Lighten your stress-load by making this Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy for your holiday celebration. It can be made a couple of days ahead of your meal using turkey wings.
Make Ahead Turkey Gravy
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a whole turkey to make gravy. However, you must slow-roast turkey to get good gravy. And now that so many us deep fry or cook our turkey in an electric roaster, we no longer have the drippings to make the gravy.
I have to admit I have witnessed some pretty seasoned cooks have complete breakdowns at Thanksgiving when it comes time to gravy making. There is just too much going on at that moment; the bird is out of the oven, they are trying to deglaze the pan, the side dishes are almost ready or are getting cold, there are too many people around…let’s face it, gravy anxiety is real.
However, all of this pandemonium can be eliminated with a little planning. The secret is turkey wings from the grocery store. Every store has them and they are so cheap. When you roast the wings with celery, onions and garlic, you have the makings of a perfect turkey stock, which you will make into the perfect gravy. This can be done months ahead and frozen, taking out the stock when you need it.
On Thanksgiving you can make the gravy while the juiciest bird is in the oven as opposed to when it’s out, which many of you know is a very stressful activity.
So relieve your stress this year and make gravy ahead of time.
Give it a try…
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and in a large sauté or roasting pan (I use my large Dutch oven), roast (use a lower oven rack) turkey wings, celery, onion and garlic for 2 hours. Remove from the oven.
Add water and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer on low for one hour, uncovered. Stock will reduce.
Strain the stock into a bowl with at least a 4 cup capacity. Place liquid into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight and remove the fat accumulated on top.
In a large sauté pan, melt unsalted butter and whisk in flour. Cook, whisking constantly over medium heat for two minutes. This will cook out the flour taste. Whisk in defatted turkey stock and cook until thickened. (The gravy should coat the back of a spoon.) Add milk, cider vinegar and salt to taste. If by some chance you cannot get your gravy as thick as you like it, don’t panic. It’s always possible you measured something wrong. In an emergency, you can always dissolve 1 teaspoon of cornstarch in one teaspoon of cold water and SLOWLY add it to the gravy while whisking. It will be fine. Just remember, gravy often thickens up a bit when it’s off the heat and you want a nice pourable liquid for all those lovely side dishes.
Pour the gravy into a warmed gravy boat and Thanksgiving dinner is ready!
Now doesn’t that look good?
More Thanksgiving Day Recipes to Enjoy
- Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- Pumpkin Spice Moscow Mule
- Pecan Pie Cobbler
- Pretzel Bread Stuffing
- Mayonnaise Turkey
- Mini Pumpkin Pies
- Mushroom and Leek Bread Pudding
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Make Ahead Turkey Gravy
- 2 turkey wings
- 4 ribs of celery, roughly chopped, use leaves too
- 1 onion, cut into chunks
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed with the back of a knife
- 6 cups water
- 4 tbsp (1/4 cup) butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups turkey stock (the one you just made), strained and defatted
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a large sauté or roasting pan (I use my large Dutch oven 7.5 quart), roast (on a lower oven rack) turkey wings, celery, onion and garlic for 2 hours. (If you notice your wings and veggies getting too dark, feel free to cover with foil.) Remove from oven.
- Add water and bring to a boil. (If you used a roasting rack, you will need to transfer the mixture to an appropriate vessel for the stove.) Turn down heat and simmer on low for one hour, uncovered. Stock will reduce.
- Strain the stock into a bowl with at least a 4-cup capacity. Place liquid into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight and remove the fat accumulated on top.
- In a large sauté pan, melt butter and whisk in flour. Cook, whisking constantly over medium heat for two minutes. This will cook out the flour taste. Whisk in defatted turkey stock and cook until thickened. (The gravy should coat the back of a spoon.) Add milk, cider vinegar and salt to taste. Turn off heat.
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Michelle in NZ says
While we don’t have Thanksgiving here this is a great idea for Christmas when I’ll be roasting a large chicken up at my Folks’ place. Using homemade stock and the pan juices will equal super scummy gravy.
And thank you for the pulled chicken recipe from two posts ago – I happily devoured it tonight, and had a second helping! Zebbycat was not amused.
Hugles from New Zealand, Michelle xxx (Zebby is very busy snoring)
Barbara Gunther says
I am making gravy for 30.. how to make receipe. Increase everything 9 times?
Pattie W. says
Hi Barbara, yes I think you can safely follow your idea. That’s what I would do. Per each two wings, you’ll get somewhere between 2 to 3 cups of gravy. I made a single recipe last year, and that was what the yield was. Another family member made a batch too. So we had plenty. I did end up using a bit of Better Than Boullion, turkey flavor, to bump up the flavor a bit. Good luck!
Ginger G. says
I think 9 times is a bit much. I made two recipes last year and ten adults and two littles hardly used one recipe. I brought one batch home and froze it. It does freeze nicely, It is a great first ahead gravy.
Hi, I’m wondering if you doubled the batch or made two separate batches? I was hoping just to be able to double it
Can you freeze? Have you tried freezing?
I have not.
Ginger G. says
Yes it is fabulous to freeze ahead.
This is a WONDERFUL idea! I cannot believe I never thought of this before, guess that is why I keep reading your blog~ you come up with the best tips and recipes. Now I am soooooo hungry for turkey gravy over dressing, with a lot of cranberry sauce on the side!
This gravy looks absolutely delicious!!
That is the best looking turkey gravy I have ever seen and I pride myself on my gravy! Who needs to wait for Thanksgiving with this great method?
This is a great idea! I’m always frantically trying to get the gravy to thicken to that perfect point, while trying to get everything else ready.
Rindy R says
wow – What a great idea! That is always one (of the many) stressors on that day! Thanks for sharing!
we cook our turkeys in the rotisserie will never ever bake one again… and use the gibles and neck to make giblet gravey… yummmmm love your pre made stock… and now for the question of the day… whats the difference in broth and stock ?(like what they have in the store)
broth is made with meat and bones, stock is made only with the bones
Jeez…how easy! I never would have thought about doing this. Thanks for sharing!
