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Silky-Rich (and Foolproof) Turkey Gravy Recipe

Say goodbye to canned gravy on your turkey dinner table!

Say goodbye to canned gravy on your turkey dinner table!

Gravy Is a Must-Have With Turkey

The pure essence of the turkey has got to be in the gravy! For most people, the absence of a Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey gravy means the holiday feast is just not complete. A simply united blend of luscious roasted turkey drippings, turkey broth, and a roux (a mixture of flour and fat) placed before the diner is the grand dame of the holiday meal.

It's easy to make gravy right in the roasting pan, provided the pan is flame retardant; if not, just combine it in a saucepan and forge ahead. Pour off the lovely liquid drippings from the roasting pan, drizzle a bit of the broth into the hot pan and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to lift every bit of those cooked-on, flavor-rich drippings. Soon the concoction comes together in a ritual of tasteful ingredients that is fit for a king.

The Perfect Turkey Gravy Formula

In most cases, you compute the serving size for gravy as 1/3 cup per person. Keep the following easy gravy formula in mind and you can't go wrong!

For each cup of gravy, use:

  • 1 cup liquid
  • 1 tablespoon fat
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour

For example, to make 12 servings of turkey gravy, use:

  • 4 cups liquid (turkey broth plus de-fatted pan juices)
  • 4 tablespoons fat
  • 6 tablespoons flour

Note: If you don't have enough of the turkey pan drippings to make the amount of gravy to serve all of your guests, add homemade or low-sodium store-bought broth to make up the liquid difference.

Every great turkey gravy makes good use of giblets.

Every great turkey gravy makes good use of giblets.

What Are Giblets?

I realize you probably already know what giblets are and that they make a very traditional gravy. If misused, the liver flavor can shift the taste acceptability towards a more trained and gourmet palate, pleasing only the real die-hard liver-loving gourmets.

But, just in case you are not really familiar with turkey giblets, they are a complex flavor-rich group of turkey by-products. Turkey giblets usually consist of the heart, liver, gizzards (stomach parts), tail, and neck.

Typically, you will find the giblets wrapped up in a package within your turkey's cavity. Because of the aforementioned dominant flavor of the liver, I don't recommend using it in the making of your broth because most diners find the taste too bitter. However, feel free to sautée diced turkey liver in butter and add it to the stuffing for a masterful flavor boost.

Use the Giblets to Make a Rich Gravy

Don't throw away those giblets! They can make a beautifully rich and tasty turkey gravy. And get this, you don't have to simmer them for hours to get that flavor, either. You can fully jump-start the flavor extraction by sweating the giblets in a bit of oil and chopped onion before adding the water. Then it only takes about an hour to develop a worthy turkey broth. Here is the bonus, you can make this broth up to three days ahead of time, keeping it in the refrigerator, or up to a month if kept in the freezer! Now that's being fully prepared!

Turkey Giblet Gravy

Yield: about 3 1/2 cups


  • Giblets (no liver)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 large sprigs each of parsley, sage & thyme
  • 9 black peppercorns


  1. Chop the neck into three pieces with a cleaver. Dice the rest of the turkey giblets coarsely.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the giblets and neck pieces along with the onion and about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Mix to get everything coated with the oil and salt, cover and cook gently for about 25 minutes, stirring every so often. The meat will release most of its juices because of salt and heat application, so be certain that you get enough salt into the mix.
  3. Add the water, carrot, celery, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, and peppercorns. Bring the ingredients to a boil, cover, reducing the heat to a mild simmer. Cook the broth for about 45 minutes. Strain the broth and use right away or let it cool.

Note: You can clean the neck and tail of the meat and add it along with the chopped giblets to the gravy to enhance the flavor.

Using a fat-separating cup can make life in the kitchen much easier.

Using a fat-separating cup can make life in the kitchen much easier.

Instructions for Making Smooth Turkey Gravy

  1. Heat the turkey broth. Pour the juices from the roasting pan into a heat-resistant cup. Watch as the fat separates and rises to the top (it takes a few minutes). Spoon off the fat you need for the gravy (using the gravy servings formula above) and add it back into the turkey roasting pan or saucepan if your roasting pan is not flame-retardant. Skim off the remaining fat from the juices and discard (or freeze it for another time). Add the juices to the broth. Place the turkey roasting pan over two burners and set on medium heat. Scatter the flour into the pan. Stir with a whisk or wooden spoon until a golden color is present—about 2 minutes. You must cook off the flour taste, or it will find its way into your finished gravy, and that is not fit for a king.
  2. To prevent lumps from sneaking into your turkey gravy, gradually pour approximately ½ cup of the turkey broth into the pan, whisk this aggressively to break up the flour particles evenly, so they blend more finely and smoothly with the liquid. The flour particles can absorb more liquid, keeping the gravy smooth if a larger amount of the particle surface is exposed to the liquid by whisking. The mixture should thicken very quickly and turn into a paste-like substance. Don't panic. This is a good thing. When you see the mixture thickening, quickly add another ± ½ cup of the broth while still whisking away. Continue this process until you see the gravy looking more like a silky smooth gravy rather than a thick school paste.
  3. Now it is safe to whisk in the rest of the broth and allow the gravy to rise to a boil. Add a sprig of fresh thyme and a few leaves of fresh sage and simmer for around 5 minutes. Strain the gravy through a sieve (or any medium-mesh strainer), adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve in your favorite warmed gravy boat or another warm serving dish.