I’m trying to be timely!

How To Make Gravy - Step by Step I howsweeteats.com

I’ve got to tell you that my mom is the gravy queen. She makes some of the best, non-lumpy gravy I’ve ever had in my life. And not only that, but she has made strong points about gravy since I was a kid, most notably sharing her favorite college snack of french fries and gravy. I think that is the first time I ever heard of food described as “sinful.”

One of her specialties is an old-school turkey or pot roast sandwich on white bread, literally SMOTHERED in gravy. Now that is some real comfort food.

This is exactly how she does it! This is a simple, basic method that is a little boring to see in photos but seriously WORKS. Here, she simply roasted a smaller turkey breast. But this is the exact same way she makes gravy for a whole turkey (the gravy usually ends up darker), chicken (the gravy looks similar to this), pot roast (the gravy is much dark, obviously since it’s beef) and so on. Her method is super simple and just requires a lot of stirring, some seasoning at the end and patience patience patience. This gravy also reheats very well – and she will make HUGE batches at a time for tons of leftovers.

How To Make Gravy - Step by Step I howsweeteats.com

Depending on how many people she is feeding and how much gravy she wants, she often adds a bit of stock to the bottom of her roasting pan before cooking. This way she ends up with more gravy than what the drippings would provide, and the stock is flavored with the drippings during roast time. She says she adds about 1/4 inch of stock. It’s an eyeball thing!

How To Make Gravy - Step by Step I howsweeteats.com

After removing the bird, she strains out any loose pieces of meat, pouring the drippings into a saucepan or pot. If she is roasting a large turkey on a roasting pan, she just might pick out any loose pieces with kitchen tongs. She likes to use the same pot or pan that she roasted the meat in, that way you get all the goodness of the brown bits on the bottom. It’s up to you whether you want to use a new pan or the original one.

After that, she begins to heat it over medium heat.

How To Make Gravy - Step by Step I howsweeteats.com

Next, she adds three heaping tablespoons of flour to 16 ounces of COLD water. She says three heaping tablespoons, I say more like a full 1/4 cup. It is something I believe that you learn to eyeball over the years of making gravy. The key is adding the flour to the cold water, not the other way around. SO – don’t add the flour in the cup first. Cool? Cool.

How To Make Gravy - Step by Step I howsweeteats.com

Supervision is key. Obviously.

After adding the flour to the water, she shakes the HECK out of it in that shaker bottle. We are talking for at least 30 seconds, but probably closer to a full minute. I have found that this is the best way to make a slurry and used this method a lot while developing some healthy yet creamy crockpot soups for my cookbook.

Shake shake shake!

How To Make Gravy - Step by Step I howsweeteats.com

Next up, she pours the slurry into the drippings that are in the pot over the heat.

How To Make Gravy - Step by Step I howsweeteats.com

Then she begins to stir. And basically, NEVER STOPS. No really. My life has been threatened if I stop stirring.

I’m not sure if I can fully explain the extent to which my mom stirs and whisks her gravy. It takes a long time. There have been Thanksgivings when I feel like my arm is going to fall off. Someone is always stirring, so if you need your hands for something else, find other hands and make them stir. For real.


How To Make Gravy - Step by Step I howsweeteats.com

The gravy will begin to thicken and become, well… gravy. You will know when it’s at gravy status. You know?

It’s still over medium heat, but it’s boiling and bubbling away. After her 15 to 20 minutes of stirring, she sets it to low and that’s where it stays until it’s served.

Before serving, she tastes it and seasons the heck out of it. Don’t be afraid to season it – it will need a good bit of salt and pepper to taste like GRAVY. Just continue to taste and add. We do not measure, considering she likes a lot more salt than I do. Just taste and season. It will also depend on if you use stock, how much sodium that stock has, and so on. Lots of factors, but not difficult ones.

Um, also, can I say at this point, please don’t add yellow food coloring. Ha. Mother Lovett always added yellow food coloring to chicken gravy… was this a thing back then? Apparently her reasoning was that since it’s chicken “it’s supposed to be yellow.” Uh, since it’s chicken, shouldn’t it just be the color that it is naturally?? Yes please. Okay good. I love you.

Oh and P.S. -> are you a gravy drizzler or a gravy smotherer? Like does your entire plate swim in gravy? Or just a few spoonfuls here and there? I’m a spoonful/drizzle girl. Shocking, I know.

How To Make Gravy - Step by Step I howsweeteats.com


How To Make Gravy

Yield: I'd say this serves about 8 people generously (totally depends on how much you love gravy)

Total Time: 15 minutes


the drippings from a turkey, chicken, etc (be sure to add extra stock BEFORE roasting if desired)
16 ounces cold water
3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
salt and pepper!!!


