Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

by Julie Cohn
Make Ahead Turkey Gravy3

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You know how it is Thanksgiving day, fifteen minutes before you put the meal on the table. Chaotic, right?!  There’s always last minute tasks to do to get dinner ready–the rolls need to be heated, turkey sliced, potatoes mashed, side dishes warmed up…blah, blah, blah.  Who needs to spend time making a batch of lumpy gravy, on top of everything else?  Save yourself some time and make this perfect Make Ahead Turkey Gravy!  Foolproof gravy with no lumps!  You can make it several days before Thanksgiving and re-heat it right before dinner, or make it a few weeks in advance (like I do) and freeze it, then take it out the night before.

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

  • 4-6 Turkey pieces (Wings or Thighs are best)
  • 1 c. Water
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Celery Stalks
  • 2-3 Fresh Sage Leaves
  • 5-6 Pieces of Carrot (I use the baby carrots)
  • 1 Tbsp. Bells Seasoning
  • 4 c. Water
  • 1/2 c. Water or Dry White Wine
  • 1/2 c. Flour (I use Wondra fine flour)
  • 4 c. Turkey Stock*


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash and dry the turkey pieces, and arrange on a roasting pan with rack.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour 1 cup of water in the bottom of the pan.  Roast the turkey, uncovered, for approximately 45 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool for about ten minutes. Do not wash the roasting pan-you want those drippings at the bottom of the pan!  Just set aside the pan until you are done making the turkey stock.

Make homemade turkey stock

Peel and chop the onion and garlic, and add to a large stock pot.  Wash the celery stalks and chop into approx two-inch chunks.  Chop the carrot into one-inch pieces and add to the pot with the celery.  Add the roasted turkey pieces, sage and water.  Add the Bells Seasoning.  (Note: No decent turkey gravy is complete without the Bell’s Seasoning.  I will not make gravy without it.)  Heat the pot to boiling.  Watch that it does not boil over, you will have a mess.



When the stock boils, reduce heat to medium low and  simmer for about three hours.  While the turkey stock is simmering, set your roasting pan with the turkey drippings on two stove top burners (this is why I use a stainless steel roaster instead of a non-stick roaster).  Add 1/2 c. of water or wine (wine is better) to the turkey drippings (remove the roasting rack), turn the heat to medium low, and scrape the drippings using a wooden spoon.  Remove the large turkey pieces and fat and throw away, and break up the smaller pieces.  The heat will help the drippings come up.  When the pan is completely scraped clean and the drippings are blended, place them in a small bowl or Tupperware container and refrigerate.  You should have about 1/2 – 2/3 of a cup of drippings.  Do not strain off too much of the fat–this gives the gravy texture and flavor.

When the stock is finished simmering, remove from heat.  Remove the turkey pieces from the turkey stock and strain the veggies out.  In another large saucepan, add your turkey drippings and heat on medium.  When the drippings are heated (about 1-2 minutes) add the flour and whisk together well.   This will create a wet roux.  Start adding the turkey stock, one cup at a time, to the flour/drippings.  Stir constantly, making sure to whisk the gravy between each cup added so the gravy does not turn lumpy.

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy4

When all four cups of stock have been added, turn the stove up to medium high, and heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  The gravy should start to thicken.  When the gravy has reached boiling, let boil for about two minutes, stirring constantly, and then turn the heat off.  Gravy should be thick.  Let the gravy cool.  You can either store the gravy in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before Thanksgiving or freeze.  Strain any flour lumps before freezing.

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy6

If you freeze the gravy, please in an airtight freezable container.   On Thanksgiving morning, remove from the freezer and set in the refrigerator.  Reheat the gravy on medium low, about 45 minutes before you set dinner on the table.  When the gravy is heated, reduce to low until ready to serve.  Sometimes the gravy will be a little grainy after freezing, so add about 1 Tbsp. butter to the gravy while heating, to thicken and smooth it.

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Now that you have mastered make ahead turkey gravy, do you know how to get your turkey ready for the big day?


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