Pouring gravy onto mashed potatoes on a plate of Thanksgiving food.
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Our Favorite Turkey Gravy

Save the backbone and giblets from your Thanksgiving turkey to make this rich, flavorful gravy recipe. It’s a family favorite holiday staple!

Pouring gravy over turkey on a Thanksgiving plate.

Why we love this homemade gravy recipe

  • It puts the backbone and giblets from your turkey (or chicken!) to good use.
  • The flavor is deep and rich – so much better than the stuff in a jar!
  • Homemade gravy doesn’t take any fancy ingredients – just a few fridge and pantry staples.

Pouring gravy onto mashed potatoes on a plate of Thanksgiving food.

My grandpa was from the South, and I learned a thing or two about making gravy from him.

Years ago I saw that my father-in-law was discarding the giblets from his Thanksgiving turkey and opening up a jar of store-bought gravy.

Now don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with buying gravy (or anything you don’t want to cook). But he had all the ingredients on hand for a killer gravy, so I stopped him and asked if I could have a few minutes at the stovetop.

That gravy blew him away, and the family all agreed that it was way better than the premade kind.

🍗 A few Notes About Giblets

When you buy a whole turkey or chicken, you’ll often find the neck bone and a bag of giblets stashed in the cavity.

Don’t be afraid of that little bag – use it to add flavor to your meal!

While I recommend utilizing giblets for gravy, you certainly don’t have to.

Whether you’re using the giblets or not, you’ll need to be sure to remove that bag from the turkey before you cook it so you don’t end up accidentally cooking it.

The bag often contains a mix of organs – heart, liver, and gizzards. You can read more about giblets here, but just note that for the gravy recipe, you’ll want to remove the liver.

The liver is deep red and shiny. It’s usually the most slippery of the organs, for lack of a better term.

Including the liver in gravy can make it bitter, so I completely omit it.

Container holding turkey bones and giblets.
Patting turkey bones and giblets dry with a paper towel.

For my gravy recipe, I utilize the rest of the giblets and neckbone along with the backbone of the turkey if I have spatchcocked it.

When working with a dry brine, I remove the giblets and put them in a sealed container in the refrigerator along with any bones and trimmings from prepping the turkey.

On the day I plan to roast the poultry, I’ll take them out, pat them dry, and use them to make this gorgeous gravy recipe.

I have a full post in the works to show you how to spatchcock a turkey and will link it here as soon as I publish it.

The method for spatchcocking is great for chicken, too, and you can make gravy for your chicken in the same way.

💡 Pro Tip: You can make gravy without bones or giblets

Homemade gravy doesn’t require searing any bones or giblets! You can use the same method to make gravy without them.

Just melt the butter in a saucepan and sauté the veggies as directed. Continue with whisking in the flour, herbs & spices, and turkey broth.

If you have pan drippings from roasting a turkey, feel free to add those in as well. They aren’t required, but they’ll deepen the flavor of your gravy.

No turkey stock? No problem! Chicken stock works well here, too!

You could even use vegetable stock if you were making a vegetarian gravy (although I doubt you came across this post if you’re looking to make vegetarian gravy).


How to make this recipe

  1. Pat the turkey parts dry with a paper towel.
  2. Sear turkey parts in a mixture of butter in oil until brown all over, then transfer to a plate.
  3. Sauté onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in the turkey drippings, scraping up any browned bits as you go.
  4. Whisk in butter and flour, then season with herbs and spices.
  5. Slowly whisk in turkey stock, then add turkey parts and simmer until the liquid has reduced by 1/3.
  6. Strain the gravy to remove any solid pieces, place in a gravy boat, and serve!

Turkey bones and giblets in a pan being seared.
Stirring sautéing veggies in a saucepan.
Pouring turkey stock into a saucepan of sautéed vegetables.


If you’re making the gravy when your turkey finishes roasting, I highly encourage you to add the pan drippings from your roasting pan into the gravy.

This can be done at any stage in the gravy-making process once you’ve added the turkey stock. The pan drippings are already fully cooked, so they don’t really need any extra time.

