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How To Make Gravy - From Scratch

Updated on August 6, 2013

Making Gravy From Drippings Is An Essential Part Of Cooking

From breakfast to dinner, knowing how to make gravy from drippings can totally change the way you eat. Let this picture tutorial be your guide, and make your next meal even better by adding homemade, scratch gravy to the menu.

In some homes gravy is a part of the meal that is taken for granted, it's just a natural part of eating. However, there are many families who never, or rarely, make gravy because they don't know how. In Europe and many cultures gravy is called sauce, but in most cases its the same thing... using the juices and oils from your meat to create a food topping that helps to compliment the main course. For example, at dinner it's not uncommon to have gravy that you spread over your roast and mashed potatoes. The gravy serves as an extension of the entrée; that is, since it's based off of the residual juices of the entrée, gravy's flavor will be very similar to the meat you prepared.

As it should be. Imagine having a turkey-based gravy over your breakfast biscuits. Technically even the "sauces" such a tomato red,

which are based off of the fats from cooking sausages or other meat, are a type of gravy... but that's a whole other discussion.

Here we'll take a look at the basic gravy recipes that you'll need to make gravy from drippings yourself. As with every single recipe you'll ever use, experiment and try variations... finding what suits your taste is the only thing that matters.


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Image via Creative Commons - John Herschell

For each gravy recipe there is a walk-through, followed by an actual recipe that you can print out.

I Hope You Enjoy Them!

I smile when I think back to the times that as a child I awoke to the smell of sausage and biscuits, and I knew what that meant.... delicious biscuits and sausage gravy! While gravy (or sauce) is a food staple the world over, for me it reigns supreme as a uniquely American breakfast item. Biscuits and sausage gravy are as much Americana as Harley Davidson and baseball caps.

So what's the secret to making this amazing gravy? There is none. That's the secret, it's so simple when compared to the amazing flavor! When you're done making your bacon or sausage simply keep the fat drippings... those fats create the basis of perfect breakfast gravy. In this tutorial I'm using bacon fat because that's what we were making at the time, but the procedure with sausage fat is the same. Now let's make some gravy!

1 Step One - Gather about 3 Tbsp of fat drippings, 1/4 cup of flour, 2 cups of milk, salt and pepper.

After you've cooked the breakfast meat, save the drippings. For this recipe we're using 3 TBS bacon fat, 1/4 cup flour, and 2 cups of milk. You will use more or less depending on the size of the meal you're preparing.

Bacon and/or sausage are the traditional breakfast meats for most American families. And most people fry their bacon in a skillet or on a griddle, but no matter how you fix it there will be fat left over. I prefer to use a Microwave Bacon Traybecause it is so simple...

all I do is lay out the bacon strips, cover with a paper towel and cook for about 3 minutes or so (and pour off the fat drippings between batches). They also make those microwave bacon racks, but after trying it I found it too messy with grease flying out the sides. I also don't have to worry about the smoke and smell associated with frying bacon, and the cleanup couldn't be more simple.

When you make gravy you'll find that you can adjust the amount of bacon (or sausage) fat and flour that you use to achieve the flavor and consistency you like. For breakfast gravy there isn't a whole lot of seasoning going on... the flavor of the bacon and sausage will impart their own unique flavor (be sure to leave any extra meat chunks in the grease). I only use salt and pepper for seasoning. It's just gravy, so

these instructions aren't too awfully precise; there's not a lot to mess up. You'll make up the difference later when adding more or less milk.

2 Step Two - Heat the fat drippings over medium heat. When it's hot then slowly add the flour to form the gravy base.

Use a whisk and carefully add the flour to the hot fat, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper, to taste (I suggest about 1/4 tsp of each to start, I top with more pepper later). Let the grease and flour cook while you continue to stir with a whisk for about 3 or 4 minutes... this allows the flour to brown a little and the flavors to unite. This forms the gravy base.

