How to Make Gravy From Scratch
Figuring out how to make gravy from scratch can enrich holiday recipes and elevate weeknight meals. Gravy is a velvety sauce ladled on top of roasts or used to enhance vegetables or sides. It’s near impossible not to dunk a yeasted roll in a pool of gravy, right? So, let’s learn more about how make gravy from scratch.
Is there more than one method on how to make gravy from scratch? In reality, learning how to make gravy from scratch involves getting a feel for the underlying techniques and textures—more than mastering one single sauce recipe. Each method results in distinct textures and tastes. Homemade gravy can embellish an elegant holiday roast. Other from-scratch gravies might drench a breakfast biscuit any day of the year.
Given how easy it is to learn the basics of how to make gravy from scratch, it’s just as simple to make a satisfying vegetarian or vegan gravy as a meat or cheese accented savory sauce.
When grappling with how to make gravy from scratch, it can be helpful first to review the different types of gravy. There are a few kinds of sauce that you might wonder about to make gravy from scratch—from the classic roast beef pairing to mashed potatoes’ saucy best friend.
Jump to Section
- How to Make Homemade Gravy
- How to Make Brown Gravy from Scratch
- How to Make White Gravy from Scratch
- How to Make Sausage Gravy from Scratch
- How to Make Turkey Gravy from Scratch
- How to Make Beef Gravy from Scratch
- Chef's Tips and Gravy Recipe
At its simplest, making gravy from scratch involves a blending of a few flexible ingredients:
- thickener (i.e., flour or cornstarch)
- fat (i.e., pan drippings, melted butter, heated oil, etc)
- savory liquid sauce base (i.e., stock, wine, or dairy)
- seasonings (i.e., salt/pepper, fresh herbs, soy sauce, etc).
For a richer or more substantial sauce, some gravies made from scratch also contain cheese or bits of roast meat.
Since there are many variations on how to make gravy from scratch, let’s dive a little deeper into some of the common types—including the easy techniques and twists needed.
The process for how to make gravy from scratch is fairly standard across the rainbow of gravies out there. First up, you’ll need to make a thickening roux out of cooked flour and warmed fat. The fat of the gravy can vary. It’s true that some expert cooks who’ve already figured out how to make gravy from scratch use pan drippings or rendered meat fats from a roast for their roux. Still, any traditional gravy can start with a fat-plus-flour roux. Secondly, you’ll slowly whisk the sauce liquid into the roux.
Now that you know the basic contours for how to make gravy from scratch, let’s move on to exploring a more step-by-step approach for the following gravy varieties: brown, white, turkey, sausage and beef.
The first step in how to make gravy from scratch is to decide which kind of stock you’ll be using to make brown gravy. Since most of the flavor of a no-drippings brown gravy comes from the broth, you’ll want to use a high-quality base liquid. Bone broth or organic broths are ideal.
Make a simple roux by melting two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and then sprinkling in two tablespoons of flour. Cook the roux, over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. You’ll want the flour to brown just a little—it should smell like buttered toast. This step is essential for how to make gravy from scratch.
While the roux is cooking, preheat your stock in a separate saucepan until it just starts to steam around the edges of the pan.
Pour two to three cups of high-quality bone broth or flavorful stock into the roux. Adjust the heat up to medium, simmering the roux and the liquid together while stirring constantly. It is important to continuously whisk to avoid lumps.
When developing the skills on how to make gravy from scratch, the amount of cook time needed will vary pending on how thick of a gravy you’re aiming for. It should take 4-8 minutes to morph into a velvety sauce. If you use two cups of liquid, you’ll end up with a thicker gravy. If you use three cups of liquid, your initial gravy will be a bit thinner.
Once the gravy is thickened, season the gravy to your preference. Remove the gravy from the heat.
Brown gravy can be served right away or made in advance to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. For a gourmet twist, you can always use pan juices from a roast and the skimmed fat from the drippings in lieu of the stock and the butter. For everyday noshing, a no-drippings brown gravy is easier and just as belly-pleasing.
Now that you’ve figured out how to make brown gravy from scratch, let’s dig into some other gravies you may want to cook.
White gravy is a country cousin to brown gravy. So, the steps and techniques you’ll use for how to make white gravy from scratch are similar.
What is white gravy? White gravy is a staple of Southern cooking in the United States. It’s a creamy, dairy-based gravy with a peppery kick. It’s often served over fluffy buttermilk biscuits or ladled atop chicken-fried steak.
A foundational step in how to make gravy from scratch, you’ll start with a simple roux. Melt two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of flour together. Next, pour in two to three cups of whole milk, whisking constantly over medium heat. Keep stirring until the gravy has significantly thickened, about 3-8 minutes, depending on how cold your milk is to start. You can now season your white gravy with salt and pepper. Since milk is less seasoned than stock, you’ll want to be generous with the black pepper and salt to add flavor.
