This turkey gravy recipe can be made ahead of time and is perfect with a roast turkey or roast chicken for Thanksgiving or a special occasion! Pan drippings are optional.
Looking for more Thanksgiving side dishes? Try my Green Bean Casserole, Easy Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes, or this Jiffy Corn Casserole.
Easy turkey gravy
There are many different ways to make gravy for roast turkey or roast chicken, but this will be your go-to method! It takes less than 20 minutes, has just a handful of ingredients, and if you decide to add in some pan drippings, it takes the taste over the top!
The key to this gravy is making a quick roux. It thickens up quickly and reheats so much better than using cornstarch. Learn how to make turkey gravy from scratch with this step-by-step guide to complete your feast.
What you'll need
- Butter and flour - for the roux that makes this gravy rich and thickens it up
- Chicken broth - use the best quality broth/stock you can find, and homemade is even better. I love the flavor of Zoup! broths.
- Worcestershire sauce - gives it a subtle savory boost. It's definitely not overpowering, so don't skip it!
- Poultry seasoning - a herb blend consisting of thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, black pepper, and nutmeg. It's available for purchase in the spice section of most grocery stores. I use McCormick brand, or check out this homemade poultry seasoning recipe.
- Onion powder - a favorite seasoning of mine to enhance the flavor of homemade gravy even more
How to make gravy
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below, including tips for adding pan drippings.
Melt the butter in a pot or saucepan, and then stir in the flour.
Cook, stirring or whisking very often until the flour is toasted and golden, about 4-5 minutes. Add in the broth.
Whisk in the seasonings. Cook for another 5-7 minutes or until it's thickened to your liking. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
How to make gravy with pan drippings
- If you plan on roasting a turkey, you can add the drippings to this gravy. Do NOT directly spoon the liquid from the bottom of the roasting pan into the gravy. You need to separate the fat out first.
- You can either use a fat skimmer (a little sieve/strainer), or if you're in a pinch, spoon about a cup of the liquid from the bottom of the roasting pan into a measuring cup. Place it in the freezer, and the fat will solidify (in about 15-20 min) and can easily be scooped out. Add what's left in the bottom of the measuring cup to the gravy. I don't measure too closely, but I add about 1/3 cup of the drippings to the gravy. It definitely makes the gravy taste richer, so anything up to about 1/2 cup should work for this particular recipe.
- If you brine your turkey, drippings can be very salty, so keep that in mind! You may want to add less or none at all to the gravy and reduce the salt you add to the gravy and use unsalted butter.
- The gravy will become darker when you add in drippings from a roast. The photos in this blog post are based on the make-ahead base recipe with no drippings.
Substitutions and variations
- If you feel the need to tweak the recipe, I recommend tasting and adjusting as needed. I spent a lot of time tweaking the seasonings myself, so I can't predict how changes will alter the flavor. This gravy is designed to complement roast poultry and goes well with side dishes like mashed potatoes without being too overpowering.
- Drippings add a lot of flavor and richness to the base recipe.
- I have not tested this particular recipe with cornstarch, so I can't say how that would work.
- You could add some finely chopped fresh herbs into this gravy. Thyme and/or sage would work well!
Leftovers and storage
- Gravy with flour keeps and reheats very well (better than cornstarch, in fact, which can lose its thickening power). This gravy can be made a few days ahead and then reheated when you want to use it as-is or add in pan drippings from roasting a bird.
- Gravy can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Other tasty recipes with gravy
Questions about this easy make ahead gravy recipe? Talk to me in the comments below!
Easy Turkey Gravy
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 4.5 cups chicken or turkey broth (or stock)
- 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning I use McCormick brand
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in a pot or large saucepan over medium heat, then whisk in the flour. Cook, whisking almost constantly, for about 4-5 minutes or until the roux smells toasted and it's reached a nice golden/light brown color (but don't let it burn).
- Whisk the broth in gradually, followed by the Worcestershire sauce, poultry seasoning, and onion powder.
- Increase the heat to medium high, then cook the gravy for another 5-7 minutes (or until it's thickened up to your liking), whisking fairly often to ensure it's smooth. If it gets too thick, add a splash more broth. Season with salt & pepper to taste (add less if you plan on adding pan drippings). Gravy will thicken more as it cools (and when reheating if making it ahead).PAN DRIPPINGS: I recommend making the gravy as instructed (can be made a few days ahead of time), warming it up, and then adding in 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the drippings to the finished gravy. Be sure to separate the fat out first! To do this, either use a fat skimmer to strain the fat out, or, if you don't have one, scoop out about a cup of the liquid from the bottom of the roasting pan and put it in the freezer. The fat will harden fairly quickly, and you can then easily scoop the fat out (discard it or use it for something else) and add what's left at the bottom to the gravy.
- Poultry seasoning is a dried herb blend consisting of thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, black pepper, and nutmeg. It's available for purchase in the spice section of most grocery stores.
- Gravy with drippings will look darker than gravy without drippings. The photos in this blog post are without drippings.
- If you brine your turkey, the drippings can be very salty, so keep that in mind (you may want to add a lot less or none at all to the gravy and reduce the salt you add to the gravy).
- Serving size really depends on how much gravy people decide to pour on their plates.
- This recipe makes about 4 cups total of gravy, but feel free to halve every ingredient to make a half batch. The gravy will keep for a few days in the fridge, so it's great for leftovers if you decide to make the full batch.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information. This info doesn't include drippings... it's just for the base recipe.
Excellent gravy recipe and glad it could be made in advance.
Thank you so much, Kim!! Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
If you brine (wet or dry) your bird, make sure you taste the drippings before you add them to your gravy. They can be VERY salty!
Yes! Great tip. I'm going to add that to the blog post, actually. Thank you!
Kimberly Shoemaker says
Hi! Just hoping to confirm, we would use the same amount of stock regardless of if we are going to use pan drippings? I think the answer is yes since you said to prepare "as instructed" but this is my first time hosting Thanksgiving so I am double checking everything. Thanks so much!
That is correct! 🙂