This is a really easy recipe for how to make gravy using just water. The secret is to use both chicken AND beef stock cubes for the best flavour and a nice deep brown colour. Takes 4 minutes flat, tastes like KFC gravy – but so much better! No pan drippings required. (Note: Recently I’ve also created a tasty variation, Mushroom Gravy!)
Pour over everything!
This gravy recipe tastes like what you get in those tubs of KFC Potato and Gravy. Those of you who abstain from all forms of fast food may not know what it tastes like. But all you need to know is that it’s everything that you’d expect from KFC – reliably tasty, well seasoned, can make anything delicious!
The secret ingredient that makes this gravy better is to use both chicken AND beef stock cubes (bouillon cubes).
What you need for gravy
Here’s all you need to make a really great gravy from scratch: chicken and beef stock cubes, butter and flour.
Chicken AND beef stock cubes (aka bouillon cubes) – for flavour and colour. Chicken is the base flavour, beef gives it oomph and gives it a nice deep brown colour rather than an unappetising pale brown. Using both also makes this gravy suitable to use for any protein – white meats (chicken, pork), red meats (beef, lamb, game), potato and vegetables. Can substitute with powder;
Hot water – to dissolve the cubes;
Flour – to thicken the gravy (gluten free cornflour/cornstarch sub in the recipe notes);
Onion or garlic powder – optional, for hint of extra flavour.
Why stock cubes instead of liquid stock/broth?
Great question! 🙂 Stock cubes and powder have a more intense flavour than liquid stock (broth), so they make a tastier gravy when you make gravy from scratch like in this recipe.
Liquid broth is more appropriate to use when you’re making gravy starting with pan drippings from roasts – because the pan drippings add extra flavour into the gravy.
How to make gravy in 4 minutes flat
Dissolve stock cubes or powder in boiling water;
Melt butter in saucepan and mix in flour;
Pour in stock water while whisking and cook 1.5 minutes until thickened. DONE!
PS The reason this is faster than most gravy recipes is because the water is already HOT and the flavour is already concentrated so there’s no need to cook down for flavour.
Now, douse everything and anything with it.
Oh, and here’s the photo that started it all – Fried Chicken. Upon spying this, there were many (many) (MANY!) requests for the potato and gravy recipe.
All the possibilities….
Here’s some suggestions for dishes to serve with gravy. Some obvious ones, some not so obvious ones, all good!
Potato and gravy – KFC style! Dunk in Fried Chicken, warm bread rolls or bread (try this No Yeast Irish Soda Bread!), hot chips, wedges, serve on the side of sausages, as part of a Southern Dinner with BBQ Pulled Pork, any roast;
Rotisserie chicken dinner – make a meal out of a store bought roast chicken. Steam some veg, make some mash, douse everything with this gravy!
Steamed vegetables – guaranteed way to make bland, boring steamed veg completely scoff worthy;
Pan seared chops, steaks or anything – chicken, lamb, pork, beef! Sprinkle with salt and pepper, pan fry in butter or oil, douse with gravy;
Meatballs – Make these Beef meatballs or these Chicken Meatballs, skip the sauce and serve with this gravy instead;
Chicken Rolls – shred chicken, toss with gravy, pile generously onto hot rolls;
As a Sauce for any of these:
Use gravy as a sauce for these dishes
I need to stop. There’s too many possibilities!
But enough about my ideas. Tell me what YOU douse with gravy!! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
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How to make the best, most flavorful homemade gravy with or without pan drippings. Use our easy recipe for chicken, turkey, beef and even vegetables! Vegan/plant-based gravy substitutes are also shared below. Jump to the Quick and Easy Gravy Recipe
How To Make Gravy from Scratch
There are some recipes we all need to have in our back pocket. This gravy is one of them. Use this gravy recipe with homemade stock, store-bought stock, or use pan drippings. You need less than 10 minutes, and you can make it in advance. It keeps in the fridge up to 5 days. Let’s do this!
