Making a good turkey gravy does not necessarily require a Herculean effort. This easy turkey gravy recipe calls for cornstarch which allows you to achieve a thick gravy in a short period of time. Flavored with white wine, sage, and turkey pan drippings, this gravy can be ready in about 20 minutes with minimal effort.
No Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without gravy.
But sometimes, especially when you're hosting a house full of guests, you want to hit the easy button.
A cornstarch slurry puts the "easy" in this easy turkey gravy.
And because there is so much flavor from the onions, white wine, sage, and turkey pan drippings, no one will notice that you didn't spend a long time cooking a more complex gravy.
Don't get me wrong, those gravies definitely have a time and place (more on that later), but this recipe is for an EASY turkey gravy, and that's precisely what this is.
What is a slurry?
A slurry is a mixture of liquid and a thickening agent, in this case cornstarch, that is used to thicken a hot liquid.
Slurries can be used to thicken soups, stews, and gravies.
I always keep cornstarch on hand for this reason.
How to make an easy turkey gravy
- Start with your pan drippings. This pan had drippings from a roasted turkey breast. If you roasted a whole turkey there will be even more drippings.
- Begin by straining the turkey drippings. Then, add enough low sodium turkey stock (can also use chicken stock) to equal a total of 4 cups. Note: You do not have to strain or separate the drippings, especially from a turkey breast which won't have too much. A large whole turkey will have much more fat and drippings. A separator tool works well to remove the fat from the drippings. You can also just pour it all into a cup, let the fat come to the top, and spoon it out and discard.
- In a large saucepan or a large high-walled frying pan, over medium-low heat sautee a ½ cup of minced onion in 2 tablespoons of butter.
- Once the onion is soft (about 5-7 minutes) add ¾ cup of dry white wine and turn the burner to medium-high heat to reduce and cook off the alcohol.
- After 3 minutes add in the 4 cups of turkey stock and drippings.
- Add in 3 tablespoons of chopped sage. Note: If you don't want the chopped sage in the gravy, but still want to have the sage flavor, simply add in whole leaves then remove before serving.
- Next, mix together a ⅓ cup cold water with a ⅓ cup of cornstarch. Mix it well to form a slurry, then add that slurry into the pot and stir.
- Keep stirring and let the turkey gravy cook for 1 minute at a boil, then remove the pot from the burner. It's a really simple process. Taste test and season with salt and pepper. Depending on how salty the drippings and turkey stock were, you will need to adjust the salt levels accordingly. Note: In order for the cornstarch to work, you need to add it when the sauce is close to boiling and only cook it for a short period of time. The heat activates the cornstarch granules, where they absorb and burst to thicken the gravy.
Alternate methods to cornstarch gravy
Cornstarch-based gravies should be made right before serving the meal. They are easy to make and come together very quickly.
Cornstarch gravies should not be made the day before.
Upon reheating the gravy the next day it will be thinner and will most likely need to be thickened again with another cornstarch/water slurry. That's really not too much of a problem but it is something to keep in mind.
A good example of this involves take-out Chinese food. The sauce is very thick right when you get it, but when you reheat it the next day, it has a completely different consistency.
A flour-based gravy can be made with a roux.
To make a roux, cook equal parts flour in fat (butter, bacon fat, etc.) over low heat until the floury smell is completely gone. You can then whisk in the stock/drippings slowly at a simmer to prevent lump formation and then season to taste.
You can also make a slurry with cold water and flour and drizzle that into the hot stock. You'll need to cook it at a simmer until any floury taste is gone (about 10 minutes).
Arrowroot, potato starch, and even blended vegetables can be used to thicken stock and drippings to turn into gravy.
Arrowroot and cornstarch have the same thickening power. You'll need to use roughly twice the amount of flour to equal their strength.
Great Thanksgiving sides
If you're making this easy turkey gravy, you are hopefully enjoying a turkey, or turkey breast, along with some sides.
Here are some of our favorites to serve alongside your turkey dinner:
- Roasted garlic mashed potatoes - the best mashed potatoes you've ever had.
- Sausage and apple stuffed acorn squash - a meal unto itself, but also a favorite side.
- Sage and onion stuffing - made with country white bread, sage, and onion.
Perfect for any Fall gathering, but a must-have on Thanksgiving!
If you’ve enjoyed this easy turkey gravy recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and tell us about it in the comments below.
We would love to hear how you did and it’s nice to show others as well. Thanks!
- 4 cups strained turkey pan drippings and turkey stock see notes below
- ¾ cup dry white wine optional
- ½ cup onion minced
- 2 tablespoons butter unsalted
- 3 tablespoons sage minced
- ⅓ cup corn starch
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a large saucepan to medium-low heat and sautee the minced onion in the butter. Once the onion is soft (about 5-7 minutes) add the white wine and turn the burner to medium-high heat to reduce and cook off the alcohol.
- After 3 minutes add in the liquid from the turkey stock and drippings. Add in 3 tablespoons of chopped sage.
- Next, mix together the cold water and cornstarch to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the pot and cook for 1 minute to activate the cornstarch and thicken the gravy.
- Remove the gravy from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
- Save the pan drippings from roasted turkey breast (you won't have much) or a roasted whole turkey. Use store-bought turkey stock to make up the difference for 4 full cups.
- A full turkey will have a lot of fat and drippings. If you don't want all of the fat for the gravy you can use a separator and use as much or as little as you like.
- Wine can be omitted. If omitting the wine, use a bit less cornstarch (¼ cup instead of a ⅓) since acids like wine can lower cornstarch's thickening strength.
- Sage can be left whole, cooked in the gravy until serving, then removed.
- Flour can be substituted for the cornstarch slurry. You will need a half cup flour or more to equal ⅓ cup of cornstarch in regards to thickening power.