How To Thicken Gravy Fast

This simple trick will make your gravy perfect for the Thanksgiving feast.

Thanksgiving can be stressful if you're in charge of the cooking. Juggling multiple dishes at once and having more than the normal number of mouths to feed can be intimidating whether or not it's your first go around. The last thing you need when you've already got both ovens running and three pots on the stove is a mishap, so planning ahead is always a game changer.

It's safe to say that among all the dishes on the holiday table, it's essential to have a winning gravy. Whether you've invited guests that will simply drizzle it on the bird or drench nearly everything on their plate in gravy, you've got to get it right. With dishes like cornbread dressing, mac and cheese, collard greens, and mashed potatoes on the table, skimpy gravy simply won't suffice.

Nailing the right consistency for your gravy can be more challenging than it seems, though. If you find yourself with too brothy of a gravy bowl, you may be wondering the best way to thicken gravy fast. Don't fret. Our Test Kitchen Professional Pam Lolley has just the solution for an easy way to thicken your gravy just in time for your Thanksgiving feast.

Ultimate Make Ahead Gravy

Photo: Hector Sanchez

Thicken Gravy with a Slurry

If your gravy is on the skimpy side, you can thicken it quickly with flour or cornstarch. But don't add your thickener directly to the gravy, which will create lumps. Instead, try stirring in three or four tablespoons of flour or cornstarch into a small amount of cold water until you have a smooth paste.

Slowly and gradually whisk a small amount of the slurry into the gravy, a little at a time until it begins to thicken, allowing the gravy to simmer a minute or two before adding more. Stop once the gravy is thick enough for your taste—using too much can cause your gravy to solidify into a gel. Before you know it, you'll have Thanksgiving-worthy gravy ready for your turkey and taters. No one will suspect that it was ever any other way.

Thicken Gravy with a Roux

Many gravy recipes start with a roux, a cooking process that turns raw, doughy flour into a nutty, flavorful base. If you have a few extra minutes, you can use the same method to thicken and add flavor to your gravy. To make your roux, use an equal amount of flour and fat, like butter or oil, and follow these steps:

  1. Melt the butter or heat the oil in a skillet or saucepan on medium heat.
  2. Add the flour and whisk into the fat until all lumps are gone.
  3. Whisk continously until the roux turns a golden to medium brown.
  4. Slowly add the roux into the gravy, whisking and simmering the mixture until it is the desired consistency.

Cook the Gravy Longer

Oftentimes, a thin gravy just needs more time on the stove. You can also use this method if you accidentally overdid it on adding stock to your gravy. Continue to simmer the gravy, uncovered, until enough liquid evaporates to thicken the gravy.

Why not use this method in every case of a watery gravy? Sometimes, cooking the gravy down can cause it to become overly salty. Taste the gravy every few minutes to check for seasoning, and add a thickener if needed.

Other Gravy Thickeners

While you're most likely to have flour or cornstarch in the pantry, there are other substitutes you can use to thicken gravy, following the same instructions for creating a slurry:

  • Arrowroot
  • Tapioca starch
  • Potato starch
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