Holidays / Birthdays

make-ahead gravy recipe

graaaaaavvvvyyy ::::

Oh, how I love gravy. But when it’s bad, it pretty bad. Burnt, greasy, separating, clumpy, too salty — it’s all possible.

This recipe will never leave you in that bad category. It’s almost fail-proof — watch the butter-flour roux step carefully though. And, if you’re like me and make it well ahead of Thanksgiving, instead of rushing to throw it together while the turkey is cooling and there are a million other things to do for the table, if you do screw it up, you’ll have time to make a new batch. If you aren’t a fan of lumpy gravy, no fear, your blender will give you a smoothest, more velvety gravy you’ve ever tasted. The original recipe website (Barefoot Contessa at the Food Network) mentioned straining the onions from the gravy to smooth it — no! Keep the flavorful allium in there! I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

This has been my go-to gravy recipe for the past few years. I will post a detailed list how I do Thanksgiving cooking eventually — every year, I think I will have the list ready before Thanksgiving, then I never do. Too busy thinking about gravy, eating it, and not having enough to take a good photo (ahem, header photo shows all that was left this year).

This isn’t a deep brown gravy. It’s lighter, a deep ivory in color, but full of flavor from the onions. It complements not only the turkey, but almost anything else on your plate. Make extra.


One year ago: No posts for November. Weird. Enjoy chocolate peanut butter bars from December 2018 instead.

Two years ago: spaghetti fritters (and a pig named Grey Spot)

Three years ago: pickled okra and fried pasta chips (my post just after the election — my thoughts still hold true today)

Four years ago: pumpkin spice liqueur and red wine braised short ribs and a construction-themed birthday menu

Five years ago: lemon crinkle cookies and feline in memorium (when our 14-year-old cat died) and accordion potatoes 

Six years ago: coconut black rice pudding and tangled thai salad  and bloody broken glass cupcakes and watermelon-feta salad and lemon syrup and fermented grape soda

Seven years ago: ramen with tonkotsu broth and membrillo (quince paste)  and  braided peach curd bread and ginger frozen custard and peach sauce (or baby food) and strawberry balsamic smash and apricot-earl grey tea pâte de fruit and watermelon soda floats and pasta with fresh tomatoes, dill, and feta

Eight years ago: oven-roasted tomato tart and grilled fava beans  and lemon cupcakes and honey-tamarind pork ribs and watermelon granita and whole-wheat chocolate “PB&J” brownies and syrian baklava


make-ahead gravy recipe
Recipe type: holiday
Cuisine: Thanksgiving
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This is just enough for about 8 gravy eaters. If you have heavy gravy eaters, double the recipe. Leftover gravy freezes well, though a bit lumpy on reheating, or is great in turkey potpies.
  • ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups chopped yellow onion (about 2 onions) -- don't use the sweet onions here
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth, heated (original recipe calls for defatted turkey drippings but if I'm making this ahead, I don't bother with that)
  • 1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine, optional (I put this in)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream, optional (I sometimes add this. With or without, still excellent.)
  1. Cook the butter and onions over medium-low heat for 12 to 15 minutes in a large saute pan, until the onions are lightly browned. The browning is important! Don't miss this.
  2. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and whisk, then add the salt and pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat.
  3. Add the hot chicken stock mixture and Cognac (if using). Cook uncovered for 4 to 5 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally. Add the wine and cream (skip the cream if freezing the gravy before using; add when rewarming to eat).
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. NOTES: Some people like to strain the onions out -- no! Just blend it in a blender.
  6. If you reheat from freezing and the gravy is lumpy: Throw the gently heated mess into a blender. This will give you velvet smooth gravy.


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