Our easy method works for all the meats — chicken, turkey, beef, pork, and lamb will all benefit from our gravy recipe. I’ve even made a vegetarian gravy using our ultra-satisfying vegetable broth as a base. Speaking of vegetarian recipes, you might enjoy our amazing mushroom stuffing recipe, which is naturally vegan.
What You Need To Make Gravy
Here’s the basic ingredients for our easy homemade gravy, I’ve also shared some optional ingredients for making it extra tasty.
Butter and all-purpose flour combine to make a paste (also called a roux), which helps to thicken broth into a velvety gravy. For gravy without butter or for gluten-free gravy, see my tips below.
Warm stock or broth is the base of gravy. As I mentioned above, you can use poultry, beef or even vegetable stock. You can also use pan drippings.
Salt and fresh ground black pepper are essential for making sure the gravy isn’t bland or under seasoned.
Optional Ingredients (Flavor Enhancers)
- Fresh or dried herbs like sage, thyme or rosemary add so much extra flavor to gravy. I especially love adding sage when making turkey gravy.
- Half and half or cream added just before serving makes the gravy extra creamy and luscious.
- Mushroom powder, Worcestershire sauce or fish sauce might sound odd to add to gravy, but they all add a savory, umami element. We use mushroom powder quite a bit in our recipes, it is easy to make yourself and can even be purchased in specialty stores or online. Fish sauce and Worcestershire are seasonings we use quite a bit in our own kitchen. Just a dash makes dishes that seem as though they are lacking in flavor really sing.
The Steps For Making Perfect, Creamy Gravy
If you’ve never made gravy before, don’t worry! Gravy is simple to make. You’ll be an expert in no time! The process takes less than 10 minutes so let’s do this!
Step 1: Make a smooth paste from melted butter and flour. This paste (also called a roux) thickens the stock, so the gravy becomes silky and smooth. To do it, I melt butter over medium heat in a skillet then I whisk in the flour. I like to cook the butter and flour for a minute or two. You will actually see the paste darken slightly in color. We are looking for a blonde color.
Step 2: Whisk in stock, broth or liquid left in a roasting pan. I like to add the liquid warm since it seems to incorporate better into the butter and flour. As the liquid heats up and begins to simmer, the gravy thickens. After a minute of simmering, you have gravy!
Adding warm stock/broth to a paste made from melted butter and flour makes creamy, thickened gravy.
Step 3: Season with salt and pepper and optional ingredients. Before serving the gravy, taste it. If it doesn’t sing, adjust the seasoning by adding some salt, herbs, or umami flavor enhancers like mushroom powder, fish sauce, or Worcestershire sauce.
Step 4: Add a splash of half-and-half or cream. This is optional, but it does make the gravy extra creamy and decadent.
How To Make Gravy With Pan Drippings
As I’ve already mentioned, you can use our recipe to make gravy with or without pan drippings. In the photo below, we show the dish used when following our whole roasted chicken recipe. The chicken roasts on a bed of onions, which makes the chicken and the pan drippings ultra-flavorful. I’d hate to lose all that flavor so I like to make a gravy from it, here’s how I do it:
First, I separate the fat and broth left in the bottom of the roasting pan. I typically use a spoon to scoop off the fat from what’s left in the bottom of the pan. Then I strain the remaining liquid. The fat I saved can be used in place of the butter called for in the recipe and the liquid I saved can be used as the broth. If you don’t want to use a spoon to separate the fat from the liquid, there are gravy fat separators you can buy (OXO makes one).
If you used a roasting pan or Dutch oven that is safe to place over the stovetop, you can make the gravy right in it. This is ideal since there will be lots of flavor stuck to the bottom of the pan/dish. If you used a baking dish like we did for our chicken, you will need to make the gravy in a skillet.
PHere’s the dish used when I roasted a chicken. The pan drippings at the bottom are ultra-flavorful so I use them to make gravy.
