This turkey gravy has been a no-fail recipe for our family for years. But if you run into any troubles, there are plenty of tips for fixing your gravy.
How to Make Turkey Gravy
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.
Pour the turkey drippings into a large measuring cup. Let it rest for about 10 minutes, then spoon off and discard 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.
Set the roasting pan, lovely brown bits included, over top burners that are set on medium heat. Add the butter and allow it to 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.
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.
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
- 3 ½ cups approximately turkey or low-salt chicken broth
- 4 tablespoon approximately unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 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.
- Add enough chicken broth to the drippings to total about 4 cups of liquid in all.
- 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.
- 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.
I followed the recipe as is and just added 1 teaspoon of Gravy Master. Best gravy I ever made. 🙂
I'm so thrilled to hear that, Jack! Thank you for commenting.
The tutorial mentioned reserving 3 TBSP turkey fat but the recipe doesn't mention that. Can you leave it out and just use butter? Thanks.
Hi Liz, thank you for pointing that out. I have no idea how that sentence made it in there! Please disregard and follow the directions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post. Happy Thanksgiving!
Kari@Loaves n Dishes
Great tutorial Dara! I like a gravy that's started with a roux, much tastier than one thickened with a slurry.
Dara (Cookin' Canuck)
I completely agree, Kari! The roux gives the gravy such a rich flavor.
Just used this recipe and it turned out perfect! Thanks.
Anna @ hiddenponies
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 🙂
oak dining room table
I hope this will be a success when I try this. I have been failing for how many Christmas dinners!
How To: Simplify
This is such a fantastic "How To"! What a helpful tutorial!
GREAT post!! and gravy is definitely one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving!!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
What a lovely blog! Great way to instruct how to make the perfect gravy; I do love your gravy bowl!
That was helpful and instructional!
Love this post, Dara. It's a perfect tutorial!
what a great tutorial - nice post 🙂
A Canadian Foodie
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.
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
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!
Lana @ Never Enough Thyme
Very nice tutorial, Dara, with great rescue tips! Well done.
Denise Michaels - Adventurous Foodie
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*)