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Turkey gravy pouring out of a glass gravy boat against a white background.

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 9 reviews
  • Author: Vanessa | Maple + Mango
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 5 cups 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


Save your sanity on turkey day with this delicious make ahead turkey gravy recipe.  First a flavorful turkey stock is made which is then used as the base for the gravy. Say goodbye to last minute stress without sacrificing flavor!



For The Turkey Stock:

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
  • Turkey backbone and neck OR 2 whole turkey wings (4 split pieces) and optional neck (see notes)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • 8 cups water
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 34 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves

For The Turkey Gravy:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 45 cups turkey stock (made above)
  • Season to taste with salt, freshly ground pepper and 1-2 teaspoons of tamari (or soy sauce)


A delicious turkey stock is the key to this gravy.  Once the stock is made, the gravy comes together quickly.

Turkey Stock:

  1. Brown the turkey parts: Heat a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium/high heat.  Add the oil, followed by the turkey pieces and cook until browned while turning occasionally.  Or roast them in the oven (see directions for the “oven roasting method” below).
  2. Add veggies: Stir in chopped onion, carrot and celery and sauté until starting to brown.
  3. Add water and herbs: Pour in water and add the thyme, garlic and bay leaves.
  4. Simmer: Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-4 hours. 
  5. Strain: Strain the stock through a large fine mesh sieve.  Allow to cool for a bit and skim the fat off the top.  Set aside 5 cups of stock for the gravy and store the remainder in the fridge.

Oven Roasting Method: Sometimes it’s easier to brown the turkey parts and vegetables in the oven.  Preheat oven to 400F/200C.  Place turkey pieces, onion, celery and carrot on a baking sheet.  Drizzle over the oil and toss to coat.  Roast for 1 hour or until well browned, flipping occasionally.  Add everything, including drippings, to a large pot and continue with Step 3 above.

Turkey Gravy:

  1. Melt butter: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  You can also replace some of the butter with the fat from the top of the cooled turkey stock which has lots of flavor. 
  2. Whisk in flour: Whisk in the flour for a few minutes until lightly golden brown.
  3. Add stock: Slowly whisk in 4-5 cups of the turkey stock.  The amount will depend on the thickness you like and if you will be adding in any drippings when reheating. 
  4. Simmer: Simmer until thickened, while continuing to whisk occasionally (about 5-10 minutes).
  5. Season: Season to taste with salt, pepper and tamari.  Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.  The gravy will look thick after sitting in the fridge but will loosen back up once reheated.
  6. Reheat: Reheat over low heat while whisking occasionally for smooth gravy.

Extra Flavor Boost: If you roasted a turkey, you can also whisk some of the drippings into the gravy as it reheats for added flavor.  I highly recommend this!  After roasting your turkey, pour the drippings from the finished turkey through a fine mesh sieve into a measuring cup.  Skim off the fat and then whisk some of the drippings into the gravy as it reheats.


  • Turkey Parts To Use: If you spatchcock your turkey like I do, then you can simply use the backbone and the neck (you may need to chop the backbone up into a few pieces to fit into the pot).  If not, purchase a few turkey wings to use instead of the backbone and make the stock with the wings and neck.  If your turkey didn’t include a neck, just use turkey wings.
  • Tamari: Adding a bit of tamari (or soy sauce) adds some depth of flavor and color.  Don’t skip it or your gravy will miss out on the umami flavor boost it gives!
  • Storing and Reheating: Store in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months (thaw in fridge overnight before serving).  Reheat gravy over low heat while whisking occasionally for a smooth consistency.
  • Gravy Issues:
    • Too Thick?  Add more stock or turkey drippings.
    • Too Thin?  Mix 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon flour and whisk into gravy.
    • Lumpy?  Pour through a fine mesh sieve.
  • Leftover Turkey Stock: This recipe makes more stock than needed for the gravy.  Use the extra stock in your homemade stuffing or other sides, to thin out your gravy if required or to make a nice soup.  Or freeze it for later.
  • Make Chicken Gravy: Use this recipe to make chicken gravy by simply replacing the turkey parts with chicken pieces like chicken backs and wings.  Or use a homemade chicken bone broth made from leftover roast chicken carcasses.