How to Thicken Gravy
Quick Overviews: Methods for Thickening Gravy
- Reduce and Simmer
- Add Cornstarch
- Add Pureed Vegetables
- Add Flour
- Arrowroot Powder
- Adding Gravy to a Roux
When it’s nice and chilly outside, all I can think of is warm comfort foods like roasts, mashed potatoes, and even Thanksgiving turkey. However, if you forget the gravy when you're meal planning, you're going to upset your family!
If you don't make gravy often, you may find yourself looking into the pot and wondering “why won’t the gravy thicken?”
Before we get into that, let me quickly tell you a little bit more about the classic gravy.
1. What Is Gravy?
Simply put, gravy is a rich sauce made from thickened juices that proteins from chicken or turkey that is released during the cooking process. It can also be made from scratch with chicken stock or vegetable stock and various seasonings.
Many chefs and home cooks prefer using pan drippings and other cooking liquids, such as chicken broth, milk, or even wine to thicken and flavor the gravy.
When it comes to seasoning the gravy, you can get very creative. Based on your taste, you can add different seasonings to enhance the flavor. Some common additions include salt, pepper, herbs, mustard, and balsamic vinegar.
2. Methods For Thickening Gravy
Reduce and Simmer
This is the easiest way to thicken your gravy. Simmer the gravy for a few minutes before adding any thickening agents. As the gravy continues to cook, the excess liquid will reduce. The only downside to this method is that it can leave your gravy tasting salty as the water-to-salt ratio decreases as the sauce reduces.
This kitchen staple is very easy to find and will help thicken your gravy almost instantly. Make a "slurry" (liquid-based paste) by combining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 cup of water, and whisking the mixture together until the cornstarch granules dissolve.
Add Pureed Vegetables
This is another great way to thicken gravy while adding an earthy flavor to the sauce. In a blender, puree one cup of liquid, chicken broth, or water with your chosen vegetables. You can also use leftover vegetables from the roasting pan to enhance the flavor.
This method is similar to cornstarch. Add a little water to the flour to make a liquid-like paste or slurry. However, when using flour as a gravy thickener, you must double the amount, so use 2 tablespoons of flour per 1 cup of liquid. Use a whisk or wooden spoon to mix, stirring constantly until you thicken the gravy to the desired consistency. Cornstarch or flour is always going to be the best ingredient to use for thickening up your gravy.
A great alternative to flour and cornstarch, this powder comes from the rhizomes of the Marantaceae family. It is a natural substitute for a gluten-free thickening agent. Make a slurry combining 2-3 tablespoons of your arrowroot powder with 2-3 tablespoons of water. Add to 1 cup of hot liquid with a whisk, stirring until incorporated and the gravy thickens.
Adding Gravy to a Roux
Pick a fat that complements your gravy. A roux is a thickened mixture made from fat and flour. Normally you should pick a fat like butter, leftover fat from the pan, or a suitable oil such as olive oil. The ratio is usually half fat, half flour.
- Melt butter or fat in a heavy saucepan. Keep the stove on medium heat and turn it down if you smell the butter burning.
- Add a similar amount of flour to the melted butter or fat. Mix well, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. This will avoid making lumpy gravy. When the mixture starts to froth a little, transfer it into the gravy.
- Stir the gravy into the mixture. Make sure the mixture is fully mixed into the gravy, otherwise you risk your gravy tasting a little strange. Keep stirring until gravy thickens.
3. Recipe: Classic Gravy
4. Top Cookware Picks For You
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5. Frequently Asked Questions About Thickening Gravy
Is it best to thicken gravy with flour or cornstarch?
Cornstarch will thicken over a few minutes and if you add too much, you will end up with a gel-like gravy. On the other hand, flour makes that thick, opaque gravy that you are used to seeing, but it clumps easily. Thickening gravy with cornstarch is normally the second choice to flour.
How can I thicken gravy without flour?
Cornstarch and arrowroot are gluten-free alternatives to flour. They also keep the sauce clear and cloud-free.
How do you stop watery gravy?
You can thicken the gravy by adding tapioca scratch, potato starch, flour, or cornstarch. Any of the above thickening agents can be used if it's available in your kitchen.
How do I make gravy thicker?
Mix Flour or Cornstarch: Blend a small amount of flour or cornstarch with cold water to make a smooth paste. Gradually Add to Gravy: Whisk the paste into the simmering gravy, stirring continuously. Cook and Stir: Allow the gravy to cook for a few minutes, stirring until it thickens to your desired consistency. Adjust Seasoning: Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
What is the best thickener for gravy?
Both flour and cornstarch are common and effective thickeners for gravy. Flour creates a more opaque and hearty consistency, while cornstarch produces a glossy and lighter texture. To choose the best thickener, consider your preference for texture and dietary needs. Gluten-free diets may favor cornstarch, while those who prefer a traditional, heartier gravy might opt for flour.
How do you thicken gravy with flour?
Make a Roux: Heat equal parts flour and fat (like butter) in a pan to create a paste. Whisk Gradually: Gradually add hot liquid (broth, stock, etc.) to the roux, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Simmer: Cook and whisk the mixture over medium heat until it thickens to your desired consistency. Season: Taste and season the gravy as needed.
Is it better to thicken gravy with flour or cornstarch?
The choice between flour and cornstarch for thickening gravy depends on your desired texture and dietary preferences. Flour creates a heartier consistency with a slightly opaque look, while cornstarch gives a glossy finish and lighter texture. Cornstarch is gluten-free and works well for those with dietary restrictions, while flour is traditional and adds a different flavor profile.
How do you make gravy thicker?
Mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with an equal amount of cold water to create a slurry. Add the slurry to your gravy while it's simmering and whisk continuously.
Allow the gravy to simmer for a few minutes until it reaches your desired thickness. This simple technique helps to avoid lumpy gravy and results in a smooth, thickened sauce or gravy.
How do you thicken gravy with just flour?Mix 2 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons of cold water to create a smooth paste.Gradually whisk the paste into your simmering gravy or pan drippings.
Continue cooking and stirring until the gravy reaches the desired thickness.
Be cautious not to add too much flour at once to avoid lumps, and adjust the quantity to achieve your preferred consistency.
Is it better to thicken gravy with flour or cornstarch?
Both flour and cornstarch can be used to thicken gravy, but the choice depends on dietary preferences and requirements. Flour is a common choice and provides a traditional, hearty texture. Cornstarch, on the other hand, is a gluten-free alternative and creates a glossy, smooth consistency. The decision should consider taste, texture, and dietary considerations, making both options suitable for thickening gravy, depending on your needs.
Does boiling gravy thicken it?
Boiling gravy can help thicken it to some extent. As the gravy reaches a boil, the liquid reduces through evaporation, which can lead to a thicker consistency. However, it's not the primary method for thickening. You may still need to use a thickening agent like flour or cornstarch, mixed with cold water, to achieve the desired thickness without overcooking the gravy.
Written by Himani Vaid
Toronto-based food nerd turned food storyteller, Himani is a connoisseur of all things delish. Currently, busy thinking about what to eat next.