Avoid the Thanksgiving last minute rush with make ahead turkey gravy. Rich and flavorful, with plenty of sage, thyme, and parsley, you’ll want to pour this gravy over your entire plate.

Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: Making gravy at the last minute is a hassle with all that stirring and a million other things to do. This recipe can be made ahead and even frozen, if you like.

How long it takes: 30 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: large saucepan, whisk
Servings: makes 3½ cups

Gravy being poured on turkey slices.
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I’ve hosted quite a few Thanksgiving dinners by now and it’s one of my favorite days to cook. I love all the traditional dishes, like homemade stuffing and green bean casserole, but I throw in a few new recipes every year too. As long as I make the basics, my family is willing to try whatever I feel like experimenting with that year.

Often, that new recipe becomes part of our standard repertoire. We loved this roasted cranberry sauce so much that now we can’t imagine our Thanksgiving feast without it. The same goes for cheesy Brussels sprouts au gratin, truly a special occasion dish. If we’re lucky, my mom will bake yeasty homemade Parker house rolls (which she usually does because my son is crazy about them!).

However, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes and gravy, right? In fact, lots of gravy is required! It goes on more than the potatoes. We like to pour it over the stuffing and turkey, as well. I rarely make potatoes and gravy so when I do, you know it’s a special occasion.

Make ahead turkey gravy really simplifies things on a busy day. This gravy can be prepped a day or two ahead. You can refrigerate or even freeze it. It’s foolproof and so tasty! You’ll love that you won’t have to mess around with making gravy when there’s a lot of other stuff going on.

With your extra time, why not present a charcuterie board? I’ve found that it’s just perfect when guests arrive. They’re hungry, dinner’s still in the making, and a nibble or two with a festive cocktail (may I recommend an orange gin and tonic, a cranberry margarita, or an apple cider mule?) is just right to put everyone in a thankful mood.

Here are a few tasty ideas for your charcuterie board: spiced pecans, butternut squash crostini, baked brie with cranberries, sugared cranberries, and pickled asparagus.

About This Gravy Recipe

Because this gravy is made ahead of time, you won’t have turkey drippings to use yet. This isn’t really a problem. You can buy good quality turkey stock or chicken stock that is perfectly acceptable for gravy. It’s much easier to use, too. Also, when you reheat it, it might need to be thinned a little, and that is the perfect opportunity to add turkey drippings.

The gravy is thickened with flour and derives tons of flavor from fresh herbs: sage, which is a must-have herb for Thanksgiving, thyme, and parsley.

Many of you may not be planning on doing the whole roasted turkey thing especially if you’re not expecting a big crowd. Make ahead gravy works for any turkey dinner. Try it with herb roasted turkey breast or Instant Pot turkey breast. We really love this sheet pan turkey dinner, a really delicious dinner completely baked on one sheet pan.

The gravy can accompany chicken dinners, too. Plenty of folks prefer to make a roasted chicken instead of a turkey and roasted bone in chicken breasts are another great option.

Even if you don’t want to make the gravy ahead, this is a great-tasting foolproof gravy recipe!

Make-ahead turkey gravy in a white ladle.

Ingredient Notes

  • Turkey Stock: Since this is a make-ahead recipe, you won’t have pan drippings to use for stock. Instead, buy a carton of good-quality turkey stock. You can substitute chicken stock or vegetable broth, if you prefer, or if you can’t find turkey stock.
  • Butter: Butter makes this gravy taste rich since purchased turkey stock has very little or no fat.
  • All-Purpose Flour: Flour is used as a thickening agent in the gravy.
  • Fresh Herbs: Thyme, sage, and parsley give this gravy plenty of fragrant flavor. You’ll love the herbal bouquet of the fresh herbs. If you use dried herbs, use less, about half as much.
  • Salt & Pepper: Freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt are added to taste.
Ingredients needed including turkey stock and butter.

How to make Turkey Gravy

Are you ready to make your homemade gravy? Let’s get started.

You’ll want to prep the herbs first. Remove the thyme leaves from the stems and chop them finely. Mince 2 to 3 sage leaves, along with a good handful of parsley. Small stems are okay with the parsley but the larger stems tend to be bitter.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk it into the butter until the mixture is smooth and bubbly.

Roux being made.

Continue to cook this mixture, stirring constantly, until it’s lightly browned, about five to seven minutes. Don’t hurry it along too much. This process browns the butter and will give your gravy great flavor.

Gradually whisk in the broth. Add the sage and thyme (don’t they smell great?).

Herbs added to gravy.

Turn the heat up to medium high and bring the mixture to a low boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking the gravy for ten minutes or so. Give it a stir occasionally.

The gravy will thicken slightly. It thickens quite a lot more as it cools so don’t worry if it looks a little thin at first. Once the gravy is done, stir in the parsley.

Parsley added to gravy.

Before you serve the gravy, taste it! I can’t emphasize this enough. The saltiness of broth varies so much. I purposely didn’t specify an amount of added salt and pepper because of this fact. Remove a spoonful or two from the pan and let it cool a minute. Taste the gravy and decide how much salt it needs.

After you add some salt, taste the gravy again to make sure it’s just right. Be sure to add a few grinds of pepper, too.

Mashed potatoes with gravy.

Serve the gravy on creamy mashed potatoes. Try Instant Pot mashed potatoes. You can cook five pounds of potatoes at once and they turn out great! Mash them right in the Instant Pot and then turn it on Warm to keep the potatoes nice and hot until dinner is ready.

You can also make crockpot mashed potatoes or stovetop mashed red potatoes.

FAQs

How do you reheat frozen turkey gravy?

