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Turkey Gravy

5 stars based on 26 votes

turkey gravy

This is my favorite gravy and I serve it every year with my Thanksgiving turkey — in fact, it is what makes my Thanksgiving turkey. The recipe is modestly adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Family Style. My only changes were to significantly reduce the salt, increase the broth so it’s not quite so thick and add a sprinkling of fresh herbs which complements my very simple roast turkey. I usually make it while my turkey rests but if you want to get a head start, you can make it without the turkey drippings (reducing the broth by about a 1/2 cup) and just stir the drippings in when your turkey is done.


Begin by melting the butter in a medium saucepan, and add the onions.


Cook until very soft, about 15 minutes.


Whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste.


Then whisk in your turkey drippings/chicken broth and Cognac.


Cook for about 5 minutes until thickened, then stir in the cream.


Add the fresh herbs.


Then season to taste with salt and pepper. Remember, the gravy should be generously seasoned because turkey is very bland.  Always taste it with a piece of meat to be sure the seasoning is right. That’s all there is to it…Enjoy!


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Turkey Gravy

Servings: yields about 3 cups
Total Time: 20 Minutes


  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onions (from 2 small onions)
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • Defatted turkey drippings plus chicken broth to make 2-1/2 cups
  • 1 tablespoon Cognac or Brandy
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (such as thyme, sage, rosemary or parsley)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until very soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.
  2. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the turkey drippings/chicken broth and Cognac and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until thickened. Stir in the cream and fresh herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper (I usually add at least 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, but it depends how salty your broth is.) Transfer gravy to bowl or gravy boat and serve.
  3. If you make the gravy ahead of time, it may thicken up; you can thin it to the desired consistency with water or chicken broth.

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Nutrition Information

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  • Serving size: 1/3 cup
  • Calories: 143
  • Fat: 12 g
  • Saturated fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 7 g
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Sodium: 357 g
  • Cholesterol: 31 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    Holy smokes! I switched this around a bit to make it with roast beef and put beef broth instead of chicken and omitted the liquor. It was AMAZING! My whole family, including teens loved it. Easy and full of flavor!

    - Kerry on January 17, 2018 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I used the drippings from a turkey I cooked on the “Big Easy”.
    I’ve never been able to make a gravy until I tried your recipe! This was the best gravy I’ve ever tasted, thank you. I used fresh thyme and white wine because they were available. I’m going to use this for chicken also.
    Your recipes are delicious!

    - Mark on November 30, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this gravy (minus the drippings) the day before Thanksgiving and then added the drippings on Thanksgiving while the turkey was resting. Several people commented on how delicious it was.

    It certainly made Thanksgiving easier to get a lot of the work done the day before, as I also made the potatoes and stuffing ahead of time using your recipes. So thank you yet again for some great recipes.

    - Kevin on November 30, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Loved it. Never put onions in my turkey gravy before, but it was a smash hit!!! Thank you as always.

    - Heather Kohlhagen on November 29, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Dear Jen,

    I was wondering if this gravy would go well with a roasted goose, with the fat drippings from the turkey being subbed for goose fat and the chicken stock.

    - Malak Abu Shakra on November 29, 2017 Reply
    • Definitely!

      - Jenn on November 29, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this for Thanksgiving and loved it! This is really the best gravy. Before adding the cream and herbs, I used an immersion wand to break down the onions and then even strained the remaining small onion pieces out – trying to accommodate picky guests who don’t like onions. They loved it and didn’t even know. I added rosemary for the herbs. This will be my new go-to gravy recipe, thanks!

    - Kaylie on November 28, 2017 Reply
  • I chopped onions in food processor-they became almost liquidy, still cooked- never got that caramel onion taste- contuinued with recipe- it came out tasting very much like onions- any way to save it?

    - Emmanuelle Kramer on November 21, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Emmanuelle, Unfortunately there’s no way to salvage it. You have to be really careful when chopping onions in a food processor because, as you mentioned, they can become puréed and almost liquid — and then they won’t cook properly. The best way is to pulse in 1-second intervals until just chopped.

      - Jenn on November 22, 2017 Reply
      • Thank you very much Jenn- I will start over today- Have a great Thanksgiving- I am also making a few of your pies…

        - Emmanuelle Kramer on November 22, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Can this be doubled easily or better to make 2 separate batches ? I have a lot more people this year!

    - Jill on November 21, 2017 Reply
    • Sure, Jill – no problem to double it. Happy Thanksgiving!

      - Jenn on November 21, 2017 Reply
  • Wondering if there would be enough pan juices from your rolled stuffed turkey breast recipe to use to make this gravy? I have ordered your book and can’t to receive it!

    - Cathy on November 17, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Cathy, Thanks for your support with the cookbook! Regarding the pan juices, there will be some (and I always add them to my gravy) but not a ton because the breast is pretty lean.

      - Jenn on November 17, 2017 Reply
    • 5 stars

      What I have done is just buy some turkey wings or a drumstick and roast them ahead of time and make my own broth! Then make the gravy as she does above minus the onions! Smash hit!