I do this every year,I base my recipe on the Womans Day one, similar to yours. Such the time saver and its so good!! I think I will try yours this year instead.
Beautiful gravy. I actually do pretty good when it comes to gravy making. Nothing offends me more to see someone make gravy from a packet or pour from a jar when it is relatively simple. Thanks for sharing.
Cathy at Wives with Knives says
Making gravy just before a large dinner is a nightmare! This takes all the stress and mess out of one of our favorite parts of the dinner. Thanks.
Tiffiny Felix says
I love this! Not only does it ease the stress a little (sometimes I end up not making the gravy because everything is done and everyone is waiting…), but it looks like you get lots of gravy, more than you might get making it from whatever good stuff you get from the bird. Thanks! 🙂
That looks so incredible, I am saving this!
Hi, when roasting in the oven, did you cover your dutch oven or leave uncovered?
Looks great, can’t wait to try.
Noble Pig says
do you add water or oil while roasting the wings, or roast them dry? this looks awesome!
You just made my Thanksgiving! This is always m biggest stressor becuase everyone is standing in the kitchen and watching! Ugh.
Cathy, I think you might have just saved my life. I’m actually a dynamite cook – with one exception. I CANNOT MAKE GRAVY. For all the reasons you mentioned above. I am totally making this this year, and my family will be AMAZED because my gravy skills (or lack thereof) are reknowned. THANK YOU!
Haha, this made me laugh. I consider myself a dynamite cook, and I cannot cook rice to save my life. 🙂
hi. saw your comment about cooking rice. i also had the same results. but a few years ago, i read the box (i use minute rice) and it said to boil and salt water, add rice, stir, put on lid AND REMOVE PAN FROM HEAT SOURCE. that is the trick, don’t leave the pan on the hot heat! comes out fork tender and delish!
Thanks for reminding me! I did this last year and it was great, but I’d forgotten about it!
Great idea to make the gravy ahead of time! I especially like the fact you can skim off the fat.
Thanks. What a great idea to make it ahead. And, my husband will probably love this recipe. He’s not crazy about the giblet gravy that my family has at Thanksgiving. (Since he’s from Chicago and I’m from Texas) I think his mom always made the brown gravy.
This will go perfectly with our Make Ahead Mashed Potato recipe.
The two things I ALWAYS make the day before…. gravy and mashed potatoes! Saves so much time in the kitchen the day of. I can focus on the star of the show – the TURKEY!
Thank you! I’m hosting thanksgiving… they want gravy with mashed potatoes but instead of a roasted turkey one of my guests is making a turkey casserole… this will be perfect… 🙂
Your pic of the gravy with mashed potatoes qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment. Man, that gravy! Even skunk butt would be good with that. Ha.
Yeah, that looks good. I would like to bathe in it.
Laura L. says
How far ahead can you make this and how would you re-heat it? Is freezing an option? I am making my cranberry sauce and gravy ahead of time this year.
juli harvey says
Can this be freezed ahead of time?
Lena in VT says
I think you just saved my marriage. By the time it’s time to make the gravy, there is so much going on I was screach at my husband and we have a lovely argument before the meal. Oh yes, the holidays, LOL! I’m doing this.
You KNOW how much I love mashed potatoes and gravy…I’ll be right over!!!
This look dark and rich and wonderful. The best part of the recipe is that you’ve given it to us now, rather then on the day before the holiday.
noble pig says
I’ve never made it more than a couple days ahead. I just pour it into a saucepan and reheat. It will have a skin on it but that will disappear with whisking as you bring it to a gentle simmer only, do not let the bottom burn.
I have also never frozen the gravy, only the stock.
Usually I just make the gravy while the turkey is cooking as the stock has been prepared ahead of time.
I do the same…. I make the stock the day or two before and make it into gravy the day of…..
So now in 2017, has anyone frozen the gravy? Will be working except on Thanksgiving Day.
Great idea to make the stock in advance. It’s always a mad rush to get everything done on Thanksgiving.
Now this is a good idea! Confessions: I never, ever use flour in gravy; I whisk cornstarch in a tiny bit of water, whisk that in, and never have lumps. Second confession: to avoid using salt, you can stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice per cup of broth, and it perks the gravy right up. Yeah, hubby was just diagnosed with high blood pressure, so my tiny amount of salt usage is being pared back still further. Third confession: I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking about Thanksgiving already!
Natasha - 5 Star Foodie says
Perfect! Bookmarking this for sure!
Rachel the SdOC says
Wonderful idea. Although I do make my last-minute gravy, I definitely would appreciate having some homemade gravy already done. I usually make my gravy with the pan drippings and a stock I made from the neck and giblets, but I could just save those and freeze them for gravy at some other point.
I am making the turkey at home this year and bringing it to another dinner (at the home of a vegetarian who won’t make the turkey, but will have non-vegetarain guests like me). Being able to just pop the turkey out of the oven and have the gravy already done will be a big help.
Laura L. says
I went back and re-read the entry and saw that, but thanks for your response. Will do the same! : )
This is terrific! I especially like this make ahead turkey gravy version because it’s so easy to strain the excess fat.
I’ve made a version of this, but yours looks richer. I’ll have to convert to your way. Sad but true– one Thanksgiving, I poured the stock into a colander in my sink…and then I realized that I forgot to put a pot underneat. Yep, the whole beautiful stock went down the drain. I will never do that again, because now I use a pasta pot. Great tutorial. I’ve been reading your blog for ages, but I don’t leave a comment. I just wanted to say “hi” and I love your blog and photos a lot.
Snapping fingers and dancing she sings in a whisper, “The holidays are comin’…the holidays are comin’…
Lisa Sipple says
I am thanking you now from the bottom of my heart. You have no idea how much the gravy stresses me out.
