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Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings just wouldn’t be the same without a savory Homemade Turkey Gravy to drizzle over it all. It’s that delicious flavor and texture that brings all the different dishes on your plate together. Call it the icing on the proverbial Thanksgiving cake, if you will–it’s just one of those things that I can’t get enough of!
Quite frankly, a luscious, rich Turkey Gravy is one of my two favorite parts of Thanksgiving dinner. (The other is stuffing, in case you were wondering . . . ) And, Homemade Turkey Gravy doesn’t need to be difficult! While made-from-scratch turkey stock is always preferred, you can make a very delicious and rich gravy quickly with some purchased turkey or chicken stock, fortified with some white wine and whatever pan drippings you may have. It will be so delicious drizzled over your mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey!
Let’s Talk Drippings . . .
So, in case you weren’t sure–drippings, a.k.a., pan juices, are the juices that accumulate at the bottom of a roasting pan when you are cooking meat. They become intensely flavored from fat and other liquid rendering out of the meat as it cooks, as well as whatever the underlying meat was flavored with and cooked with. As we are talking turkey here, the flavors generally tend to be a delicious combination of savory herbs, like sage, marjoram, thyme, rosemary and parsley, butter, mirepoix (onions, celery and carrots) and, sometimes, lemon and garlic. Drippings have a very concentrated flavor and, therefore, a little goes a long way.
Since drippings generally contain a fair amount of fat and miscellaneous bits and pieces, it is best to first strain them before pouring them into a fat separator. Alternatively, the drippings can be cooled or refrigerated after straining, and then the fat, which will float to the top, can be easily removed.
Of course, the straining and fat removal is optional. If your drippings are from, say a turkey breast and not a whole bird, they will contain much less fat. A whole turkey or chicken, with all of its skin, is going to yield more fatty drippings than a boneless, skinless turkey breast.
If You Don’t Have Any Drippings . . .
Fear not! If your turkey did not yield many drippings, or if you would just like to make your Homemade Turkey Gravy in advance of the big day, you can also develop delicious gravy flavor by using broth only and sautéing some aromatics and herbs. Check the PRO-TIPS below!
To make Homemade Turkey Gravy, we will be using the following ingredients:
- Drippings: These are the super-concentrated and flavorful pan juices that result from roasting a turkey or chicken (or, any meat, for that matter). They are intensely-flavored, so a little goes a long way. You may want to use a strainer and fat separator before using them in this recipe.
- Stock or Broth: In a perfect world, we would all have homemade turkey stock with which to make our Homemade Turkey Gravy. But, this is not always the case and purchased turkey or chicken stock works really well. My only suggestion is to find a low- or no-sodium variety. It is always best to control the sodium level yourself.
- Butter and Flour: These are two key ingredients in the recipe, creating the much-needed thickener, a.k.a., a roux, turning thin liquid into thick gravy. The butter also adds richness and flavor.
- White wine: I love adding wine to my turkey gravy, even though it is not traditional. I like the added flavor and acid that it lends to the final product. If you’d rather make an alcohol-free dish, just leave the wine out.
- Herbs: While the drippings will likely be infused with herb flavor, I generally will add a few more whole sprigs into the gravy as it is simmering for extra oomph. The herb sprigs should be removed before serving.
A complete and detailed list of ingredients with amounts and instructions is included in the recipe below.
Step-By-Step, Pro-Tips included!
Here are the main steps for how to make Homemade Turkey Gravy:
- Gather and prep all ingredients. Strain the pan drippings and then pour them into a fat separator in order to remove excess fat.
- Make a roux by whisking melted butter and flour together in a skillet and cooking a few minutes until light brown in color, ensuring that the floury taste and smell has mostly cooked off.
- PRO-TIP: If you do not have any pan drippings, sauté some finely chopped shallots, garlic and mixed herbs in butter until soft, then add the flour and continue making the roux.
