How To Make Turkey Gravy for Thanksgiving

How To Make Turkey Gravy for Thanksgiving

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Emma Christensen
Nov 14, 2017
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

You've roasted your turkey, and now it's time for gravy. You don't need a recipe; this step-by-step guide will show you how to make delicious gravy to pour over your mashed potatoes and turkey with wild abandon.

The deeply browned and rich scrapings from the bottom of the roasting pan might not look like much when you first take the turkey out of the oven, but those drippings are Thanksgiving manna. Let's make some gravy.

An Old-Fashioned Gravy Is the Easiest

There are many wonderful ways you can make gravy. You can make it with giblets or you can make it just with broth. You can even make it weeks ahead of time to save yourself some kitchen frenzy on Thanksgiving day.

My favorite is a plain, old-fashioned gravy from the pan drippings made just seconds before setting all the food on the table. This makes for a deeply flavorful gravy that enhances everything on the plate with a touch of savory goodness.

It's also one of the easiest gravies to make, in my opinion. From roux to table, it takes about five minutes and requires only a pan and a whisk. That's something we can handle even after a long day of cooking with the promise of dinner only moments away.

For Your Information

  • This recipe uses the drippings from one 12- to 14-pound roast turkey.
  • You'll need 2 cups of broth for finishing the gravy.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Key Things to Know About Roux-Thickened Gravy

Roux is a combination of fat — pan drippings, butter, or oil — and flour cooked together and used to thicken everything from gravy to béchamel sauce. Here are a few things you should know about making roux for better gravy.

  • The standard roux ratio is equal parts fat to flour, which works out to 3 ounces of roux thickening up to a quart of liquid.
  • Cook the roux until it smells nutty. You want to cook the flour until it has a cereal smell and looks dry.
  • You can thin out a thick gravy, but its harder to thicken a thin gravy. In other words, start with less liquid than you think you need.
  • Roux-thickened gravies continue to thicken as they cool, so keep that in mind as the gravy hits the table.

Read more: How To Make a Roux

How To Make Turkey Gravy: Watch the Video

How To Make an Easy Turkey Gravy

What You Need

Ingredients
Pan drippings from a 12- to 14-pound roast turkey
1 to 2 cups broth or water
Vegetable oil or butter, as needed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
Optional extras: splash of sherry, splash of wine, teaspoon of minced herbs like rosemary, thyme, or sage

Equipment
Measuring cup
Saucepan
Whisk

Instructions

  1. Gravy prep. After you've removed the turkey from the oven and set it aside to rest, set the roasting pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop. You may need to span two burners. When the pan drippings are hot and sputtering, pour in a cup of broth and begin scraping all the bits from the bottom of the pan.
  2. Separate the fat and drippings. Pour the deglazed pan drippings into a measuring cup and place this in the refrigerator or freezer, wherever there is space. In the 30 minutes it takes to rest the turkey, the fat and drippings will separate and the fat will begin to harden. This makes it easier to skim off just the fat for making the gravy.
  3. Measure the fat. Skim the fat off the top of the drippings. You should ideally end up with about 1 cup of pan drippings and 1/4 cup of fat. If you have less, you can make up the difference with broth or oil, respectively. If you have more, discard a little of the fat and use less broth in the next step. If you have a lot more, you can also double the recipe.
  4. Make a roux. Place the fat in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the fat is hot, whisk in the flour to form a thin paste. Let this cook for a few minutes until bubbly.
  5. Add the pan drippings. Next up, pour in the pan drippings and whisk to combine with the roux. This will form a thick, gloppy paste.
  6. Add the broth. Finish the gravy by whisking in a 1/2 cup of broth. You can add more broth for a thinner gravy or let the gravy cook a few minutes for a thicker gravy. Taste the gravy and add salt, pepper, and any extras to taste.

Recipe Notes

  • Smooth gravy: For a very smooth gravy, strain the pan drippings before adding them to the gravy.
  • Storage: Gravy can be kept refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat gently over low heat while whisking occasionally to prevent the sauce from breaking.
This post has been updated — originally published November 2010.
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