Here’s how to make the best silky, savory, homemade turkey gravy recipe ahead of time or on the day of your Thanksgiving feast.


How to Make the BEST Gravy Recipe

Thanksgiving dinner wouldn’t be the same without a perfectly pillowy pile of my favorite mashed potatoes dripping in gravy alongside the best moist and juicy turkey. Go ahead. Gravy the turkey too.

There are two ways you can go about making homemade turkey gravy that tastes the most like turkey. The most traditional option is to use the pan drippings from your Thanksgiving day roasted turkey to make gravy not long before your meal. But if you’re looking for a more stress-free cooking situation, you can make it ahead of time with the drippings from roasted turkey parts, then simply warm it up on the big day.

Both of these gravy-making techniques deliver a super-infused turkey gravy thanks to the flavoring of homemade turkey stock with all the savory succulence only roast turkey drippings can provide. No matter when you make it, follow this recipe and your guests will forever be raving about how you are the queen clucker who makes the best gravy.


What Is Turkey Gravy Recipe Made of?

Almost all gravy is made with three basic essentials:

  • First, fat. In this recipe use the pan drippings the meat renders as it cooks, butter, or a combination of the two.
  • Next, a savory broth or stock made from the type of meat it’s mirroring.
  • And finally, a thickener or roux, typically made of flour mixed into the melted fat.

Here’s what you’ll need to make this gravy:

  • Turkey pan drippings with liquid (also known as schmaltz or fond) made with:
    • The drippings from a whole roasted turkey if making the day of
      drippings you make from turkey drumsticks and/or turkey wings if doing ahead, roasted with:
    • carrots
    • celery
    • onion
    • garlic
    • fresh thyme or sage, or both
    • butter (or just reserved skimmed fat)
    • water
    • wine
    • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Butter
  • The strained drippings and separated fat
  • All-purpose flour
  • Turkey stock (homemade adds the most flavor)

How to Make Homemade Turkey Gravy Taste Like Turkey

Gravy is only as good as its parts. To make a flavorful gravy, you need to create strong base notes with its pan drippings and turkey stock.

Reap the benefits of a fatty, flavorful fond. Wait. What’s fond? As meats with skin or fat cook, the fat renders and drips off into the liquid with all the little meaty bits in the bottom of the pan. This is the fond, drippings, or schmaltz. Discard the veggies and herbs, pressing any moisture locked within, and separate most of the fat from the liquid—I like to keep some of it for flavor. When cooled the mixture creates a gelatinous mixture that acts as a natural thickener for gravy. If making from a whole turkey, add more liquid as the turkey cooks so the bottom of the pan doesn’t dry out and burn, or you’ll find yourself fond-less.

Use homemade turkey stock. A deep flavor is a key to making a killer gravy, and broth from a can won’t cut it. Make a homemade turkey stock from the picked-over roasted turkey parts (discard the cooked veggies) with fresh aromatics simmered in water for a few hours on the stove. The best part of making the turkey stock ahead of time is you can freeze it for 6 months to 1 year.


How to Make Do Ahead Turkey Gravy

The finished product of this gravy recipe makes about 4 cups. Feel free to double it if you need more.

The beauty of this do-ahead turkey gravy recipe is you can make it ahead of time and save yourself some last-minute stress. Here’s how:

  • Roast. Season turkey parts and roast with veggies, herbs, wine, and water (or chicken stock) at 400°F for about an hour. The turkey should be golden and the liquid reduced by half or more, to about 1 1/2 – 2 cups.
  • Select. Remove the turkey parts and vegetables, pressing out any of the golden elixir. Save the turkey parts for making turkey broth, or discard them with the vegetables. I usually save the reserved meat, carrots, and celery for my pupper’s dog food.

