No turkey is complete without gravy!! Whether it’s for roasted turkey or slow cooker turkey, a whole turkey or breast, you’ve landed at the right place for a turkey gravy recipe that’s SO GOOD you’ll be using it for your veggies, your mash, and everything in between.
Plus, my cheeky tip for how to darken gravy to make it a beautiful deep brown colour, as well as how to make gluten-free gravy!
When it comes to turkey, there are those in the Cranberry Sauce camp, and those in the gravy camp. Me – I’ve got a foot in both camps.
There’s nothing quite like the combination of turkey with sweet-tart cranberry sauce. But on the other hand, gravy and I are very good friends. You’d be hard pressed to find a roast on this site that doesn’t come with a gravy recipe!!
I have a regular “formula” I use for any gravy which I also apply to turkey gravy:
TWO WAYS TO MAKE TURKEY GRAVY
The best way to make turkey gravy depends on how you cooked your turkey.
- Roasted turkey will have pan drippings which provides the flavour base for the turkey gravy. This method requires broth/stock to make gravy; and
- Slow cooker turkey does not have pan drippings. Instead, the juices left in the slow cooker after cooking the turkey is used as the stock/broth for the gravy. Here are slow cooker turkey recipes I’ve shared: Classic Juicy Slow Cooker Turkey Breast and Slow Cooker Garlic Herb Turkey Breast.
1. TURKEY GRAVY – FOR ROASTED TURKEY
This is how I make gravy for roasted turkey. I almost always place garlic and onion in the base of the pan as this adds terrific extra flavour to the turkey gravy. I also usually include a bunch of herbs – whatever I’m using in the turkey also goes in the pan.
Next, it’s important to add some kind of liquid into the pan, otherwise you’ll end up with a burnt mess under the turkey. I use 1.5 to 2 cups of white wine or water. I do not use chicken or turkey broth because I use broth later when making the gravy. If you use it both in the pan and when making the gravy, the savoury flavour of the gravy is too concentrated.
Proceed to roast the turkey per the recipe. Once cooked, remove the turkey and the liquid and fat left in the pan is the flavour base for the gravy – this is called drippings.
I make the gravy in the roasting pan as this ensures that none of the flavour from the drippings is wasted. It’s ideal to use a double burner but even a single burner stove is fine (which is what I use in the recipe video).
We only need 2 to 3 tablespoons of fat from the pan drippings to make gravy. With fattier cuts of meat, like roast lamb and pork, you usually need to scoop off excess fat from the drippings otherwise the gravy is too greasy. You don’t need to do this with turkey because it’s not as fatty.
Leave the onion and garlic in the pan, we’re going to extract all the flavour out of it later when we strain the gravy.
Add flour and mix, then add chicken or turkey broth. Simmer to thicken, season to taste with pepper.
Once the gravy has thickened to your taste – remember that it will thicken as it cools – strain it into a bowl then pour into a jug for serving. Tip: Keep it warm in a thermos or similar! Saves having to reheat and also prevents skin forming on top.
2. TURKEY GRAVY – FOR SLOW COOKER TURKEY
The steps depicted above for making gravy using pan drippings is the classic way to make gravy. Making gravy for slow cooker turkey is different because we do not have a pan of browned pan drippings to use as the starting point.
Instead, I either skim fat off the strained slow cooker liquids OR use butter as the starting point (if there’s not enough fat in the liquids).
Then mix in flour and use the slow cooker juices as the broth for the gravy.
HOW TO DARKEN GRAVY
Because we don’t get caramelisation in slow cookers, Slow Cooker turkey gravy is pale unless you use a gravy darkener of some sort. The taste is great, it’s just a visual thing that bothers some people (like me!).
You can buy gravy darkeners, but my cheeky tip to darken gravy as well as add seasoning is to use dark soy sauce. I know what you’re thinking – “that’s so Asian!!” 😂 And sure, I thought of this because I know Asian condiments well.
But it’s 100% effective. It darkens the gravy as well as seasons it but it does not make it taste Asiany! Soy sauce nowadays is used as a means to add salt and flavour into many non-Asian recipes. It’s a better version of salt because it has more umami (savouriness) than salt.
Try it – you’ll be converted for life!
Alternative: Worcestershire sauce can also be used but approach with caution because the flavour can overwhelm. You won’t achieve the same dark brown colour (or if you do, the gravy flavour will be dominated by Worcestershire sauce).
Here’s a comparison of the two gravies. On the left is the gravy for Juicy Roast Turkey made using the pan drippings. A natural deep brown colour.
And on the right is the gravy from the Slow Cooker Garlic Herb Turkey Breast I shared recently.
Both are delicious!
While the two methods are different, both yield an intensely savoury, can’t-stop-mopping-it-up delicious gravy that you’ll want to pour over everything!
