How to Make Turkey Gravy Without Drippings (Yes, It's Possible!)

Get a jump on Thanksgiving menu prep or sauce up any meal with this easy turkey gravy from scratch—no drippings required.

Let's start with the foundation: Drippings are the liquid elements that gather at the bottom of a pan once you roast turkey or any other meat. As the protein cooks, these drippings brown, caramelize, and take on a lovely, deep, and rich flavor. To make classic turkey gravy, you start with some butter, whisk in flour to make a roux, then slowly stir in a mix of the drippings and broth. (See how it's done in our Perfect Turkey Gravy recipe.) So how do you make turkey gravy without drippings? It's all about finding a replacement for the browned, complex meaty flavor the drippings offer. For a no-drippings gravy, aromatics such as onions, celery, carrot, bell pepper, and/or garlic, can help, as can umami-rich elements like mushrooms.

Read on to master how to make turkey gravy without cooking a turkey, including several ways to max out that savory flavor—without going to the effort of roasting a turkey—plus how to store your make-ahead easy turkey gravy and how to fix it if the sauce gets too thick or too thin. Plus score tips about how to customize your creation, how to freeze the gravy, and how early in advance you can whip it up.

Make-Ahead Gravy for Thanksgiving
Andy Lyons

How to Make Turkey Gravy Without Turkey Drippings

Our turkey gravy without drippings starts with a roux. This mixture of flour and fat thickens the gravy by sharing the starchy qualities of all-purpose flour with the sauce. Our roux starts with butter, but feel free to trade in bacon fat, ghee, or oil. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt your preferred fat.

Once the fat is fully melted, add the flour. Stir it in until smooth, allowing this mixture to brown lightly (to lend the classic brown gravy color and build depth of flavor). Whisk in chicken broth and black pepper, then cook and stir until thick and bubbly—plus 1 minute more. Since broth has plenty of salt in it already, we suggest seasoning it to taste with salt right at the end. Add fresh herbs or any of the flavor-boosters below to amp up the flavor, if desired.

Homemade Gravy Recipe

Start to finish: 15 minutes Makes: 3 cups

  • ⅓ cup butter
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • Coarse kosher salt or table salt
  • Fresh parsley (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth.

2. Add chicken broth and pepper. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Season to taste with salt. If desired, garnish with parsley.

Ideal for anyone who makes deep-fried turkey, smoked turkey, or those who prefer some of their dishes to be part of a make-ahead Thanksgiving menu, a no-drippings gravy is the perfect Thanksgiving menu addition. Mix it up 2 days in advance and refrigerate, or freeze for up to 4 months in an airtight freezer-safe container.

To reheat your easy turkey gravy, simply pour the refrigerated or thawed frozen gravy into a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until warm, adding water to thin as needed. (Skip extra stock, as this can make the sauce too salty). Note that the gravy will thicken as it cooks.

How to Customize Your Turkey Gravy

Sharing dinner with those who follow different diets? The no-drippings gravy is a cinch to customize.

  • Make it vegetarian: Use vegetable stock rather than chicken broth.
  • Make it vegan: Use oil instead of butter and opt for vegetable stock instead of chicken broth.
  • Make it gluten-free: Trade rice flour or cup-for-cup gluten-free flour mix.

If you feel like your turkey gravy without drippings is falling short on the meaty, umami qualities you know and love in traditional turkey gravy, consider these quick fixes.

  1. Sprinkle in more seasonings. In addition to fresh herbs, perk up your easy turkey gravy with a pinch of poultry seasoning or garlic powder.
  2. Get saucy. Try a drizzle of fish sauce, soy sauce, or Worcestershire sauce. All of these pack a large dose of umami per drop.
  3. Mix in bouillon. Like ultra-concentrated broth, bouillon can really take your no-drippings gravy to the next level. Just be sure to adjust the overall seasoning levels accordingly because bouillon is naturally very salty.

How to Fix Any No-Drippings Gravy Imperfections

If your gravy gets too thin, either as you're making it or reheating it, try one of these two solutions:

  1. Take your no-drippings gravy off the heat, then whisk in a cornstarch slurry (made by stirring 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl until combined).
  2. Simmer the easy turkey gravy for 5 to 10 minutes more to see if the mixture thickens naturally.

If your easy turkey gravy without drippings gets too thick, simply add more water ¼ cup at a time. If your gravy could use extra salt, add ¼ chicken broth instead of water and salt. As you add more liquid, be sure to sample a spoonful before serving so you can adjust the salt, pepper, and fresh herb quantities if needed.

For pouring over turkey on Thanksgiving, mixing with mushrooms and spooning over flaky biscuits for brunch, or adding to any dish that could use a saucy boost, an easy turkey gravy without drippings is a fantastic trick to have in your cooking repertoire.

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