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Prep the Drippings

  • Strain. Strain the pan drippings into a 4-cup glass measuring cup or fat separator and let stand for 5-10 minutes for the fat to rise to the top.
  • Separate. Spoon off the fat from the drippings. Reserve the fat and the drippings separately.
  • Refrigerate. At this point, you can refrigerate the fat and the drippings where they will thicken and congeal until you’re ready to make the gravy, or go ahead and make it now.

Make the Roux

  • Melt 3 tablespoons of the reserved fat with the butter over medium heat. You can use all reserved fat if you like, but I like the flavor adding butter imparts.
  • Sprinkle in 1-2 tablespoons of flour at a time, whisking well until each addition is totally incorporated and smooth. This is the start of your roux.
  • This is my favorite whisk for making gravy. The silicone balls on the ends get into the corners of the pot and it doesn’t scratch non-stick pans.
  • Whisk continuously while cooking the roux for 4-5 minutes until deep golden brown and smelling nutty. It should be the consistency of pancake batter and will thicken slightly as it cooks.
  • If the roux clumps like cookie dough, add more fat or butter to thin it out.
  • Gradually whisk in the reserved drippings. Then slowly add the turkey stock, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and whisking so the gravy doesn’t get lumpy. It will expand as you add the liquid and should be loose and bubbly.
  • Cook the gravy for 5-10 minutes until it thickens and covers the back of a spoon.
  • Taste for seasoning. If it needs a more turkey flavor, add more drippings.
  • Cool then refrigerate for up to 1 week.

How to Reheat Gravy

Warm the gravy in a saucepan over medium-low heat until warmed through. Cover until ready to serve.


What is the Secret to Good Gravy

Making turkey gravy from your roast turkey’s pan drippings is key to a good gravy.

  • Strain the pan drippings from your roast turkey into a large measuring cup or fat separator and let stand for 5-10 minutes for the fat to rise to the top. Separate or spoon off the fat and set aside. Pour the liquid drippings into a large measuring cup and add turkey stock to make 5 cups and set aside.
  • Place the empty roasting pan on the stove over two burners on medium heat. Melt 3 tablespoons of reserved fat and 2 tablespoons of the reserved butter in the pan. Whisk in 1-2 tablespoons of flour at a time, whisking constantly while picking up all of the browned bits (fond) from the bottom of the pan for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown and nutty.
  • Gradually whisk in the reserved drippings (at least 1 cup) and the turkey stock. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the gravy is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

What to Add to Turkey Gravy to Make it Taste Better

Get the wrong proportions of flour, fat, and stock, and your gravy can turn out lumpy or greasy. Follow this recipe and you’ll skip both.

  • Cook the flour and fat together until golden and smelling toasty (whisking constantly for about 5 minutes) so the gravy doesn’t have a bland, floury taste.
  • Add umami—that rich, salty depth that makes foods savory—with soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or MSG (found commonly as Accent in the spice aisle.)
  • Add a tablespoon of Better Than Bouillon turkey base for more turkey flavor.
  • The better your stock, the better your gravy—that’s why I’m a stickler for a homemade stock full of nuanced flavor and body.
  • Be careful when using drippings from a brined or kosher turkey, since they will carry a lot of salt. Taste the gravy before seasoning to avoid a gravy that’s too salty.

Is Turkey Gravy Better With Flour or Cornstarch

Adding thickener can turn a silky smooth gravy lumpy in a heartbeat, and that’s something no cook wants. I prefer using flour to thicken mine, and here’s how I thicken the gravy and avoid any lumps:

  • Place 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour, Wondra, or cornstarch in a small bowl.
  • Mix in 1-2 tablespoons of the thin gravy to make a paste. Add more gravy to thin it to a more liquid consistency, stirring until smooth.
  • Slowly add the floury mix into the gravy, whisking with flair as you do. It should incorporate without any lumps. Cook for a few more minutes to thicken.
  • If the gravy turns out lumpy, strain the lumps and discard, or mash to a paste and whisk back in.

What to Serve With Gravy

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.

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