Easy Lump-free Thanksgiving Turkey Gravy

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gravy 2 11-12 IMG_2641Prep 5 mins   Cook  20 mins   Simmer 3 hours   Eat 3:25

Would you like to learn how to make a super easy gravy without lumps this Thanksgiving?  I have a foolproof method that I learned in culinary school that is so simple, you will wonder why you didn’t learn it sooner. That’s how I felt after learning it.  Whenever I am invited to someone’s home where turkey is being roasted, I am always asked to make the gravy.  No problem.

When I was growing up, every mother I knew had a shaker that you put flour and water into to mix into the turkey drippings on Thanksgiving, but I have learned, this is NOT the way to make gravy without lumps, so follow my easy steps for a stress free gravy making day.


Turkey Stock 11-12Step 1: Make the turkey stock.  This is optional, but it is so easy, why not, I say? You could use purchased chicken broth or my favorite product, Better than Bouillon in place of the turkey stock.

Turkey Stock ingred 11-12Place turkey neck and giblets into a pot.  Add a sliced onion, peeled carrot, celery stalk, 2 parsley stems, 2 sprigs of thyme or 1/2 tsp thyme, 2 whole cloves and 2 peppercorns.  Add enough water to cover and then some, about 10 cups.  You’ll end up with about 6 cups stock in the end.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, turn heat to low. Simmer on low during the time the turkey is cooking, 3-4 hours.  Skim off any scum that floats to the top.  Continue to add more water to the pot during the first couple hours as it evaporates.

This is how your stock will look after 3-4 hours of simmering.

This is how your stock will look after 3-4 hours of simmering.

Remove from heat after four hours or when your turkey is done cooking.

Strain stock into a pourable container.

Strain stock into a pourable container.

Cool a little and strain, discarding the solids, unless you want to save the giblets for your gravy.  You should have about 6 cups liquid. (Liquid #1)

The fat will rise to the top and this fat separator allows you to pour off the liquid to be used later and remove the fat to begin your roux.

The fat will rise to the top and this fat separator allows you to pour off the liquid from the bottom to be used later and remove the fat to begin your roux.

Step 2. Prep Drippings. After removing turkey from the roasting pan, pour drippings into a measuring cup, preferably a fat separator that has the spout on the bottom like this one, that allows you to pour the liquid off to save for later (Liquid #2) and have the turkey fat remaining, or without the fat separator, ladle off the fat from the top and place in a saucepan.

Add water to the roasting pan and stir up all the flavorful stuff.  Strain this and use the liquid for the gravy.

Add water to the roasting pan and stir up all the flavorful stuff on the bottom. Strain this and use the liquid for the gravy.

Add some water to what’s left in the turkey roasting pan and place on stove to heat while stirring to loosen the browned bits that have so much flavor.    Strain this liquid (Liquid #3) into a separate container.

Turkey fat + butter to equal 1/2 cup.  Double or triple as necessary.

Turkey fat + butter to equal 1/2 cup. Double or triple as necessary.

Step 3.  Make Roux.  Start with a saucepan on medium-low heat large enough to match your gravy eating crowd. Add 1/2 cup fat from the drippings to the saucepan. Double or triple according to your guest count.  If you are short of fat, add butter to bring to the desired quantity.  Add 1/2 cup flour to the saucepan or the same quantity of fat/butter in the pan.  Stir or whisk to combine the two.

The fat/butter flour roux is the base of lumpless turkey gravy.

The fat/butter flour roux is the base of lumpless turkey gravy.

Here is where the magic begins.  The fat coats the individual grains of flour so that they are protected from the liquid wanting to clump the flour together into lumps, hence lumpy gravy.  So spend some time with your roux – like at least 5 minutes to make sure the flour is evenly coated with the fat.

Add the liquid in a steady stream

Add the liquid in a steady stream as you whisk a cup or so at a time.

Step 4. Add the liquid. Your final step to perfect gravy.  DO NOT ADD ALL THE LIQUID IN AT ONCE.  Increase the heat to medium and pour the liquid a cup or so at a time  – the turkey stock you made (#1), the liquid at the bottom of the fat (#2), the strained water/drippings from the bottom of the roasting pan (#3), the chicken broth you opened from a can or made from my favorite product, Better than Bullion – into the roux while you whisk it all together.  The roux will magically melt into the liquid and thicken it.   Wait until the mixture bubbles or boils to see how thick the gravy is, before adding all the liquid into the roux.  Add more liquid until you reach the desired consistency, adding water at the end if necessary.

This is what the gravy should look like.

This is what the gravy should look like.

I like when it coats the spoon, but not so thick that the spoon can stand up in the mixture.  haha, that’s a joke.  Remember that it will thicken as it cools at the table also.  This would be a good time to add in any other liquids you would like in your gravy, like a little wine or some brandy. Once added, cook a couple minutes to cook out the alcohol.

gravy 3 11-12 IMG_2648Step 5.  Season.  Very Important. If you are using fresh made stock, you absolutely must add salt and pepper.  If using a purchased broth, it will have the salt in it already, so TASTE, TASTE, TASTE.  Add salt and pepper in your hand first, then into the pot, so you don’t accidentally end up dumping 1/2 the salt container into the pot and ruining your gravy.  If you don’t add salt, no one is going to like your gravy, it must be seasoned.  Feel free to add in other seasonings, depending on your family’s taste, but in small quantities.

Print this Recipe

Turkey Gravy Ingredients for approximately 6 cups gravy to serve 15 guests.

1 turkey neck and giblets
10 cups water
1 large carrot peeled and cut into 1 inch slices
1 rib celery, cut into 1 inch slices
1 onion, sliced
2 parsley stems
2 sprigs thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 whole cloves
2 peppercorns
1/2 cup turkey fat or butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt & pepper to taste

YOU HAVE NOW GRADUATED FROM GRAVY 101.  I hope this has been helpful.  Please share your success stories or questions with me.  Be patient and soon you will become a gravy-making expert!

All good!  YUM!

All good! YUM!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving meal!  Check out these sides and desserts to add to your meal.

Easy Cranberry Sauce,

Yam & Swiss Chard or Kale Gratin,

Braised Brussels Sprouts with Bacon or Not

Thanksgiving Brussels Spouts with Chestnuts,

Yam & Carrot Latkes,

Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake,

Sweet Potato Pie,

Foolproof Pie Crust

and for the day after, Turkey Stock made from turkey carcass.

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