Healthy Holiday – Making Homemade Gravy

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Quick! What’s missing from this picture?

That’s right. Good gravy! It’s the gravy! In my book, gravy is a necessary element of a holiday dinner. Not only does it taste delicious, but it also covers a multitude of culinary sins. Dry turkey and tasteless stuffing are disguised when doused liberally with good, homemade gravy.

Yet, gravy can be one of the most intimidating parts of a holiday meal to prepare. I know that growing up we often relied on gravy mix packets or jarred gravy. Though there might be many families represented at our gatherings, few guests were willing to step up to the plate and risk making lumpy gravy.

Now I have to wonder what kinds of preservatives and additives lurk in those packets and cans we so easily consumed. Ahem. So, I would hold that homemade gravy is much better for you — even if it’s made from drippings.

While I am no food scientist, I do think that gravy is pretty simple once you understand about fat and starches and how they combine. Many moons ago — before I rediscovered television — I learned all my food knowledge from cooking magazines. And this guy named Alton Brown explained the science behind gravy. Ahhh! I get it, now!

I don’t follow AB’s recipe, per se, but the method as he described it in the magazine and here in this video helped me “get” what gravy was supposed to be.

You can make your gravy ahead of time if you use chicken or turkey broth. Or you can make it the day of Thanksgiving with the drippings from the turkey pan. This will add amazing flavor to your gravy.

Here is the recipe we use at our house.

Ready for a healthier holiday? Visit my fellow Healthy Holiday bloggers for great inspiration in planning a nutritious and delicious holiday meal. Not only are we providing healthier dishes for every course of your holiday meal, but we’ll also be talking turkey at a Twitter party on Wednesday night. Be there or be square!

Do you make homemade gravy?

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Mmmm, I hardly ever get to make this because we rarely make large quantities of meat. My mom heats up her broth in the microwave while she starts the gravy and it makes it so much easier to incorporate.

    Maybe I’ll try this recipe next time instead of using a mix. 🙂

  2. Deanna says

    I try every year and it turns out awful–so I always keep jarred gravy on hand *just in case*. So I think I’m going to attempt it this year and see where it gets me. I really DO want to provide homemade gravy but I don’t want it to taste like mud either.

    Fingers crossed for a decent gravy this year!

    • Shary says

      Try mashing equal portions of flour and butter (a couple of tablespoons each) with a fork until the the flour is fully incorporated into the butter. (It will become soft and gooey.) Drop small balls of this mixture into your broth a few at a time, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens into gravy. The broth should be a combo of pan juices and, if needed, chicken broth (homemade is preferable but good-quality canned is fine). The broth should be very hot but not boiling madly as the balls of thickening mixture are added. Continue to simmer the gravy for a few minutes before serving. This will prevent a raw, floury taste.

      I find this method easier and less likely to be lumpy than mixing flour with milk or water.

      • Yes! I believe this is called a beurre manie. Great strategy for thickening gravy. Thanks, Shary!

  3. jennifer says

    I’ve never used flour when making gravy. My mom taught me years ago to use cornstarch as a thickener.
    I’ve never had someone say my gravy was bad-must be all the training my mom pounded into my head! LOL
    Whisk, whisk, whisk!

  4. Kristi says

    I always make homemade gravy, but I whisk the flour with water before adding it to the drippings and broth. I agree that the pan drippings and browned bits make the best gravy.

  5. Dawn says

    I guess I make semi home-made gravy – I use the juice from the meat, top it up with water if necessary and I add ‘Bisto’ to thicken it. I wondered how people make that creamy coloured gravy, they obviously don’t use Bisto, so thanks for this!

  6. Tara McC. says

    “Good gravy! It’s the gravy.” Made me laugh out loud! 🙂

  7. AllieZirkle says

    I hadn’t seen this AB flick. HILARIOUS! Drinking a shot at the end. LOL only Alton!

    Good tips 🙂

  8. Nikki says

    I loved that video!! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Homemade gravy is one of the few things I am very proud of myself for. 🙂 I had never tried making it before I got married, but in the last three years I’ve become quite a “pro.” I use chicken or beef bullion, water, and whatever drippings I have. Plus a milk/flour mixture for a thickener and then seasonings. I ? gravy!!

  10. Adrienne says

    Great post! I love Alton Brown. Every time I go to make gravy I end up calling my mom. I use pretty much the same recipe and technique as in your post. Homemade gravy (esp from pan drippings) is the best!

  11. I am a terrible gravy maker.
    Thanks for making it look a little easier.

    I’m going to let my mother in law make it this year. Ha!

  12. Jasi says

    I usually toss the pan on the stove, deglaze with stock (chicken boxed simmered in neck and back bits on the stove), smush some flour with butter on the side and add once at a boil. Simmer and season. Then serve! Not scary at all. And I am absolutely convinced chicken fat cures colds. lol

  13. Karen says

    I always, always make gravy from scratch, pretty much like Jasi described. I do it for any roasted meat. My mother also made it when she panfried meats. My daughter has learned how to make it too. It’s just that first two or three minutes of making it that is tricky, and when I taught my daughter, I took the pan off the heat until enough broth was stirred in, bit by bit, smoothly enough to make a liquid. After that it is all good.

  14. TSandy says

    I never see turkey gravy made the way my Mother taught me. Cook the neck and giblets on the stove in a small pot while the turkey roasts. When done save the broth (in the refrigerator) until closer to dinnertime. Then add cornstarch/cold water to the reheated broth and thicken. Best gravy ever! Our cats always got the cooked giblets/neck.

  15. Pat says

    I was taught to put your flour in a canning jar ( any jar with a tight lid ) add cold liquid and salt. Shake the jar till the flour is completely mixed with the the water. Add to the drippings in the pan, let mixture thicken, then add enough liquid from what ever vegetables you are cooking to make the gravy the thickness you want. I usually use potatoe water, carrot, peas or other not too strong liquid.

    • Yes! I think this method is called a slurry. I have done it, too, it just clumps for me sometimes.

      • Pat says

        Jessica the only time it lumped for me I forgot to add the salt to the flour. Then I shake it till I can see it is all mixed well and no lumps in the jar. Hope that helps.

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