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Easy 3 Ingredient White Gravy from Scratch

Updated on August 4, 2012

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The Art of Scratch Gravy

Ok. The title of this hub is deceiving. I'll admit it. There is nothing really "easy" about gravy. Gravy is a delicate art form that new Southern wives either concede to their mothers or struggle with for a very long time before mastering. There's hope for all us Southern Belle's struggling with Mama's gravy, though. On the other side of that long dark lumpy burnt road, you'll be revered by men everywhere. And once you lick it, it will be like second nature. You'll find yourself scratching out gravy on demand like it's second nature.

It took me many many lump filled skillets to learn two secrets to perfect gravy: temperature and portion. The oil must be the perfect (I mean perfect) temperature when you add ingredients. And there must be a constant (I mean constant) attention to proportion of ingredient. THOSE are the important things that create a creamy white gravy.

Gravy has the easiest ingredients known to man. The ART is in the mix. Good luck!


Ok, let's get started:

Cook Time

Prep time: 3 min
Cook time: 5 min
Ready in: 8 min
Yields: Variable.

3 Simple Ingredients

  • Flour
  • Cooking oil, It doesn't matter what type. Canola, vegetable, olive, bacon grease. It's all good.
  • Milk

Just a Bit of Oil

Now, it gets interesting.

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet. You'll want to pick a skillet that is somewhat equivalent to the amount of gravy you want to make. I always use the skillet pictured. You'll want to fill that pan with approximately 1/8 to 1/2 inch with oil depending on how much gravy you want to yield. Put burner on medium to medium high heat. TIP: Higher heat will mean that you have to work faster when mixing. It can also cause lumping or burning of the flour/scorching of the milk. Too low heat will cause your flour not to mix properly with the oil and cause a film of oil to form over your gravy when finished. Find the perfect heat! It's ESSENTIAL. TIP 2: Here's a trick to knowing when the oil is the perfect heat. When you begin the see the oil have some swirls, only a few, drop a small pinch of flour into the oil. If the flour begins to "flower", the oil is ready. This means the flour will bloom out and begin to cook. (See picture) You will see bubbling under the flour.
  2. It's time for the fancy hand work. Add the milk and flour. I have heard to add the milk then the flour and I've heard the opposite. I, personally, add them both together. I put my flour into a 3/4 cup measuring cup and pour approximately half of that into the oil while pouring milk directly from the gallon jug (keep that handy) in equal proportion. TIP: You will NOT have equal proportion throughout the process. You will have more milk than flour, but it is a delicate balance and there is no accurate measure.
  3. Once you have put the flour and milk together, drop something and start stirring! (Most recommend using a whisk for this. I use a fork, personally, but that's just a personal preference.) TIP: If you do not stir quickly enough (or your head it too high), you flour will make lumps immediately. STIR! TIP: As you stir, you will have to just feel it out. Terrible recipe advice, I know, but GREAT southern cooks use recipes as guideposts and play it by taste, touch, feel and look. Watch the gravy as you stir. You will see the oil start to disappear into the flour. If you see that the flour is starting to get thick and cook in the oil, add milk. If you see that the oil is sticking around and the milk is boiling inside of the oil, add flour.
  4. At some point, you will have a white combination of a somewhat thin gravy. Continue to heat over medium heat as you stir. The flour should cook very slowly inside the milk and oil to thicken the gravy. As this happens, you may need to add more milk to keep the gravy smooth and creamy. TIP: If you add too much milk, wait it out for a minute or two. Your gravy may thicken as it heats. If it does not, you CAN add a small amount of more flour. Do not over do it.
  5. As you're starting to finish the gravy (it's reaching it's desirable creamy consistency), use salt and pepper (and bacon if you want.. or anything else you like in your southern gravy!) TIP: Taste the gravy as you go. Ask someone else to taste it as well. Do not over season.
  6. FINAL TIP: As I said before, keep your eye on the gravy and use your instincts. If it seems too thin, more flour and time. If it seems too thick, more milk. The key to taste is to not add too much extra flour or milk. There should be a cook proportion of all ingredients. More milk than flour, more flour than oil. Oil should completely disappear and should not be at all noticeable as you finish the gravy. (IF you see a film of oil at the top of the gravy, you did not add enough flour in the beginning or the heat was not high enough when you began. IT IS fixable if you completely reheat the gravy back to it's original heat and add flour, but it's a bit difficult to find the balance again!)
  7. Ok. You did it! (Maybe). If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

Oil Swirling

Flour "Flowering"

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