      - Gwyneviere on December 20, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this last year and it was a huge hit! Can I substitute whole milk for the cream? I will not be using cream this Thanksgiving except for the gravy. My family loves your brussels spouts and kale salad so much that I won’t be cooking brussels sprouts with cream this year. I like it that you can make both ahead of time!

    - Wendy Schoenburg on November 15, 2017 Reply
    • Hi Wendy, I’ve never tried this with whole milk, but I think it would work. (It’s also okay to just omit the cream.)

      - Jenn on November 15, 2017 Reply
  • How far in advance can I make the gravy?

    - Candi Rittenberg on November 14, 2017 Reply
    • It would be fine if made a day or two of time. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on November 15, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Best gravy I’ve ever made! This was a huge hit at Thanksgiving. I used the drippings from a turkey that I had brined so when it came time to add chicken broth I used unsalted. We didn’t have any cognac or brandy on hand so I just omitted it from the recipe.

    - Kim Dabrowski on February 14, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My first time making gravy, so I had a store bought as a back up, but I didn’t tell anyone which was which, and everyone “gobbled” mine up! easy and delicious! another hit from Once Upon A Chef!!!

    - Kristie on November 28, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Best gravy I’ve ever had!! I also liked being able to make it the day before…added the drippings the day of….so easy to make…no lumps either!! I did put it in the blender since my guests prefer “smooth” gravy…will make this again!

    - Wendy G Schoenburg on November 25, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Outstanding! I made a few minor adjustments to this recipe. I omitted the congnac/brandy as I did not have any on hand. I used a fine milled flour as I’ve had problems in the past with lumpy gravy. Last, I brined my turkey beforehand and seasoned it with a dry rub prior to roasting so I did not need to add any salt to the recipe. I would definitely urge you to taste the gravy before adding any salt. If I hadn’t it would have been ruined.

    - Kim on November 25, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    tried this for first time at thanksgiving with 12 people…another winner! simple, tasty. thank you

    - david on November 25, 2016 Reply
  • Do I have to use cognac?

    - Kaathy R on November 23, 2016 Reply
    • You can leave it out Kathy, or wine is a good substitute.

      - Jenn on November 24, 2016 Reply
      • what kind of wine would you recommend, Jenn?

        - Wendy on November 19, 2017 Reply
        • Hi Wendy, Any dry white wine that you could enjoy drinking would be fine here. No need for anything fancy.

          - Jenn on November 19, 2017 Reply
  • We have always had great results brining our turkey and will be doing it again this year. Would I need to make any adjustments in this recipe regarding the drippings or just be sure to taste and not overdo the salt?

    - Wendy G Schoenburg on November 22, 2016 Reply
    • No Wendy, I don’t think you’d need to make any adjustments, but as you said, I’d definitely be careful not to overdo the salt.

      - Jenn on November 22, 2016 Reply
  • Dear Jenn,

    I would like to make this gravy but I am ordering the Turkey this year and don’t have turkey dripping. . . can I just replace with something else or just use the chicken broth?



    - Sara MacMillan on November 21, 2016 Reply
    • It’s perfectly fine to replace with more chicken broth, Sara. Happy Thanksgiving!

      - Jenn on November 21, 2016 Reply
  • This looks so delicious!! Some of my guests prefer a “smooth” gravy and I don’t know if they would like the tiny pieces of onion…Would you recommend putting the gravy in a blender then adding the herbs?
    Thank you.

    - Wendy G Schoenburg on November 16, 2016 Reply
    • Sure Wendy, that would work.

      - Jenn on November 16, 2016 Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I want to use this recipe, but just found out that one of my guests is gluten free. Is there anything that I could substitute the flour with?
    Thank you!

    - Julie on November 15, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Julie, You can just replace the all-purpose flour with gluten-free flour. Happy Thanksgiving!

      - Jenn on November 15, 2016 Reply
  • Can you provide the nutritional info? Thanks!!!

    - Danielle on November 11, 2016 Reply
    • Just added it!

      - Jenn on November 13, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Hi Jenn,
    How much gravy does this make? We will have lots of people this year for Thanksgiving, so would you suggest doubling this?

    Thanks, Marie Frank

    - Marie Frank on September 8, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Marie, This should make approximately 3 cups of gravy.

      - Jenn on September 9, 2016 Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    I was wondering. . . I am not making the turkey this year but still would like fresh gravy, can I substitute the turkey drippings with only turkey stock or chicken stock? :/

    Thank you


    - Sara MacMillan on August 30, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Sara, You can. It won’t have the same deep flavor but will still be very tasty.

      - Jenn on August 30, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is an amazing, and simple, gravy recipe. I am looking for a really good gravy to serve with a beef roast. Could this recipe be adapted for beef? Thanks.

    - Paula R on February 11, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Paula, you could use this for beef and make no changes, or you could replace the turkey drippings with beef drippings and use beef broth instead of chicken broth.

      - Jenn on February 12, 2016 Reply
  • I am planning on making turkey for Christmas Day and I always add white wine and some chicken stock to the roasting pan when I start roasting the turkey. I am considering making this gravy and wanted to know if I can skip the cognac since I have wine in the pan drippings when the turkey was roasted. Thank you for your advice

    - Celeste on December 19, 2015 Reply
    • Yes Celeste, I think that would be fine!