Strain the drippings from the roasting pan into a large pot or saucepan and set it over medium heat. Add the cold water to a shaker bottle (or water bottle/mason jar) and add the flour on top. Shake the heck out of it for 30 to 60 seconds, until the flour seems completely incorporated and creates a slurry. With a whisk or fork in one hand, pour the slurry into the drippings, sitting constantly with the other hand. Continue to stir to avoid any lumps and stir until the gravy has thickened, anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. Make sure you are scraping the bottom of the pan.

Taste the gravy and season it to your liking. Set it over low heat for serving. My mom stores her extra gravy in the fridge for about a week. To reheat it, she places it in a saucepan (it will look disgusting) and adds a touch of water or stock. She heats it over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it's back to it's original consistency. Like soups and sauces, it often tastes better the next day!

How To Make Gravy - Step by Step I howsweeteats.com

Today, I’m smoking a turkey so I can tell you about it. And I’m making the trashiest gravy ever. Ohhhh you so can’t wait. !!!!!!!!!!!!!

[This is a part of my exactly how I do things series where I tell you… exactly how I do things. Even if they’re wrong]

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67 Responses to “Exactly How My Mom Makes Her Awesome Gravy.”

  1. #
    Tieghan — November 10, 2013 @ 9:14 am

    Thank you! Every year my mom and I read new ways to try and get the perfect gravy. Basically, we totally suck at! Ha! Very excited to try this one this year!


    • Barbara — November 18th, 2013 @ 11:25 pm

      My mother also taught me how to make gravies. She used corn starch instead of flour for all water base gravies. Another great trick to a smooyh gravy is to stir fast once you start pouring the corn starch dissolved in water into you hot stock.


  2. #
    Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate — November 10, 2013 @ 9:17 am

    My mom always taught me to use cornstarch but my Grandma uses a blend of flour and cornstarch (shaking it in the exact same Tupperware container you use). Yours looks really good!


  3. #
    Belinda @themoonblushbaker — November 10, 2013 @ 9:30 am

    I like to cook my chook on a top of bed of onions or shallots then I will blend the chicken juice and onions together to form my gravy base. I like to emphasise the need to keep on stirring, so many do not do this and I hate lumpy gravy.

    So thick and yummo!


  4. #
    Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs — November 10, 2013 @ 10:24 am

    Yum — even just a photo of a boat of gravy has my mouth watering! I think I’m somewhere in between in terms of gravy quantity — more than a few spoonfuls drizzled, but not quite drowning my food :)


  5. #
    Stephanie @ PlainChicken — November 10, 2013 @ 10:40 am

    Turkey is nothing without a good gravy. Yours looks delicious!!


  6. #
    Liz — November 10, 2013 @ 11:16 am

    Freaking amazing. Thank you for sharing!
    I love gravey, a guilty pleasure for sure. I’d say that I fall between a drizzle and smoother. I love gravey but don’t want an entire plate full, you know?


  7. #
    Annie — November 10, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Gravy I’d one thing that usually makes me nervous. My dad always did it! I especially like the adding the more stock tip at the beginning! I ran out of gravy one thanksgiving. Whoops!


  8. #
    Juliette — November 10, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

    This is beautiful and so simple, thank you!


  9. #
    Nikki @ The Road to Less Cake — November 10, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

    I find no one makes things like gravy like your mum. No one makes a roast dinner like my mum or like my nana did when she was alive. And gravy and chips (fries) is one of the best things in the world.


  10. #
    Molly @ Yes to Yolks — November 10, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

    Thank you for posting this! I struggle with getting gravy “just right.” I will definitely be using this method this Thanksgiving! I also found the yellow food coloring thing so funny. I wonder if my mom-mom did that! Now that I think about it, her gravy was on the yellowish side…


  11. #
    Ceilidh — November 10, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

    Gravy and french fries…sinful? Not until you’ve tried a good Canadian poutine! Add some cheese in there are you might just have sinful ;)

    Great pointers on the gravy. ThanksQ\!


  12. #
    Kristin — November 10, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

    Just like how I make gravy…however, for a really tasty add, try roasting your meats (whole chicken, beef, pork, even turkey) as the meat rests on thick slices of ONIONS! Sometimes the meat is fatty enough to not have to add stock to the roasting pan, but even if you do, the subtle onion flavor is awesome! (Plus, my hubs loves the greasy onion slices–if I forget to do this when having a roast, he gets really cranky!)

    Also, there’s a product in the flour/baking aisles you may want to try instead of shaking flour– its called Wondra Flour, and its very finely ground flour that never makes lumpy gravy. Just shake into the drippings with some water, and whisk away!

    Love your website!!!


