This vegan gravy has a meaty flavor from browned onions and an authentic gravy color achieved without adding any weird ingredients. This post is sponsored by Pompeian.
This vegan gravy is amazing. I swear, you would never know it didn’t originate from meat if nobody told you. That’s probably because my original inspiration for this gravy wasn’t from trying to make a vegan thing. It originated with my recipe for how to make gravy without drippings (which is great as a make-ahead gravy or if you’re deep frying a turkey and won’t have drippings). However, that recipe called for butter. One day I didn’t have butter and used a delicious olive oil instead. Vegan gravy was born!
What Ingredients Do I Need for Vegan Gravy?
This gravy gets its intense flavor and color from browning onions in olive oil, and then adding flour to the mixture and letting that brown as well. This technique of browning the flour and fat mixture might be familiar to you if you’ve ever made gumbo. For gumbo you brown the roux (flour and fat mixture) until it’s the color of peanut butter.
At this point, the gravy is made in a similar way to how I make gravy without drippings normally except for the use of olive oil instead of butter, and the extra browning of the onions and of the roux. The only thing I add that isn’t in regular gravy is nutritional yeast. It’s a vegan seasoning of sorts that has a very meaty or slightly cheesy flavor. If you don’t have any and don’t have time to find it, don’t worry since it’s a completely optional ingredient. Your vegan gravy will be totally delicious without it!
The other thing that I do for this gravy is to use vegetable stock instead of chicken or other meat stock. But I also love to follow a cool vegetable stock method that I think you’re going to love. Why? Because it’s a bit of upcycling, meaning you’re using a byproduct of something else that you’ve probably got going on in your kitchen. What’s that? Potato water!
If I’m making mashed potatoes to have with the gravy, I add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic to the potatoes before cooking them. Then I boil them as normal. When they’re done, I strain the liquid into a bowl. THAT is my veggie broth. For the mashed potatoes, just pull out the carrots, celery, and any onion you can find (it’s totally fine if you don’t get it all) and then mash as normal (try this Olive Oil Mashed Potato recipe. It’s vegan and delicious!). You get really flavorful garlic mashed potatoes AND you get vegetable stock for your gravy all in one! How great is that?
How To Make Vegan Gravy
(Printable instructions below.)
Cut 4-6 medium potatoes into quarters. (If you’re using store-bought or previously homemade vegetable stock, ignore all steps having to do with potatoes).
Put the potatoes into a medium saucepan along with two halved carrots, 1 halved rib of celery, 1/2 of a medium onion, 4 cloves of peeled garlic, and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
Put enough cold water into the saucepan just to cover everything and heat over high until it reaches a boil. Then simmer until the potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork, about 8-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the other half of the onion.
Pour 2 tablespoons of a flavorful olive oil into a medium skillet. It’s key to use an olive oil with flavor here because we don’t have the easy-to-obtain flavor of animal fat here.
Warm the olive oil over medium heat.
Add the chopped onions. Cook and stir occasionally until they’re softened and nicely browned, but not burnt, 5-7 minutes.
Remove from heat and add 3 tablespoons of flour.
Stir well. It will be like a paste with onions in it. Turn heat to low and cook stirring occasionally until it’s nice and brown.
When the potatoes are soft, set a strainer over a bowl and strain the potatoes so that the bowl catches the liquid.
There’s your potato-veggie stock! Taste it and make sure it isn’t too salty. You can always add salt but it’s hard to take it away. If it’s too salty, dilute with water, white wine, or store-bought unsalted vegetable stock.
Put the potatoes back into their pot and then use tongs to remove the carrots and celery from the potatoes. You can remove any bits of onion that you can see too but don’t worry if that gets left behind. And do leave the garlic cloves behind! They’re so good mashed into there!
I’m not going to give mashed potato instructions here, but for truly incredible vegan mashed potatoes that use olive oil instead of milk and butter, head over here.
Now let’s get back to our gravy base. Those onions, olive oil, and flour should be nice and brown now, the color of peanut butter nearly. Remove from the heat.
Measure the potato liquid into a two cup measuring cup. Pour a little bit, like 1/4 of a cup, into the onion mixture.
Add another 1/4 cup of liquid.
Slowly drizzle in all the liquid, stirring continuously.
Put the skillet over medium heat and bring it to a simmer over medium heat.
Reduce heat. Taste the gravy. Add salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning if desired. If the flavor isn’t as meaty as you’d like, add some nutritional yeast. Stir it in and taste again.
Set a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl. Pour the gravy through the sieve to catch all the onions and any lumps.
This recipe starts by making homemade vegetable stock in the same pot as mashed potatoes. If using store-bought or previously homemade vegetable stock instead of making it along with the potatoes, skip all instructions that mention potatoes.
- 4–6 medium potatoes, quartered
- 2 carrots, halved
- 1 rib celery, halved
- 1 onion, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 and 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. flavorful olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1–2 tsp. nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning (optional)
- Make the vegetable stock (and mashed potatoes): In a medium saucepan put the potatoes, carrots, celery, 1/2 of the onion, garlic, and salt. Add cold water just to cover the ingredients. Heat over high until it reaches a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork, 8-12 minutes. Set a strainer over a medium bowl and strain potatoes through it, catching all the liquid in the bowl, set aside. Return potatoes to pot. Remove carrots and celery and any onion you can see and discard or eat as is. Mash remaining potatoes (for vegan mashed potatoes use olive oil like in this recipe!).
- Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Chop the remaining half an onion and add it to the olive oil. Cook, stirring often, until softened and lightly browned, 5-6 minutes.
- Remove onions from heat. Stir in the flour. Return it to low heat and cook, stirring often, until it’s the color of peanut butter, 10-12 minutes.
- Remove onions from heat. Pour 2 cups of the potato liquid into a measuring cup with a spout. Pour about 1/4 cup into the onion mixture. Stir. Add another 1/4 cup. Stir again. Continue stirring and adding a little bit at a time until all the liquid is added.
- Return onions to medium heat and cook, stirring, until it reaches a simmer. Simmer it for a minute then reduce heat to low. Taste. Add nutritional yeast for meatier flavor. Add poultry seasoning if desired. Add salt and pepper to taste if desired.
- Set a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. Strain the gravy through the sieve. Discard the onions. Serve gravy.
This post originally appeared in November 2018 and was revised and republished in June 2020.