This make-ahead gluten-free turkey gravy saves you time on Thanksgiving! You can have a rich and flavorful one-pot stovetop turkey gravy without roasting a whole turkey.
This post is sponsored by OXO, a long-term partner of Snixy Kitchen
Over the past few years, I've slowly been assuming more and more of the Thanksgiving dinner responsibilities from my mom. But mark my words: my mom will always be in charge of the mashed potatoes and gravy.
Mashed potatoes and gravy are her specialty. She's been perfecting them since the Great Newlywed Mashed Potato Fail of 1976 when she attempted to "mash" potatoes in her brand new blender, then took a stab at gravy (literally) by whisking 1 cup of flour into a few tablespoons of bacon fat. Instead, she made inedible mashed potato glue with sliceable gravy.
She's spent her whole life trying to make up for it. That's how you become the household mashed potatoes and gravy champion.
When it comes to Thanksgiving gravy, my mom doesn't mess around. She makes it weeks in advance and tucks it into the freezer to save time. Two years ago, when we couldn't spend Thanksgiving together, I was forced to learn to make it myself.
Now, in partnership with OXO, I'm finally sharing the stovetop make-ahead gluten-free turkey gravy recipe we make every year and all the kitchen tools that make it super easy to make.
(If my mom had these OXO tools in the 70s, she definitely would have had more success way back when.)
Make-Ahead Gluten-Free Turkey Gravy
This year I'm letting my mom off the hook because I've already made the gravy. This batch pictured here is in my freezer awaiting my mom's Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. That's right, I'm going to win Thanksgiving by having gravy checked off my list almost a month in advance (you're keeping score, right?).
Don't wait until the turkey's out of the oven to start your gravy. Make it ahead of time and use the day of to a. visit family, b. set the table c. finish the salad, d. do some dishes, e. get the pie in the oven, f. carve the turkey properly, or g. nap. If you're making a full spread, this doesn't even cover all of the things on your to-do list moments before the bird hits the table.
Especially if, like us, you're keeping the gathering small this year without a lot of guests to divvy up the cooking.
How to make gluten-free turkey gravy without drippings
You can easily make homemade turkey gravy without drippings from a full turkey. Grab a couple of turkey parts and get to work on this very easy stovetop-only turkey gravy.
This stovetop gluten-free make-ahead turkey gravy was adapted from my friend Karen's make-ahead turkey gravy. My mom started making Karen's recipe several years ago, adapting it to be gluten-free. It was a keeper! The year we spent thanksgiving apart, I started making a variation of the gravy entirely on the stovetop, tweaking things on impulse. Deglazing with wine, adding a bouquet of fresh herbs, adjusting this and that.
This gluten-free version here made in my giant OXO stainless steel stockpot is the one that's become our family staple.
How do you make gluten-free turkey gravy from scratch?
Gluten-free turkey gravy is very much the same as you would make any turkey gravy, but using gluten-free flour for thickening.
- Start with drippings. For make-ahead gravy without roasting a full turkey, render the fat off some turkey parts and vegetables in a large stockpot.
- Make a rich turkey broth. Deglaze the pan with wine to get all the flavorful bits off the bottom and stir in chicken broth with fresh herbs. Simmer low and slow for 1.25 hours. Strain and skim the fat.
- Make a roux. Melt butter and whisk in sweet rice flour using a gravy whisk.
- Slowly pour in the broth, whisking until smooth, and cook until thickened.
- Cool and store until ready to serve!
- Optionally: If you serve the make-ahead gravy alongside Thanksgiving turkey, skim the fat off the drippings and add them the day of if you've got them! Just be sure to sample the drippings first to make sure you like the flavor before adding them.
What gluten-free flour is best for thickening gravy?
Sweet Rice Flour
My favorite way to thicken gravy is to make a roux using sweet rice flour. I find it has the best flavor and smoothest texture - no one can ever tell this gravy is gluten-free! Sweet rice flour, also called mochiko or glutinous rice flour (though it contains no gluten), is different than white rice flour or brown rice flour. Sweet rice flour is used to make mochi, so it thickens gravy nicely.
When making your roux, cook the sweet rice flour until just light brown (1-2 minutes) - cooking it longer will make the texture a bit grittier. When adding your liquid, err on the side of too little liquid and thin it out as needed. It's easier to thin the gravy later with more liquid than to add more sweet rice flour after the fact!
If you can't get your hands on sweet rice flour, I have also tested this recipe using corn starch to thicken the gravy. If you're using this method, skip the roux because it doesn't need as long to thicken up. Instead, make a slurry with a bit of the broth and the corn starch, whisking until smooth. Set the slurry aside. Brown the butter, whisk in the remaining broth, and bring to a simmer. Slowly whisk in corn starch slurry and heat until it begins to thicken.
Whichever you use to thicken the gravy, keep in mind that the gravy will continue to thicken as it cools.
Tips for easy gluten-free turkey gravy
Chop veggies roughly
The broth gets strained after simmering, so the vegetables don't need to be finely chopped. Spend less than 5 minutes roughly chopping the vegetables just so they're easy to toss around the pot.
Use turkey wings and legs
I've made this turkey using all wings and a combination of wings and legs and both ways are delicious. The legs, however, render more fat which will make your turkey broth that much more rich. For the turkey wings, I found it easiest to toss everything in the stockpot if I cut the tips off and discarded them first.
Whisk it well
I recommend using this OXO gravy whisk for making your roux and gravy. This will allow you to scrape up everything from the bottom and edges of the pan and will create a super smooth gravy. No lumps here.
Start with less liquid than you need
Depending on the size of your pot, the strength of your burner, and what type of turkey parts you used, your turkey broth may be more or less thick. You may also prefer gravy a bit more thick or thin than I do.
