It seems like some people are just born knowing how to make gravy from scratch while others struggle for years before finally succumbing to the heartbreak of gravy failure. If you think I am kidding around just bring a can of store bought gravy to the next southern dinner you get invited to.
No, please don’t. I can’t be responsible. Just read through and learn to make it right.
For this recipe you’ll need: milk or meat/poultry stock, fat (bacon grease, butter, drippings…whatever), flour, salt, pepper, additional seasonings as desired
So, just about everybody knows that people in the south consider gravy to be a vital part of the food pyramid, right? Country gravy, also known as cream gravy, goes on chicken fried steaks, chicken fried chicken, biscuits and such. Brown gravy goes on pot roast, roast chicken, turkey and stuff like that. Any kind of gravy goes on mashed potatoes.
Once you have that down you’re good to go.
It seems like people are less and less able to cook from scratch. I had an interesting conversation in the grocery store right around Thanksgiving with a woman that was likely in her late 30s or early 40s. She was looking at the boxed pudding mixes and couldn’t find the one she wanted. She asked if I happened to see it because she needed to make banana pudding.
Y’all would have been proud of me. I maintained my composure and took a deep breath. “You know you can make pudding, right?”
She rolled her eyes at me. “Well yeah! But I can’t find the right kind! The flavor will be wrong if I use butterscotch!”
I smiled what I hoped was a tolerant smile. “Actually, you can make your own pudding with milk, flour, eggs, butter, and vanilla.”
I’m telling you she was gobsmacked. She looked at me like I had sprouted horns and begun to levitate right there in the baking aisle. Pinky swear.
“I’m sorry, what?”
I sighed. Keep in mind, I have eight children. I was not a patient person at 20 but all of my pregnancies lasted 43 weeks, my kids were all stubborn like their mom, and by the time I was 50 I had learned that sometimes you just have to breathe through it. “You. Can. Make. Your. Own.”
I’ll just cut off the dialogue there. It ended up with her taking home my instructions for banana pudding, hand written on a brown paper towel from the bathroom.
How to Make Gravy from Scratch
Of course none of that helps you know how to make gravy. My point is that we just tend to buy convenience foods without thinking. Homemade from scratch often doesn’t take much more time, is cheaper, and definitely yummier. Society seems to be losing the ability to be independent of the local supercenter and I fear that one day a hostile government will come in and take over merely by confiscating boxed pudding and jarred gravy.
The technique is the same whether you are making cream gravy or brown gravy so this recipe will show you how to make gravy of any sort you like.
Best Tips for How to Make Gravy
- Don’t use margarine! Use real butter (not whipped), bacon fat, or drippings from the meat. Use oil if you must but don’t use margarine! Please!
- Go easy on the salt. You can always add more once it’s done.
- Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Yes, even in the cream gravy. It’s supposed to be “freckled”.
- Be sure to cook the flour in the fat for at least 2 minutes while stirring constantly. This will get rid of any raw flavor.
- When you add the liquid to the fat and flour mixture do it slowly while whisking with your other hand. Whisk quickly and all of the lumps should whisk right out. Do not let it scorch – there’s no coming back from that.
- If you’re worried about lumps in the gravy just strain the gravy as you pour it into the serving bowl. With practice there won’t be any lumps to strain out.
- Use evaporated milk or whole milk for your cream gravy. Do not use non-fat or low fat. Please, this is GRAVY.
- DO NOT dilute your gravy with water. Dear God.
- Strain any pieces of meat or vegetable out of your stock before making brown gravy.
- Always taste and adjust
Step by Step Turkey Gravy From Scratch
You’ll find the giblets and heart and liver in that paper bag inside the turkey. Some people add the liver to the simmering water but I don’t like the flavor. Do what you want about that. Learning how to make gravy is largely a matter of experimenting to see what you like best.
- Cover the neck and giblets and heart with water.
- Add 1 onion, peeled and cut in half as well as 1 peeled carrot, 1 stem of fresh rosemary, and 2 stalks of celery.
- Simmer covered until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are soft.
- Remove the vegetables and strain the stock to remove meat and vegetable matter – some people like to just blend the vegetables up with the broth for a heartier gravy. Others chop the cooked giblets, heart, and neck meat up and add it to the gravy. You’ve got options.
- Use as directed in the recipe.
Homemade Gravy FAQs
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about making gravy from scratch. If you can’t find you’re answer here go ahead and ask in the comments and I’ll get back to you.
How do you make gravy from meat juices?
Pretty much just like you make it with cream or milk.
- Collect the juices and the fat from the meat you are roasting or use prepared stock.
- Let the fat separate and skim it off.
- Add the fat to a heavy saucepan.
- Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in the meat juices and/or stock until you get a smooth gravy.
How Can I Make Quick Gravy?
If you don’t have meat juices and fat from roasting you can still make a great gravy with butter and store bought stock –
- Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Bacon grease works well, too.
- Add flour, stirring constantly for 2 minutes until the mixture is a light tan but don’t let it brown.
- Add broth, salt and pepper .
- Continue to stir for 3 minutes or until it thickens.
Can You Make Gravy with Flour and Water?
Not really – you need at least a little meat, chicken, or vegetable stock to give it flavor. Bullion is an inexpensive way to flavor your gravy.
Can You Make Gravy Out of Cornstarch?
You sure can. Usually people make it with flour but you can use cornstarch as well. Here’s how –
Mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 1/4 cup cold water until smooth. Stir into the pan of stock and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. It should thicken in about 1 minute. Substitute 1 tablespoon cornstarch for every 2 tablespoons flour to thicken gravy. There’s no need to make a roux.
Can You Use Baking Powder to Thicken Gravy?
You May Need…
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A balloon whisk is great for most things but once you use this weighted ball whisk for gravy you’ll be hooked. It takes much less effort!
Basic Gravy Recipe
Here’s that homemade Southern gravy recipe. Potatoes, biscuits, spoons…. it’s all good with gravy! If you like this recipe please give it 5 stars. Thanks!
Classic Southern Gravy
- 1/4 cup fat bacon fat is preferred -- no it's essential -- if you are making cream gravy
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk, chicken stock, turkey stock, or beef stock
- Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- Add the fat to a heavy skillet, melting it if it's solid.
- Whisk in the flour until no lumps remain.
- Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until it starts to brown and smell a little like roasting pecans.
- Whisk in the milk or stock, a little at a time, stirring until smooth and no lumps remain.
- Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes or until it thickens.
- Taste and add salt and pepper plus any other herbs and seasonings you'll be using.
- Serve immediately.
Now that you know how to make gravy give these other Restless Chipotle favorites a try!
From left to right: Hatch Chile Pimento Cheese, Damntastic Texas BBQ sauce, Homemade Fig Jam
Check out the other great recipes on the Meal Plan Monday roundup!