Tricks for Making the Perfect Gravy

Updated on December 31, 2019
Athlyn Green profile image

Athlyn Green enjoys whipping up tasty dishes in her home kitchen. She's received many requests for her recipes and is happy to share.

Good Gravy is Lump-Free and Grease-Free
Good Gravy is Lump-Free and Grease-Free | Source

Gravy Shouldn't Be a Culinary Nightmare

Have you ever been invited out to dinner somewhere and when you sampled the gravy, you found bits of gristle or small lumps or noticed pools of grease living on the top? Nothing could be more unappetizing. Some cooks ruin what could have been perfectly good gravy. They never seem to master the art of making good gravy.

Or you might find when making it yourself, you encounter similar problems. How do you produce perfectly smooth gravy? How do you stop the flour from clumping and getting lumpy? And how to effectively combat the grease? You already know that skimming it off the top with a spoon isn't entirely effective.

This article will discuss tricks for making near-perfect gravy every time. Some of these ideas may be new to you. By the time you finish reading, you will be better-equipped to make gravy as it should be and not as a mere wannabe.

Are You Leaving Some of the Flavor Behind?

Before even addressing lumps or grease, your first step should be to remove your meat from your roasting pan and lightly simmer your meat juice, running your wooden spoon around the ring that has formed in your roaster. There's flavor lurking in that meat juice that has cooked onto the sides of your roaster and you want to incorporate that into any liquid in the pan.

Once you've run your wooden spoon around your roasting pan and scraped off the cooked-on meat juice, you want to make sure to not neglect the next important step.

Do You Serve Gristle Gravy?

Your gravy shouldn't be a landmine of hidden bits and pieces.

What Smooth Gravy Should Look Like
What Smooth Gravy Should Look Like | Source

Straining Your Gravy

As surprising as it may seem, some cooks neglect to strain their meat juice, and bits of fat and gristle and even small bone shards or burned bits from the bottom of the roasting pan remain to spoil the gravy. This is an important second step and one that shouldn't be neglected. You will need a fine metal mesh strainer that you will place over a pot, to strain the juice from the roasting pan.

Love Gravy But Not the Grease?

Many of us absolutely love, love, love gravy but could well pass on the grease. Small pools of it floating on top or a shiny layer not only looks unappetizing but it truly ruins what could have been a tasty topping for creamy mashed potatoes and meat.

Not only that, that layer of liquid fat adds extra calories and can leave one feeling decidedly queasy. Many of the usual methods for removing grease don't really don't do the job effectively.

  • Tilting: Many cooks do their best to remove the grease from meat juice by tilting their roasting pan or pot, allowing the grease to pool on the lower end, and then they try pouring it off.
  • Spooning: They may then resort to trying to skim off the rest with a spoon. If you have ever done this, you know you chase the fat around and around and in spite of your best efforts, a thin layer remains.
  • Post-Thickening: Other cooks make their gravy first, then try to remove the grease as it forms on top of the thickened gravy. The thicker gravy goes to the bottom and the fat sits on top, so it's easy to see but not quite as easy to remove.

You may have found yourself thinking, there's got to be a better way. Rest assured, there is!

Goodbye Grease

Take this one step and your gravy will be near-perfect.

A Neat Trick to Remove Grease From Gravy

This method is one of the best ways to easily remove almost all of the grease from meat juice before you turn it into thickened gravy. Cook your meat ahead of time. After you've strained your meat juice through your fine metal strainer, place your pot in the freezer. Leave until it is frozen.

Why do you do this? Because the fat will separate from the juice and rise to the top, and more importantly, it will freeze into a solid white-colored disc that can be lifted out in one piece. Once you've lifted out the solidified grease you can make your gravy.

Smooth or Lumpy?

Gravy should be smooth but that is not always the case. While it might seem relatively simple to make a lump-free gravy, many cooks struggle with it. What could go wrong with so few ingredients? Much can and does.

Gravy as It Should Be
Gravy as It Should Be

How to Thicken Gravy Without Lumps

You may have strained and gotten a nice smooth liquid, you may have vanquished the grease, but now comes what could be said to be the Waterloo for most cooks. And this make-or-break scenario happens when cooks try to thicken their gravy. Lumps! While flour gives a good flavor to gravy and some cooks prefer it over corn starch, using flour can be tricky and if you don't mix it just right, you set the stage for lumps.

There's light at the end of the gravy train, though. Making lump-free gravy with flour is doable—but it's not simply a matter of mixing flour and water, adding it to meat juice, and hoping for the best, as many cooks have discovered.

Gravy Made With Flour

  1. Place 1-2 tbsp of flour and enough water to cover it in a plastic container. Put a lid on and shake it well. Make sure you add enough water so that you get a slightly thickened but still runny mixture. This method of shaking in a container works well to combat lumping and is far more effective than trying to stir water and flour together without lumps appearing.
  2. Place water and flour in a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Use a dusting flour and use either of the methods above.
  4. Add this mixture to lightly simmering meat juice and stir with a whisk while it thickens, to produce smooth gravy. A whisk does a better job than a wooden spoon for ensuring that all is incorporated and that lumps do not form.

A Roux Means Velvety-Smooth Gravy

Another method is to make a roux. If you've ever made a white sauce, you will be familiar with the process. The video below shows how this is done. With butter as part of the mix, a gravy made this way has a rich flavor and is perfect for topping chicken, turkey, ham or homemade noodles. Roux is the basis of creamy mushroom gravies, as well.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fried chicken smothered in thick gravy--butter and flour are the start of something wonderful.A thickened gravy adds so much flavor to a meal
Fried chicken smothered in thick gravy--butter and flour are the start of something wonderful.
Fried chicken smothered in thick gravy--butter and flour are the start of something wonderful. | Source
A thickened gravy adds so much flavor to a meal
A thickened gravy adds so much flavor to a meal

Gravy Made With Corn Starch

  1. Using corn starch is by far the easiest way to achieve perfect lump-free gravy. You simply add 1 to 3 tbsp of cornstarch to a cup, add in enough water to mix it, and mix with a fork until corn starch is dissolved.
  2. You add this mixture to simmering meat juice and use a whisk to stir it in, then allow the mixture to gently simmer until it thickens, stirring occasionally.
  3. Adjust amounts, as necessary. If gravy is too runny, mix more of the corn starch with water and add to mixture. If gravy is too thick, add more water to your meat broth and simmer and stir until you've achieved the desired consistency.

Tip for More Juice

I always add a little extra water to my roasting pan when I'm cooking a roast or a chicken or turkey. This prevents the meat juice from drying out and burning on the bottom of the pan and also results in more liquid to make gravy with.

What's Your Biggest Gravy-Making Challenge?

See results

© 2017 Athlyn Green


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    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      We grew up in a Southern family so nearly every dish had gravy poured over it. Your tips for creating lump-free and grease-free gravy are wonderful and the freezer thing for separating the grease is a winner. I sometimes put the entire ceramic dish from the crock pot into the refrigerator to separate the grease which floats to the top when chilled.

    • Athlyn Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      3 years ago from West Kootenays

      Thank you, Chitrangada. I learned that freezer trick from my mother-in-law and what a difference!

      I like doing a roux for chicken or turkey, so easy for perfect gravy and such a rich flavor with the butter.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Great suggestions and tips for making the perfect gravy!

      I enjoyed going through your hub, even though I love making smooth gravy in my daily cooking. I must admit I learnt some new tricks through your well written and well presented hub.

      Thanks for sharing this excellent hub!


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