A few important things to note here. First, the gravy will lighten considerably once you've thinned it with milk so don't worry if the flour looks too dark. Secondly, if you added too much flour and the base is too thick, just add a little more fat drippings to the base to thin it out (if you add the flour to the gravy base slowly you will avoid this problem). Thirdly, don't over-brown the flour (aka burn it)... there is no recipe instruction that I can share that will keep you from burning the flour, you just have to practice it; the temperature of the skillet will be the biggest factor. In general, over medium heat I brown for 3 - 4 minutes. Relax, even if you do slightly over-brown the gravy it'll still be fine, just proceed.

3 Step Three - Slowly add milk to the browned flour base

After browning the flour, slowly start adding milk with one hand and stirring using a wire whisk in the other hand. The flour will set up really quickly as you pour in the cold milk so it's important (to avoid lumps) to pour in the milk slowly enough to allow you to keep the texture smooth with the wire whisk.

After using half of the milk you'll start to add only a little milk at a time, while stirring, and after the gravy sets up and feels like it's

getting too thick then stir in some more milk. You'll reach a point while stirring where the gravy feels like it has the right consistency for you, and after the gravy has cooked at that consistency for 1 minute without getting thicker, then you can take it off the heat and prepare for serving.

To clarify... when you add flour to the bacon grease, the amount of grease and flour you use determines ultimately how much gravy you'll make. The flour will absorb and bind with only so much liquid, and after that point the gravy will become too runny. That's why you add the milk slowly, and over several minutes determine how much milk, exactly, to add.

Now that you've finished, pour some gravy over piping hot biscuits, sprinkle with some fresh ground pepper and enjoy!

Tips: After you've made gravy a time or two you won't measure anything, just like your mom or grandma didn't measure. I simply pour a little grease into a pan, heat it, and add flour until I see the right consistency. Then I brown it and keep adding milk until I like the thickness of the gravy. But the instructions I've provided will get you started on the right path to breakfast bliss!

If you want a really hearty biscuit and gravy meal (aka Sawmill Gravy), add larger chucks of sausage or bacon to the gravy once it's finished; that's how I make sausage gravy.

Photos Copyright by SafeReviews, use freely with attribution and link to this page.


Let this recipe for sausage gravy from scratch become your family favorite, too!

Ingredients

  • 3 TBS sausage fat drippings (or bacon)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. As shown above, making a good sausage gravy couldn't be more simple. Start by making your breakfast meat, sausage or bacon, and saving the fat drippings. You can use either, or even blend the two... both have fats that create an awesome gravy, though sausage is considered by most to be the most flavorful. For added substance save a piece of the meat (or two) that you can crumble and add to the finished gravy later.
  2. Step One - Heat the drippings over medium heat and slowly add the flour, whisking continuously to avoid lumping. This will form a consistency similar to ketchup, or slightly thinner.. add the flour slowly to avoid getting it too thick. Add salt and pepper. Simmer for 3 - 4 minutes to let the flour brown, while continuing to whisk the gravy base.
  3. Step Two - After browning the flour, slowly start adding the milk while vigorously and continuously whisking... if there's an art to making sausage gravy it's this part. If you pour the milk too slow, the base will thicken and could get lumpy. If you pour too fast, you won't be able to stir the milk and flour together quick enough, also resulting in lumps. Again, it's no big deal if there are a few lumps, you'll get the hang of it. I promise that whoever is served your gravy will be happy to have it!
  4. Keep stirring the gravy and only add more milk if you feel that the gravy is too thick. It will continue to thicken until it has reached complete saturation, so by adding only a little milk at a time, and only when it starts to thicken too much, you will avoid making the gravy too thin.
  5. Step Three - If you like, you can crumble some meat into the gravy. If the gravy is supplementing a full meal such as bacon, eggs and hash browns, then a really hearty gravy is over-kill. However, when the biscuits and gravy are the meal then adding some meat to the gravy makes sense, and is so good!
  6. Now pour the gravy over hot biscuits, top with some freshly ground pepper, and serve!
Cast your vote for How To Make Sausage Gravy - Printable Recipe

My Top Recommendation From Amazon

Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making, 3rd Edition
Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making, 3rd Edition

When it comes to making gravy and sauces, this is one of the greatest resources that you can own.

