7 Ways to Make Bottled Gravy Taste Better

There's no shame in using bottled gravy, especially if you add a few of these ingredients to make it taste more like homemade.

edited mashed potatoes and gravy photo by Meredith Publishing
Photo by Meredith Publishing.

Making gravy freaks out a lot of people — oh, the lumps! — which is the very reason bottled versions exist. Relax. There's no pre-made gravy shaming here, we're all about serving up a few ingredients to help turn that convenient shortcut into something with a little more character. Something that tastes more like homemade. Here's a short list of add-ins. Remember to go slowly when experimenting, adding a little bit at a time, and tasting along the way, especially before ladling over that pile of mashed potatoes.

Add Herbs

Try thyme, sage, chopped parsley, a teeny bit of tarragon, some chives. When using fresh herbs, add toward the end of cooking.

Garden Herbs for Simple Syru
Lemon verbena, lavender, rosemary, basil, and mint for simple syrups. | Photo by Vanessa Greaves.

Add a Splash of Wine

A couple of tablespoons of dry white wine brightens up lighter poultry gravy, while red wine adds complexity to beef and pork gravy. Not a wine fan? Go with beer or hard cider.

Red wine in glass and carafe
Better off red | Photo by Meredith. Meredith

Mustard Adds Character

Half a teaspoon of mustard brings in that rustic character, with Dijon-style and coarse ground topping the list. In a pinch, the yellow stuff you love to slather on top of hot dogs works, too.

For Umami's Sake

A couple shakes of fish sauce bumps up the umami factor. That's the name of the fifth taste that's sometimes called the definition of deliciousness. Don't have it? Try soy sauce instead.

Veggies Deliver Fresh Flavors

Chop a shallot or a couple tablespoons' worth of an onion and saute it in the pan with a little butter before pouring the gravy on top to heat up.


Finish with Heat

Fresh ground pepper gives a lighter gravy a sharp edge and a striking appearance. Don't go overboard, though, because the flavor deepens as it cooks.

Visit the Roasting Pan

Pan drippings are the foundation of a traditional gravy, but if you're skipping that step, swirl in a tablespoon from the roast for added depth.

edited gravy cooking photo by Leslie Kelly
Photo by Leslie Kelly.

Check out our collection of Gravy Recipes.

Interested in Taking the Plunge Into Homemade Gravy? Here's how:

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