  13. #
    April was in CT now CA — November 10, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

    Ohhhhh, hell yeah! Can’t wait to hear about the smoked turkey! We’re smoking a whole bone in breast for our Thanksgiving this year and my husband needs all the tips and help he can get since it will be our first! lol


  14. #
    Cookbook Queen — November 10, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

    #1 I am an unapologetic smotherer!!

    #2 What is the name/brand of that shakey bottle? I’d love to buy one!!


    • Jessica — November 10th, 2013 @ 9:08 pm

      i’m pretty sure it is tupperware but no joke it is at least 30 years old!
      i use a shaker bottle from GNC – it works just as well… i just use it for gravy instead or protein powder… oops.


      • Julie — November 18th, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

        It is Tupperware…I have the exact one from my mom. Follow her directions with COLD water!! Do NOT use HOT water to shake the flour and water together. The lid will EXPLODE off of the shaker. Believe me, I know. Thougtht it would be a good idea to have the flour mixture warm before pouring into the drippings. BIG mistake…

  15. #
    Chris — November 10, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

    Looks wonderful. One question though, other recipes call for separating fat from juices, then making roux from fat and flour equal parts and then adding juices. This isn’t the case here. So your mom uses all the fat and juices and then adds the flour/water mixture? Thanks!


    • Jessica — November 10th, 2013 @ 9:08 pm

      yes, correct! she uses it all.


  16. #
    Karen — November 10, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

    My mom always said the key to rich and colorful gravy was a dirty pan – meaning the pan you roasted the turkey should have lots of turkey bits on the bottom after cooking. De-glaze it with broth and add the flour (Wondra is really great) mixed with cold water. Wonderful.
    We got a Big Green Egg smoker a few years ago and I don’t use the oven anymore to cook a turkey. Smoked turkeys are simply amazing. Can’t wait to hear about yours!


  17. #
    Emily @ Life on Food — November 10, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

    My husband has never had gravy from a can until he had Thanksgiving with my family. My mom is now mortified. I am sending this link her way. Only 3 weeks to perfect this method.


  18. #
    Molly @ Bakelette — November 10, 2013 @ 6:17 pm

    GRAVY is one of my most favorite things about thanksgiving! I could drink gravy…sort of…haha! Going to have to give this method a try because it looks dreamy! Thanks for sharing!


  19. #
    Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) — November 10, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

    My mom makes the best gravy too! Loved this post. And I’m totally a gravy smotherer type of girl :)


  20. #
    Leah Atha (@leahatha) — November 10, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

    Does she make sausage gravy? If so, does she use the same method?

    I attempted to make sausage gravy for my brother and I when I was in high school. Basically, it turned into cement in one of my mom’s good glass bowls and the disaster went to the dump with the spoon stuck straight up in the middle. Not even my dad could get the spoon out! I’ve sworn off making gravy ever since.


  21. #
    Lauren @ Will Run for Boston — November 10, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

    Your mom is so right! The KEY to great gravy is to not stop stirring it! My poor uncle has been named the “official gravy stirrer” of the family, so every Thanksgiving he is stuck stirring the gravy forever!!


  22. #
    Kathy F. — November 10, 2013 @ 8:24 pm

    My mother went to the same gravy-making school as yours, and I’ve got the Thanksgiving Gravy Elbow to prove it.


  23. #
    lynn chen — November 10, 2013 @ 8:35 pm

    I can’t read this without hearing Montell Jordan’s “This is how we do it baby”


  24. #
    Allie — November 10, 2013 @ 9:06 pm

    We definitely have that exact same shaker.. It was used every Saturday to mix pancake mix growing up. It somehow got passed to me and I never remember to utilize it! Now it has a reason to make a comeback… Gravy goodness


  25. #
    Amy's Cooking Adventures — November 10, 2013 @ 10:00 pm

    Absolutely fantastic! I made this tonight & it was beautiful! Every year my mom says she’ll teach me to make her gravy & it never works out – this one is similar to hers, but just a cut above – I think its the stock in step 1!


  26. #
    Sues — November 10, 2013 @ 10:52 pm

    I LOVEEEE gravy. Especially on turkey. And mashed potatoes. And everything in life. Basically.


  27. #
    Christina @ The Beautiful Balance — November 11, 2013 @ 12:34 am

    In my past life (pre-vegan) I loved gravy and was a smotherer/drizzler ;)


  28. #
    experimental cook — November 11, 2013 @ 3:31 am

    If there is one thing I am most inconsistent, it would have to be gravy. Your post has very clear instructions and the flour-water thing is serious information. Appreciates the photos especially. At least I get to see what I should expect. Thank you!