Thank you my holiday will be good!!
This is a great tip for those who are stressed out enough on Thanksgiving. Gravy is usually not a problem since I cook down the neck and giblets and make stock with that which I use for the gravy. I also saute mushrooms and the juice from that makes for good gravy too. Today I posted your upside-down apple cake – a real showstopper that I’ll be making for Thanksgiving too.
Liz C. says
Cathy, I’ve got to tell you that this is exactly as I make it (except your pictures are way better than mine) with one tiny exception. I also add a few drops of Kitchen Bouquet, which only enhances the flavor. It was a little trick of my grandmother’s.
Luckily, we’ve been invited to our best friends’ home this year, so I’m only taking what they tell me to.
Jennifer Fun House says
OMG–I LOVE this idea!! I am definitely doing this as I get a little testy about gravy making on Thanksgiving!
Tami Lyn says
Okay, prepare yourself-I hate gravy. I know, how could I? Everyone else in the house loves it so I try to make it from scratch, but sometimes I just open a jar! Just give me a pile of spuds and butter, salt and pepper please! I will bookmark this though, since I think the family would enjoy it.
My mother in law would be all over a make ahead turkey. She doesn’t get to cook turkey any more though. She was voted off the island. Looks tasty.
How great is this? Even when you roast a turkey, there is NOT enough gravy. Problem solved, thanks.
I know this gravy anxiety moment well! This make ahead gravy is pure genius! 😀
What a fantastic idea of making the gravy earlier. It will certainly help to calm me down in the kitchen knowing that one of important component of Thanksgiving dish is ready. Thx for the idea Cathy.
Karen Bannan says
This looks like an awesome recipe. I would have never thought of using the wings separately. No one in my house eats them anyway!
I think turkey is so hard! I bought a $75 orgnaic turkey last year. (Blogged about it today, along with an interview with a turkey expert.) Will probably do the same this year. I’ll bet this gravy would make it taste even better than it did.
Noble Pig says
Could a gravy look any better? Great photos Cathy, the last shot is making me drool.
You seriously never cease to amaze me……I love all of your dishes….and there have been times gravy has been the last straw for me…..thanks for the recipe….I have NOT dropped dead….I just can’t get it all together…YOU ARE MY HERO…Because you seem to have it all together and jog 5 miles to boot before the rains come….AMAZING I tell ya!!!!!
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!! ditto what everyone has been saying, this will save my thanksgiving 🙂
So, true that gravy anxiety is real! This is a great plan, especially for fried turkey.
Audrey at Barking Mad says
I suffer from the WORST gravy anxiety! So this is a definite to-do for me! Especially being that I can make this ahead and then defrost and heat up the day of! Thank you so much for this!
I LOVE this idea of make ahead turkey gravy!
Robin W. says
I have done this for the past 5 years and it is the best!!!! No muss or fuss on the big day – and it is perfect every time!!!
That does look tasty. I’ve always boiled the giblets and neck and used the liquid from that. I’ll have to try your method because it does look delicious.
Really good idea! The consistency looks perfect too.
This is going to change my life! I’m definitely gravy-phobic and I agonize every Thanksgiving about whether the gravy will live up to the rest of the meal. No more worrying — I’m going to make it ahead and freeze it.
Great looking turkey gravy. Sounds more delicious. I love the idea of this make ahead turkey gravy using turkey wings.
I am SO doing this! Thanks!!!
I admit I get extreme gravy anxiety. You have saved me. Thank you so much! I love the idea of make ahead turkey gravy.
So, If I need to make more gravy than just 2.25 cups, do I double or triple everything….or just the water? I know that’s kind of a dumb question…but I wasn’t sure.
Noble Pig says
Yes, increase everything. One recipe make about three cups stock. So if you doubled the turkey meat and the water you would end up with about 6 cups turkey stock. You could then triple the gravy making part (milk, cider etc) since you would have six cups of stock to make gravy.
I made this recipe today and the stock didn’t look nearly as good as yours. I followed the directions to a T but my stock was very watery and light colored…. not the rich dark brown that yours was. What could have gone wrong? Should I I have roasted my turkey wings longer till they were a much darker brown?
Noble Pig says
Very strange. I’ve made this recipe a million times and have never had a problem. In trying to think of what went wrong a couple things crossed my mind.
Did you use the same to roast the wings and boil the water after? This is where the stock richness comes from, all the burnt stuff on the bottom. If you used a different pan, you would not have gotten a rich, brown stock.
By any chance could you have unknowingly added too much water?
I can’t imagine anything else that would have caused a mishap. If you roasted your wings for 2 hours, they should have been very brown.
If you use the fat from the stock for the roux, instead of butter, you’ll get a little extra turkey kick. You may need to adjust the amount of flour, I usually need a pinch more.
I was digging through all these comments from years ago for just this one!! Thank you! I wanted toake sure I wasn’t the only one who had this idea for the roux. Why use butter when you already have your fat???
Because butter provides a mouthful and taste that cannot be understated.
I used a roasting pan and not a dutch oven so maybe that is why. Plus my veggies were piled on top of the turkey… maybe added too much moisture and steamed the turkey? One other thing is I used 2 wings and 2 thighs (only one package of wings left at the grocery store) so maybe the thighs did it? I needed to double the recipe. Added 12 cups of water at and used the same roasting pan to scrap up any goodness left on the bottom. I will have to retry with all wings and in a dutch oven. I will let you know how the gravy turns out from this stock though, won’t make that until Thursday. Thanks for all your amazing recipes.
Noble Pig says
No, it had nothing to do with the pan or thighs, it was the amount of water. If you only cooked for one hour on the stove with 12 cups of water you didn’t get enough of a reduction. Even though you have already strained it I would stick it back on the stove for another hour and reduce it to concentrate the flavors.
Anytime you double a recipe, it most likely always increases cooking time, especially in a reduction.