- Add white wine to the roux and whisk in order to fully incorporate the roux into the wine. Then, pour in the strained and defatted drippings and stock and continue stirring. Add a few herb sprigs and simmer until thickened, stirring regularly.
- Once the gravy reaches your desired level of thickness (a good rule-of-thumb is that it should coat the back of a spoon), remove the herb sprigs and season it with salt and black pepper. Then remove it from the heat, transfer it to a gravy boat, and serve!
Recipe Variations for Homemade Turkey Gravy
A few ideas for twists on Homemade Turkey Gravy:
- If There Are No Drippings: Sauté 1 finely chopped shallot, 2 Tbsp garlic and 2 Tbsp chopped mixed herbs (any combination of sage, marjoram, thyme and/or rosemary) in the indicated amount of butter until soft and all liquid has evaporated, about 4 to 6 minutes. Then, sprinkle the indicated amount of flour over the sautéed veggies, stir, and proceed with the recipe.
- Make it Dairy-Free: You can very successfully make this recipe dairy-free by substituting olive oil for the butter.
How to Use Homemade Turkey Gravy
I don’t think you will need much direction here! Other than to say, be generous when enjoying this Homemade Turkey Gravy. Thanksgiving comes but once a year!
Serve it at your next holiday dinner and consider these complimentary dishes as well:
- Thanksgiving Stuffing with Sausage and Mushrooms
- Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Creamed Spinach with Croutons
- Cranberry Sauce with Orange
- Raw Cranberry Pomegranate Relish
- Lemon-Herb Roast Chicken
In addition, if you happen to find yourself with too much turkey gravy–make soup! That’s right, intensely-flavored Homemade Turkey Gravy makes a great flavor base for brothy dishes. Consider soups like Turkey Tortellini Soup, Escarole Soup, Chicken Pastina, Turkey Chowder and more.
Kitchen Tools & Cookware for Homemade Turkey Gravy
To make this Homemade Turkey Gravy recipe, you will need the following:
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Multiple bowls to hold prep
- Fat separator
- Wooden or Silicon Spoon
- Gravy ladle
- Gravy boat
- Rubber spatula
- Gravy warmer
More Holiday Favorites
If you’ve tried this recipe or any other recipe on the blog, please let me know how it went in the comments below — I love hearing from you!
Homemade Turkey Gravy
- 5 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
- 4 cups strained, defatted pan drippings and stock (See Instructions.)
- 1-2 sprigs sage, marjoram, thyme or rosemary (optional)
- To taste salt and black pepper
- Use a strainer and fat separator to defat any available pan drippings from roasting either a turkey or chicken. Add enough homemade or purchased stock or broth to make up a total of 4 cups.
- In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat, then whisk in the flour and continue stirring until a thick paste is formed. Cook until lightly-browned and until the floury taste and smell has cooked off, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add the wine to the saucepan and whisk until the roux is fully incorporated into the liquid.
- Then, add the drippings and stock or broth and continue to stir until all ingredients are well-combined. Add the herb sprigs, if using.
- Increase heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring regularly, or until the sauce has thickened to your desired level. A good rule-of-thumb is that the gravy should coat the back of a spoon.
- Remove and discard the herbs. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- Remove from heat, transfer to a gravy boat and serve. Buon Appetito!
- An alternative to using a fat separator is to refrigerate the pan drippings until the fat rises to the top and solidifies. Then, you can easily remove the fat with a spoon.
- Use no- or low-sodium turkey or chicken broth, if purchased.
- If you have no pan drippings and are making this recipe with 100% broth or stock do the following: Sauté 1 finely chopped shallot, 2 Tbsp garlic and 2 Tbsp chopped mixed herbs (any combination of sage, marjoram, thyme and/or rosemary) in the indicated amount of butter until soft and all liquid has evaporated, about 4 to 6 minutes. Then, sprinkle the indicated amount of flour over the sautéed veggies and stir. Then, proceed with the rest of the recipe.
- This recipe makes about 4 cups gravy.