Making Gravy Without Butter
Butter can be substituted with other animal fats like chicken fat or lard. You can also use fat separated from pan drippings. For vegan gravy, use vegan butter or follow our method for gluten-free gravy shared below (made with cornstarch starch).
Making Gluten-Free Gravy (Without Flour)
For gluten-free gravy, we switch up the method a bit. It’s still extra easy to make, though. Here are the steps I follow for making the gravy gluten-free:
- Warm the broth in a skillet until a low simmer.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water.
- While whisking the simmering broth, slowly add the cornstarch mixture.
- Continue to whisk until the gravy is thickened, lower the heat, and then season with salt, pepper, and optional flavor enhancers like herbs.
How To Make Extra Creamy Gravy With Milk
You can use milk to make creamier gravies. Simply substitute half or more of the broth called for in our recipe with milk.
Sauce is awesome. This is not a controversial statement. However what may be a controversial statement for some (but definitely not for those in the Delish kitchen) is that gravy is the best sauce. Gravy is luscious and full of umami, one of our favorite food enhancers. What other sauce could be drizzled over all the different types of meats, veggies, and sides of a holiday meal. And we think that your Thanksgiving only deserves the best, which is why perfecting gravy is worth it—and so easy!
What is gravy?
At its most basic, gravy is a thickened sauce made of meat drippings + stock + seasonings.
What does the flour do?
Gravy starts off with a classic roux: equal parts fat (in this case butter) and flour are cooked in a skillet until it becomes golden and bubbly. This creates a base for your sauce’s texture. Without the flour, it will lack the coveted thickness and body.
How do I save turkey drippings?
The essential ingredient to perfect gravy? Fat! As your turkey bakes, it renders a ton of fat that’ll be leftover in the roasting pan. Don’t—we repeat, don’t—pour that fat into the garbage! Those drippings are packed with flavor, all of which you want in your Thanksgiving gravy. After you take the turkey out of the roasting pan, set a colander or sieve over a large bowl or another pan. Pour the contents of the roasting pan through the colander—the drippings you want to keep will end up in the large bowl. You can discard the bits left in the colander.
Do I need to use fresh herbs?
Not necessarily. We love the flavor of fresh thyme and sage, but dried herbs will totally work. You can swap out the thyme and sage for the same amount of poultry seasoning, rosemary, even Italian seasoning.
Any other ingredients I can add for flavor?
Of course. Roasted garlic is a no-brainer—and requires basically no effort: Simply lop off the top of a head of garlic, place in foil, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap up. Throw into your already-full oven alongside the turkey and stuffing until it caramelizes into sweet, tender cloves. Roughly chop once cool and stir into the gravy with the herbs.
How long does gravy take to make?
Only 15 minutes—the perfect activity to begin while your bird rests when it’s out of the oven. And since you absolutely need your leftover turkey drippings for traditional gravy, you can’t start on it until your turkey is done roasting. Let the bird cool in the roasting pan for 20 minutes, then remove it to a cutting board to cool completely. That way, you can get to work on gravy ASAP.
My gravy is too thin—how do I thicken it?
If you’re whisking away at the stove and the gravy isn’t taking on the texture you want, no fear. Stir a little cornstarch (a couple teaspoons) into a small bowl of cold water until a thick paste forms. Slowly whisk into your gravy a little bit at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
How long does gravy last?
Gravy is perishable, so it will only last 2 days in the refrigerator. However, you can freeze leftover gravy up to 3 months in an airtight container or plastic bag. Thaw the mixture in the fridge the day before you plan to reheat it.
Can I halve this recipe?
Absolutely. If you’re serving a smaller crowd, feel free to scale down the measurements. But know that leftover gravy tastes amazing on sandwiches the next day. It also freezes well when stored in an airtight container.
So, why is it called gravy?!
The term gravy actually dates back to the Middle Ages and the French term “gravé”, which literally means the natural cooking juices that flow from the meat.
