Easy Rich Onion Gravy

Easy rich onion gravy in a white gravy boat

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 3 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
57 Calories
4g Fat
4g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 57
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 5mg 2%
Sodium 146mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 9mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 139mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The combination of sweet onions and a dark rich sauce—which is both sweet and savory—is a classic of both the British and Irish kitchen. Onion gravy is a key component for a comforting and warming meal at home.

This recipe for onion gravy is so quick and simple to make and is perfect with bangers and mash, roast meats, mashed potatoes, slathered on a toad-in-the-hole, or as a filling for Yorkshire puddings.

"This rich onion gravy had lots of onion and beef flavor and was smooth and delicious, and it was easy to prepare and cook. The gravy would be excellent with Salisbury steaks, cube steaks, or mashed potatoes. The gravy reduced to about 3 cups." —Diana Rattray

Easy rich onion gravy in a gravy boat
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or cold-pressed rapeseed oil

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 2 medium red onions, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

  • 3 cups beef stock

  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 4 teaspoons cold water

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Easy rich onion gravy ingredients gathered

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  2. Melt the oil and butter in a large saucepan over a gentle heat to ensure the butter does not burn.

    Butter and oil in a saucepan

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  3. Add the thinly sliced onions to the pan, stir, and cover with a lid.

    Onions and butter in saucepan
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  4. Cook slowly on low heat for approximately 10 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent. Take care not to burn them. The onions should not be browned but soft and translucent instead.

    Red onions cooking in butter in a pan

    The Spruce Eats

  5. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar to the onions and stir well to ensure the onions are coated. Cover again with the lid and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes, again making sure they don't burn.

    Sautéed red onions with balsamic vinegar and sugar in a pan

    The Spruce Eats

  6. Add the beef stock to the pan and stir well. Increase the heat and boil gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

    Beef stock and onions in a saucepan

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  7. In a heatproof jar, liquid measuring cup, or bowl, mix the cornstarch with the cold water to create a thin, lump-free paste.

    Cornstarch and water mixture in a glass cup

    The Spruce Eats

  8. Pour a little of the hot gravy into the starch mixture and shake or mix thoroughly.

    Gravy and cornstarch mixture in a mug

    The Spruce Eats

  9. Pour the starch mixture back into the gravy. Raise the heat to high and boil hard for 10 minutes, or until the gravy is slightly thickened. 

    Gravy mixture boiling in a saucepan

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  10. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm until ready to serve.

    Finished onion gravy with seasoning in a pan

    The Spruce Eats


  • The best onions for this recipe are red onions because they provide just the right amount of sweetness without making the gravy too cloyingly sweet. If you prefer a slightly sharper flavor, then use a standard yellow onion or even a white onion. You can also use large shallots if you like, which will create a much softer finished gravy.
  • Use high-quality, flavorful beef stock for the richest possible onion gravy.
  • This is such a snap to make, why not make double, even triple the quantity? Use what you need, then freeze the rest in 1-cup portions for 4 to 6 months. Simply defrost in a pan or the microwave. 

Recipe Variations

  • For an onion gravy with a little extra flavor, add a few pinches of fresh or dried thyme or finely minced rosemary.
  • If you don't have balsamic vinegar handy, use red wine vinegar or swap for malt vinegar for a more traditional flavor.
  • If you prefer a thicker gravy, add more cornstarch (also known as corn flour) slurry and boil for a few more minutes to thicken.
  • To create a shine on the gravy, take 1 teaspoon of ice-cold butter and whisk it into the finished gravy before serving. The butter will add even more flavor and make the sauce glossy.
  • For deeper color, add a few drops of gravy browning sauce.

How to Store and Reheat Leftover Onion Gravy

  • Refrigerate leftover onion gravy in a shallow container within 2 hours and eat within 4 days.
  • Freeze leftover gravy in airtight freezer containers or zip-close freezer bags for 4 to 6 months.
  • Reheat leftover refrigerated or frozen gravy in a saucepan over medium-low heat until hot, at least 165 F.

How do you make brown gravy from scratch without stock?

Beef stock makes the most flavorful gravy, but you can swap it for bouillon in a pinch. Water simply won't give you enough flavor and will leave you with a boring sauce of plain cooked onions. To make this onion gravy vegetarian, use a high-quality vegetable broth, and swap the butter for vegan margarine for vegan gravy.

What is a medium red onion?

A medium onion—red, white, or yellow—is approximately 2 to 3 1/4 inches in diameter (USDA).