Nov 19
2010

How to Make Turkey Gravy: Recipe & Troubleshooting

How to Make Turkey Gravy: A Tutorial & Recipe

While the Thanksgiving feast is often filled with potential pitfalls, from overcooked turkey to lumpy mashed potatoes, nothing seems to cause more angst than making gravy. If done well, turkey gravy can be the star of the show, enveloping everything on the plate in a rich, savory blanket. If you are like my brother-in-law, gravy is by far the most important part of the meal, prompting your relatives to buy you a gravy thermos so that you can have your own personal supply of the thick sauce sitting beside your placemat. Everyone deserves to be indulged once in a while.

This recipe does not involve adding wine or herbs, though those things can provide very satisfying results, too. Rather, this version is as basic as turkey gravy recipe can get. And you know what? It works every time. Be sure to scroll down beyond the recipe for some troubleshooting tips, just in case you run into problems. Is your gravy too thick? Too thin? Too salty? I listed solutions for all of those problems, plus a few more. Now, get out there and grab that proverbial bull by the horns…or turkey by the wattle. Whatever floats your Mayflower.

The recipe:

Pour the turkey drippings into a large measuring cup. Let it rest for about 10 minutes, then spoon off the fat. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the fat. If you have one of those liquid measures made for this purpose, then this process will be even easier.

Add enough turkey or chicken broth to the drippings to total about 4 cups of liquid in all.

TurkeyGravy1

Set the roasting pan, lovely brown bits included, over top burners that are set on medium heat. Add reserved turkey fat and butter and melt, scraping up the browned turkey bits with a wooden spoon.

Add flour and, using a whisk, stir until this mixture (called a roux) reaches a dark brown color, 4 to 5 minutes.

Turkey Gravy Collage 2

Whisking constantly, slowly add the broth mixture to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat slightly so that the mixture is simmering. Cook, whisking frequently, until the gravy is thick and smooth, about 15 minutes.

Turkey Gravy Collage

Lower heat and keep warm, whisking occasionally to stop a skin from forming, until ready to serve.

TurkeyGravyLS

Gravy troubleshooting:

Problem: The gravy is too thin.

Solution: Continue simmering. If the gravy still does not thicken, add a slurry. A slurry is made by completely dissolving flour or cornstarch in cold water. Whisk the slurry into the gravy, a little bit at a time, until the gravy thickens.

Problem: The gravy is too thick.

Solution: Whisk in additional turkey or chicken broth.

Problem: The gravy is too salty.

Solution: Whisk in some water to dilute the salt concentration. Alternatively, add a few thick slices of raw potato and simmer until the potato is soft. It will absorb the salt. Remove the potato before serving.

Problem: The gravy is lumpy.

Solution: Continue to simmer the gravy, whisking constantly, until the gravy is smooth. If the gravy still has lumps, pass it through a fine mesh strainer or process with an immersion blender.

Problem: A skin formed on top of the gravy.

Solution: Skim off the skin and bring the gravy to a simmer, whisking constantly.

How to Make Turkey Gravy: Recipe & Troubleshooting

Yield: Makes about 3 cups

How to Make Turkey Gravy: Recipe & Troubleshooting

From the kitchen of Cookin Canuck. www.cookincanuck.com

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups (approximately) turkey or low-salt chicken broth
  • 4 tbsp (approximately) unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Pour the turkey drippings into a large measuring cup. Let it rest for about 10 minutes, then spoon off the fat and discard. If you have one of those liquid measures made for this purpose, then this process will be even easier.
  2. Add enough chicken broth to the drippings to total about 4 cups of liquid in all.
  3. Set the roasting pan, lovely brown bits included, over top burners that are set on medium heat. Add butter and melt, scraping up the browned turkey bits with a wooden spoon. Add flour and, using a whisk, stir until this mixture (called a roux) reaches a dark brown color, 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Whisking constantly, slowly add the broth mixture to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat slightly so that the mixture is simmering. Cook, whisking frequently, until the gravy is thick and smooth, about 15 minutes. Lower heat and keep warm, whisking occasionally to stop a skin from forming, until ready to serve.

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jane deere November 19, 2010 at 4:19 am

Perfect tutorial on gravy and great step-by-step instructions. So many of my friends are super scared of making gravy…I'll send them your way!

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2 Estela @ Weekly Bite November 19, 2010 at 4:41 am

I love making my gravy straight out of the pan!

This is the perfect tutorial! Thanks :)

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3 Kristen November 19, 2010 at 12:54 pm

There is something special about Thanksgiving gravy. This was a great post.

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4 Laurie @simplyscratch November 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Between PW's throwdown and this gravy post… I'm craving Thanksgiving dinner in a bad way!!

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5 warmvanillasugar November 19, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I love this post! I always have trouble with turkey gravy. Thanks!

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6 Tickled Red November 19, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Can I just tell you that I can not live without good turkey gravy. On Thanksgiving dad won't let you in the kitchen while he is making his. Top secret and delicate stuff going on in there.

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7 Pretend Chef November 19, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Your comment about the gravy possibly becoming the star of the show is dead on. We were invited to someone's house one year for Thanksgiving and the food wasn't quite on target with my tastes but their gravy had the giblets added in and it was fantastic. I drenched my plate with it and could have ate it by the spoonful. I really love your troubleshooting tips. I am one of those who has at least 12 mishaps every Thanksgiving.