Enjoy! – Nagi x
PS All my turkey recipes come with a gravy recipe, but in case you’re wanting to browse, here’s a list of them. 🙂
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Video tutorial for how to make turkey gravy for ROASTED Turkey:
Video tutorial for how to make turkey gravy for SLOW COOKER Turkey:
Recipe video above. See separate recipe below for SLOW COOKER turkey (methods are different). This recipe assumes a WHOLE Roasted Turkey to 6 kg / 8 - 12lb. If yours is larger, scale recipe up (see Note 1 for quantity) If you roasted breast, you won't have much pan drippings (because it's pretty lean) so use the Slow Cooker turkey gravy recipe. This gravy is outrageously delicious so make plenty!
- Roasting pan with drippings (Note 2)
- 5 tbsp (60g) flour , plain / all purpose
- 4 cups (875 ml) chicken broth / stock, low sodium
- Salt and pepper
Place the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat. Single burner is fine, but ideal if it fits across two. Leave garlic, onion etc and other flavourings things in the pan (Note 1)
When it starts sizzling/bubbling, add flour. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Gradually pour the liquid in, mixing constantly. Once it's all in, it should be lump free. If not, use a whisk - whisk around the onion etc.
Simmer until it thickens to taste - gravy will thicken as it cools. Adjust salt and pepper to taste right at the end.
Strain into a bowl, pressing the juices out of the onion, garlic etc. then discard them.
Pour gravy into jug and serve with turkey. Tip: To keep gravy warm, store in a thermos!
1. QUANTITY: I make 1/4 to 1/3 cup of gravy per person. Use the recipe scaler to scale the recipe up for down.
2. DRIPPINGS: I always roast my meats with onion and garlic in the pan because it caramelises and adds terrific flavour to the gravy. Leave them IN to make gravy. Remove turkey and loosely cover with foil to rest per the turkey recipe you are using. Meanwhile, make the gravy.
IMPORTANT: Ensure that the recipe you are using calls for at least 1.5 cups of liquid in the turkey roasting pan. Otherwise, you'll end up with a burnt mess under the turkey which cannot be used for gravy.
3. GLUTEN FREE: Skip flour. Add 2 tsp cornflour/cornstarch mixed with splash of water for every 1 cup of broth used ("cornflour slurry") For 4 cups broth, use 8 tsp of cornflour. Pour broth into pan, add slurry, mix. As it heats up, it will thicken.
- Gravy is a pale colour: means the drippings weren't caramelised enough. Add a touch of dark soy sauce or a very small amount of Worcestershire sauce.
- Too salty: Can happen if pan drippings were excessively salty (ie too much salt used in roast turkey recipe), if you use full salt broth instead of low sodium etc. To fix, melt 1.5 tbsp / 20g unsalted butter (or even oil), mix in 1.5 tbsp flour, cook 1 min, add 1 cup water. Mix until lump free, then add into gravy. Note: If you use my Juicy Roast Turkey recipe, the gravy will not be too salty!
- Too thin: cook more to reduce down to thicken.
- Too thick: Add water.
- My rules of thumb:
1.5 tbsp flour per 1 cup liquid
3 tbsp flour per 2 cups of liquid
4 tbsp = 2.5 cups liquid
5 tbsp = 4 cups liquid
Recipe video above. Turkey gravy for turkey made in a slow cooker is made differently to roasted turkey! See above for gravy for ROAST turkey. Just as delicious, just different steps because we don't have pan drippings to work with. This recipe makes 2 cups of gravy. Allow 1/4 to 1/3 cups per person.
- All juices from slow cooker
- Turkey or chicken broth/stock (low sodium), for topping up
- 2 cups / 500 ml Broth for Gravy
- 4 tbsp / 50g unsalted butter OR skim fat off surface of slow cooker juices (Note 1)
- 1/4 cup / 35 g flour , plain/all purpose
- 1/4 tsp + dark soy sauce (or store bought gravy colouring) (Note 1)
- Salt and pepper
Strain all the juices from the slow cooker into a bowl. If you have less than 2 cups (500ml), top up with store bought broth (chicken or turkey). I have never had to do this.
If you have more, use all the slow cooker juices (just needs to reduce longer to thicken).
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook for 1 minute.
Slow add broth, stirring constantly. Mix until lump free - switch to whisk if required.
Simmer for a few minutes until it thickens to desired consistency.
Add dark soy sauce (or gravy darkener) to achieve desired colour without affecting taste. Use a tiny bit at a time.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour into jug and serve. TIP: Keep gravy warm in a thermos until required.
1. SKIM FAT off slow cooker juices - you can only do this for recipes that use quite a lot of butter in the recipe (such as this Garlic Herb Butter Slow Cooker Turkey Breast) as turkey breast itself is too lean to produce enough fat to do this.
2. DARK SOY SAUCE is how I darken and season the gravy. It has more flavour than just plain salt. It does NOT make it taste Asiany! Can be skipped but gravy will be a pale colour. Alternative - buy a gravy darkener or a touch of Worcestershire. Be careful with Worcestershire - has a strong flavour.
LIFE OF DOZER
This is how I typed up this post….