Gravy is one of my favorite components of Thanksgiving dinner. I like to drown my turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and countless other things in its decadence. And then of course I use my dinner roll (more accurately, my 2nd or 3rd dinner roll) to soak up any leftover gravy and bits of food on my plate. (Quick aside – I do this all the time, use bread to wipe/soak up any remnants on my plate. I’ve been told by others it’s an Italian thing. True?) Okay, back to gravy. LOVE gravy, but hate making it with drippings. With everything else going on as soon as the turkey comes out of the oven, I feel like getting the gravy finished unnecessarily heightens Thanksgiving stress levels worldwide. Enter this awesome recipe for a thick, creamy and flavorful gravy but without having to wait for the turkey to come out of the oven. It’s another recipe I discovered last Thanksgiving, and now it’s a staple.

You can go about this two ways: (1) If you are resourceful and you used the scraps from last year’s turkey to make homemade turkey stock and have it stashed away in the freezer, you can definitely put that to use here. (2) If you’re like me and don’t want to do one more ounce of work after the table is cleared (a.k.a. you didn’t make homemade stock last year), you can buy turkey or chicken stock from the store for this recipe. Since the stock is ready, you can go ahead and whisk together this gravy right before serving the meal or (my preference) make it the day before, let it cool, refrigerate it, and then warm it up in a saucepan when you’re ready to serve dinner. (You may have to drizzle in a little extra stock to thin it out if it got too thick in the fridge.) Additionally, you could make it even further in advance, say this week, and instead of refrigerating it, put it in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze. Take it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator the day before Thanksgiving, and then proceed with the heating up/thinning out as I mentioned above.

I LOVE gravy, but I don’t love the headache and stress of whipping it up while everyone is waiting to eat. This recipe is the perfect solution, and did I mention delicious?? Perfectly seasoned and a great accompaniment to the turkey and all the trimmings.

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Homemade gravy in a gravy boat on a serving plate.

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

A delicious homemade gravy makes the perfect addition to any meal
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For the Turkey Stock

  • 2 large turkey wings, size may vary, 1 to 4 lbs
  • 4 ribs celery (including leaves), roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, cut into large chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 6 cups water

For the Gravy

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups turkey stock
  • ½ cup milk, 2% or whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper


  • Make the Stock: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and adjust oven rack to lowest position. Place the turkey wings, celery, onion, and garlic in a large Dutch oven. Roast in the preheated oven, uncovered, for 2 hours. Remove pot from the oven.
  • Add the water to the turkey and vegetables and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.
  • Strain the stock into a bowl with at least 1-quart capacity. (You can eat the turkey wings and discard the used vegetables.) Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Remove the accumulated fat on the top of the stock before using.
  • Make the Gravy: In a 12-inch pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until you detect a nutty aroma. Gradually whisk in the defatted turkey stock and continue to cook, whisking frequently, until thickened (it should coat the back of a spoon), about 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm.


  • Turkey Wings: These are usually widely available in most grocery stores. If you cannot find them, turkey legs can be substituted.
  • Butter: If you prefer, you can use the fat that rises to the top of the chilled stock in place of the butter when you make the gravy. 
  • Make-Ahead Stock: You can make the stock and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days before preparing the gravy.
  • Freezing Stock: You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.
  • Make-Ahead Gravy: You can fully prepare the gravy 1 day before serving. Store it in a covered container in the refrigerator. Rewarm in a saucepan over low heat, whisking frequently, until warmed through. Thin with additional milk if the gravy is too thick.
  • Freezing Gravy: The fully prepared gravy can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat on the stovetop according to the directions above.
  • Recipe slightly adapted from Noble Pig.
  • Nutritional information is for the entire recipe.
Calories: 428kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 34g, Saturated Fat: 21g, Cholesterol: 92mg, Sodium: 880mg, Potassium: 284mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 1020IU, Vitamin C: 6.3mg, Calcium: 32mg, Iron: 1mg

Did you make this recipe?

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