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Table settings for holidays can always be taken to the next level with some gravy boats. They add elegance to the table and bring a practical functionality as well. You can choose to go practical, elegantly modern, whimsical, or go back in time with an elaborately designed one. If you’ve ever considered buying a gravy boat, then talked yourself out of it because you might only use it once or twice a year, it’s time to rethink this handy little vessel.
Yes, a gravy boat is perfect for serving the turkey gravy at Thanksgiving dinner, but these spouted servers have so many uses beyond the brown stuff. In fact, you can make use of a gravy boat pretty much any time of day. Use it for coffee creamer and maple syrup in the morning, or stylishly serve salad dressing and pasta sauce at dinner. You can even use it for chocolate sauce and cremé anglaise when it’s time for dessert.
Because there are so many gravy boats to choose from, we sent some top-rated options for our reviewer to test at home side by side. Our tester ranked each gravy boat on design, ease of use, heat retention, versatility, and ease of cleaning.
Whatever sauce you plan to pour, here are the best gravy boats for the job.
Best Overall: Rorence Stainless Steel Double Insulated Gravy Boat
Liquids stay hot
Easy to lift and pour
Rather plain looking
Awkward to wash in dishwasher
This insulated gravy boat isn’t going to win any style awards—it looks like a stainless-steel thermos with a handle and spout because that’s basically what it is—but if you’re traveling for Thanksgiving dinner or need to hold the temperature of gravy (or some other sauce or liquid) and maintain the ability to pour it, this is your best bet. In our testing, we were able to keep liquids warm and we found that the temperature barely dropped by 20 degrees Fahrenheit after an hour.
While this insulated gravy boat is dishwasher safe and, in our tests, we ran it through the dishwasher many times, it is just very awkward to put in the dishwasher because of the lid being attached to the thermos. However, it was easy to hand wash it using a brush and soap. It easily held about 1 ¾ cups of liquid and pouring from it was in fact easy once we figured out that we needed to lift the lid before pouring for a much cleaner pouring experience. This gravy jug handled most liquids like a pro and kept them hot or cold for a good amount of time. We tested it with everything from gravy to syrups to crème anglaise to warm custard and even used it to make tea and keep coffee warm.
Material: Steel body, plastic lid and handle | Size: 16 ounces
"I see this being used at everyday dinner tables as well as when you need to keep sauces warm or serve soups."
Best Heated: Orvis Warming Pitcher
In theory, gravy boats with electric warming pads are a fabulous idea—especially if they’re cordless. In reality, these gadgets are usually pretty cheaply made, and often the heating element doesn’t last beyond a few uses. They also don’t look so great on a beautifully set Thanksgiving table. However, this warming pitcher from Orvis eliminates the need for electricity in a stylish serving vessel.
We tested this pitcher with warm and cold gravies and sauces. Since this is a double-walled ceramic, we figured if it works with boiling water, it could work with cold water as well. And it does. We kept a few yogurt-based sauces for finishing and dressing in it and they were just at the right cool temperatures. It looks stylish and modern and, in our tests, kept the gravy decently warm. We particularly liked the fact that the temperature retention of the sauce was dependent on the temperature of the water in the reservoir. You can control how hot or warm the gravy stays in the pitcher by controlling how hot the water is that goes into the reservoir.
Although the manufacturer says it holds 10 ounces of liquid, it can hold close to 12 ounces. When we filled it to capacity (1 ½ cups) the pour was not as clean and dripped on the front edges. We recommend not filling it up to the brim and using the manufacturer's recommendation of 1 ¼ cups. As far as heat retention capability of this boat goes, there was a 40 degree Fahrenheit drop in the temperature in an hour but the temperature stayed fairly hot for at least half an hour.
While removing water from the reservoir was as easy as tilt and pour, filling it with hot water was slightly tricky. It’s best to fill it with water in the sink before filling it with sauce. In our tests, we found that filling it with hot water before putting gravy in it resulted in the gravy staying warmer for much longer.
Material: Porcelain | Size: 10 ounces
"It is quite versatile because of the reservoir, which you can fill with hot or cold water to keep things at the temperature you want."
Best with Ladle: Portmeirion Sophie Conran White Mini Sauce Jug and Ladle Set
Liquids retain heat
Ladle is quite convenient
Not entirely drip free
The sleek design of this sauce jug won’t look out of place either in a modern or a traditional setting. It’s large enough that we didn’t have to refill it often and is just the right size to not look overwhelming on the table. We were able to pour 2 ½ cups of sauce/gravy in it and found that when we reduced that amount by about ¼ cup, we were able to pour the sauce in a much neater manner. However, we didn’t have to entirely do away with the extra sauce we could put in it. The ladle worked quite nicely to serve small portions of sauce and stayed upright in the jug at all times.
When the jug was fuller, serving sauce with the ladle was quite convenient. While pouring sauce from the main jug, was not entirely drip-free, it was not messy either. The handle is quite comfortable and gave us more control while pouring, and we had no spills.
Because of its capacity to hold larger amounts, the liquids retained heat for quite a while. Washing it was a breeze as it is dishwasher safe.
Material: Porcelain | Size: 20 ounces
"I totally see it being used as a dessert sauce jug and even as a serving utensil for soupy things like dal and chili."
Best Porcelain: Nevaeh White by Fitz and Floyd Large Gravy Boat
Ergonomically designed handle
Retains heat well
Can get heavy
Doesn’t pour neatly when full
This modern white bone China gravy boat is proof that gravy boats don’t have to be stuffy, formal, or ornate. It is designed to hold a whopping 32 ounces of gravy, sauce, or even soup, making it perfect for serving the whole family. And it does hold all that liquid. However, in our testing, we noticed that when its belly was so full, it did not pour the liquid cleanly and made a huge mess. This was remedied by reducing the volume by at least ½ to ¾ cups.
