5 Reasons Why You Should Make Gravy Ahead of Thanksgiving

published Nov 12, 2014
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(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

See that smooth turkey gravy above? Don’t you want to just drizzle it over sliced turkey and mashed potatoes?

While I know gravy isn’t really that hard to make and is usually made from the drippings of your roast turkey at the last minute, let me convince you why it’s actually worth making ahead of time.

I was testing a turkey recipe recently, so I turned the bones into turkey stock and then subsequently made gravy, which I then froze. This is the exact gravy I’ll be serving in a few weeks at Thanksgiving, and I’m mighty proud of it.

But what makes me even more happy is the fact that I don’t have to make any gravy on Thanksgiving Day.

In our recipe for make-ahead turkey gravy, you don’t need to start with a whole giant turkey. Instead, you buy easy-to-find turkey parts, which you roast and then simmer into a stock that goes into the final gravy.

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

So now you have a recipe for the gravy, but why should you spend the extra time and make it now? Here are five reasons why it’s worth tackling gravy before turkey day.

1. You’re making more than just gravy.

Before you simmer the stock, you roast meaty turkey parts to mimic the same flavors in a roast turkey. The results? Delicious bones for stock, but also a big pile of cooked turkey meat! You don’t need to simmer all the meat in the stock, so save it for sandwiches, pot pie filling, or freeze it for later. You might also end up with extra turkey stock, and I would never turn down having homemade stock around.

Still not convinced? Try the mindset that you’re just making a normal batch of stock with the added bonus that you’re then left with cooked turkey meat to eat now and turkey gravy for Thanksgiving.

2. You avoid last-minute gravy disasters.

There’s enough chaos going on with Thanksgiving dinner that making turkey gravy when you’re trying to coordinate last-minute cooking with family and kids underfoot just sounds downright stressful. Think about what would happen if your gravy was already completely done — no dealing with a hot pan of drippings, lumpy gravy, burned gravy, extra dishes to wash, or worst of all, the chance that there might not be gravy at all should some cooking disaster strike.

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

3. You can make as much gravy as you want.

Drowning everything on my plate with gravy is my signature Thanksgiving move, but I always worry that I took too much of it and we don’t have enough for leftovers. Sometimes you don’t end up with enough gravy if you have to reduce it to the right consistency, but if you make it ahead of time, you have exactly what you need (and hopefully more).

4. It will taste just like your regular gravy.

You might think that make-ahead gravy just doesn’t taste the same since it doesn’t contain drippings, but it’s just not true. If you roast the turkey parts for the stock first, it’ll add the signature roast turkey flavor. And you can still add your day-of Thanksgiving turkey drippings right into your make-ahead gravy for that authentic flavor without any fuss.

Most any kind of gravy freezes wonderfully and doesn’t change in texture or flavor during the freezing process. Just thaw it in the fridge a few days before Thanksgiving and reheat gently on the stove.

5. Some turkey cooking methods don’t let you make gravy.

If you’re deep-frying or grilling a turkey, the sad reality is that you won’t end up with drippings to make gravy out of. Some people also find that the drippings from a brined or dry-brined turkey are too salty to use for gravy, and turkeys seasoned with dry rubs or special seasonings might not also yield the kind of drippings you want.

If you are planning on one of these cooking methods, but still want a good basic gravy on the Thanksgiving table, you’ll just have to make a batch from scratch, so you might as well do it now!