Preparing make ahead turkey gravy is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to impress your guests this Thanksgiving. While making gravy from scratch can be laborious, you can ensure success by giving yourself ample time to make it days before. Of course, not everyone knows how to make turkey gravy. Fortunately, there are some recipes you can follow.
In this article:
How to Cook Make Ahead Turkey Gravy
No turkey dinner would be complete without gravy. Sometimes, though, you don’t have time to prepare gravy on Thanksgiving day itself, especially among all the chaos in the kitchen. When you have a whole turkey and several side dishes to keep track of, gravy often gets pushed to the back burner. When you’re tight on time, you might even resort to instant gravy. While there’s nothing wrong with instant gravy, there’s just something about homemade gravy that makes it extra special.
Here are the best make ahead turkey gravy recipes you can try.
- 6 large turkey wings
- 8 cups chicken broth, divided
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
- 3/4 cup chopped carrots
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Place turkey wings in a large roasting pan in a single layer and scatter onions over them.
- Roast in the preheated oven until the wings are nicely browned, usually taking about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Move the roasted wings and onions to a 5-quart stockpot.
- Add water to the roasting pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom.
- Transfer the water and pan scrapings into the stockpot.
- Stir in 6 cups of chicken broth, thyme, and carrots. Place over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer, uncovered, for about 1 1/2 hours.
- Move the wings to a cutting board and cool until you can handle them. Remove the skin and meat from the wings. Discard the skin and keep the meat for another use.
- Strain the contents through a big strainer and into a saucepan. Push the vegetables in the strainer to extract any remaining liquid, then discard the vegetables.
- Skim off and discard the fat from the turkey broth, then bring it to a gentle boil.
- Whisk flour into the remaining 2 cups of chicken broth until smooth.
- Gradually whisk the flour mixture into the simmering broth. Let it simmer, whisking now and then, until the gravy has thickened, typically for about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in butter and pepper.
- Serve the gravy immediately or transfer it to containers, allowing it to cool before refrigerating or freezing.
- 1 lb turkey wings, cut into small pieces (you can also use leg or neck pieces)
- 8 cups turkey stock or chicken broth
- 5 fresh sprigs thyme
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the turkey pieces on a rimmed baking sheet and lightly season with salt and pepper. Roast until they’re browned and fully cooked, usually around 30 minutes.
- Transfer the roasted turkey pieces to a medium saucepan, scraping up any brown bits from the baking sheet and adding them to the saucepan. Pour in the stock, add thyme and bay leaves, and bring it to a simmer. Let it simmer for 30 minutes to infuse the stock with the flavors from the roasted turkey. Strain the liquid into a heat-safe bowl and keep it warm.
- Melt butter in the saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk until you reach a smooth consistency. The mixture should also be toasted and golden brown in color. Gradually pour in the warm broth, stirring continuously, and keep whisking until the mixture reaches a simmer. Cook further while whisking until the gravy thickens and coats the back of a spoon, which usually takes about 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Allow the gravy to cool to room temperature before placing it in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag that can be placed in the freezer. Label it with the date and freeze for up to 2 weeks.
- When serving, reheat the frozen gravy in a saucepan or microwave, whisking vigorously to prevent lumps. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
For the stock:
- 2 large turkey wings (about 4 pounds), or 4 lbs bone-in turkey thighs
- 3 medium carrots, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cups water
- 3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 8 cups chicken or turkey broth, divided
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic
- 3 sprigs fresh parsley
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
For the gravy:
- 4 cups turkey stock (above), plus more if needed
- 1/2 cup turkey fat, reserved from roasting the turkey wings or thighs
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Directions for the Stock:
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Combine the turkey, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in a roasting pan. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat the turkey and vegetables using your hands.
- Roast the turkey and vegetables, turning them over every now and then, for approximately 1 1/2 hours or until both the meat and vegetables are nicely browned.
- Transfer the roasted turkey, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to a large pot.
- Add 2 cups of chicken or turkey broth to the bottom of the roasting pan and place the pan over medium heat. Bring it to a boil, stirring with a flat wooden spoon to scrape up and release the browned bits.
- Pour the broth into the pot with the turkey and vegetables, including any accumulated fat from the pan or vegetables stuck to the bottom. Also, add the remaining broth, water, bay leaf, thyme, and parsley.
- Bring the stock to a gentle boil over medium heat. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer and let it simmer for 2 hours.
- Using tongs, remove the turkey wings, and discard the skin and bones. If the meat is still moist, you can refrigerate it for later use, like in soups.
- Place a large strainer over a container and strain the stock into it. Once the stock settles, skim off the fat using a ladle and transfer it to a bowl to make gravy.
- Alternatively, if time allows, refrigerate the stock overnight. The fat will solidify and can be easily removed. If the stock turns into jelly overnight, that’s even better.
Directions for the Gravy:
- Warm up the stock if it has been refrigerated overnight.
- Take 1/2 cup of the reserved turkey fat and put it in a large saucepan over medium heat. Gradually whisk in the flour, and cook the flour while stirring for about 2 minutes.
- Gradually incorporate 4 cups of stock into the roux while whisking. Simmer, whisking frequently, until it thickens, typically another 2 to 5 minutes.
- Adjust the gravy’s consistency by adding more stock if desired. Season with salt and pepper, and taste. Add more salt and pepper to suit your preference.
- Allow the gravy to cool for approximately 30 minutes, then transfer it to a storage container. Refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 4 months. Reheat in a saucepan when you’re ready to use it. Gravy that was frozen without milk or cream should not separate upon reheating.
A Tasty Thanksgiving
As you can see, preparing make ahead turkey gravy can be time-consuming, but the process itself is relatively easy. Give yourself enough time before Thanksgiving to make your gravy. You can simply whip it out on the day and reheat it before serving dinner.