When it comes to understanding how to make gravy from scratch, learning to make sausage gravy will add one more Southern sauce to your recipe repertoire. In fact, Southern sausage gravy is in reality a type of white gravy. It is made with breakfast sausages, flour, milk, salt and pepper.
To make sausage gravy from scratch, first cook ½ pound of pork breakfast sausage meat (without the casing) over medium heat. Brown until the sausage meat is no longer pink. You’ll need to use fresh instead of frozen breakfast sausages here because you want the sausage meat to crumble and separate while cooking.
Once the sausage meat has cooked, add two tablespoons of flour. Stir it with a fork, creating a sort of roux from the mixture of the rendered fat, seasoned pork meat, and flour.
To turn the cooked flour-and-sausage mixture into sausage gravy, pour in two to three cups of whole milk while stirring constantly over medium heat. Simmer for 7-10 minutes, adding in a little extra milk if it thickens too quickly.
Season generously with fresh-cracked black pepper and serve over buttery biscuits or grits!
When learning how to make gravy from scratch, turkey gravy is a classic all omnivore home cooks will want to master. One of the easiest ways how to make turkey gravy from scratch is to whisk together a simple flour-butter roux with a flavorful turkey stock until thickened—following the same ratios described in the how to make brown gravy steps above.
Alternatively, for a special holiday, you can also make turkey gravy with pan drippings. To make a pan drippings turkey gravy, you’ll want to strain the pan juices and drippings—allowing it to cool slightly until the fat rises to the top.
Skim off two tablespoons of turkey fat and use this to make a roux with equal parts flour. Remove the rest of the fat from your roasted turkey juices. Measure out two cups of turkey roasting liquid. Whisk this together with the roux until thickened. For a thinner sauce, use more liquid. For a thicker sauce, use up to ¼ cup of flour with ¼ cup of rendered turkey fat.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper or fresh herbs.
Beef gravy, like turkey gravy, can be made with a butter-based roux and beef stock. Or, it can be made by combining the juices from roast beef with a roux made of flour and the rendered beef fat from the roast.
When you’re trying to learn how to make gravy from scratch, the choice is yours — quick and easy (stock and roux) or gourmet and slow (roasting beef and pan drippings). In either case, beef has a richer fat. So, to cut the fattiness of your gravy, we recommend adding a ¼ cup of sherry or red wine in addition to the base liquid.
For homemade beef gravy, you can combine two tablespoons of melted fat (either the fat skimmed from beef drippings or melted butter) with two tablespoons of flour to create a roux. Then, you’ll whisk the roux together with 2-3 cups of either beef stock or beef juices with the extra fat skimmed off. It can be easier to skim the beef fat if you let the juices fully cool in your fridge — the beef fat will solidify on top of the chilled gravy.
While the gravy is thickening, you can pour in the wine towards the end to add a hint of depth and acid. Enjoy hot or store in your refrigerator or freezer in a well-sealed container.
Knowing how to make gravy from scratch doesn’t need to stay a secret only your grandparents understand. Follow the techniques and tips above for a memorable, velvety, and scrumptious gravy — whether you plan on slow-roasting a holiday turkey or whipping up a quicker savory sauce to garnish a weeknight plate of roasted vegetables.
- When preparing how to make gravy from scratch, you’ll also want to check to see if your broth is low-sodium or not. This can impact how much seasoning you’ll add.
- For a flavor boost, free to simmer the base liquid ahead of time with additions like a bay leaf, one teaspoon of either Worcestershire or soy sauce, and/or fresh herbs, such as sage, tarragon or flat-leaf parsley. Remove the fresh herbs before making the gravy.
- Please take caution to avoid turning up the heat to high to speed along the thickening! The flour in the sauce can burn to the bottom of your pan, creating a bitter and unpleasant gravy.
- If your gravy is too thin, you can keep reducing it, while stirring, to further thicken up the brown gravy.
- If your gravy is too thick, loosen up the sauce by pouring in a little more stock while whisking.
- Think outside of the classic salt and pepper when seasoning your gravy, such as umami-packed seasoning sauces, like Worcestershire or soy sauce. You could also opt for celery salt or white pepper for a more seasonal accent.
Check out our tried and true gravy recipe below.
How to Make Gravy From Scratch Recipe
Directions 6 steps | 20 Minutes
Measure and prep all ingredients. Preheat your stock in a saucepan until it just starts to steam around the edges of the pan.
In a second saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and then sprinkle in the flour.
Whisk, cooking the flour and the butter together until it smells toasty.
Then, pour in the warm stock or milk while continuously whisking. Be sure to break up the roux, so it melts into the liquid and no lumps form.
Simmer and stir on medium heat for 5-7 minutes until it thickens. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve hot so the gravy doesn’t congeal and set. Enjoy!