Chef John's Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy Recipe -
Chef John's Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy Recipe
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Chef John's Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy
Save your sanity on Thanksgiving Day by making rich turkey gravy in advance! See more
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Chef John's Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

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"This make-ahead turkey gravy frees up valuable kitchen time for Thanksgiving, plus it will look and taste even better than those frantic, last-minute versions."

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 8 servings Change Servings
  • PREP

    20 mins
  • COOK

    1 hr 55 mins

    2 hrs 15 mins


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Combine onion, carrots, celery, and vegetable oil in a large roasting pan and toss to coat. Place turkey wings on top of vegetables
  3. Place roasting pan in the preheated oven and cook until the turkey wings are browned and vegetables are caramelized and softened, 45 to 60 minutes.
  4. Transfer turkey wings and vegetables to a large stockpot. Place the roasting pan over a stovetop burner on medium heat. Pour 2 tablespoons cold water into the pan and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer mixture to the stockpot and add 10 cups cold water, thyme, and garlic.
  5. Bring turkey wing mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until meat falls off the bone, about 3 hours. Skim off turkey fat throughout the process and set aside 2 tablespoons.
  6. Strain turkey stock and reserve 6 cups of stock; discard all the solids.
  7. Heat butter and 2 tablespoons reserved turkey fat in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and cook, whisking continuously, until it begins to smell like cooked pie crust, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly pour in turkey stock, whisking continuously. Increase heat to high and simmer until thick and warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste.
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Reviews More Reviews

Most Helpful Positive Review
Nov 24, 2012

Made this for Thanksgiving dinner. Took the advise of some previous reviews and tweaked the recipe a little. I felt that 10 cups of water was too much for a couple of turkey wings and adjusted to 31/2 cups of water and 3 1/2 cups of canned chicken stock. I added a little celery salt to taste and ended up with a recipe that I will be using every Thanksgiving. What I really loved about this recipe is that I made my gravy on Tuesday, put it in a quart jar and put in the refrigerator, all I did on Thanksgiving was heat it up in a saucepan, saved me a lot of time and work during those last minutes of crunch time. Thanks for a great recipe and great technique.

Most Helpful Critical Review
Feb 10, 2014

I was excited to do a make-ahead gravy for Thanksgiving, but this ended up being a lot of trouble. I lost so much volume while simmering that I ended up going to the store to buy turkey stock. As other reviewers suggested, two turkey wings didn't seem to be enough for a decent stock.

Nov 16, 2012

First, I must say that I don't think make-ahead gravy ever tastes as good as making it from the pan drippings, but it's a tremendous time saver for that time-consuming Thanksgiving meal. Maybe my turkey wings weren't "large" enough, I don't know, but the broth did not have a lot of flavor even though I used a box (quart) of turkey stock as part of the 10 cups of liquid. Something I rarely do when making a recipe is modify it too much first time, but I found it necessary here. I added some Better Than Bouillon Turkey Base, some poultry seasoning, finely chopped wing meat, and some of the roasted veggies which I'd pureed in the blender. It all came together well, and I ended up with a flavorful gravy. I made another recipe last year from this site, but with these modifications, I think this is a better recipe. I have to wonder if 2 turkey wings is enough to flavor 10 cups of water, and in the future, I will use more wings and some necks if I can get them. Don't like changing a recipe this much, but after tasting the gravy, it was necessary. All was good in the end, and this 4-star rating is based on the tweaks I made.

Nov 13, 2012

This gravy is amazing. A little time consuming but worth having that extra gravy on Thanksgiving. I ended up with 7 cups of gravy at the end because I used 14 cups of water at the broth-making stage. That's how much it took to completely cover the wings and veg. That's the only change I made. Definitely a keeper!

Oct 30, 2013

I'm going to rate Chef John's recipe because it is virtually what I have done every year for many years other than also roast the neck with all the veggies too before simmering them for hours. I agree that two wings would not seem to add enough flavor. I save about 2 cups of my turkey stock for basting my turkey in the oven on the big day and make my gravy a bit thicker so I can pour some the pan drippings into it and into my dressing before placing that dish in the oven. No one would guess my dressing is not cooked in the bird! I don't mind a bit having my gravy done ahead of time, either. Great time saver when you really need it in the last hour trying to get this 'labor of love' meal on the table!!

Nov 11, 2013

I've been doing this for several years but it's not the only gravy for the meal; it's a supplement to the gravy I make when the turkey comes out of the oven. We love hot turkey sandwiches here so need gravy to go a long way. If you're going to use this as your only gravy, you have to either up the turkey wings to four, or cut back on the cold water to about 6 cups in order to achieve a full-flavoured gravy. Downside to reducing the water is that you will end up with much less gravy. And, to the person who commented about frozen gravy being separated upon thawing, simply add a couple of tablespoons of water, heat, and whisk it well to recombine.

Nov 11, 2013

I have made ths recipe for years. The only difference is that I use 6 or 8 turkey wings because there isn't much fat on a wing, and I use chicken or turkey broth instead of the water. I also add some white wine as part of the liquid. I usually make the gravy about a month ahead of the holidays because it freezes well. When it comes time use it, I put it in a crockpot, thaw it out and heat it up, saving stove space. It's my favorite gravy recipe.

Oct 29, 2013

5 STARS? Yes it's that good!!! takes a lot of time but seriously, I had the best turkey gravy in the middle of October without all the other work. I poured this golden gravy over some wild rice burgers with sauteed mushrooms and hey, best. day. ever.


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  • Calories
  • 115 kcal
  • 6%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 10.2 g
  • 3%
  • Cholesterol
  • 23 mg
  • 8%
  • Fat
  • 6.6 g
  • 10%
  • Fiber
  • 1.3 g
  • 5%
  • Protein
  • 4.1 g
  • 8%
  • Sodium
  • 73 mg
  • 3%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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