 

Grilling Is Healthier Than Frying, And So Easy

I use my grill all the time, for almost everything... I love it!

Yes, I cook my breakfast sausage on the grill, too.

It's simple, no smell, no mess, and I love the flavor.

Granted, if I'm making sausage gravy then I do use

a skillet so I have the fat drippings.

I like easy, and simple.

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Pot Roast. If there's a discussion of classic home cooked meals then a juicy and tender Pot Roast must be part of it. The hot rolls, vegetables, mashed potatoes... and of course, Pot Roast gravy. Unfortunately too many people rely on store bought gravy pouches because they don't know how to make gravy from drippings. But that's about to change.

Like we discussed earlier with the sausage gravy recipe, making a tasty gravy from your pot roast is really one of the more simple things you'll make. And the steps for making it are not much different than described in the breakfast recipe. You'll use the juice from the pot roast, which of course includes some fat. Even if you trim the roast extremely well, removing most of the fat (like I do), you'll still have plenty of juicy goodness going on to make a tasty gravy to compliment the roast. The essential difference between the recipes is that the Sausage Gravy recipe uses fat drippings, while a beef or Pot Roast Gravy uses the water based liquids from the roast as a base.

1 Step One - Remove juices from the Pot Roast and place in saucepan. Add seasonings.

For this recipe the amount of Pot Roast juices you use will be the amount of gravy you end up with (that is, you won't be adding milk or other liquid, as in the sausage gravy recipe). So start by dipping juices from the Pot Roast and placing 1 1/2 cups in a saucepan large enough to make the gravy, and put 1/2 cup of the juices in a separate bowl (place that bowl in the refrigerator).

The seasoning is actually the point of most contention among cooks and their Pot Roast Gravy. Some purists argue that you should only add basic seasonings and let the Pot Roast do the rest. I guess that depends on your taste preferences, and what kind of seasonings you mixed in with the Pot Roast while cooking. What I do know is that you should never, ever resort to bullion or packaged seasonings or broths... that's silly after you've spent the time and money to prepare a fresh and juicy roast.

Instead, make certain that you start with fresh vegetables when making your pot roast, such as onions, garlic, celery, carrots, potatoes and even old-world style with some cabbage, and then you have robust flavors built in naturally and avoid adding MSG's and fake flavor later.

My family pot roast recipe calls for adding a tiny pinch of ground cloves, a 1/2 tsp of thyme and rosemary, 1 tsp of salt and pepper to the roast and lots of veggies, then cooking low and slow. But back to the point of this article... let's make some gravy.

Heat the saucepan with the 1 1/2 cups of roast juices on a medium heat setting. Add 1/2 tsp salt and fresh ground pepper medley, and our family's secret weapon, 1 1/2 tsp of Annie's Homegrown, Organic Worcestershire Sauce. It's not found in stores around me so I have to get it from Amazon, but this is a truly natural Worcestershire Sauce. While I'm not vegan, this sauce is designed for them, but most importantly it's loaded with natural flavors, not chemicals, and the taste is amazing. (Side note: I'm an Amazon Prime member so I get free 2 day shipping on almost everything. Because of that I buy a lot of my grocery items from Amazon for a selection I can't get near me.)

2 Step Two - Blend 1/4 cup flour in cooled Pot Roast juices that you've set aside.

Preferably you want to mix the 1/4 cup of flour into cooled broth to help prevent lumping. Using a wire whisk, slowly pour the flour into the 1/2 cup of roast broth that you cooled in the fridge. Once you have it well blended you're ready to whisk it into the heated broth in the saucepan.

Slowly pour the flour mixture into the saucepan, stirring constantly with the whisk to prevent lumping (the biggest concern of gravy makers). When you get to the point where you've used most of the flour, slow down and let the gravy heat and bubble. If it seems too thin for you then add a little more flour and keep whisking. Keep this process up until you have the gravy at the consistency you like. if something happens and you get it too thick, simply whisk in a little more broth from your Pot Roast, or water if you have to. Feel free to use more flour, too, if needed.

