you stir. 

Then, stirring occasionally, pour in the stock and let the gravy thicken until it’s bubbly.

It is done when you stick a clean spoon in the gravy and it coats the back of the spoon.

Then you can serve it immediately! 

Stock is poured into a skillet of gravy to thin it out
Stock pours on top of the drippings and roux

When to make gravy

Any time you cook meat that has lots of drippings and juices, you can make gravy.

For example, beef gravy is made with cooked beef, a roux, butter and flour, while turkey gravy is made with turkey drippings, broth, butter and flour. 

We love to serve gravy alongside Thanksgiving dinner, with a turkey and several sides. Surely I’m not the only one who loves it drizzled over her Baguette Bacon Stuffing!

How to serve gravy

Gravy is traditionally served in a gravy boat with a gravy ladle. They come in all shapes and sizes. Here are a few of my favorites: 

However, gravy boats are optional in my opinion. One year, I couldn’t find mine and we used a pretty serving bowl and a soup spoon instead. 

Be creative and don’t let this specialty, single-use kitchen item be the thing that holds you back from making homemade gravy! 

Close up of a skillet of gravy

Gravy troubleshooting 101

How to skim the fat from the drippings

Sometimes turkey drippings can have a lot of fat. It really just depends on the turkey and what kinds of rubs you used. 

For example, a butter-rubbed turkey with, say, Cajun butter, is cooked with fat that will melt down and can form a greasy layer on the drippings. 

But don’t worry—it still imparts a lot of flavor so don’t skimp on your recipe’s butter. You can skim off the fat! 

You can do so with a ladle to skim the fat off the top (almost as though you are fishing an ice cube out of a drink). You could also use a turkey baster or invest in a special fat separator tool* (affiliate link) just for gravy.

How to know when the gravy is ready

After you stir in the stock, you should let the gravy thicken until it’s bubbly. 

You will know it is done when you put a clean spoon in the mixture and the gravy coats the back of the spoon.

How to fix gravy that’s too thin or thick

First of all, keep in mind that gravy thickens as it cools. That might help you decide what you need to do next. 

If the gravy is too thick: You can add more stock to help thin it out. Add a little at a time so you don’t make it too thin. 

For gravy that is too thin: Keep cooking it until it thickens up. Don’t turn up the heat—you don’t want it to burn. Low and slow is the game here. 

If your gravy STILL won’t thicken: You can add a slurry of 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 2 tablespoons stock if it’s not thickening. (A slurry is a quickly whisked mixture that you mix together before adding to the gravy.) Don’t add it all at once—a little at a time helps to avoid lumps. 

I really like using a roux in place of the cornstarch at the beginning of the process, so I do not recommend this method unless the gravy is really just having a hard time.

How to fix a lumpy gravy

This might not be conventional wisdom, but I always toss mine into a food processor* (affiliate link) or blender* (affiliate link) and pulse it together a few times to break up any flour chunks. 

However, if you made the roux properly, you shouldn’t have any chunks.

How to store gravy

Add your cooled leftover gravy to an airtight, food-safe container and store it in the fridge for up to three days. 

How to reheat gravy

Heat it up in the microwave until it’s liquid again. You may need to add some stock to thin it out, if desired. 

You can easily reuse gravy after the holiday meal. See the section below called what to make with leftover gravy

A silver gravy boat holds turkey gravy next to a platter of turkey

Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips

  • Try to plan out your menu and time your turkey’s cooking time so you have plenty of time to make gravy before serving. 
  • Then, make the gravy while your turkey cools down. 
  • If you don’t own a gravy boat or spoon, don’t worry! You can use any small serving bowl and a serving spoon or soup spoon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is turkey gravy better with flour or cornstarch?

Making a roux with flour and butter is the best way to create a smooth gravy without lumps. However, cornstarch can be helpful in thickening gravy if needed. 

Can you make gravy without flour?

Gravy can be made gluten-free. I’ve read that you can swap cassava flour for AP flour in a roux, though I have never tried it myself.

Does gravy get thicker as it cools?

Yes, gravy does indeed thicken as it cools. Assuming gravy will stay the same thickness as when removed from the heat is a common mistake. If it becomes too thick, you can warm it on the stove and stir in a little bit of chicken stock. 

Sliced turkey breast on a silver platter with other sides

Quick tips and tricks to making the best turkey gravy

  • It’s important to move the roux around constantly so that it cooks evenly and does not burn.
  • When adding any liquid to a roux, it’s important to keep stirring and only add a little bit at a time. Otherwise you might end up with lumpy gravy.
  • Keep in mind that gravy thickens as it cools. If it gets too thick, stir in some more turkey stock. 

What to make with leftover gravy

Got leftover gravy from drippings? Lucky!

Here are a few ideas for what to do with it:

More holiday dinner recipes:

If you’re after more Turkey Day dishes, don’t miss this ultimate list of Thanksgiving sides and these Thanksgiving cocktails!

A gravy boat holds turkey gravy next to a platter of roasted turkey
Yield: 10-12 servings

The Best Turkey Gravy

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Once you know how to make the best Turkey Gravy, you’ll never buy it again. Homemade gravy is the best way to upgrade your holiday meals and very simple to make. 

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup turkey drippings
  • 2 cups turkey (or chicken) stock

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Sprinkle in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon to mix it with the butter. Stir constantly as this cooks over medium heat for 2-5 minutes, or until the flour has browned slightly and smells nutty. This is a roux and is the base for our gravy recipe.
  3. Slowly, pour the turkey drippings into the pan, stirring constantly. Let the mixture continue to cook and thicken.
  4. Pour in the chicken stock slowly, stirring occasionally, and letting the gravy thicken until bubbly and it coats the back of a spoon.
  5. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

This recipe can easily be halved if you want less gravy to serve.

How to store leftover gravy: Add your cooled leftover gravy to an airtight, food-safe container and store it in the fridge for up to three days. 

How to reheat leftover gravy: Heat it up in the microwave until it’s liquid again. You may need to add some stock to thin it out, if desired. 

How to use leftover gravy: You can easily reuse gravy after the holiday meal. See the section above called what to make with leftover gravy. We like to use leftover gravy on leftovers, as well as add it to sandwiches, tacos and more.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 78Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 15mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 4g

Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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