Skip Jarred Gravy and Use This Make-Ahead Recipe for Thanksgiving

Thanks to this quick recipe, there's no excuse for using the jarred stuff.

Sit down, Southerners. I'm about to say something controversial: Not everything on your Thanksgiving table needs to be made from scratch. Does the thought of rolling out a pie crust make you tremble? Pick up some store-bought dough and save yourself the angst. Will your yeast rolls never measure up to the ones made by your dearly departed Granny? By all means, buy some rolls at your favorite bakery and remind everyone that Granny's rolls were the stuff of legend.

Just don't serve gravy from a jar. Please. Try our make-ahead gravy recipe, and you'll be so glad you didn't grab a jar from the grocery store shelf.

Ultimate Make Ahead Gravy

Photo: Hector Sanchez

Thanksgiving Dinner Hero

I get why making gravy might seem like a drag. It typically comes together right after the turkey emerges from the oven and all of the side dishes are piping hot and ready to serve. Everyone is hungry, some are even poking their heads in the kitchen, wondering what the heck is taking so long. And you're still standing at the stove, whisking furiously, sweating, cursing under your breath. It's so much easier to heat up a jar of gravy, pour it into your prettiest gravy boat, and hide the jar deep in the trash.

But you should resist the temptation. Unlike other dishes on the Thanksgiving table, gravy is the tie that binds almost everything together. We pour it on the turkey, the dressing, the potatoes—some people even drizzle it over their green bean casserole. Gravy is the unsung hero of Thanksgiving. It should be homemade.

Make-Ahead Recipe

And that doesn't mean the gravy has to be made at the last minute, either. In just 30 minutes, you can make delicious gravy in advance, well before the turkey even goes into the oven. It is as simple as making a roux, and it can be cooked three days before Thanksgiving. You can even flavor our Ultimate Make-Ahead Gravy three different ways—there's a Mushroom Gravy, Fresh Herb Gravy, and Sherry Gravy. Any of these variations will pair wonderfully with the rest of the dishes on your holiday table.

Gravy Troubleshooting

If your holiday gravy is going to douse almost everything on your plate, you want to make sure to get it right. Mistakes do happen though, even if you take the time to make it in advance.

For lumpy gravy, pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to sift out any lumps. If your gravy is too thick, add a little more broth to thin it out and adjust seasonings if necessary. Too thin? Make a slurry of a couple of tablespoons of flour and one-half cup of broth. Whisk that mixture into your gravy to help thicken it as it cooks. And never fear, even gravy that's too salty can be saved. A little more water or broth will help tone down the taste.

How to Reheat and Serve

Making the gravy ahead of time saves stress on the big day. But does it sacrifice flavor? Thankfully, no. Simply add 5-6 tablespoons of stock, if desired, and reheat for 15-20 minutes while the rest of the meal is coming together. Let the glorious smell take over your kitchen and the smooth creamy texture take over your dressing.

Homemade gravy is the real reward for planning ahead, but you'll also feel like a genius when you skip the usual Thanksgiving tradition of frantic pre-dinner gravy whisking.

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