Have you made this recipe? Let us know you liked it in the comments below.
Good gravy is more than just a sauce for the turkey. It brings all the elements of the Thanksgiving plate together, elevating mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey to their transcendent ideals. You can use the classic method for making gravy, whisking it together at the last minute using the turkey pan drippings, or you can make the gravy ahead, then spike it later with the flavorful drippings. And visit our How to Plan and Cook Thanksgiving guide for more ideas and advice.
Before You Start
It helps to have a fat separator, which looks like a measuring cup with a spout. It lets you easily pour off the gravy and leave behind excess fat.
You can use a wooden spoon to make gravy, but you risk lumps. A whisk makes things smoother.
For the silkiest gravy, or for added insurance against lumps, strain your gravy before serving. Have a sieve on hand.
Drippings from brined and kosher turkeys may be too salty to use in gravy, particularly classic pan gravy. (If you add them to make-ahead gravy, do so slowly, tasting as you go.) Drippings from dry-brined turkeys work in any gravy.
Whether you’re making classic last-minute gravy or our make-ahead recipe, remember that great gravy can only come from great stock. It’s absolutely worth the time to make your own turkey or chicken stock from scratch, but there are tricks to fortifying store-bought stock, too.
Evan Sung for The New York Times
To make your own stock, you first need poultry bones, either cooked or raw or a combination. Some of the bones should have meat on them, but most can be picked clean. I save my roast chicken carcasses in the freezer until stock-making day, and augment them with fresh chicken or turkey wings picked up at the supermarket. Two or three pounds of bones is plenty, but even a pound will give you enough stock to make gravy. If you’ve got turkey giblets from your bird (heart, gizzard, neck, anything but the liver), throw them into the pot with the bones and a big pinch of salt.
Add some vegetables and aromatics: a carrot, a leafy celery stalk, an onion and/or leek, a few cloves of peeled garlic, a bay leaf and/or some parsley stems, and a teaspoon of peppercorns.
Pour in enough water to cover all the solids by at least 2 inches. Then bring it up to a very gentle simmer and let it bubble for a couple of hours. I don’t bother skimming, but it won’t hurt if you do. Strain everything, pressing down on the solids, and chill for up to three days, or freeze for up to six months.
If you want to make a more intensely flavored stock, try this recipe by the chef Suzanne Goin, which calls for roasting the bones and the vegetables before they are combined with white wine and a red chile and simmered on the stove.
If making your own is out of the question, you can come pretty close with a good-quality poultry stock bought either from a butcher shop or specialty shop (preferably one made in-house). You’ll often find stocks in the freezer case.
If the supermarket is your only option, the rule for canned stock, or stock sold in Tetra Paks, is to taste before using. If it’s terrible, you’re better off with a bouillon cube and water, which is a low bar but marginally better than water. As a last-minute fix for weak stock, simmer it with the turkey giblets for an hour or two. That will fortify it.
Roux, a cooked mixture of equal parts flour and fat, like butter, oil or pan drippings, is what thickens a gravy. Here’s what you need to know.
A roux is made with equal parts fat and flour. If you’re making classic pan gravy, you’ll use the fat in the roasting pan. If you’re making gravy ahead of time, use butter, melting it in a medium pan over medium heat.
Either way, sprinkle in an equal amount of flour. (If you’re using butter, the ratio is 1/2 cup flour to one stick of butter.) Gently whisk the fat and flour together for at least 5 minutes, long enough for the raw taste of the flour to disappear. Keep cooking, whisking all the while, until the roux has reached your desired color.
A white or light roux, in which the flour is cooked briefly, will give you a mild mixture that lets the flavor of the poultry dominate. It’s also the most effective thickener. A dark, mahogany-colored roux adds an intense caramelized flavor to the gravy, but sometimes at the expense of turkey flavor. Or strike a balance and cook the roux until medium brown, which will give you a nuttiness that still allows the poultry character shine.