I Tried Every Single Store-Bought Gravy I Could Get My Hands On — Here’s What I’m Using for Thanksgiving

updated Oct 25, 2023
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Various gravy brands in containers with festive sides of mashed potatoes and cranberries.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

Cooking up a Thanksgiving meal is as much a test of planning prowess as it is cooking ability. With so many dishes in play, it’s only natural to seek out time-saving shortcuts. For those who’d rather not deal with whisking up a lump-free gravy from scratch, the grocery store has your back.

Ready-made turkey gravy — in cans, jars, cartons, cubes, and just-add-water pouches — is good to have on hand, even if you do plan to make your own gravy. (It’s perfect to have lots available for those oh-so-important leftovers sandwiches.)

But which to choose? The end goal is to make sure you get the one that tastes the closest to homemade. We rounded up all the shelf-stable turkey gravies we could find in our local grocery store and put them to a taste test to find the very best store-bought gravy.

Quick Overview

The Best Store-Bought Gravy

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Store-Bought Gravy: Knorr Roasted Turkey Gravy Mix

Maybe you don’t plan to roast a whole turkey, so drippings will be scarce. Maybe you just want/need to keep things super-simple. If that’s the case, this gravy mix is very full-flavored, so you can serve it as is (just follow the instructions) and be perfectly satisfied.

The super-dark and toasty color is your first clue this is a very savory gravy with a deep, roasted flavor — it’s so savory it almost tastes beefy. This mix doesn’t need any pan drippings to enhance it (in fact, they might be overkill), but a splash of white wine or vermouth would add a great touch. A tip: Sprinkle some chopped fresh herbs to make it more visually appealing and fresh-smelling.

Buy: Knorr Gravy Mix Roasted Turkey, $4.47 for 1.2 ounces on Amazon

Credit: Danielle Centoni

The Best Store-Bought Gravy to Upgrade Pan Drippings: McCormick Turkey Gravy Mix 

Admit it: When you clicked on the article, you totally thought McCormick was going to be the winner of this taste test. (And you wouldn’t be wrong for thinking that: They’re the most recognizable spice company in the world and one of the most profitable in the world.) Though not the winner, it did serve as our runner-up.

On its own, this just-add-water mix won’t win any flavor awards. It tastes like the kind of poultry-flavored gravy you’d get on a frozen dinner — savory, sage-y, lightly salty, with a pleasant buttery flavor and the aroma of turkey stuffing.

But the best part about this mix is how it isn’t overly spiced or salted, which means you can pair it with all your delicious roast-y pan drippings and you won’t end up with a salt bomb.

To zhuzh it up, we recommend adding a splash of dry sherry or white wine, maybe a few sprigs of fresh herbs if you have them, and you’ll have a show-stopping (mostly store-bought) gravy with very little effort. Get this if you’re worried you’re not going to end up with enough gravy on the big day.

Buy: McCormick Turkey Gravy Mix, $1.44 for 28.12 grams on Amazon

How We Tested the Gravy Options

I tested nine different store-bought gravies. My test consisted of gathering up all the gravies, cooking them according to package directions, and trying them the way everyone wishes gravy could alway be eaten — with a spoon.

Out of the nine different options I found, there were quite a few variations. Some were too thick, some were too thin, some lacked flavor, some had TOO much flavor — the list goes on. But one (our winner!) was Goldilocks-level “just right” as a standalone option.

Because I didn’t want to leave any stone unturned, however, I also chose a runner-up that I found serves as an excellent supplement for those glorious pan drippings — Sandra Lee’s Semi Homemade-style.

Why You Should Trust Us

I’m a James Beard James Award-winning food writer, editor, recipe developer, and cookbook author. In addition to my culinary expertise, I cooked all of the store-bought gravies in my test according to the instructions so I could judge them solely on how they were meant to taste. I also didn’t put the gravy on anything so it could mask or improve any of the gravy’s flavors.

What’s your go-to gravy short cut? Tell us about it in the comments.