How to Make Perfect Gravy Every Time

Gravy in a glass boat

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Perfect homemade gravy is tricky to make, but it's always worth the effort. Whether you're cooking for the holidays, a special party, or just for the family, you can impress your friends and relatives with these simple tips for fixing common gravy problems.


Watch Now: Homemade Brown Gravy Recipe

Troubleshooting and Fixing Gravy Problems

Unfortunately, there are lots of ways for the gravy to go wrong. Fortunately, though, there are quick fixes for common problems. Even better, the final result will be terrific, and no one will ever know you ran into problems in the kitchen.

The Gravy is Lumpy: Here's a trick that'll have you asking "why didn't I think of that?!" Simply pour your lumpy gravy into a blender and give it a whir for no more than thirty to sixty seconds. Do not over blend (gravy should not be too thin). Then pour your smooth, lump-free gravy back into the pot to reheat it.

The Gravy Is Too Salty: You'd think that adding too much salt to gravy would be an unfixable problem, but actually, there's a simple fix. Just add a pinch of brown sugar, and your salt problem will disappear.

The Gravy Has Too Little Flavor: Depending on the type and cut of the meat you've cooked, it may be tough to get enough dripping for a perfect gravy. Here are two ways to address that problem:

  • Adding a teaspoon of instant bouillon granules per two cups gravy enriches the flavor and adds color.
  • When deglazing the pan, be sure to scrape up those bits clinging to the bottom of the pan. They increase the flavor of the gravy.​

The Gravy Is Too Thin: A perfect gravy is considerably thicker than water or milk (though it's still thin enough to pour easily). There are several tricks to thickening gravy, though be careful not to overdo it or your gravy could wind up with the same consistency as toothpaste!

  • Start with a roux. A roux is a thickening mixture made of a liquid fat such as melted butter or oil, and flour (or another thickening agent). Simply heat the fat and then add enough flour to make a paste. Stir thoroughly with a whisk to avoid lumps.
  • Pour the gravy very slowly into the pot with the roux, and continue to stir briskly with a whisk until the mixture is smooth.
  • Cook the gravy, stirring regularly, on low heat. With the roux as your base, the gravy should thicken nicely.
  • If you have tried cake flour in your roux and found it doesn't thicken up very much, try cornstarch. Cornstarch has a similar consistency to flour but has twice the thickening power. Arrowroot, which is a little harder to find, has, even more, thickening power than cornstarch.

The Gravy Tastes Good But Doesn't Look Good: There are several ways for the gravy to look less than perfect even if its flavor can't be beaten. Here are some solutions to common problems.

  • If your gravy forms a "skin" while sitting on the table, consider using flours that are low in protein and high in starch, such as cake flour, pastry flour or all-purpose flour to make your roux.
  • If your gravy looks gray instead of brown, the problem may be in the pan you used. Avoid making gravy in an aluminum (anodized is okay) pan as it can turn the gravy gray. You can also use liquid gravy browner to improve color.
  • If your gravy doesn't have that special sparkle, then whisking in a tablespoon of butter or heavy cream just before serving will give the gravy a rich, satiny texture.