I just made this myself and it was light colored like a chicken stock. But the mistake I made was I put a lid on it while it roasted. It wasn’t until afterwards that I read in the comments that Cathy added to roast it UNCOVERED. (Cathy, not sure if you can add it to the recipe but it might help some.) It’s cooling in the refrigerator right now. I imagine it will still taste good, it will just be light yellowish tan instead of that pretty rich brown.
You seriously never cease to amaze me……I love all of your dishes….and there have been times gravy has been the last straw for me…..thanks for the recipe….I have NOT dropped dead….I just can’t get it all together…YOU ARE MY HERO…Because you seem to have it all together and jog 5 miles to boot before the rains come….AMAZING I tell ya!!!!!
Granite Tile says
you’ll get a little extra turkey kick. You may need to adjust the amount of flour, I usually need a pinch more.
I made this today. The house smelled amazing while it was roasting, and the stock looks absolutely delicious. Never again will I find myself scrambling to make gravy on Thanksgiving day. I couldn’t find turkey wings at New Seasons, so they suggested I use a turkey back. Thanks for the recipe, the end result was amazing and so easy to do.
Cannot wait to try this recipe
It’s so nice to be able to bring out my turkey stock and make gravy while there’s a lull in the action. Broke out the Noble Pig wine today, too.
Kim Frakes says
Looks simply Delicious. I am normally in charge of the side dishes and not the turkey,dressing and gravy bc I did not want to tackle the bird part. This blog might actually get me ready for NEXT year ! thanks so MUCH !
I froze the full gravy 3 months ago, just defrosted it and it’s perfectly fine – just reheat!
I am cooking Thanksgiving turkey this year and one of our guests is quite allergic to celery. She cannot even tolerate products such as soups or sauces with this ingredient. What would you suggest instead of celery for this terrific looking stock/gravy? Thanks for your recipe, I plan to make it also for another occasion with the celery!
Leave it out.
I was just wondering what the vinegar does in this recipe. I’ve never seen this ingredient when making gravy.
It gives it a nice taste, the acid cuts the fat.
Can I use a dry sherry in place of the vinegar?
I would stick with the vinegar.
I just re-read your notes. So, is it possible to make the entire recipe and freeze it?
I’ve never tried that. I would freeze the stock and just make the gravy that day.
This year, I am responsible for the turkey, gravy and dressing and decided to try this as it gets pretty hectic in my kitchen on Thanksgiving. (I have a spinal cord injury and am pretty overwhelmed anyway but am a purist when it comes to certain ‘sacred’ dishes and want them done perfectly.) I am roasting the wings and vegetables now. They have about thirty more minutes to go and I saw that they were very light on the side facing downward so I turned them over so they can brown on the other side. That might help with the light coloring people were discussing. Also, I added a carrot to the vegetable mix and it just smells divine- I think it will add an element of additional richness to the gravy and maybe a little color as well.
I am so looking forward to the final product- I will freeze the stock and put it in the fridge overnight next Wednesday so it will be thawed out in time to finish the gravy. What a great idea to have this part of Thanksgiving made into something so uncomplicated! Many, many thanks!!!
Marianne Dorsey says
It was a mess to make but whattttttt a difference. I made one the way I do normally,
boiling the neck ect. with carrots, celery and onions. Then your way .. All I can say is,
yours was by FAR the best. Yes! it was more time consuming but worth every minute.
Thank you soooo much. Marianne
I made the stock last night ( doubled the recipe) and finished the gravy tonight and it is delicious! I will never go back to regular gravy again. I could eat this as a soup! It is definitely some work/mess to make, so while it saves time the day of, it surely makes up for that when you are preparing it. Well worth it though!
I know, isn’t it a relief to have it done?
Jay Burnett says
I’ve been doing this for years, following my grandmothers recipe whilch uses giblets, turkey or chicken. It is a lifesaver. OUr family considers gravy a beverage so I make much more ahead of time, then save the drippngs from the actual bird to whisk together after dinner so everybody can take home gravy with their turkey. (we cook an extra turkey breast & a packet of thighs the day before which also get the gravy treatment. )
P.S. Do the same trick for your big beef roast, using bones and a fatty chuck roast , on a bed of carrots, celery and onion .
Does anyone know if you can make his using turkey legs instead of wings?
I think you could.
Would the two hour roasting time need to be increased if I was using two turkey legs instead of the wings?
I don’t have a dutch oven. But I have casserole dishes. Do you think that would work out ok? If I try to scrape the drippings from the bottom. It looks delish!
It just has to be oven and stove safe.
Pam PB says
Can you add sherry instead of the cider vinegar at the end?
I have done it but I would try both in a little bowl and see what you like best.
I’m roasting the fixin’s for this make ahead gravy at this moment. I’m using turkey legs, because I couldn’t find wings to save me. I’ll probably hold off on making the gravy part on Thanksgiving Day, so I can include any roasted drippings. Will probably have lots of gravy, but what the heck – gravy’s good on anything. I watched Food Network’s Live Thanksgiving Show yesterday, and Ina Garten adds a little cognac or brandy to her finished gravy. Happy Thanksgiving to you all – Good Luck with your meals!
Melinda Pickworth says
Hello Kathy, I just wanted you to know I used your recipe to make enough gravy for 80 people. Our village had an American Thanksgiving Quiz Night. As the token Yank, I got asked to do the decorations, pumpkin pies and the gravy. As I have never done gravy on a scale like this before, your recipe was a lifesaver! I roasted a turkey 3 weeks ahead and made 4 batches of stock and froze it ready. On the day, (Saturday, 23rd) I started making it in small batches until I had a Dutch oven full of gravy; no lumps, beautiful colour and wonderful flavour.. The cider vinegar was a great flavour booster. I loved how it tasted. Thank you. x
Working on my stock today. But, after cooking the wings & vegetables in the oven at 375 for 2 hours, mine never turned that nice dark color as in the photograph. I was looking forward to the intense color because I imagine the flavor is also more intense.
