How to Make Turkey Gravy

Turkey gravy may be the most important part of any Thanksgiving dinner. Hold onto the roasting pan; here’s how to make a luscious and lump-free gravy for drowning everything on the plate.

Turkey gravy in a white gravy boat.

Super simple and so delicious, no one can say no to a ladleful of gravy. This recipe uses cornstarch for a silkier texture that flows over every peak and valley of mashed potatoes, stuffing, and green bean casserole.

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled ingredients for making turkey gravy.

Ingredient notes: 

  • Pan drippings: Substitute pan drippings from a roasted chicken for chicken gravy. Or if you don’t have pan drippings from a freshly roasted bird, substitute 6 tablespoons butter.
  • Chicken broth: Homemade chicken broth, or turkey broth, if you’re one step ahead of things. If you like, you can simmer the neck and gizzards in water while the turkey roasts to make a quick version of turkey broth (discard the liver). Store-bought works, too.
  • Cornstarch: My trick for making an easy gravy that’s also gluten-free.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Once the turkey is finished roasting, pull it out of the oven and lift it out of the roasting pan and over to the carving station. Tent the turkey with foil to hold the heat in and let the meat rest.
    A trussed, roasted turkey resting on a cutting board.
  2. Next, position the whole roasting pan over two burners on the stove and set both to medium-high heat. Then pour in the broth and bring the liquid to a simmer. While the broth is heating up, scrape up the browned bits off the bottom of the roaster and incorporate them into the liquid.
    Pan drippings in a roasting pan for making gravy.
  3. When you’ve managed to get every last bit of the roasted bits in the pan, strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Discard the solids.
    Pouring turkey gravy through a sieve.
  4. As the liquid settles, skim off the layer of fat using a flat spoon (a gravy/fat separator works well, too). Pour the defatted liquid into a saucepan and return to a brisk simmer. To make the cornstarch slurry, pour a small amount of the broth into a bowl and add the cornstarch, mixing well. Then return the slurry to the simmering liquid in the saucepan, whisking constantly.
    Thickening turkey gravy with a cornstarch slurry.
  5. Keep whisking. Within a few minutes of cooking, the gravy will thicken into a beautiful, silky gravy. Give it a taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Browned bits = flavor: Make sure you get every last bit of the “fond,” the culinary term for the browned bits that cling to the pan after roasting.
  • Make the slurry: Don’t skip the slurry . If you  add dry cornstarch to hot liquid, it will clump.
  • Flour: To substitute flour for the cornstarch, remove most of the fat from the roasting pan. Add the flour and cook, mixing with the drippings, until the raw flour smell disappears. Add the broth and scrape the bottom of the pan. No need to strain off the extra fat; just pour the gravy into a saucepan and continue with the recipe.
  • White wine: For a splash of acidity in the gravy, add a little bit of white wine.
  • Add herbs: Flavor the gravy with a sprig or three of fresh minced thyme, or rosemary, sage, oregano, or marjoram. Add with the broth in step 2.
  • Let the meat rest: Making gravy is the perfect thing to do while the turkey rests before carving. Keep it warm, and by the time the gravy is done, you’ll be ready to carve it up.

A plate of roasted trukey, stuffing, vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, and cranberries.

More Thanksgiving recipes to try:

Turkey gravy in a white gravy boat.

How to Make Turkey Gravy

Turkey gravy may be the most important part of any Thanksgiving dinner. Hold onto the roasting pan; here's how to make a luscious and lump-free gravy for drowning everything on the plate.
4.5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 day 5 hours
Total Time: 1 day 5 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 801kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

For the gravy:

Instructions

  • After the roasted turkey has been removed from the pan, remove the rack and place the roasting pan with drippings over 2 burners and turn heat to medium-high. Add broth and bring to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
  • Pour the contents through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Using a large flat spoon, skim off and discard the layer of fat that floats to the surface, or pour the liquid into a fat separator and pour off the liquid, leaving the grease behind.
  • Transfer the liquid to a saucepan, place over medium-high heat, and simmer briskly. In a small bowl, add some of the liquid and the cornstarch and whisk together to make a slurry. Gradually whisk the slurry into the simmering liquid, then cook until the gravy thickens, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Notes

  1. Pan drippings: Substitute pan drippings from a roasted chicken for chicken gravy. Or if you don't have pan drippings from a freshly roasted bird, substitute 6 tablespoons butter. 
  2. Chicken broth: Homemade chicken broth, or turkey broth, if you're one step ahead of things. If you like, you can simmer the neck and gizzards in water while the turkey roasts to make a quick version of turkey broth (discard the liver). Store-bought works, too.
  3. Cornstarch: My trick for making an easy gravy that's also gluten-free.
  4. Browned bits = flavor: Make sure you get every last bit of the "fond," the culinary term for the browned bits that cling to the pan after roasting. 
  5. Make the slurry: Don't skip the slurry . If you  add dry cornstarch to hot liquid, it will clump.
  6. Flour: To substitute flour for the cornstarch, remove most of the fat from the roasting pan. Add the flour and cook, mixing with the drippings, until the raw flour smell disappears. Add the broth and scrape the bottom of the pan. No need to strain off the extra fat; just pour the gravy into a saucepan and continue with the recipe.
  7. White wine: For a splash of acidity in the gravy, add a little bit of white wine.
  8. Add herbs: Flavor the gravy with a sprig or three of fresh minced thyme, or rosemary, sage, oregano, or marjoram. Add with the broth in step 2.
  9. Let the meat rest: Making gravy is the perfect thing to do while the turkey rests before carving. Keep it warm, and by the time the gravy is done, you'll be ready to carve it up

Nutrition

Calories: 801kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 98g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 325mg | Sodium: 6601mg | Potassium: 1055mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 453IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 206mg | Iron: 5mg
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  1. Marilyn, Bay Area

    Because I like the caramelized taste of roasting meats and poultry, a week or so before Thanksgiving I buy several pounds of turkey tails, which I roast until they are dark golden brown and very fragrant and then use to make turkey stock. It makes all the difference! For a big family there is never enough gravy, especially for a former Michigander. I even take a quart or two of stock to the hostess when I am lucky to be a guest. Then, of course, I offer to help with the gravy should she want it.4 stars

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