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8 Erika November 19, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Oh, thank goodness. Gravy is indeed the most stressful part of the meal for me. Your primer helps tremendously.

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9 Barbara Bakes November 19, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Your gravy boat is gorgeous. Lots of nice tips. Happy Thanksgiving!

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10 Barbara @ Modern Comfort Food November 19, 2010 at 5:33 pm

This tutorial is very useful for new cooks and a good reminder for more experienced ones as well. I often find myself in too much of a hurry when making T-Day turkey gravy and shortchange the roux. Reminder to self: stir until brown!

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11 Belinda @zomppa November 19, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Nothing beats homemade gravy!!!!!

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12 Tracy November 19, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Love this post! I feel like I've been off my game lately with the gravy, and this is just what I needed!!

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13 Sprinkles of Parsley November 19, 2010 at 7:20 pm

I'm so happy you posted this! You make it look so easy!

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14 Fromagette November 19, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Thank you!!! I bought Trader Joe's gravy as back-up…but maybe now I won't need it!

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15 Amanda November 19, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Fantastic post!!! Amazing info in here… I soaked up every word!

Blessings!
Amanda

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16 Cookin' Canuck November 19, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Jane – Thank you! I hope they find it helpful.

Estela – It's a great way to take advantage of the lovely browned bits from the turkey.

Kristen, warmvanilla, Erika, Barbara, Belinda, Sprinkles, Amanda- Thank you!

Laurie – I hear you. I'm going to be in food withdrawal once the holiday is over.

Tickled Red – I love it when dads have their secret holiday recipes. My dad makes his amazing stuffing each year.

Pretend Chef – I hear you. Smother dry turkey in some gravy and everyone is happy!

Barbara – Just remember to cook the roux until it reaches the color that you want your gravy to be.

Tracy – I hope it works out for you this year.

Rachel – You can do it, my friend. Throw that gravy in your freezer.

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17 Mags @ the Other Side of 50 November 19, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Thanks for the gravy tips. I've got the rest of the meal down pat, but for some reason the gravy still gives me fits!

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18 Michelle @ Brown Eyed Baker November 20, 2010 at 12:03 am

Awesome tips for gravy-making! Thanks Dara!

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19 Marisa November 20, 2010 at 5:58 am

Good gravy is very important! This is a great step by step tutorial. The photos are espeically helpful.

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20 marla {family fresh cooking} November 20, 2010 at 6:27 pm

If this is success guaranteed than please count me in! Turkey gravy is delicious & I would want tons for leftovers! xo

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21 Denise Michaels - Adventurous Foodie November 21, 2010 at 12:18 am

I'm going to print this one out and have it in my kitchen next Thursday. I'm a pretty good cook but gravy and pie crust are two challenges in my book. (Wonder if I can get someone to bring the pumpkin pie? *wink*)

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22 Lana @ Never Enough Thyme November 21, 2010 at 2:10 am

Very nice tutorial, Dara, with great rescue tips! Well done.

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23 Monet November 21, 2010 at 5:38 am

Hello dear,
You prepare gravy the same way that my grandmother does, and now I'm lucky enough to have a post with step-by-step photos to refer to the next time I try to attempt this on my own. Thank you for sharing, love. I hope you have a beautiful Sunday!

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24 Drick November 21, 2010 at 5:21 pm

one of the first things we southerners are taught is how to make gravy – life, nor food is not complete without it… like a good sauce, the turkey gravy is an important part of the meal and you have done an outstanding job of clarifying this method

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25 A Canadian Foodie November 21, 2010 at 6:42 pm

What an excellent post. Completely different than how I make my gravy. I make it the traditional way… no butter, flour and water, s and p only… but the stock makes a lot of sense instead of the water… and everything is better with butter. Love your trouble shooting tips.
Bravo!
:)
Valerie

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26 SashaInTheKitchen November 22, 2010 at 2:27 am

what a great tutorial – nice post :)

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27 Robyn November 22, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Love this post, Dara. It's a perfect tutorial!

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28 Tina November 23, 2010 at 4:42 pm

That was helpful and instructional!

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29 Rita November 23, 2010 at 8:11 pm

What a lovely blog! Great way to instruct how to make the perfect gravy; I do love your gravy bowl!

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30 TidyMom November 25, 2010 at 1:15 pm

GREAT post!! and gravy is definitely one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving!!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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31 How To: Simplify December 12, 2010 at 5:31 am

This is such a fantastic "How To"! What a helpful tutorial!

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32 oak dining room table December 16, 2010 at 5:26 am

I hope this will be a success when I try this. I have been failing for how many Christmas dinners!

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33 Anna @ hiddenponies November 19, 2011 at 8:34 am

Great tutorial – but you didn’t troubleshoot my main problem, which is remembering to make the gravy as someone is already carving the turkey and everyone is already gathered around the table :)

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34 carrie December 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Just used this recipe and it turned out perfect! Thanks.

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35 Kari@Loaves n Dishes November 19, 2013 at 7:34 am

Great tutorial Dara! I like a gravy that’s started with a roux, much tastier than one thickened with a slurry.

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36 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) November 19, 2013 at 3:51 pm

I completely agree, Kari! The roux gives the gravy such a rich flavor.

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