Gravy is a crucial part of Thanksgiving dinner—do it right and it can breathe new life into your turkey or mashed potatoes. And while good gravy can make or break the meal, it is very easy to drop the ball after a long day of cooking. The good news is that even the best gravy only takes 15 minutes of active work. Whether you're looking for a super simple gravy or a more complex variation flavored with fresh herbs, apple cider, or mustard, we have eight recipes that will treat your turkey with the respect it deserves.
The best turkey gravy starts with chicken stock, which we fortify with the neck, gizzards, and trimmings from the turkey plus a variety of vegetables. After simmering and straining the stock, all that you need to do is make a roux out of butter and flour and slowly incorporate the stock to make a rich, glossy gravy.
If you're overwhelmed by the rest of the dinner and want an easier gravy, you can skip making a the fortified stock and simply thicken drippings from the turkey with a roux—be careful to add the dripping gradually so that they don't clump. With such a simple recipe, this gravy has about as pure a turkey flavor as you can get.
White gravy isn't particularly traditional for Thanksgiving, but that doesn't mean it has no place on your holiday table. This recipe takes our basic gravy and adds 1/4 cup heavy cream right at the end. We also stir in sage, thyme, and rosemary to give the gravy a pleasant herbal flavor and aroma.
If you're anything like me you probably have apple cider in your fridge around Thanksgiving, so why not try putting some in the gravy? The cider gives gravy an earthy backbone and slight tartness that sets it apart. Sage is a classic herb to pair with apples, so we add in a couple of teaspoons.
Looking for a seriously earthy gravy? Try this recipe made by steeping dried porcinis in turkey drippings and sautéing them in butter. Sherry adds body and just a little heavy cream thickens the gravy without turning it white.
You could serve any gravy with smoked turkey, but we like to lean into the theme and go with a variation inspired by South Carolina-style mustard barbecue sauce. That means making the gravy with spicy Dijon mustard, aromatic shallots, and dry white wine (which has a more sophisticated tartness than the vinegar you would typically find in barbecue sauce).
We love using red wine, shallots, and thyme to make pan sauces for steaks, and the combination works just as well for turkey. It's worth noting that using turkey stock will give this gravy an odd purple color—use dark pan drippings for a browner gravy.
You don't need to eat wheat to have a great gravy—this recipe uses the same technique as our basic gravy, but swaps the white flour for sweet rice flour. Feel free to use sweet rice flour as a gluten-free alternative in our other gravy recipes, too.
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