      - Jenn on December 19, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My mom opens a jar of gravy for Thanksgiving, so I never have gravy on my turkey or mashed potatoes at her house. This year I decided to make gravy at home before heading to her house. This was simple, delicious & will be on our table from now on. I used dried herbs and cut back a little per your answer to a previous reviewer’s question.

    - Loretta on December 3, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This has been my go-to turkey gravy recipe for the last few years. I stopped looking for another. Tasty, no fuss, easy.

    - Carol F on December 2, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this ahead for Thanksgiving & added some defatted drippings while turkey rested…best gravy ever! Also made your Sweet Potato Casserole and your delicious Kale & Brussel Sprout salad- rounded out a great holiday meal- Thank you!

    - Jill on December 1, 2015 Reply
  • I don’t have cognac, but I have Grand Marnier which says it’s a blend of cognac and orange. Do you think that will be ok? Have you ever tried it?

    - Abbie on November 25, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Abbie, I’ve never tried it but I think it will work just fine.

      - Jenn on November 25, 2015 Reply
      • 5 stars

        It was amazing. Best gravy EVER.

        - Abbie on November 27, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My sister-in-law introduced me to this recipe and there”s no turning back! I love this gravy recipe and have used it for beef and pork as well. I use 1/2 dark biato gravy thickener and 1/2 flour which I find gives better flavour and a richer taste and consistency. I do not add salt to the gravy as there is plenty of seasoning already with meat
    /poultry drippings. Try fresh basil as the only herb. Rave reviews every time.

    - Kit Kat on August 15, 2015 Reply
  • Hi, can dried herbs be used? If so, in what quantity to fresh?

    - Steven on June 30, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Steven, Yes, you’d want to cut the amount by about a third, as dried are stronger in flavor than fresh.

      - Jenn on July 3, 2015 Reply
  • I want to make gravy for mashed potatoes on Easter. We’re doing a ham though. Can I leave out the turkey drippings, or would that change the taste too much?

    - Kay on April 2, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Kay, You can…won’t have the same richness or deep flavor but will still be very good.

      - Jenn on April 2, 2015 Reply
  • What kind of herbs would you add to this gravy?

    - Linda on January 19, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Linda, I like to use a combination of thyme, sage, rosemary and parsley.

      - Jenn on January 20, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I was completely floored when I tried this recipe for the first time, made by my sister in law Beverley last week. Amazing, unbelievable, incredible! This truly is THE BEST EVER GRAVY! This is now MY gravy (try it with fresh basil). THANK YOU BEVERLEY AND THANK YOU Once Upon A Chef .

    - kitkat on January 8, 2015 Reply
    • Fresh basil works beautifully as an herb. Also. I use sweet onion (Vidalia) .Thanks Beverley for turning me on to this gravy as well!

      - Kit Kat on August 15, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    With Christmas around the corner, mom always cooks a turkey for Christmas day. I have always been the one to cook the gravy. For the most part it usually turns out ok. I wanted to try this recipe and see how it was. I was very satisfied and I will be making this for the family this year. People might think gravy is gravy but you should give this a shot. It’s simple and the flavor is outstanding!!

    - Mike on December 17, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was my first time making a meat gravy and it was so easy. I did not use the Cognac but the flavor was still really nice. Thank you for your easy to follow instructions.

    - Victoria on December 3, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this gravy for my Thanksgiving turkey, and everyone raved about it! I left out the cream because some guests had dietary restrictions, and it was still delicious. I served it with leftovers for the next few days, and it tasted as good as it did on Thanksgiving. Love your recipes–keep them coming!!

    - Donna on December 3, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Very easy and very good, thank you!

    - Sandra on November 28, 2014 Reply
  • Wondering about a kosher turkey gravy. I don’t like using the “fake” dairy products. Any suggestions?

    - Mimi on November 15, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Mimi, I think this recipe would work well with margarine, and you can omit the cream no problem. Or if that doesn’t appeal, you could always just serve the turkey with the pan juices.

      - Jenn on November 17, 2014 Reply
  • Can I prepare this the night before then add the drippings the next day when they turkey is done?

    - Ruth on November 24, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Ruth, Absolutely! Just reduce the broth by about 1/2 cup. Hope you enjoy it!

      - Jenn on November 25, 2013 Reply
  • How important is the Cognac?

    - Caroline on November 24, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Caroline, A little cognac or wine adds a boost of flavor, but the gravy is still delicious without it.

      - Jenn on November 24, 2013 Reply
  • how important is it to add the onions?

    - alice on November 22, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Alice, It is very important…they give a lot of flavor.

      - Jenn on November 22, 2013 Reply
  • If we can’t add dairy to it, would it even be worthwhile to try this without the cream (and replacing the butter with oil or margarine)?

    - Susan on November 21, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Susan, Unfortunately, probably not. The cream isn’t an issue, but there is a whole stick of butter in this recipe, which adds a lot of flavor. Sorry!

      - Jenn on November 21, 2013 Reply

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