7 Ways to Make a Jar of Turkey Gravy Taste Homemade

updated Oct 26, 2023
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Gravy pouring over slices of turkey
Credit: Joe Lingeman

If you’re not game for making the gravy from scratch this year for Thanksgiving dinner, don’t sweat it. Sometimes you need to give yourself a break, and there are plenty of good store-bought gravies out there. If you are reaching for a jar or carton of turkey gravy at the store, here are seven easy ways to give it a boost.

1. Add in some white wine.

Add a dash of white wine (nothing too fruity; we recommend a dry Chardonnay) to boost the richness of the turkey gravy. All you need to do is put a couple of tablespoons of your chosen white wine while you’re heating up your gravy and voilà! The wine should evaporate in just a couple of minutes.

2. Thicken it with a cornstarch slurry.

If the consistency of your store-bought gravy leaves much to be desired, you can thicken it with a classic cornstarch slurry.

  • Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1-2 tablespoons of cold water until smooth and blended.
  • Add the slurry into a pot of simmering store-bought gravy.
  • Stir with a wooden spoon until you see the gravy start to thicken to your preferred consistency.

3. Stir in pan drippings.

Use those wonderful pan drippings from your roasted turkey (a combination of stock, juices from the meat, and fat) to give jarred gravy a homemade flavor. If you’re game for a more rustic gravy, go ahead and mix in some shredded turkey while you’re at it.

Pro Tip: As a rule of thumb, use two tablespoons of drippings per cup of gravy.

Credit: Leela Cyd

4. Simmer with fresh herbs.

Boost the flavor of gravy by simmering it over low heat with fresh herbs, like thyme, sage, parsley, or bay leaf. Strain the gravy before serving.

5. Add an umami-rich condiment.

Your fridge and pantry are a treasure trove of possibilities when it comes to adding more layers of flavor to jarred gravy. Just as you might add condiments like soy sauce, miso paste, Worcestershire sauce, or even a splash of sherry or cider vinegar to your favorite gravy recipe, incorporate them into store-bought gravy for a more complex flavor. Start by adding just a little at a time, and continue until you reach a flavor you enjoy.

6. Sauté some vegetables.

Adding in some veggies is an easy way to elevate your store-bought gravy. Here’s how to do it:

  • Before the gravy hits the pan, sauté a combination of vegetables like onions (or swap in leeks or shallots), celery, carrots, or mushrooms.
  • Once the veggies are soft and fragrant, stir in the gravy and simmer on low heat. The gravy will pick up some of the sweet, earthy, and warm flavors.
  • Before serving you can strain out the vegetables, or use an immersion blender to purée the gravy.
  • As a rule of thumb, use about 1/4 cup of vegetables per cup of gravy.

7. Add roasted garlic.

Unlike the sharpness that comes with fresh garlic, roasted garlic brings a smooth, sweet flavor that adds depth to whatever it’s added to. Roast a head of garlic ahead of time, then chop and whisk in a couple tablespoons for every cup of gravy as it simmers.