Don’t worry it will still be intense and fabulous.
We’re frying our turkey this year and I MUST have gravy. I found this recipe and prepared it today. I couldn’t find wings at the store, so I just cut the wings off the turkey and used them. That was a bit of pain….had to wrap the turkey back up nice and snug. I used an enamel coated cast iron dutch oven for the roasting. After I strained the stock, the bottom of my pan was pretty dark…burnt looking. Does this sound right? The house smells amazing….just like Thanksgiving. I hope I didn’t burn the stock…
It will be perfect. Don’t worry.
Mrs j says
It is delicious!!!!!! Thank u!!! First turkey day at my house…..
I followed your roasting directions but mine did not come out as pretty brown as yours. I’m going to make it as is and hope lol but yours is so pretty! Email me please and tell me how it is so pretty for future!
Vickie W. says
Thank you so much for this recipe! We always have 2 turkeys – one fried and one smoked – so I usually just roast the necks & giblets to make gravy, but there is never enough and it is not very tasty. I prepared this recipe for my family and in-laws and it was a hit! I might add that I live in south Louisiana, where we are very picky about our gravy, & everyone at the table (including my mother-in-law who is a fantastic cook), said this gravy was delicious! I was leery of the apple cider vinegar, but after adding it, I tasted the gravy and discovered it definitely was the perfect ingredient to enhance the flavor. This recipe is going in my file and will be a permanent addition to our Thanksgiving meal. Thanks again!!
Cassy B says
Perfect! I always run out of gravy so having extra on hand is a big help. I used a turkey back, instead of the wings. I think the most important thing is the method of rosting then boiling to get the most out of the flavor.
Anita Johnson says
Because of food allergies, we are a dairy free and gluten free family. Holiday meals can be a real challenge. I was wondering if I could substitute soy milk for cow’s milk and use all corn starch instead of flour?
You can try it but the ratios will be different. Also one of the best parts of the gravy is using vinegar at the end, which will break down the cornstarch. It’s something you’ll have to play with for good results.
Wonderful pictures and what a great idea! I make stock ahead of time, but never thought to go ahead and make the gravy ahead of time also. I have recently started making homemade stock from rotisserie chickens, so my tip to add to this would be putting all the roasted wings/bones/veggies into the crockpot and letting it cook on low overnight (making sure to deglaze the roasting pan to get all the great caramelization). The longer process really brings out all of the flavors and makes a very rich stock. For the folks whose roasted meat and veggies didn’t brown enough, make sure you don’t have too much moisture in the pan so that it really caramelizes rather than steaming. Thanks for the awesome blog post!
Thanks for the extra tips!
Thank you Nobel Pig! I just made the stock and it turned out so rich and brown. I used my 7 qt Le Cruset oval pot. Layered in the veggies and placed the very large turkey wings on top. Then just a few grinds of salt and pepper, plus a sprinkle of poultry seasoning. Roasted as directed, Once the water was added it seemed to evaporate quickly so I added about 3 more cups of water. After straining I have almost 5 cups of stock – that will make a double batch of gravy come Thanksgiving. Just can’t have too much.
Although I don’t stress over gravy on Thanksgiving day – I have been doing this too long, I do remember the early days. We like to let our turkey rest for a while, which gives me plenty of time to make gravy.
What a lovely recipe and I am excited to use it. It looks so delicious. Thank you so much for sharing.
I’m in the process of making this, it is simmering. Can you get too much onion? I used a medium size (a little bigger than medium), it has a very strong onion smell and taste like french onion soup. Will the flavor be okay?
It will be fine.
Roasted, as directed, and the wings came out delicious but the pan and some of the vegies were quite blackened. Went ahead with the gravy making, and the gravy does have that burnt taste. Is there a fix for that?
I’m afraid I need to re-do the whole thing with shorter time in the oven, checking so it browns but does not become black in the pan. Just checking in case there are other suggestions.
I think it you kept in covered in the water [you’ll have to keep checking] and keep it covered with tinfoil or a lid – it shouldn’t burn. The juice tends to evaporate and the exposed veggies will burn. Good luck. It really is a great recipe.
PS – and cooking time – excellent idea. Mine went full time and didn’t burn, but I have had some ovens that were different, so I always do a test run with a new recipe.
Why Apple Cider Vinegar and Whole Milk ?????
That is what makes it delicious!
i don’t think I can buy Turkey wings. Could I use several chicken wings instead?
I guess you could. Ask the grocery store butcher, they often have them this time of year. And since chicken wings are smaller, I would do 4-6.
Eilleen Dempsey says
Oh my gosh. I had just started to simmer some turkey wings with celery and garlic when I read this linked from Steamykitchen. I immediately turned off my pot and moved the ingrediants out of the stockpot and into the roaster (minus the water and plus some onion). It is now roasting in the oven. I will let you know how it turns out. Perfect timing.
Sounds like it was meant to be.
I couldn’t find wings. Are turkey drumsticks ok to use? After two hours the house smells delicious but it didn’t brown. Will it still come out ok?
I don’t know if you’ll see this, but do you remember if your gravy turned out ok? I bought extra turkey drumsticks to make this because I didn’t want people wondering where the wings went off of the turkey.
I’m going try this tomorrow,wish me luck!
Donna Nestor says
I am known for my delicious fried chicken and turkey gravy that people can’t get enough of, but I do have to say, that this looks so yummy and I will definitely have to make it. Who knows…it could be better than mine…uh oh!!!
Karen Heiting says
has anyone gone through the entire process ahead of time, or should the thickening be done same day as serving?
Thickening? Do you mean making the gravy? I have made the gravy the day ahead and warmed it up on the stove.
what herbs can be used? Just pepper?
Up to you. I don’t think it needs any.