We thought that reducing the volume would result in lesser heat retention, but we particularly liked that even with lesser volume, this boat was able to retain heat in the gravy for at least an hour. With clean lines, simple design, and an extra-wide opening, it was easy to clean by hand. It’s also dishwasher safe and we did not notice any chipping with extended use. The handle is designed in such a way that the hand does not touch the hot gravy boat when you are pouring. We particularly liked the versatility of this boat and because of its size, it went from holding sauce to serving salsa very easily.
Material: Bone china | Size: 32 ounces
"It held the heat quite steadily even when I reduced quantities poured into it."
Best “Silver” : Match Pewter Gravy Boat
Elegant in design
Does not retain heat well
Hand wash only
This handmade Italian pewter gravy boat from Match mixes the vintage charm of traditional silver with a cleaner design for a slightly more modern (yet still very elegant) serving vessel. It is not as expensive as sterling silver, but it quite looks the part. Unlike sterling silver, you don’t need to polish pewter, but it does need to be carefully dried after every wash to avoid spotting. And you do need to hand wash it.
We tested the 4-ounce gravy boat, which is the smallest on this list, but we found it was enough for a candle-lit dinner for two. The boat is available in 8- and 16-ounce sizes as well. The only downside to this boat being made of metal is that it did not retain heat well. In fact, in our tests, we noticed about an 80-degree drop in the temperature in an hour. The boat is really easy to pour from and is mess-free. We particularly liked it for dessert sauces, chutneys, and for drizzling chocolate sauce. Straightening the bowl and pausing for just a couple of seconds after pouring helped eliminate most of the dripping.
Material: Pewter | Size: 4, 8, and 16 ounces
"Pouring gravy from it was really easy. The handle is quite comfortable to hold, and there were no spills."
How We Tested
We sent six top-rated gravy boats to one of our experienced product testers. Our tester made gravy, filled up each gravy boat, and checked the temperature after 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and an hour. Then, she poured the gravy and took notice of any spills or drips. Finally, she tested the gravy boats with other sauces and dressings. She then ranked each one on design, ease of use, heat retention, versatility, cleaning, and overall value.
Other Options We Tested
- Le Creuset Gravy Boat: A previous version of this roundup included the Le Creuset Gravy Boat, but after testing, we decided that it really only works well with very thin sauces or salad dressings. Like most of Le Creuset’s products, this comes in a variety of fun colors, as well as classic white, and can withstand both hot and cold temperatures. It kept gravy and sauces warm for longer than something made of thinner material, like metal. However, in testing the heat retention was fair for only about half an hour, after which the liquids started to cool down rapidly. The real disappointment came with pouring. The gravy boat did not pour neatly when it was more than half full. The sauce/gravy started to come down from the front and the pour was difficult to control. Even when it was filled to only half of its capacity, there was noticeable dripping.
What to Look for When Buying a Gravy Boat
The number of people you are serving will determine the size of the gravy boat you need. You could also choose to have a couple of gravy boats in medium size if your dinner party size is larger. In most cases you will need at least 2 to 3 ounces of gravy or sauce per person and then some for extras. When it comes to gravy, more is better.
Gravies and savory sauces taste best when hot. Even though gravy boats are versatile, and you can use them for serving dessert sauces and salsas, buying one that can retain heat will make it a multi-functional kitchen vessel. Things that affect heat retention are size of the gravy boat, material, and design. A metal boat without insulation loses heat fast and cannot be microwaved, however, a metal one with insulation will retain heat much longer. Stoneware and ceramics also retain heat longer as do gravy boats with larger capacities.
Ease of Use
There are several features that will make it more likely for you to use the gravy boat often and not keep it as a special occasion vessel: wide mouths that you can easily fill with sauce or gravy, spouts that are designed in such a way that there is no spill and no messy drips, handles that will keep your hand safe while pouring and give you control, and finally, something you can just load up in a dishwasher to clean.
What can you use a gravy boat for besides gravy?
Gravy boats don’t have to be reserved for serving only gravy. If they are smaller in size, they can double up as coffee creamers. They are perfect for serving dessert sauces like crème anglaise and make great serving vessels for salsa, chutneys, and dips in addition to serving salad dressings, syrups, and sauces. And they are really perfect for drizzling melted chocolate over desserts or ice cream and even melted butter over pancakes.
What are other names for a gravy boat?
Gravy boats are also called saucières, thanks to the French sauce makers of yore. They are also known as sauceboats. Other names you may come across are Saucier and Salsera.
How do you serve gravy from a gravy boat?
Before filling up the gravy boat, preheating it by either rinsing it with hot water, leaving it in the warming drawer of your oven, or microwaving it depending on the material of the gravy boat helps with better heat retention.
While serving gravy to yourself or to others, you want to minimize spills and splashes. If the gravy boat has a spout, bringing the spout as close to the food as possible while slowly sloping the gravy boat toward the food will ensure that only the food is doused in gravy. If the gravy boat does not have a spout or is too full, use a small ladle or spoon to serve the gravy. Keeping an underplate for the boat will help you avoid any drips or spills falling on the table linen. If you are passing the gravy boat around in a large gathering, make sure to turn the handle toward the next guest before passing it on to them.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Renu Dhar is a personal chef, culinary instructor, and food writer. She focuses on efficient meal planning, use of proper techniques, and teaching how to cook healthy gourmet food despite a busy lifestyle. She is also a product tester for The Spruce Eats and personally tested all of the gravy boats on this roundup.