3 Step Three - Enjoy the wonderful masterpiece you've created.

There is no doubt that your family and friends will be amazed at the meal you've prepared. By using good ingredients you increase the chances of making a meal that people remember. The old saying, junk in, junk out, holds true with Pot Roast gravy as well. And lastly, never be afraid to experiment. With this recipe, for example, you can add 1/2 cup of red wine to the roast when you start cooking that will add a really unique flavor to your gravy later (and the Pot Roast).

Image via Creative Commons - Glory Foods

How To Make Pot Roast Gravy - Printable Recipe

A Pot Roast dinner is almost everyone's favorite. Now with this recipe you know how to make gravy from drippings and really showcase your meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of roast juices
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. While pot roast is moist and tender when properly cooked, it still requires the added touch of a good gravy drizzled on top. Furthermore, the pot roast gravy compliments the meal as a delicious mashed potato topping. With this simple recipe you'll be serving delicious gravy at your next meal.
  2. Step One - When the roast is finished cooking, place 1/2 cup of roast drippings into a bowl, and chill in the refrigerator for 10 or 15 minutes (or freezer for really quick cool down). Once it's cooled remove from the fridge and set it aside.
  3. Place an additional 1 1/2 cup of roast juices into a saucepan and cook on medium heat. Stir in 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper, and 1 1/2 tsp of Worcestershire Sauce. Simmer for a minute or so.
  4. Step Two - While the saucepan is simmering, whisk together (briskly) the 1/2 cup of cooled roast juices with 1/4 cup of flour, whisking continuously to avoid lumps.
  5. Whisk the flour mixture into the saucepan, pouring it in slowly (keep the whisk moving). Before using all of the flour mixture slow down and let the gravy simmer for a minute to see if it continues to thicken. If the gravy reaches the consistency you like, then stop adding more of the flour mixture, otherwise, keep adding. You can even sprinkle in additional flour if it's still too thick for you.
  6. Step Three - Pour the gravy into a gravy boat and serve. After you've made this a time or two you won't refer to any recipe... add salt, pepper, Worcestershire Sauce, flour... easy as can be. You'll even find yourself creating your own variations and ingredients, as you should.

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Do You Make Gravy From Scratch? - Do You Know How To Make Gravy From Drippings?

Everyone is different. We all have different time constraints, experiences, kitchens, etc... How do you feel about gravy? Is it something you give much thought too, or do you simply grab some bullion or ready made broth and go?

Which is it, from scratch or ready made broths?

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Unless otherwise attributed, all photos are copyrighted by SafeReviews. You may use the recipes and photos freely as long as you link credit back to this page.

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      Bob 4 years ago from Kansas City

      @greenspirit: Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Yes, I agree, mine is a basic "country" style recipe, not something a chef would prepare. Growing up as one of 5 children with a single mom, I can see how these recipes came about... there's no time to be fussing with fancy! lol I've made gravies the way you describe, deglazing the pan with wine, but when we make a pot roast its slow cooked and there isn't much to deglaze in the pan, compared to fried or baked foods (we never fry). Finally, I agree, with the current health trend people are moving away from fatty foods like sausage gravy... but its still good! :) Thanks again for the visit!

    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 4 years ago from London

      Thank you for a fascinating view of American gravy techniques. I modestly linger under the title 'Gravy Queen' in our family, and I do think I make good gravy! But it's different to yours in lots of ways. I make most meat, game and poultry gravies by deglazing the hot pan with wine, (red or white depending upon the meat), adding stock / juices from the roast, seasoning with hebs/ fruits, and then thickening with cornflour if necessary. I'm interested in your use of milk for a bacon gravy. You may know that eggs and bacon is a trad breakfast dish here, but not trendy due to current health fads. I've never encountered gravy with this meal...don't know if I'll like it, but I'm going to give your recipe a try!