No turkey dinner is complete without this rich, savory sauce—it's what ties the whole meal together. But getting it just right can be tricky. Try our basic recipe, and here’s how to troubleshoot the most common conundrums.
PROBLEM: IT’S BLAND
If your gravy lacks depth, add a scoop of store-bought demi-glace (we like D’Artagnan’s duck-and-veal demi-glace) for meaty richness, or a splash of soy sauce for an umami infusion. If it lacks flavor, you should adjust seasoning as necessary with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. If you use canned stock instead of homemade, the gravy might not be as flavorful. Homemade stock, even made with chicken rather than turkey, will produce a superior gravy—so it's worth the effort.
PROBLEM: IT'S DOUGHY TASTING OR CHALKY
Make sure the flour has been cooked long enough: When flour is added to the pan drippings or butter, whisk constantly while the mixture cooks until it turns a deep golden brown and smells nutty. If the gravy tastes floury when you're almost finished, turn up the heat to maintain a rapid simmer for several minutes; then thin it again with more stock or water if necessary.
PROBLEM: IT'S GREASY
A fat separator should eliminate this problem. If you discover that your gravy is oily toward the end of its preparation, skim off as much fat as possible with a wide-bowled spoon.
PROBLEM: IT'S LUMPY
If bumps appear no matter how well you whisk, it’s probably because you’ve added flour directly to hot stock; starch granules swell unevenly in boiling liquid. To save it, pour the sauce through a fine sieve. And next time, start by mixing 2 cups room-temperature stock with 1 tablespoon instant flour, such as Wondra (it’s precooked and dried so it will dissolve easily). Then stir that mixture into the boiling stock.
PROBLEM: IT'S TOO THIN
Simmer over medium-high heat, allowing liquid to reduce. If your gravy is still too thin, add a beurre manie: Make a paste of equal parts flour and room-temperature unsalted butter, and add it a little at a time, whisking constantly, until the gravy thickens.
PROBLEM: IT'S TOO THICK
Gradually whisk a little stock or water into the gravy until it reaches desired consistency.
PROBLEM: NO DRIPPINGS
The liquid and juicy bits from the roasting pan form gravy’s flavor base. If you’re grilling or frying the bird this year, make them with a simple work-around: Roast chicken wings, and deglaze the pan with stock.
Watch our Kitchen Conundrums expert Thomas Joseph whip up a delicious gravy without drippings: