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This incredibly easy recipe makes the BEST Homemade Turkey Gravy that I have ever had. Once you learn how to make turkey gravy from scratch rather than using a packet, you will never go back. I’ll show you have to make this 4-ingredient turkey gravy with drippings, if you have them, or using broth or stock, if that’s what is available instead.
Best Turkey Gravy
That gravy boat up there belonged to my husband’s Grandma Nash. When I went to take pictures for this post I remembered I don’t actually have a pretty gravy boat myself. So we called up Paul’s aunt who lives just a few streets over from us and asked if she had one we could borrow. She had three to choose from, but when she mentioned this one was her mom’s, I knew there was no other choice.
Grandma Nash was an absolutely wonderful hostess and cook and I have shared some of our other favorite recipes of hers on the blog, like her creamy apricot pork chops, famous english toffee, and her poppy seed dressing. So it was extra special that I got to use her gravy boat for this post.
Store-bought gravy, whether it’s from a powdered mix or the bottled variety, just cannot compete with a batch of homemade gravy. The flavors of homemade turkey gravy made with the pan drippings from a roast turkey just blow all other gravy attempts away.
Turkey Gravy Ingredients
- Butter or fat from turkey drippings: To make this easy turkey gravy, we need to start with a little fat to create a roux. Once you pour off your drippings, you can measure off 1/4 cup of the fat from the top and use that (my personal preference) or just melt 1/4 cup of butter instead.
- Flour: This gravy is thickened with flour for that old-fashioned flavor. Check out the recipe notes for instructions on how to use cornstarch instead.
- Turkey drippings or broth: Pour the drippings through a fine mesh sieve into a large glass measuring bowl to remove solids. The broth will settle to the bottom and the fat will rise to the top after just a minute. You will need 2 1/2 cups of turkey drippings for this recipe. If you don’t get that much from your roast turkey (often the case for smaller turkeys), just skim off and discard the layer of fat from the top of the drippings, then make up the difference with chicken broth or turkey stock. With the smaller 12-pound turkey that I made, I had about 1 1/2 cups of drippings and added another 1 cup of chicken broth made with water and bouillon, and it turned out fabulous.
- Salt & pepper, to taste: It’s really important to taste the gravy before you add any salt! If you brine your turkey and rub it with a butter rub before roasting it, there is a very good chance you won’t need any salt at all for your gravy!
How to make turkey gravy
- Heat the drippings or broth if they aren’t already warm. This can be done in the microwave or in a separate small saucepan on the stovetop. Adding warm liquid to a butter and flour roux will help get the best texture and avoid lumps.
- Melt the butter or fat in a large pan over medium heat on the stove. The easiest way to separate the fat from your drippings is with a fat separator, but if you don’t have one, you can just pour all of the drippings from your pan into a tall cup and the fat will fairly quickly rise to the top. Then just use a spoon to skim this layer off. You will only need 1/4 cup of butter or fat for a single batch of gravy.
- Sprinkle the flour over the fat and whisk in to create a roux. Letting the flour cook with the butter or fat for a minute or two improves the flavor of the gravy and also helps avoid lumps. Continue to whisk frequently while the flour cooks until light brown.
- Gradually add the warm drippings or broth, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. I do a few splashes of liquid at a time, whisking until it combines with the roux until I have added about half of the liquid. This is the best way to avoid lumpy gravy!
- Cook until thickened to your liking. Once all of the liquid has been added, reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook, whisking frequently, until the gravy reaches the consistency you like.
- If the gravy is too thick, just add a little additional broth or water to thin it out.
- If it gets too thin, you can thicken it up by whisking 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of cold water to create a slurry, then whisking this into your gravy.
- If your gravy is lumpy, you can pour it through a fine mesh strainer to remove the lumps. But it really shouldn’t be lumpy if you follow the steps about adding warm liquid gradually to the roux while whisking.
Turkey gravy without drippings
Even though I will always tout the merits of turkey gravy made with drippings from a roast turkey, there are times when you just don’t have any turkey drippings to work with. Like when you make a smoked turkey or a deep fried turkey. Or when you accidentally forget and toss your disposable roasting pan out, drippings and all, without thinking about it. (It happens.)
But you can still make a delicious homemade gravy using turkey stock or even just chicken broth in place of the drippings. I recommend adding a few teaspoons of chopped, fresh herbs, in this case, to add some extra flavor to the gravy, and be sure to taste and balance out the salt and pepper, since the stock or broth usually won’t have as much as drippings will.
Our Best Thanksgiving Sides
- Fresh Green Bean Casserole
- Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows and Pecans
- Easy Corn Casserole
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Southern Cornbread Dressing
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
- Winter Pear, Pomegranate, and Swiss Salad
- Cranberry Jello Salad with Cream Cheese Topping
Homemade Turkey Gravy
- 1/4 cup butter or fat from off the top of the drippings
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups drippings OR broth see note
- Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Reheat the drippings or broth so they are warm. Skim off 1/4 cup of fat from the top of the drippings and set aside. Discard the remaining fat, reserving the drippings and adding enough broth or water to make 2 1/2 cups of liquid.
- Heat the fat (or melt an equal amount of butter) in a large pan over medium heat. Sprinkle with the flour, whisking it in and cooking for 1-2 minutes until lightly browned to create a roux.
- Gradually add the warm drippings or broth to the roux, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. It will thicken almost immediately at first, then thin out as more and more liquid is added. Once all of the drippings or broth have been added, continue to cook and stir frequently for 5 to 10 minutes until thickened to your liking. If the gravy gets too thick, thin out with a little addition broth or water. If it is too thin, make a slurry with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water and whisk that into the gravy, letting it cook for another minute or two to thicken up.
- Turkey gravy without drippings: If you don’t have turkey drippings to make your gravy, either because the turkey was smoked, fried, or you just didn’t have a full 2 1/2 cups of drippings from your turkey (often the case if using a smaller bird) you can just use chicken or turkey broth in place of the drippings. I had about 1 1/4 cups of actual drippings and made up the remainder with chicken broth for this batch of turkey gravy and it was the best I’ve ever had.
- Adding in herbs: If you want an herby gravy, consider adding 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme or rosemary and 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley to the gravy along with the drippings or broth. Since I use drippings from my herb roasted turkey, I usually skip this since the drippings carry a lot of the flavor with them anyway, but it’s a nice addition if you are just relying on broth for your gravy.
- Make-ahead gravy: If you aren’t waiting for turkey drippings, the gravy can be made 2-3 days in advance and stored in the fridge. Then simply reheat on the stovetop and whisk well before serving.