It’s difficult to reheat a huge chunk of frozen gravy so it’s best to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. To reheat, put the gravy into a saucepan on the stove. Warm it over low heat, whisking as necessary to smooth it out. If it seems too thick, whisk in a bit of broth, turkey drippings, or water until it’s the right consistency.

Can you freeze turkey drippings for gravy?

Turkey drippings can be frozen for up to six months. Strain the drippings in the pan through a fine mesh strainer, discarding the solids. Remove the fat using the method described below. Store the drippings in freezer-safe containers. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.
The flavorful drippings can be used to make gravy or as a broth for soup.

How do you get the fat out of turkey drippings?

If you have a fat separator, which is a measuring cup specially designed for this purpose, simply pour the drippings into the fat separator, and allow them to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. The fat will rise to the top; you’ll be able to see two distinct layers. Pour the broth out through the spout and the fat will stay in the cup.
If you don’t have a fat separator, pour the drippings into a clear glass container. Allow the broth and fat to separate. Use a turkey baster to “vacuum” up either the broth or the fat. You can also use a spoon or ladle to scoop off the fat layer on top.
If you have time, simply refrigerate the drippings. The fat will rise to the top and harden; it will be very easy to remove.

Fat separator product image

Fat Separator

This handy device makes it easy to separate liquified fat from broth. It’s indispensable when you make gravy using broth from the roasting pan.

Make It Your Own

  • Play around with the seasonings. You may want to add a teaspoon of poultry seasoning or bullion to enrich the gravy. Add more fresh herbs if you like.
  • Make giblet gravy. Simmer the turkey giblets (heart, liver, neck, etc) in water to cover for an hour, or until tender. Remove the giblets from the water and finely chop before stirring into the gravy.
  • Vegetarian: Make the gravy with vegetable broth.
Turkey gravy in a gravy boat.

Make-Ahead Ideas

This is a make-ahead recipe. It will save you time and effort on busy days. If your family loves potatoes and gravy, prep this gravy ahead and keep it in your freezer.

It’s a great time-saver. Even if you’re making a batch of instant potatoes with air fryer chicken, you can add your homemade gravy and it will seem like you slaved all afternoon in the kitchen.

I often freeze in it silicone ice cube trays before transferring to a freezer bag. They reheat faster and you can just get out what you need. Gravy any time!

Storage & Reheating Tips

Refrigerate/Freeze: Refrigerate turkey gravy for up to three or four days. This flour-based gravy can also be frozen for up to four months. Freeze it in freezer-safe storage containers, freezer bags, or ice cube trays (remove from trays when frozen and put into a freezer bag).

Reheat: Thaw frozen gravy overnight in the refrigerator. Put it into a saucepan and heat over low heat, whisking to combine. If it seems too thick, add a bit of broth, turkey drippings, or water. Heat until the gravy is piping hot.

Leftover Love

Make an open-face hot turkey sandwich. Arrange leftover turkey on sliced bread and pour hot gravy over it. I like to add a spoonful of stuffing to the sandwich, too.

Leftover gravy can be used to top pasta, as a sauce for meatballs, or to enrich soups and stews.

More Thanksgiving Recipes

Recipe

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

4.67 from 3 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 11 servings
Avoid the Thanksgiving last minute rush with make ahead turkey gravy. It's rich and flavorful, with plenty of sage, thyme, and parsley.
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Ingredients 

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups turkey stock (chicken stock or vegetable broth can be substituted)
  • ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage (2 to 3 fresh sage leaves)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions 

  • Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Gradually whisk in broth. Add thyme and sage. Increase heat to medium high, bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Gravy will thicken significantly as it cools.
  • Stir in parsley, taste and season with salt and pepper.

Notes

  • Recipe makes 3½ cups gravy. Nutrition information is calculated for a serving size of ⅓ cup gravy.
  • The saltiness of broth or stock can vary widely so I suggest tasting the gravy before adding salt.  
  • For meatier flavor, add 1 teaspoon bouillon or use homemade stock.
  • Storage Suggestions: Cool to room temperature and refrigerate in a covered container for 3 to 4 days. Gravy can be frozen for up to 4 months.
  • To Reheat: In a saucepan, warm the gravy over low heat, whisking until smooth and hot. Add broth, turkey drippings, or water if gravy seems too thick. If the gravy is frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 0.33cup, Calories: 59kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 0.5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 4mg, Sodium: 135mg, Potassium: 114mg, Fiber: 0.2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 56IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 18mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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4.67 from 3 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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2 Comments

  1. Audrey says:

    4 stars
    I’m giving it a four star with a 5 star possible with added things as simple as butter. I needed a pre made turkey gravy
    As we fry, a bone in breast. So no juices, no giblets for me to add after to enrich the gravy. As I searched I liked this didn’t require roasting turkey wings or adding cream. It was straightforward and it is a keeper.
    I was concerned towards the end after following the instructions it had a flour taste. Though I whisked and whisked. I took a bit from some other pre made recipes, I had read and added butter, whisked in for richness. That literally did the trick! The flour taste was gone and it developed a rich gravy taste as if you were making it after you just roasted a turkey. So simple and added butter gives it the extra rich gravy taste I was looking for.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Hi Audrey – Thanks for the review! Did you cook the butter and flour until it was browned? That step is important to get rid of that raw flour taste and make the flavor of the gravy really rich. Also – you mention that you added butter but the gravy has a stick of butter in it already. Did you miss that in the ingredients or are you saying you added extra (I mean, never a bad idea to be honest, but I think this gravy has a really buttery flavor to begin with).
      Nonetheless, I’m glad you found a way to love it.