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The Best Turkey Gravy

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turkey giblets
turkey neck
5 cups water
drippings from turkey
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup water from boiling potatoes

The Best Turkey Gravy

This foolproof method for making flavorful gravy for Thanksgiving results in a velvety smooth sauce.

  • Serves 8
  • Medium

About This Recipe

Gravy may seem like just another side dish for Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s actually a really important part of the meal. Gravy ties all of the traditional Thanksgiving foods together. You pour it over the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and turkey and it contains the essence of the bird. This recipe for The Best Turkey Gravy really is the best.

The best gravy is smooth and moderately thick, but not floury. It has incredible flavor, concentrated from the roasted turkey, and it complements all of the food on your plate. This recipe is from my mother. I remember her standing over the stove stirring this gravy every Thanksgiving. She knows how to make a good gravy that highlights the entire meal.

So what’s the secret to the best gravy?

There are actually two secrets: boiling it and adding salt.

To concentrate the flavor in the drippings from the turkey and the broth from the turkey giblets (and a secret ingredient), the gravy should be boiled and boiled for about 10 minutes. During this time, it’s imperative that you stir the gravy pretty much continually with a wire whisk, taste the gravy about every minute, and carefully add a bit of salt, a small pinch at a time.

The only way to know when the gravy is done is to taste it. The flavor will suddenly bloom when the liquid is concentrated and the salt is at just the right amount.

This is the gravy I make every year at Thanksgiving. It uses the drippings from the turkey, broth from the giblets and turkey neck, and an ingredient that adds starch and more flavor: potato water!

Tips for the best My Mom’s Turkey Gravy

  • A whisk is essential for stirring so the gravy is perfectly smooth.
  • Boil it! Don’t be afraid to let this mixture boil for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • And taste taste taste while you  add salt. Honestly, when the perfect amount of salt is added, the flavor will suddenly bloom and your mouth will water.

Why this recipe for the Best Turkey Gravy works

  • Salt really is the secret to the best gravy. Salt makes the meaty taste meatier and brings out all the other flavors. You have to add salt and keep tasting until the flavor suddenly blooms.


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During the last hour that the turkey is roasting, combine the giblets and turkey neck with the water in a large saucepan.


Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the turkey is done.


When the turkey is done, remove it from the roasting pan, place on a platter, cover with foil, and set aside.


If you'd like, you can skim some of the fat from the surface of the drippings in the roasting pan. I don't do much of this, since so much of the flavor from the turkey is in the fat.


In a large saucepan, combine the butter and flour. Cook for three minutes, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, until the mixture bubbles.


Pour the drippings from the roasting pan into the saucepan with the butter and flour.


Add the broth from the giblets and the turkey neck (discard the solids) and the potato water, if you have some. If not, add 1 cup chicken stock.


Now boil that gravy hard on high heat. It will reduce and become more concentrated. Start adding salt.


Taste the gravy while it's boiling (be careful!) and add salt. When the flavor blooms, the gravy is ready.


Linda is a bestselling cookbook author and home economist who has written 54 books (53 cookbooks and Medical Ethics for Dummies) since 2005. She has worked for Pillsbury since 1988, on the Bake-Off and other projects. Linda has been a web presence since 2002, developing recipes and teaching people how to cook.

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