Be sure to scrape all those caramelized bits from the pan into your gravy. The rich flavors from the roasted turkey will make the gravy even better!

Adding seared turkey backbone pieces into a saucepan of gravy.
Sprinkling dried herbs into a saucepan of gravy.
Pouring turkey drippings from a baking sheet into a pot of gravy.

I usually add the herbs and spices before I add the stock to my gravy, but I did it after when I was shooting this recipe and it still turned out beautifully!

💡 Equipment Spotlight: Straining Your Gravy

This recipe utilizes a fine-mesh conical strainer to ensure a silky smooth finished gravy.

A cone-shaped pestle or wooden spoon can be used to press the solid bits and extract even more liquid and flavor from them without adding any solid bits to your gravy.

When I’m straining my gravy, I like to use tongs to remove the largest pieces first.

I then strain the gravy from the saucepan over a large glass measuring cup (like this 8-cup measuring cup) before using the pestle to get the most flavor from the veggies that were simmering with the gravy.

Removing a turkey backbone from a saucepan of gravy.
Pouring turkey gravy through a conical mesh strainer.
Straining the solids out of a batch of homemade turkey gravy.

If you don’t have that particular type of strainer, you can put a layer of cheesecloth over a regular strainer to help strain your gravy a little more thoroughly.

Using a regular strainer is also fine – it will remove any large bits of meat, veggies, and herbs from the gravy. The results will still be delicious, just not as smooth.

Once you’ve strained your gravy, you can transfer some of it into a gravy boat or other serving vessel.

If your gravy is a little oily/greasy on top, you can let it sit for a few minutes before skimming it off with a spoon.

I’ve never personally used a gravy fat separator but I have friends who love using them.

Reheating leftovers with gravy

When you save gravy in the refrigerator, it congeals and is scoopable instead of being liquidy.

Reheating gravy with your leftovers usually benefits from a few splashes of stock, broth, or water to help keep things juicy.

I tend to add a scoop of gravy on top of my turkey and one on my mashed potatoes (and some on my stuffing while I’m at it) and then splash a bit of turkey stock on top of everything.

And let’s be real, leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving, right?

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Pouring gravy onto mashed potatoes on a plate of Thanksgiving food.

Our Favorite Turkey Gravy

  • Author: Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen – Ashley Covelli
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 5 cups 1x
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Save the backbone and giblets from your Thanksgiving turkey to make this rich, flavorful gravy recipe. It’s a family favorite holiday staple!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon high heat cooking oil, such as grapeseed or peanut
  • Turkey backbone, neck, giblets (minus the liver), and any other trimmings from spatchcocking
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 stalk celery, diced, (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 medium carrot, diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 quart turkey stock

Instructions

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

     

  2. Pat the turkey pieces dry, then add to melted butter and oil. Cook until golden brown all over, about 3-5 minutes total. Remove to a plate and set aside.

     

  3. Add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic to the pan and season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Scrape up bits.

     

  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan. whisk in flour and season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, dried thyme, dried parsley, rubbed sage, and ground white pepper.

     

  5. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then slowly whisk in turkey stock.

     

  6. Add seared turkey parts back to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced by about 1/3, about 20-30 minutes.

     

  7. If you’re making the gravy when your turkey finishes roasting, I highly encourage you to add the pan drippings from your roasting pan into the gravy. You can do this at any point in the gravy-making process once you’ve added the turkey stock.

     

  8. Strain through a fine-mesh conical strainer into a gravy boat. You can use a cone-shaped pestle to help press the solid bits and extract even more liquid and flavor from them without adding any solid bits to your gravy.

     

  9. Taste for seasoning, adjusting with more salt and pepper if necessary. If your gravy isn’t quite thick enough, you can return it to the saucepan and simmer it to reduce further.



Notes

If you can’t find turkey stock, chicken stock can be substituted.

If you’re making the gravy when your turkey finishes roasting, I highly encourage you to add the pan drippings from your roasting pan into the gravy.

A cone-shaped pestle or wooden spoon can be used to press the solid bits and extract even more liquid and flavor from them without adding any solid bits to your gravy.

Keywords: Thanksgiving, giblets, homemade gravy

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