8 Mistakes You’re Probably Making with Homemade Gravy

The process of learning how to make gravy is fraught with mistakes. Here's how to fix 'em!

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Homemade gravy in a sauce dish with turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas
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When we say something is “gravy,” we mean it’s a “luxury.” But the truth is, gravy isn’t a luxury—it’s an essential! It helps enhance the flavor of your roasted meats and brings together all the flavors on the table.

Grandma accentuated the positive when she taught us how to make gravy, but it’s also helpful to know how to avoid mistakes.

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Rape flower on wooden table
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Skimping on the fat

Good gravy starts with fat. There’s simply no way around it. You’ll need a few tablespoons of a neutral fat (such as canola oil) to brown your aromatics. And, of course, you’ll need pan drippings to build your gravy’s flavor.

Find our directions for how to make gravy from scratch.

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cornstarch in a spoon
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Shunning starch

In addition to fat, another gravy essential is starch, usually in the form of flour, cornstarch or something similar. Starch helps bind the elements of your gravy together and give it a substantial body. Here’s how to decide which starch to use.

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Tasty turkey gravy in saucepan
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Skipping the roux

Before you can add starch to your gravy, you’ll need to blend the starch with fat. That’s what roux is: a smooth paste made from starch mixed with fat. We recommend a 1:1 ratio of starch to fat, and the consistency should resemble smooth, wet sand.

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Glass pouring liquid on saucepan.

Adding liquid too quickly

In addition to fat and starch, gravy requires a liquid (such as broth). The liquid not only adds flavor but also increases the volume of the gravy so that it has time to cook down to an intense flavor without burning. But if you add the liquid too quickly, you’re going to risk lumps.

Finally! The difference between broth and stock explained.

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Making Gravy And Whisking

Not using a whisk

Speaking of blending, you’ll want to use a whisk. Along with adding your liquid gradually, a whisk helps in the fight against lumps. Sure, a fork would work, but a whisk is so much better. Keep whisking until your gravy boils and thickens (again, to avoid lumps).

Here’s our favorite kind of whisk for making gravy.

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Young woman cooking in kitchen, closeup; Shutterstock ID 574318603; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH
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Seasoning before tasting

Since you’re building your gravy from pan drippings, your gravy’s flavor will reflect the seasoning used on your meat. In addition, whatever liquid you’re adding to your gravy will have its own flavors. Until the drippings and liquid come together, you won’t know what extra seasonings your gravy needs.

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Making Gravy On The Restaurant Stove

Not letting the gravy cool once

When you let your gravy cool once, the excess fat will rise to the top, and you can skim it off easily. Skipping this step can leave your gravy with a greasy mouth-feel. Plan to cool your gravy, then re-heat and serve.

Next up—mastering the art of the perfect stuffing.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly in The Huffington Post as well as a variety of other publications since 2008 on such topics as life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. She is also a writer of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.