When adding the liquid to the roux start by adding ½ cup less than you want, then add more until you get the desired thickness. It's easier to thin out gravy with more broth than it is to thicken it after you're already at that stage.
Wait to season the gravy with more salt
Depending on how salty your chicken broth is and how concentrated your turkey broth, your gravy may already have enough seasoning. Wait until you've thickened the gravy to taste it before adding more salt.
How to Skim Fat off Gravy
To skim the fat off your turkey base, I use this OXO fat separator. The fat will separate above the broth and the low spout pours the broth from the bottom, leaving the fat behind.
Alternatively, you can strain the base through a fine mesh strainer into a measuring cup, then pop it in the freezer for 20 minutes. The fat will solidify and float to the top where you can easily scoop it off.
Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Turkey Gravy Option
To make this gravy dairy-free, sub out the butter for dairy-free butter or bacon fat (um, hello). The rest of the gravy is naturally dairy-free!
Can you freeze make-ahead turkey gravy?
Once you've made your gluten-free turkey gravy, let it cool, then freeze it until you're ready to serve. If you're only making it a couple of days in advance, it will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.
I recommend storing the gravy in a 4-cup freezer-safe OXO smart seal container in the freezer until the big day, up to a few months in advance even! With this glass container, it's really easy to defrost. You can put it in the fridge the night before to defrost it, you can run it under warm water to defrost the bottom/sides and dump it into a pan to defrost on low heat on the stove, or you can defrost it in the microwave.
The Best Gluten-Free Turkey Gravy
With fresh herbs and a rich flavorful turkey broth, this make-ahead gluten-free turkey gravy is just as rich as if it were made with pan drippings. But you'll save time by having it done in advance! And it all comes together on the stovetop easy peasy.
Zoella casually described her dinner to our neighbor, "I don't like mashed potatoes, but mama put something on them that made them really yummy." She not lying, she dipped everything on her plate in the gravy.
And you will too.
So what are you waiting for? Check something off your holiday planning!
More Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipes
- Butternut Squash and Bacon Deviled Eggs
- Arugula Apple Salad with Roasted Shallot Dressing
- Apple & Sausage Gluten-Free Cornbread Stuffing
- Gluten-Free Stuffing with Mushrooms and Pears
- Maple Roasted Carrots with Walnuts
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse Pie
- Sorghum Molasses Pecan Pie with Orange Zest
- Vanilla Bean Pear Persimmon Pie
- Pumpkin Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls
- Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie
- Cauliflower Mac and Cheese - for some reason, my family always makes this with shredded butternut squash in it for Thanksgiving
- 3.5-4lbs turkey wings, legs, and/or other parts (see note)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 large shallots or 2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
- 3 chopped large carrots, roughly chopped
- 3 chopped celery ribs, roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
- 6-8 sprigs fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, packed or ½ teaspoon dried rubbed sage
- 2 bay leaves
- 3½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup sweet rice flour (also called “mochiko” – different than white rice flour or brown rice flour) or corn starch (see note for substitution)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
- Season the turkey parts with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the turkey parts, rotating and rearranging the pieces with tongs every couple of minutes, until browned on all sides. About 8-10 minutes total.
- Add the shallot or onion and toss until nestled underneath the turkey. Cook for 2-3 minutes until beginning to soften, stirring the pot so they don't burn. Add the celery, carrot, and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 more minutes, until the veggies begin to brown. Cover and cook on low heat for 10 more minutes.
- Remove the turkey pieces to a bowl and pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan. Nestle the turkey pieces back into the pan (optionally, leave them in if you can navigate deglazing with big turkey pieces).
- Stir in just 6 cups of the chicken broth and add the thyme, sage, and bay leaves. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Remove the turkey parts to a bowl, shredding the meat if desired to save for another purpose (turkey tortilla soup?). Strain the turkey broth through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Press the vegetables to release as much liquid as possible. Skim the fat off the broth (you can either pour broth into a fat separator or freeze the broth for 20 minutes to easily skim off the fat). You should have about 1.5 cups turkey broth.
- Measure out enough chicken broth (about 2 cups) so with the turkey broth you have 3.5 cups total liquid (if you have a bit less, you can top it off with a bit of water).
- Rinse the pot, but don't bother cleaning it. In the same pot, make the roux. Melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the sweet rice flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant and just light brown. (Note: if substituting with corn starch substitution, don't add the corn starch to the butter. Instead, make a slurry with the corn starch and ⅓ cup of the chicken broth. Add that along with the turkey broth and remaining chicken broth to the browned butter then stir in the corn starch slurry.)
- While whisking, slowly pour the turkey broth followed by the chicken broth into the pot, whisking until smooth. Simmer whisking, for 3-5 minutes until thickened as desired. Taste and whisk in salt and pepper to taste.
- Let cool then store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to serve. To defrost, you can put it in the fridge the night before to defrost it, you can run the container under warm water to defrost the bottom/sides and dump it into a pan to defrost on low heat on the stove, or you can microwave it!
- If you serve the make-ahead gravy alongside Thanksgiving turkey, skim the fat off the drippings and add the drippings the day of if you've got them! Just be sure to sample the drippings first to make sure you like the flavor before adding them.
Turkey wings, legs, and/or other parts: You can use whatever parts you can get your hands on in advance. Some years we make it with just turkey wings and others it's a combo. If using turkey wings only, you'll have a lot less fat to skim off the top, but the gravy is still just as flavorful!
Corn starch substitution: You can substitute ¼ cup corn starch in place of the sweet rice flour. To do this, skip making the roux. Instead, make a slurry with the corn starch and ⅓ cup of the chicken broth. Brown the butter in your saucepan and then add the turkey base, chicken broth, and corn starch slurry. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes until thickened to your liking.