How To Make Gravy Without Drippings

Are you deep frying a turkey and wondering how to make gravy for it? You totally can! You don’t need the roast drippings to make delicious gravy. Learn how to make gravy without drippings here. Also, learn how the same technique can be used to make an easy make-ahead gravy so that your roast dinner prep is a breeze.

You can’t have Thanksgiving Dinner without gravy. You just can’t. And yet, there are times when gravy is hard to come by. For instance, if you deep fry your turkey, then you don’t get drippings from which to make that luscious turkey sauce.

Also, if you smoke or brine (or both) your turkey, the drippings can be really salty and not usable at all.

So how do you make gravy for a deep-fried turkey? Or in any of these cases.

Watch This Video Showing How To Make Gravy Without Drippings

What Are Drippings?

Before I continue, a quick sidebar in case you’re feeling lost and have no idea what drippings are.

Drippings are the liquid that accumulates at the bottom of the pan when you roast meat. That liquid cooks in the bottom of the pan along with the roast. It caramelizes and browns and takes on a really rich flavor.

Drippings are usually at the heart of gravy-making and you can see a classic gravy recipe made with drippings over here. You typically would make a paste out of some fat, like butter, mixed with flour. Then you’d slowly stir in those drippings.

So, the question is, what do you do if you want gravy but you don’t have drippings?

How To Make Gravy Without Drippings

To make gravy without drippings you need to find a substitute for that good browned meaty flavor. What you do is brown some aromatics like onions and garlic in lots of butter (for a vegan version of this recipe, head over here).

Other aromatics that you can add include are celery, carrot, and bell pepper. Mushrooms are also a great addition since they have such meaty flavor on their own.

Once the aromatic vegetables are browned, whisk in flour and brown that lightly as well. These two browning steps add a good meaty flavor and also get you that quintessential brown gravy color.

Finally, go in with a flavorful broth or stock. The full gravy recipe is found below.

Make-Ahead Gravy

Today’s gravy recipe is not only good for when you deep fry your turkey, or brine it. It’s also a useful way to make gravy ahead of time, anytime.

Why Use A Make-Ahead Gravy Recipe?

When cooking a roast dinner, there are a lot of last minute things that need to be done. Gravy-making is typically one of them. If you do a make-ahead gravy, you’ve just made those last minutes much easier.

But wait, what do you do when the roast comes out and there are delectable brown drippings in the pan? That’s easy! Drizzle them into your made-ahead gravy for extra-intense flavor!

How To Add Drippings To A Made-Ahead Gravy

To do a make-ahead gravy, just follow the instructions in the recipe below. Then, when your roast is done, pour the liquid from the roasting pan into a narrow jar or a fat separator (sometimes called a gravy separator, there are some pictures of this tool over here if you want to see what it looks like). Let it separate into fat and drippings. Pour off the fat and discard it (or save the fat for another use).

Add the liquid that remains after removing the fat to your gravy. You may not want to add all of it because that could thin out your gravy too much. So just add a little bit at a time. When it’s a texture that you like, taste and add more seasonings if needed.

What To Do If The Gravy Is Too Thin

If your gravy gets too thin, there are two things you can do.

  1. Simmer it for a while to evaporate some of the water away. Note that the side effect of doing this is that the flavor gets more concentrated. This is a good thing for many flavors but not for salt. As you evaporate away liquid, your gravy can get too salty. If this happens, you’ll likely want to add back in some liquid and then try (2) to thicken things up.
  2. Make a mixture of 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water. Take your gravy off of the heat, add the cornstarch mixture, stir and then return it to a simmer.

If the gravy still isn’t thick enough, you can totally repeat this process several times. Just make sure that you return the gravy to a simmer in between each addition because that is when the gravy is at its thickest.

What To Do If The Gravy Is Too Thick

If your gravy is too thick, drizzle in some drippings, stock, broth, or water. Add just a little bit at at time, stir, and then taste. It is likely that you will need to add extra seasoning if you need to thin your gravy down. So do taste it and then season it more if needed.

What To Do If Your Gravy Doesn’t Taste Meaty

When you make a gravy without drippings it can sometimes lack the meaty flavor that is characteristic of gravy. There are a few things you can do to solve this problem.

  1. Add some bouillon. I really like Better Than Bouillon and Broth Concentrate. Just be careful since a lot of bouillons have a lot of salt. You risk making your gravy salty when trying to make it meaty.
  2. Add a few drops of Thai fish sauce. Don’t worry, your gravy won’t end up tasting like fish sauce or like Thai food. You won’t notice it at all. But it has this strong meaty flavor that can really boost a sauce.
  3. Add a few drops of soy sauce. It has some umami in it for sure, and color too, which can be a nice thing to add. But it can make gravy salty so be careful.
  4. Add a few drops of Worcestershire sauce. It has anchovies in it so it does that same umami-meaty thing we’re talking about. This one can also add some tang and sweetness so be careful here also).
  5. A bit of mustard can add some tang and extra flavor. I like Dijon for this. Again, don’t add very much since you don’t want it to actually taste like mustard.
  6. Go in with extra garlic powder and seasonings. Adding a blast of poultry seasoning usually helps make my gravy tasty even if it isn’t meaty.

Note that if your gravy lacks a good color, you can add some brown to it with the fish sauce, soy sauce, or Worcestershire sauce. But taste is more important that color. If it tastes good, I wouldn’t mess with it!

Now you’re all set. Oh, and if you have gravy leftovers after your dinner, don’t throw them away. Check out all these amazingly delicious ideas for what to do with leftover gravy.


How To Make Gravy Without Drippings

  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


Are you deep frying a turkey and wondering how to make gravy for it? You totally can! You don’t need the roast drippings to make delicious gravy. Learn how to make gravy without drippings here. Also, learn how the same technique can be used to make an easy make-ahead gravy so that your roast dinner prep is a breeze.


  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • Optional: 4 mushrooms (sliced), 1 rib celery (roughly chopped), 1 carrot (roughly chopped), 1/2 bell pepper (roughly chopped)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white wine or water
  • ½ tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garlic Powder to taste


  1. In a large skillet heat the butter over medium heat. Let it melt and get slightly brown. Add the onion, garlic halves, and any optional vegetables. Cook stirring often until everything is browning a bit but nothing is burnt.
  2. Remove from heat. Whisk in the flour. Return to heat and whisk and cook the flour mixture until it is lightly brown.
  3. Add the wine and stir to bring up any brownings that are stuck to the pan. Remove from heat.
  4. Whisk in the poultry seasoning.
  5. Whisk in the chicken broth 1/4 cup at a time, keeping everything smooth as you go.
  6. Once all the stock is added, heat over medium heat to a simmer, stirring often.
  7. Strain gravy through a fine mesh sieve.
  8. Taste. Stir in salt, pepper, garlic powder, and more poultry seasoning, if desired.
This post originally appeared in November 2016 and was revised and republished in December 2020.