Turkey Gravy

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Your Thanksgiving spread is not complete without a gravy boat brimming with rich, creamy gravy.

Turkey Gravy
Photo: Greg Dupree
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs
Yield:
Serves 8 (serving size: about 1/4 cup gravy)

Nothing completes the Thanksgiving table like homemade turkey gravy made with real drippings. Using the accumulated juices from the roasting pan results in a rich, savory flavor that just can't be matched by gravy made from a packet. This smooth, aromatic, and rich gravy can be used for so much more than turkey: Ladle it over your mashed potatoes, stuffing, or anything (and everything) else you can think of.

Made with simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand, like chicken broth and flour, you can whip up an easy gravy that will wow your guests and compliments your meal. For the most flavorful and lump-free gravy, read on for our top tips and tricks.

Build Flavor With Fat

It starts with flavor: The reason this particular turkey gravy is so rich and aromatic is that it is made with reserved drippings from turkey cooked with roasted vegetables and herbs.

Classic turkey seasonings of thyme, sage, black pepper, and fennel seeds are the perfect pairing for turkey, onions, carrots, and celery. Everything is roasted long and slow, resulting in deep flavors that are transferred to the final sauce.

Can I use turkey drippings from another recipe?

If you're working with a different recipe that doesn't include herbs and veggies, don't despair! You can still add a ton of flavor to your turkey drippings, during or after the roasting process. If your favorite recipe doesn't call for anything but the turkey, simply toss a few chopped veggies and fresh or dried herbs into the bottom of your roasting pan, and let them cook and caramelize while your turkey roasts.

If the turkey is already in the oven, simply cook chopped onions, carrots, and celery in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven in a little butter until they are a rich golden brown. Add fresh or dried herbs during the last minute or two of cooking, so they don't burn.

After you have removed the turkey drippings from your roasting pan, simmer the cooked veggies and herbs with the drippings and chicken broth for 20 to 30 minutes to infuse the drippings with flavor. Then continue on with the gravy recipe as written.

Go Easy on Fat

But watch out for that fat and salt: A little bit of fat in your gravy helps to add flavor and create the perfect texture. But too much can result in a greasy sauce that breaks.

Before you cook the drippings in the saucepan, it's a good idea to separate the fat from the liquid. You can pour the drippings into a fat separator or straight into your saucepan. Let the drippings sit for 10 minutes then either pour the drippings from the separator or carefully skim the fat from the top of your saucepan with a ladle. Remember: Don't remove all of the fat, leave a little bit for flavor and to help create a smooth sauce.

Consider a Better Broth

In this recipe we will be adding chicken broth to bulk up the drippings to make sure there is enough gravy to pass around the table. You can choose to use homemade or store-bought broth. Whichever you prefer, make sure to watch out for the sodium content. Because the sauce will be simmered and reduced, if there is too much salt in your broth to begin with, it will only intensify, resulting in a gravy that may be too salty for your tastes.

If you're making homemade broth, don't add any salt. If you're using store-bought, reach for the low- or no-sodium broth. Remember, your turkey will be seasoned with salt and pepper before roasting, and that salt will transfer to your drippings.

You can always season your gravy with salt and pepper at the end of cooking, to get that perfect balance of flavor.

Other flavorings to add

It ends with flavor: If you really want to take your gravy up a notch, add ¼ to ½ cup of heavy cream, 1 to 3 teaspoons of finely chopped fresh herbs (we like sage, rosemary, and thyme), or 2 to 4 tablespoons of dry white wine or Madeira when you add the chicken broth.

Help! My Gravy Isn't Right

Too thick or too thin? We all want that perfect pourable consistency in our gravy, but sometimes gravy can turn out too thick or thin for our tastes.

If your gravy has thickened too much, simply whisk in chicken broth 1 tablespoon at a time until it's the right texture.

If your gravy is a little on the runny side, create a slurry with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and ¼ cup water (whisk or shake to combine well), and slowly stir it into your simmering gravy to thicken.

How to Serve Turkey Gravy

When you're ready to serve, take the extra step to warm your gravy boat or beaker before adding the gravy. When that smooth and delicious hot gravy hits a cold serving dish, it can seize up making it difficult to pour. Right before transferring your gravy to your serving dish, fill it with super-hot water, and let it rest for 5 minutes. Dump out the water (giving it a firm but gentle shake to remove any excess) then pour in your warm gravy. It is now ready to be served over your sliced turkey, potatoes, and stuffing.

Editorial contributions by Jackie Freeman.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Transfer drippings and vegetables from roasting pan to a medium saucepan; add 3 1/2 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 20 minutes. Pour mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing on vegetables to extract juices. Discard vegetables. Return broth mixture to saucepan. Whisk together all-purpose flour and remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth in a small bowl; whisk into broth mixture. Bring to a boil over high; boil until reduced to about 4 cups, about 20 minutes. Serve turkey with 2 cups gravy, and reserve remaining 2 cups gravy for another use.

Updated by
Jackie Freeman
Jackie Freeman

Jackie Freeman is a professional chef and cookbook author with over 25 years of experience in the food industry. Her talents include a wide range of skills such as a cheesemaker, farmhand, culinary instructor, recipe developer, TV and radio personality, and food stylist.

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