Marg Abel says
Help! Just made Make Ahead Gravy to solve “gravy anxiety.” Have cooked many turkeys over the years & usually make tasty gravy (without recipe) mainly by adding turkey drippings to giblet & neck water then thickening a little with cornstarch. Make Ahead Gravy was to be my solution to gravy anxiety! For Thanksgiving, having 12 guests, so I doubled recipe & cooked 4 turkey wings & veggies, uncovered, for about 3+ hours trying to get them dark before adding water, etc. Smelled great but never got as dark as pictured. Finally added 12 c. water & cooked, uncovered, for another 2 1/2 hours. It reduced to 6 c. of stock. Refrigerated & skimmed fat next day. Stock was totally solid. Now, 2 days later, decided to make gravy before Thanksgiving. Tripled recipe since I had 6 c. of stock. Did not turn out at all as I hoped. Came out just a little darker than cream gravy. Doesn’t taste bad (it’s edible) but definitely does not have much turkey flavor & isn’t dark, rich color. I cooked roux as directed for 2 min. (plus maybe 30 sec.). It was a light tan color. I think I should have cooked it until roux turned much darker brown but doubt if that would have solved weak turkey flavor. I finished recipe & used cornstarch to thicken just a little more. It is edible but not close to what I expected. To TRY to salvage it, I’ll get a small turkey tomorrow & cook it for drippings to add to this gravy. I cooked everything but roux much longer than recipe said as I was reminded in comments to cook longer when recipe is increased. Comments were so positive plus the idea of Make Ahead Gravy would be life-saver. If I can’t find out what to do differently, I won’t be able to use it again. I want this to work but I’m stumped. Suggestions?
There are so many variables here, I wish I knew or understood what the problem is….the color?
Marg Abel says
Sorry. The problem is taste. Not very much like turkey. Very bland; not the powerful turkey taste I expect in turkey gravy. The color info was included as a possible clue to why it doesn’t have the real turkey taste. The other info was included to show what I did to see if you might be able to tell me what happened. Thank you.
Could not find turkey wings can you use turkey legs instead?
I haven’t done it, might be alright.
I’m confused on how much water should be added??! I am making this tonight or tomorrow to prepare for Thanksgiving. I’m having 20 people so I was going to double or triple it. How much water should be added! Help!
6 cups of water, it’s written in the recipe.
Laura Lopez says
trying your gravy recipe this Thanksgiving
denise gardella says
5 Stars! I followed your recipe and this gravy is absolutely delicious, and quite easy to follow. I must say I was one of those referenced cooks who ran around at the last minute, trying to get the gravy made from the turkey drippings, never knowing how good it would turn out. This recipe is fool proof. I made the stock the day before I served it, and it only took a few minutes to complete the recipe. I froze half of the stock for Christmas dinner, and can’t wait!
So glad to hear it!!
Made this last year and it was so delicious and it was a huge hit. Making it again this year. Can’t wait thank you for the recipe!
I’m also wondering if the stock should be covered or uncovered when placed into the refrigerator.
Denise Gardella says
This recipe is DELICIOUS and foolproof. Every time I make it, I receive rave reviews and confirmation that it must be exceedingly hard to master. (I’ll never tell!) 🙂
Glad you enjoy it.
I mistakenly bought drumsticks instead of wings…….do you think it will still work? Thank you! Looks delicious!!
It should be fine.
Hell Cathy, I love this idea but couldn’t find turkey wings anywhere. Can this be doe with a turkey neck?
Legs would be better and one turkey neck would not be enough.
So I have used this recipe for the last few years, it is amazing. I accidently bought turkey thighs today instead of wings, do you forsee this being an issue? Or should I brave the grocery store again?
As long as you have bones in those thighs, you should be good.
thank you thank you THANK YOU for a make ahead gravy that doesn’t use drippings! The past few years I’ve been making brined turkey breast; and I’ve unfortunately been left with premade packets or jars of gravy. They work, but they’re not quite the same. I made your recipe today (in case I failed miserably and needed to rush out for emergency gravy) and it’s SO yummy! My husband LOVES to pour gravy all over everything so I finally feel like we’ll actually have enough gravy and it’s so much better than that jarred stuff! Thank you!
Made this last Thanksgiving and it was amazing! For some reason I thought it called for 6 wings and that is what I bought,kept everything else the same. This is just THE best turkey gravy recipe. So nice to have it made ahead of time and taste so wonderful!!! For those wondering, I did freeze some gravy for about two months and it tasted like freshly made.
I have not ever roasted a turkey or made gravy from it. We using an oil free fryer. I need enough gravy for 20 people. How many turkey wings, etc. would I need for 20 servings? Thanks.
I would double the recipe.
Anne Post says
Was at the store and they had tons of drumsticks, no wings. Could you use those?
Anne Post says
never mnd I missed that this was already asked, if anyone has used drumsticks I wouldn’t mind hearing from them.
They will work fine.
Do I have to use butter, milk and apple cider to this recipe? Or can I just use flour and corn starch? Thank you!
You can, but then it’s not this recipe, it’s something different.
The Make Ahead Gravy is the BEST thing on the planet!!! I have made your recipe since it was first posted and shared it with friends over the years. It’s the BEST because you can make gallons of it if you need it, and it’s the most delicious gravy ever! Also, it’s what makes Thanksgiving something to be Thankful for by a long shot!
A from “scratch” cook,
Carol Ashley says
Hello…. Can I use chicken wings in place of turkey wings. Can not fine any turkey wings or thighs. I am also having dinner for 26 people… so how do i go about making enough? Can you make the entire gravy and freeze it. Thansgiving is 5 days away and i would like to get this done. How would you reheat it?
I have never used chicken, but there is no reason you can’t…it will just be chicken gravy instead of turkey. The recipe makes 2 cups of gravy so you would have to make in several batches to have enough. Reheat on the stove.
Will it be as good with turkey legs?
It will be fine.
