How to Make the Best Mushroom Gravy

Cheese Grits Souffle Mushroom Gravy
Photo: Hector Sanchez

It's that time of year when thermostats go up, and minds turn to comfort food. When it comes to the best cold-weather dishes, there are very few things, in our opinion, that can't be improved by a dab, spoonful, or even ladle of gravy. (We're looking at you, mashed potatoes, meatloaf, and well, pretty much anything else.)

Sawmill or mushroom? Red-eye or chocolate? Right now, we're in the mood for mushroom gravy. While a good, rich beef stock is often the basis for a great mushroom gravy—some like to finish it with cream—more and more often, these days, people are turning to a more vegetable-based diet. Through a number of techniques, it's easy to make a rich, satisfying gravy without beef stock or cream. In fact, there are plenty of ways to make a hearty vegan mushroom gravy recipe that still packs wallop of umami without the aid of animal stock or dairy. Here are just a few suggestions.

Tips for How to Make Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy:

1. Use dried mushrooms and reconstitute them in hot water. Save the liquid and use it in place of beef stock.

2. If you don't have the time or can't find dried mushrooms, many supermarkets carry mushroom stock. Similarly, you can substitute vegetable stock and fresh mushrooms.

3. Finally, don't forget the importance of aromatics. Many mushroom gravy recipes will call for pepper and salt, of course, but if you're eschewing animal products, then the importance of aromatics cannot be over-stressed. A bit of garlic and some onion can add a depth of flavor that will keep your gravy from being insipid.

4. Do not forget to make a roux. You can make a roux with vegetable oil instead of butter. There are also a number of dairy-free butter alternatives.

WATCH: 5 Tips for Great Gravy

5. Don't be afraid of the sherry! Mushrooms and sherry are a classic pairing, and even a bit will add a richness to your gravy that no amount of meat fond can. Just follow the cooking-with-wine rule: never cook with a sherry that you wouldn't drink on its own.

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