  29. #
    Mel G — November 11, 2013 @ 5:10 am

    I’m a total gravy smotherer! And this gravy looks delish…. I’m totally trying it this year xx


  30. #
    Germaine — November 11, 2013 @ 9:28 am

    I think I make dam good gravy.. But there have been a couple times where it was so bad I threw it out.. I make it close to how you make it, except I don’t strain the drippings, I have the Tupperware shaker and its old everything is worn off of it.. It’s my magic gravy maker.. And I stir consistently getting the perfect gravy and I do something else not all the time but add for a touch of color and flavor add the liquid bouillon to my gravy.. I’m a gal who’s food is smothered in gravy yummm..


  31. #
    Judy — November 11, 2013 @ 9:43 am

    It looks very thick and my mum’s was dark. I’m a smotherer especially with mashed potatoes.
    If it did turn our lumpy couldn’t it be strained?


  32. #
    Vivian — November 11, 2013 @ 10:16 am

    Wow…this is exactly the way my mom and I make our gravy….and I use the exact same Tupperware container…..works every time! Simple, and tasty. I always add a pinch of poultry seasoning along with the salt and pepper……Mmm.


  33. #
    Jim Price — November 11, 2013 @ 11:02 am

    Just like my wife makes it! Cute dog! Our girl Sadie stays underfoot when we cook Thanksgiving dinner. We wouldn’t have it any other way!


  34. #
    Leann — November 11, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

    I must of missed something. How much “drippings” from the turkey should you start with? That starting amount of liquie seems rather critical in order for that amount of flour mixture to make the consistency right in the end. So how much liquid should you have to begin with? I just don’t want to screw this up! I can do that on my own – LOL


  35. #
    Maria — November 11, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

    this is exactly how i make my chicken gravy, except i usually use some kind of booze (wine, beer, whatever is open) in addition to stock when i roast it. It adds a lot of flavor to my gravy!


  36. #
    Eileen — November 11, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

    YES. I have never really learned to make a good gravy (not too surprising, since we often host all-vegetarian Thanksgiving, but never have a large meat-eating crowd), so this is definitely going at the top of my “oh man must do immediately” list. I may just roast off a tiny game bird and make a double batch of gravy just for me!


  37. #
    Brenda — November 11, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

    That is exactly how my mother always makes gravy (including the tupperware shaker)! I can never seem to get the right proportions or something – mine never turns out as good as hers. I will definitely try this.


  38. #
    Jeri — November 11, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

    This pretty much how we make gravy too, but we make it right in the roasting pan. I always vote for one less dish to wash on Thanksgiving. And thank you for no giblets.


  39. #
    valerie — November 12, 2013 @ 4:16 am

    Hmm, will you pardon a poor ignorant French girl and tell me (just à bit) more about that stock adding thing ? You know, we don’t always make things the way you do across the ocean so… my guess is we are talking about stock powder, right ? Love you (and Gravy-Queen-Mum) too, BTW ☺


  40. #
    Alanna S — November 12, 2013 @ 10:52 am

    This is how boyfriend makes his gravy and it is the best stuff in the world. But don’t tell him I said that.


  41. #
    dervla @ the curator — November 12, 2013 @ 11:09 am

    ok i love this. No artificial crap … love your mom.


  42. #
    Joanne — November 12, 2013 @ 3:38 pm

    My mom stirred the heck out of her gravy, too! I will miss her this Thanksgiving (she recently passed away). Thank you!


  43. #
    Julie Kuebler — November 13, 2013 @ 12:39 am

    This is pretty much exactly how my mom, grandma, and great grandma make their gravy. And this is what I do now, being 23 years old. It’s the best method we know, and we stick to it.


  44. #
    Ashley @ Hudson on the Potomac — November 13, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

    My mom makes her gravy the same way and has that same exact shaker!!!! #twinmoms


  45. #
    Dorinda — November 17, 2013 @ 6:19 am

    Hi, just wanted to put in my two cents. I am now, OMG 70 y/o (I’m ancient) and my Mom always used the potato water from boiling them for mashed. Boiled the giblets and used that water too to deglaze the pan She used the flour and water for thickening, but I usually use cornstarch as it doesn’t take as much and dissolves better.
    For what it’s worth, Dee


  46. #
    Erin — November 18, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

    This is the same way my 88 year old Gram has always made gravy. Hers is the BEST, so this method must be tried and true!!!

    Drizzler all the way :)


  47. #
    Elise — November 20, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

    I use the same method…but with Milk. Yum!!!


  48. #
    aurora — November 25, 2013 @ 12:28 am

    I just made this tonight and it was PERFECT! Not ok, not good, perfect! Thanks so much :)


  49. #
    Jess — December 5, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

    What I want to know is what kind of pots your mama is using?! Those look hardcore…I want some!




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