Vickie Hayes says
Can’t wait to try it this Thanksgiving. I bought 2 of the largest turkey wings weighing total of 4.16 lbs. I wanted to make a double batch but only bought the 2. Do you think you could double the batch with using just the 2 wings?
Will there be enough for 20 people. This looks like it makes only 2 cups?!?!?
Yes, makes only 2 cups.
how do you store and keep it, and how to reheat from frozen – do you have to defrost it?
Maureen Ficken says
Stupid question for some I am sure but….Do I add the bits of meat in the wings to the gravy or do i discard it, as it is just used for flavor? Cooking it now, so far so good.(There is still time for me to screw it up..:) )
No meat added.
Joann Helmus says
This gravy is wonderful and now I can enjoy the holiday without “gravy performance anxiety”! Thank you for this fabulous idea! PS I used two turkey thighs instead of wings and my son enjoyed munching on the meat.
Don’t mean to be dense, but in 1st step, roasting wings etc., add a little water or not?
Could you use 2 wings, neck and giblets and double the recipe? Would you need to make any other adjustments?
very Yummy recipe.
I made this for Thanksgiving. I am not a gravy person usually, but let me tell you, I could’ve just had a bowl of this! This will absolutely be my go to recipe from here on out. Amazing!
I made this for Christmas dinner exactly as written. It was the best gravy I’ve made hands down. I won’t ever make turkey gravy any other way! I’m famous for my gravy skills so my family is used to great gravy and they said this was awesome!
Just to let you know….I have now used this recipe nearly every 3-6 months for past several years, and I’m making a batch right now. ( I have 3 mashed potato/gravy, loving teens ). It is truly awesome, a huge time saver and foolproof for those like me who can’t make gravy. Why wait only for Thanksgiving?
For those who asked, I, too, have never found turkey wings but always have used turkey legs. It works just great.
Thanks so much for your recipes!
I’ve been making my ‘pre-Holiday’ gravy for a few years (made a few days ahead). It’s almost like your recipe, but here’s my version:
I roast turkey legs, wings & neck until browned and lots of ‘goodies’ on bottom of pan. Simultaneously, I boil to reduce about 4-6 quarts of turkey broth with lots of chopped onion, carrots, celery, parsley and some garlic. When broth is reduced to about 2/3 left, I strain out all the veggies and press them thru the strainer to make them give up all their juices.
Then, I cut up all the roasted turkey parts and all the ‘goodies’ on bottom of pan (which I soak off with more broth) and let the meat slow boil for about an hour. Strain it all again. Cool and refrigerate. Day or two before Holiday: Scrape the fat off the top as it solidified. Make a classic roux with butter and flour (lots) and add the strained broth. Gently boil until gravy thickens. Whatever drippings you get when the turkey has been roasted, can be added to your ‘pre-gravy’…I love my large fat-separator container. Just heat everything up on the Holiday.
This recipe has just become my new favourite Thanksgiving recipe! I used it for our big turkey dinner this year and we had a TON of flavourful rich gravy. I served dinner for 15 people and still had a big bowl leftover for hot turkey sandwiches the next day. I will do this for every turkey dinner I make from now on. Thank you for this!
It’s the best!
This gravy sounds delicious I am wondering if you could make chicken gravy using this method?
Yes you can.
I tried to read all the comments (and didn’t see it mentioned) before asking this question, but what is the reason for the apple cider vinegar. My family raves about my turkey gravy, but I haven’t ever made it the day before. I am going to give it a try making it the day before.
The flavor it adds.
Rose Johnson says
I called ahead to my local grocer and they do not have turkey wings. Can I use turkey legs?
I don’t have a stock pot so can I use cast iron?
I think you could. I use a Dutch oven, but an enamel one.
If it is too thick on day of use, do i just add water to thin it out?
I might use milk or broth.
Robin D says
This is a great idea!! Can I make it totally and keep Inn fridge, or do I just make the stock and finish the gravy last minute? I’d love to just warm it up that day!!
You can do it either way.
Pattie W. says
When adding the de-fatted stock to the roux, should the stock be cold (from the frig), or warmed up?
I’m looking forward to trying this method.
Can you freeze this gravy?
I’ve never tried it, but I think you could without issue.
This is a great idea! I’m making my first thanksgiving dinner this year and worried about the gravy. If I want to make this the weekend before, would I stop at the part of putting it in the fridge then just do the part of thickening it on the stove on thanksgiving?
Can I feeeze it or would it stay in the fridge ok until Thursday?
Thanks for your help!
Just make the whole gravy. If you make it Sunday evening, should be okay until Thursday.
Can I use turkey legs instead
Pattie W says
I have the stock done. I followed directions. It is dark and lovely. The whole house smelled wonderful. However, I am worried about something. I tasted the finished stock, and it doesn’t taste as good as it looks. I didn’t use any salt or anything while simmering. I’m worried. Has anyone else had this happen.?
I’m thinking I might have to use something like Better than Bullion, turkey flavor, in the end after I thicken. HELP!
The stock is not salted and really doesn’t have a flavor until you finish the gravy as directed. Salt to taste at the end.
Pattie W says
WHEW! Thanks Cathy.
Pattie W says
It’s done!!! It’s wonderful!! Cathy was right. The stock itself isn’t all that flavorful. However, when you get the gravy completed, and you add the salt, and pepper if you want, it transforms!
I cannot lie, I did use a tsp of Better than Boullion turkey flavor. I love this stuff, and buy various flavors. I had it and it was calling my name from the frig, so I used it. I probably could have stopped after the salt and pepper, but it all worked out.
I plan to freeze the completed gravy and thaw for thanksgiving, and just re-heat the day of. Can’t wait!!! I know every one will love it. Oh, I got just a tad under the 3 cup mark for the finished gravy.
Hi! I’m making gravy early this year for Thanksgiving. My brother is gluten free. Can I substitute regular flour in this recipe for a 1:1, such as Bobs Red Mill? That would make life so much easier! 🙂 Thanks!
