How to make gravy: recipes for rich, quick, gluten-free and vegetarian gravies

Jill Dupleix
Jill Dupleix's ultimate gravy; the crowning glory of any festive feast.
Jill Dupleix's ultimate gravy; the crowning glory of any festive feast. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Great gravy is the crowning glory of the festive meal.  Rich, brown, smooth and deeply flavoured, it somehow pulls together all the different things on the plate into one celebratory whole. Here are three ways to make gravy that will be loved by everyone at the table.

The ultimate gravy

Classic gravy comes from the classic roast, combining the fat in the roasting pan with flour, to form a roux that is the thickening agent.

3 tbsp fat from the roast 

Jill Dupleix's ultimate gravy; the crowning glory of any festive feast.
Jill Dupleix's ultimate gravy; the crowning glory of any festive feast. Photo: Edwina Pickles

3 tbsp plain flour

750ml chicken or vegetable stock, heated

2 tsp Vegemite or dark soy sauce (see tips at bottom of article) 

Use a whisk to smooth out lumps.
Use a whisk to smooth out lumps. Photo: Edwina Pickles

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

sea salt and pepper

Pour off all but 3 tbsp of the fat in the roasting pan and place over low heat. When hot, scatter the flour over the top and stir with a wooden spoon over low heat, scraping up all the meaty bits, for 3 to 4 minutes. The idea is to cook the flour until lightly golden, so it doesn't taste raw.

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Add the hot stock slowly, stirring quickly to incorporate the flour.  Bring to the boil, then transfer to a saucepan. 

Add the Vegemite and thyme, whisking well until smooth. Simmer gently for a good 15 minutes.

If too thin, continue to simmer and reduce. If too thick, add more stock or the resting juices from the roast. Taste for salt and pepper. 

Use a whisk to smooth out lumps.
Use a whisk to smooth out lumps. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Strain the gravy through a sieve, pressing the remains against the mesh with a wooden spoon. Reheat and serve hot.

Serves 6


Cheat's gravy

No roast required – which means you can make this quick gravy immediately before serving your feast and it's good to go. You can make a vegetarian version of this gravy by using meat-free stock.

2 tbsp butter 

2 tbsp plain flour

500ml chicken or vegetable stock, heated

2 tsp Vegemite or dark soy sauce 

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

sea salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Scatter the flour over the top and stir with a wooden spoon over gentle heat for 3 to 4 minutes. The idea is to cook the flour until lightly golden, so it doesn't taste raw.

Start adding the hot stock slowly, stirring quickly to incorporate the flour. Add the Vegemite and thyme and whisk until smooth, then simmer for a good 15 minutes. 

If too thin, continue to simmer and reduce. If too thick, add more stock.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Strain the gravy through a sieve, and serve hot.

Serves 4


Gluten-free gravy

Rice flour takes the place of wheat flour, smoked paprika and tamari add depth, and a touch of cornflour gives a smooth, glossy finish.

2 tbsp butter or fat from the roasting pan

2 tbsp rice flour

500ml chicken or vegetable stock, heated

2 tsp tamari (wheat-free soy)

half tsp smoked paprika

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

sea salt and pepper

1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 tsp butter

Heat the butter or fat in a pan, and scatter with the rice flour. Cook over low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until lightly tanned. Slowly and carefully (it's hot), start adding the stock, stirring constantly, keeping the mixture at a gentle boil.

Add the tamari, smoked paprika, sea salt and pepper, and gently simmer for a good 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Strain the gravy through a sieve, and reheat. Add the cornflour mixed with butter and bring to the boil, whisking constantly. Simmer for a further minute as the gravy thickens, and serve hot.  

Makes 300ml


More hot gravy-making tips   

A teaspoon or two of Vegemite or soy sauce adds colour and seasoning.

On Christmas Day, roast your turkey with rashers of bacon over the breast to protect it from drying, then toss the roasted bacon into the simmering gravy for extra flavour. Strain before serving.

If you're cooking darker, gamier meats, start your gravy off with a glass of red wine. Allow it to bubble and burn off the alcohol, then finish with stock.

As a general rule, allow for 1 cup (250 ml) of stock for each tablespoon of flour.

Add in anything that will add flavour – rosemary , bay leaves, chicken wing-tips, roasted carrots, garlic, fried onions. Allow to simmer, then strain before serving.

Got lumps? Use a whisk or a potato masher, then strain through a sieve before serving.