Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy Recipe

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Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy



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Creating a make-ahead turkey gravy can significantly streamline your holiday cooking, allowing you to focus on other aspects of the meal while still delivering a delicious, rich gravy to accompany your turkey. Here’s a comprehensive guide to preparing a make-ahead turkey gravy that will impress your guests and make your holiday meal preparation a breeze.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
Neck and giblets from your turkey (excluding the liver)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
½ cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: ½ cup dry white wine for deglazing


Prepare the Stock:

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent.

Add the turkey neck and giblets to the pan and sauté until just beginning to brown.

If using, deglaze the pan with the dry white wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the chicken broth, water, carrot, celery, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 1.5 hours.

Strain the Stock:

After the stock has simmered and developed its flavors, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, discarding the solids.

Allow the stock to cool, then refrigerate. Once chilled, fat will rise to the top. Skim off and discard this fat.

Make the Roux:

In the same saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium heat.

Whisk in the flour, and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture turns a light brown color (about 3-4 minutes). This roux will thicken the gravy.

Combine and Cook:

Gradually whisk the prepared stock into the roux. Increase the heat to medium-high, and bring the mixture to a boil while continuously whisking. The gravy will start to thicken.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook and whisk for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Final Touches:

If desired, once your turkey is roasted, add drippings from the roasting pan to the gravy for added flavor. Simply skim off the fat from the drippings before stirring them into the gravy.

Reheat the gravy gently on the stove, adjusting the seasoning as necessary, before serving.

Serve the gravy hot alongside your holiday turkey. Enjoy the rich, flavorful addition to your festive meal.


Make-Ahead Strategy: This gravy can be made up to three days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Reheat over low heat, adding a little extra broth or water if it’s too thick.

Freezing: For even longer storage, the gravy freezes well. Freeze in airtight containers and simply thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat when ready to serve.

Creating make-ahead turkey gravy not only saves time on the day of your big meal but also offers a flavorful, homemade addition to your holiday table. Enjoy the process and the delicious results!

Enhancing Your Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy:

While the basic recipe for make-ahead turkey gravy is a great start, there are several ways you can enhance and customize the gravy to suit your taste or to add a gourmet touch to your holiday meal. Here are some suggestions:

Incorporate Fresh Herbs:

Adding fresh herbs can elevate the flavor profile of your gravy. Consider herbs such as sage, rosemary, or parsley for their aromatic qualities. You can either add these herbs to the stock as it simmers or finely chop them and whisk into the gravy as it finishes cooking.

Wine or Brandy Addition:

Deglazing the pan with a bit of dry white wine or brandy can add depth and complexity to the gravy. The alcohol will cook off, leaving behind a rich flavor that complements the turkey.

Roasted Garlic or Shallots:

For a sweeter, more nuanced flavor, consider adding roasted garlic or caramelized shallots to your gravy. Roast a head of garlic wrapped in foil in the oven until soft, then squeeze the roasted cloves into the stock or directly into the roux. Alternatively, caramelized shallots can be finely chopped and added to the gravy for a burst of sweetness.

Mushroom Umami:

Adding sautéed mushrooms to your gravy can introduce an umami-rich depth. Choose mushrooms like cremini, shiitake, or porcini for their flavor. Sauté the mushrooms separately and add them to the gravy as it finishes cooking.

Creamy Finish:

For a silkier, more luxurious gravy, consider whisking in a few tablespoons of heavy cream or crème fraîche just before serving. This addition can soften the flavors and add a lovely creaminess to the texture.

Drippings Integration:

To fully utilize the flavors of your turkey, don’t forget to incorporate the pan drippings into your gravy. After roasting your turkey, pour the drippings into a separator to easily skim off the fat. The flavorful liquid that remains can be added to your gravy, enhancing its taste with the essence of your roasted turkey.

Seasoning Adjustments:

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of proper seasoning. Taste your gravy as you finish cooking it and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. A splash of Worcestershire sauce or a pinch of smoked paprika can also add layers of flavor.

    Serving Suggestions:

    Customize to Guests: If you know your guests well, tailor your gravy’s flavor profile to suit their preferences. Rich and creamy for those who love indulgence, or herb-infused and wine-enhanced for the gourmets.

    Presentation: Serve your gravy in a warmed gravy boat or a pitcher with a ladle for easy serving. Garnishing with a sprig of fresh thyme or sage can add a touch of elegance.

    Accompaniments: While turkey is the star, your gravy will also complement mashed potatoes, stuffing, and even some vegetables. Encourage guests to drizzle a bit of gravy over their entire plate for a unifying flavor.

    Creating a make-ahead turkey gravy is not only practical but opens up a world of culinary creativity. With these tips and enhancements, you can present a gravy that not only complements your holiday turkey but stands out as a memorable part of the meal. Enjoy the process and the delicious results!


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