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The Simple Secret To Making The Most Flavorful Gravy

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so I’ve been doing a lot of mental planning this week! Since I figure I’m not the only one with Thanksgiving food on the brain, it seemed like an appropriate topic of choice for today’s post.

And although the turkey (which I prefer to cook in an electric roaster) is the traditional star of any Thanksgiving spread, today we’ll be focusing on a less central, but equally crucial, supporting character. We’re talking gravy folks, and uncovering the simple secret that will help you make your best gravy ever!

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The #1 Mistake People Make With Thanksgiving Gravy

In its most basic form, gravy consists of stock and seasonings, often thickened with flour or cornstarch. And if you make it with those elements, you’ll likely end up with a perfectly passable gravy.

But you don’t want “passable” gravy. You want the kind of rich, savory, deeply flavorful gravy that will make you question your stance on how much is appropriate to pour over a single plate of food.

The difference between that gravy and gravy that’s just okay often comes down to what you use to cook it in. And the biggest mistake people make is cooking their Thanksgiving gravy in anything other than the turkey roaster!

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The Flavorful Benefits Of Pan Drippings

After cooking your turkey, your roasting pan full of gristle, fat, and turkey bits is perfectly primed for gravy making. All those food bits and cooking residues are going to infuse your Thanksgiving gravy with delicious, savory turkey flavors.

So using the roasting pan to make your gravy not only saves you from needing to clean another pan, it gives you a huge leg up in terms of flavor. Even if you transferred the drippings to a separate pot and made your gravy there, you wouldn’t get as rich a flavor as you would from making it in the roaster.

How To Make Incredible Thanksgiving Gravy In Your Roasting Pan

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Step 1 – Empty Out The Roaster

When your turkey is done cooking, transfer it to a platter to rest. Pour the liquid from the bottom of the roasting pan into a bowl, measuring cup, or fat separator and let it sit for a few minutes.

Once the fat has risen to the top, skim it off into a separate container. Keep the remaining liquid to add to your gravy, if desired.

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Step 2 – Make Your Roux

Add 1 tablespoon of fat back into the roasting pan for every cup of liquid your gravy calls for. (If you don’t end up with quite enough turkey fat to make this work, add some butter to get the amount you need.)

Plop your roasting pan right on the stovetop over medium heat. Whisk in about 1 tablespoon of flour per tablespoon of fat, and cook the roux until light brown and fragrant.

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Step 3 – Add The Liquid

Slowly whisk your liquid(s) of choice into the roux a little bit at a time. Continue whisking until everything is incorporated, and work on scraping up any crispy bits that are still stuck to the bottom of the pan.

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Step 4 – Finish It Off

Add some fresh thyme if you’d like, and let the mixture simmer for about 5 minutes. Give it a taste, add salt and pepper as needed, and continue simmering until the gravy reaches your desired consistency.

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Strain the finished gravy with a mesh sieve, then serve immediately. (Tip: Make the gravy at the absolute last minute while the turkey is resting to ensure it’s hot when it’s time to eat.)

Are you a “gravy on everything” eater, or are you more selective?

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • Cooking in the pan is a good idea. Although I normally deglaze the pan and pour that into my gravy pot. I don’t make a roux because I don’t follow a recipe and therefore know how much I’ll need. I just add flour and whisk at the end. I happen to make excellent gravy this way. And in addition to the pan drippings and baked on stuff, I add minced onion and mushrooms, which I saute in advance in turkey fat.

    I’m always amazed how much flavor comes from the concentrated, dried up drippings.

  • Add some flavouring to your turkey that also adds flavour to your gravy, make a trivet of veg for under your turkey (or chicken), carrot, onion, celery, put some onion and herbs in to the cavity of the turkey also to add flavour, parsley, thyme, orange or lemon pieces I even put a clove of garlic inside! Brown gravy looks more appetizing and you achieve this by first browning your roux carefully and adding some Worcester sauce. (My mum used to cheat and use gravy browning!!) A spoon of redcurrent jelly (if you have a jar on the go) gives a lovely colour and shine to the gravy. Save and add you veg and potato cooking liquid to the gravy juice for flavour and nutrition. Gravy can be frozen if you make too much. Save some of the turkey juices to add to your stuffing which is lovely with fruit (chopped apples, cranberries, orange zest) in it scrumdumalicious!!!Therese -Ireland

  • There are some things that are not mentioned in making gravy. If you use corn starch, everyone including diabetics can eat this gravy. Not so with flour. Second, to add corn starch to the hot gravy, use cold water to make the mixture of water and starch, then with a wisk. Add to hot gravy. No lumps will appear. Do not cook this gravy on a stove without a seperator between pot and heating element, There is nothing like burnt gravy! Use a coat hanger bent in a triangle. Use low heat. The old standby, an asbestos seperator is not made any more, use the coat hanger. Cook for several minutes to cook the corn starch. Refrigerate leftover gravy and the oils will migrate to the top and skim off easily when cold.

  • I make my turkey the day before Thanksgiving, storing it in broth, juices, etc. I’ve always just put a so-so gravy together the day of…does anyone else do it this way or have suggestions to spruce up my gravy?

    • A dash or two of Gravy Master will darken that pallid chicken or turkey gravy, whether you make it yourself or buy some McCormick’s boxed gravy that is Gluten Free. Stop and Shop and Big Y sells it for chicken, turkey, or beef. So far I have not seen a GF pork gravy, but the chicken or turkey gravy works until they make a pork gravy or I find it somewhere.
      Jillee made fun of my boxed gravy, lol, but she is in her fifties and to me, that is young! I am well into my 80s and am doing things the easy way. I will not be around when Jillee is in her 80s but perhaps she’ll have a “change of tune,” and do things the simple and easy way, too.
      BTW, I, too, find the ads off-putting.

    • It is called a batter dispenser. I bought one online. I’m excited about using it for dispensing cupcake batter, pancake batter as well as using it for making my gravy and roux for gumbo and soups!

      • I used to really enjoy reading your blog but it is so packed with advertising now that you can’t even follow the thread of the article. The ads make the page jump around so much that you lose your place and can’t make sense of the article or discussions and can’t find where you left off. Very irritating!.

    • It’s called a fat/gravy separater. There’s a stopper at the bottom. William Sonoma and also Bed, Bath, and Beyond sell them. OXO has one too that you can get thru Amazon. They cost about $25.

  • Hi from England. This is the way that my mum always made gravy, the best. The grandchildren said that they loved her GGG (grannie’s glorious gravy). The only extra thing I would say is try to let the fat cool as much as possible as this will stop the flour becoming lumpy.

  • This is exactly the way you should be making gravy! Another suggestion: save the water from the potatoes and vegetables and use those as your liquid! Enhances the flavor beautifully! If you cook the turkey neck and the giblets, use that water, also – it’s the MOST flavorful!
    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

    • Excellent ideas. I make a simple broth from the giblets. Can’t remember if I’ve used potato water but will do so from now on. I also like sauteing minced onion and mushrooms in turkey fat for the gravy. Lately I’ve ground up the heart and gizzards and added them too (I saute and eat the liver while I’m cooking).

  • Thanks Jillee for this Thanksgiving tip! So much for those disposable pans. They are not heavy enough to set on stovetop burners. My Mom always did her gravy this way. She had a blue speckled enamel ware pan.

    • I know my grandmother had her grandmother’s pans and pots. Heavy duty last forever type, cheapest in the day. I lost them in a move years ago. Each time I find a replacement it’s too expensive. But sometimes it’s the past that’s the secret ingredient.

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