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 how to make this 4-ingredient turkey gravy with drippings if you have them, or just by using broth or stock if you have these to hand instead.
Table of Contents
- This Gravy Recipe can't be beat
- Homemade Gravy Ingredients
- How to make Turkey Gravy
- How to make Turkey Gravy without Drippings
- Turkey Gravy Recipe Tips for Success
- Homemade Gravy Substitutions and Variations
- Other ways to serve Homemade Turkey Gravy
- Storing Gravy for Turkey
- Turkey Gravy Recipe FAQs
- Our Best Thanksgiving Sides
- Homemade Gravy for Turkey Recipe
The lovely gravy boat pictured above 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 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 that this one had been her mom's, I knew there was no other real choice.
Grandma Nash was an absolutely wonderful hostess and cook, and I have already shared some of our favorite recipes of hers on the blog, like her creamy apricot pork chops, her famous English toffee, and her flavorful poppy seed dressing. So it was extra special that I got to use her gravy boat for this equally great recipe.
This Gravy Recipe can't be beat
Gravy from the grocery store, 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 the bottom of the roasting pan of a roasted turkey just blow all other gravy recipes away. This recipe is so delicious you won't believe it's made with very simple ingredients.
Obviously, no Thanksgiving dinner is complete without the perfect turkey gravy lavished over some deliciously creamy mashed potatoes. But we also love it over our juicy roast turkey - and any leftover gravy is amazing on leftover turkey sandwiches the next day!
Homemade 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 ¼ cup of the turkey fat from the top and use that (my personal preference) or just melt ¼ cup of butter instead.
- Flour - This gravy is thickened with flour for that old-fashioned flavor and texture. All-purpose flour will work best for this recipe. Check out the recipe notes for instructions on how to use cornstarch if you'd prefer to use this instead.
- Turkey Drippings or Broth
- Salt & black 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!
Pour the drippings through a fine mesh sieve into a large glass measuring bowl to remove any solids. The broth will settle to the bottom, and you'll see the fat rise to the top after just a minute. You will need 2½ cups of turkey drippings for this recipe. If you don't get that much from your roasted 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 1½ cups of drippings and added another 1 cup of chicken broth made with water and bouillon, and it turned out fabulous.
How to make Turkey Gravy
Heat the drippings or broth. If it isn't already warm, you can heat the drippings or broth 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, melt the butter or fat from the top of the drippings. 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 ¼ cup of butter or fat for a single batch of gravy.
Make a roux. 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.
Add drippings and whisk. Gradually add the warm drippings or broth, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. I add 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. 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.
How to make 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. For instance, when you make a smoked turkey or a deep-fried turkey, you won't get the same juicy goodness at the bottom of the pan - if you even used a pan! Or also when you accidentally forget that you're going to use the extra bits to make gravy and toss your disposable roasting pan out, drippings and all, without even thinking about it... (It happens.)
Nevertheless, you can still make a delicious homemade gravy using turkey stock, chicken stock, or even just chicken broth in place of the drippings. In this case, I recommend adding a few teaspoons of chopped fresh herbs to the gravy to add some extra flavor. Ensure you taste test and balance out the salt and pepper too, since the stock or broth usually won't have as much of these as the drippings would.
Turkey Gravy Recipe Tips for Success
- 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 with a thickening agent. Whisk 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of cold water to create a slurry, then whisk it into your gravy.
- If your gravy is lumpy, you can pour it through a fine mesh strainer to remove the lumps. To avoid getting lumps, follow the steps of adding warm liquid gradually to the roux while whisking. Adding liquid too quickly can cause lumps.
Homemade Gravy Substitutions and Variations
- You can use butter or fat from turkey drippings for this recipe. If you use butter, use salted butter, or use unsalted and add extra salt to the gravy to taste.
- All-purpose flour is the best flour to use to thicken this gravy. If you use gluten-free flour or a grain-free alternative, you may need to adjust the amount specified.
- If you need to use broth for this gravy, you can use turkey broth or chicken broth and achieve a very similar taste to using turkey drippings.
- If you want a 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.
Other ways to serve Homemade Turkey Gravy
Turkey gravy can be used on more than just mashed potatoes or sliced turkey! Try adding some to your next turkey sandwich with your leftovers the next day. Or drizzle it over leftover stuffing, which always tends to dry out a bit. Consider adding it to a batch of soup for more body and flavor or pour it over a plate of French fries with cheese curds or melted cheese!
Storing Gravy for Turkey
Store leftover gravy in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop, bringing it to a boil and stirring it before serving.
Freezing Homemade Gravy
Gravy made with a flour mixture can be frozen in an airtight container or in freezable bags for up to 4 months. Simply thaw your frozen gravy in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat it slowly in a saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Add a sprinkle of flour or cornstarch mixture to thicken if necessary. Do not refreeze.
Turkey Gravy Recipe FAQs
I have found that making a roux is the most flavorful way of making gravy, and to do this you need to use flour. Also, flour-based gravy will reheat better later on, which is a win for me, especially when I'm doing a big batch.
If you aren't waiting for turkey drippings, the gravy can be made 2-3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Simply reheat it on the stovetop, bringing it to a boil, and whisk well before serving.
Our Best Thanksgiving Sides
- Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows and Pecans
- Easy Corn Casserole
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Southern Cornbread Dressing
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Homemade Gravy for Turkey
- ¼ cup butter or fat from off the top of the drippings
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ 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 ¼ 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 ½ 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 ½ 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 ¼ 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.
This post was originally published in September, 2020. The content was updated in September, 2022.