I am not an expert in gluten free flour so I’m really not sure.
Marla Lackey says
I have made this type gravy recipe for 30 years…and always with flour. However, I know several people who use cornstarch to thicken their gravy. Might be worth a try.
I couldn’t find any turkey legs so got chicken instead. Do u think it’ll still taste good with the turkey? I could could probably add some dropping’s from the turkey if I make the gravy after it’s cook. Thanks!
I’m sure it will taste good. Just not like turkey:).
Do you roast in the oven covered or uncovered? I’ve made this a few times in my dutch oven and have it started for tonight. Some things get a little charred, dry and uncovered – made me think, should I be covering? Thanks! It’s a great recipe.
I roast uncovered in the lower part of my oven.
Just strained the wings & veggies and put the stock in the fridge to defat. It looks and smells amazing, a nice rich brown. 6 cups of water yielded 2.5 cups of stock. Is that about right?
Thinking about making a second batch. Came back to say it all turned out amazing. New favorite.
Sounds about right.
OMG….this is an answered prayer! I have always stressed over gravy but this is great. Easy to following instructions. I did a trial run for Thanksgiving and my family is going to LOVE this!
I decided to try the make ahead gravy this year. Everything is done through the stock phase and I will make the gravy on Wed. The stock is literally to die for! Rich, brown color and tastes amazing. I did just a couple of things slightly different so wanted to include that info. I used 6 chicken wings along with some added (10 maybe?) baby carrots with the celery and onions. (On a side note: save all those onion peels and tops in the freezer and use those.) A trick I’ve learned is you get much better color while roasting with a lower sided pan. I use a baking pan. After cooking in the oven, I then dump all the wings and veggies into a dutch oven and deglaze the baking pan on the stovetop with a little water and add that to the dutch oven. I then use a combination of water and turkey broth that comes in the carton (Walmart carries it). Simmer for directed time and voila, amazing stock. (I will say, do not add any salt to the veggies when roasting as the broth has salt.) Might try a mixture of the stock fat and butter for the roux. Thank you for this wonderful recipe! Can’t wait for the finished product.
Sally Pendergast says
How far in advance can I make this!?
A few days.
Giovannia Garner says
Sounds amazing, going to try
Just attempted to make the stock – smells wonderful, but I reduced the liquid too much and ended up with only 1 cup of stock. Suggestions on how I might be able to augment the stock to still make enough gravy??
Without starting over, add two cups of store bought stock.
Freddie Scott says
Do you put any water in the pan while roasting the turkey and veggies?
The recipe does not call for it. That would create steaming.
Do you put the stock in the fridge hot or let it cool?
Serving size says it makes 2 quarter cup servings? Is this correct? I need to make gravy for 25. Just want to verify before I go buy 25 turkey wings…. ?
Recipe says it makes 2-1/4 cups, not 2 and one-quarter cups.
Just made this for Thanksgiving tomorrow. I found the wings no problem in the local grocery shop. Followed directions to a T and it came out beautifully. The same beautiful color, really nice consistency, not one lump. I may roast the wings/veggies for slightly less next time because the gravy initially had a slightly charred flavor before I added the vinegar and milk and more salt and pepper. However, I found that adding the milk and vinegar balanced it out a lot. I added just a hint of extra vinegar at the end. Delish! I will never make same day gravy again :-).
I was a little hestistent to make this bc most of the comments were only raving about how good it looked or what a good idea without actually trying it yet.. but since we were frying our turkey I gave it a go, and so glad I did!
Really delicious and pretty simple! Writing this down so I can have it in my recipe box. Thank you!
Sheila Witty says
Made this recipe for Christmas. We smoked the turkey so we didn’t have the pan drippings from roasting it. It is a keeper. I will be making all my gravy this way.
Robin Flier says
Marilyn Marrs says
Perhaps this has been addressed already, but is one able to procure JUST turkey wings in grocery stores?! Or do you remove them from the turkey you’re planning to cook?
They sell them at the store.
Lu ann says
I was only able to find smoked turkey wings at the store. Do you think this would still work?
Hmmm, that might add a layer of flavor you don’t like in the gravy. Ask the butcher, they are cutting up turkeys right now and selling breasts so surely there are wings around.
Does the roasting pan need to be covered or uncovered?
Do you make the gravy ahead of time, or just the stock, saving the thickening for the day you serve? If you can make completely ahead, how many days can you refrigerate?
Make the whole thing ahead and refrigerate. Make it today!
Just made this today and it’s cooling before I freeze for Thursday. Comes out amazing every time!
Madeleine Fuchs says
Happy Thanksgiving 2018.
The recipe looks great. I made a similar recipe yesterday.
What is the purpose of the 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar?
Thank you so much.
Acid balances the dish and gives it the most wonderful flavor.
What temp do you lower it to after roasting the turkey?
Not sure if this was answered previously but do I just freeze the stock. Or make and thicken the gravy then freeze! Thanks in advance.
We have a guest that can not handle cow’s milk – would soy milk be a good substitute here?
I have never tried that. I would imagine you would lose a lot of the mouthfeel that whole milk provides. You can definitely give it a try.
I never thought about make ahead turkey gravy, but this is brilliant!!
Yep…make ahead turkey gravy using turkey wings is such a great way to make it easy on yourself!
This is pure genius, Kathy!
I love making gravy and have always used my grandmother’s recipe passed down with the flour/water in the dripping pan after the turkey is ready. It’s time-consuming and I smell of gravy/drippings for the rest of the day.
This method to use wings, celery, onions & garlic is just perfect and I can’t wait to make it!
Lori P says
Best gravy ever! I did the whole thing – cooking up stock myself, and then the gravy. Came together like a miracle by thickening up nicely. My only addition was some red wine in the roaster pan when making the stock, as the bottom was burning. I would make this again.
Can this website change the comments area so we can post at the top instead of having to scroll down several years’ worth? Thanks!