Chef John's Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy


Flavorful turkey fond makes a smooth and delicious make-ahead Thanksgiving gravy that looks and tastes way better than those frantic, last-minute versions. This savory gravy is made with roasted vegetables and turkey wings before you roast your turkey and frees up valuable kitchen time for all the other dishes of your Thanksgiving meal.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
4 hrs
Total Time:
4 hrs 15 mins

Save time (and precious stove space) on the big day with this make-ahead Thanksgiving gravy.

pitcher of gravy on a green table runner
Pictured: Chef John's Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy . Allrecipes Magazine

​​How to Make Thanksgiving Gravy Ahead of Time

You'll find the full, step-by-step recipe below — but here's a brief overview of what you can expect when you make this top-rated Thanksgiving gravy recipe:

1. Roast turkey and veggies: Combine onion, carrots, celery, and vegetable oil in a roasting pan and toss to coat. Place turkey wings on top of vegetables, then roast in a preheated oven until the wings are browned and the veggies are softened.
2. Make stock: Transfer the roasted meat and vegetables to a stockpot. Scrape up browned bits and place them in the pot. Add 10 cups cold water, thyme, and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the meat falls off the bone (reserve two tablespoons of fat from the top). Strain and reserve 6 cups of stock.
3. Make gravy: Heat butter and turkey fat together in a small saucepan. Sprinkle in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until it smells like pie crust. Slowly pour in reserved turkey stock, whisking constantly. Increase the heat and cook until the gravy is thickened to the desired consistency. Season to taste.

How Long Does Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Gravy Last?

You can make this Thanksgiving gravy up to four days in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat, stirring often, on the stove.

Can You Freeze Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Gravy?

Yes, you can freeze this gravy for up to three months. Transfer to airtight freezer bags, squeezing out as much air as possible, and freeze flat. Thaw in the refrigerator and reheat on the stove.

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

"I chilled it so the fat would solidify on top [before skimming it off]," says Rocket1. "It made things so much easier to just take the fat off and use that for the roux. GREAT depth of flavor!"

"This recipe was perfect in every way," raves Mina Y. "I made everything ahead and then whisked in the heated flour/butter at the end (which you can increase the amount of depending on how thick you want the gravy to be)."

"For the third year in a row, I made this exactly according to instructions two days before Thanksgiving and froze it," according to Cindy G. "Put in the Crock-Pot (frozen) onThanksgiving morning. It was full of genuine turkey flavor and the exact right consistency. Chef John is a genius!"

Editorial contributions by Corey Williams


  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 2 ribs celery, chopped

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

  • 2 large turkey wings

  • 2 tablespoons cold water

  • 10 cups cold water

  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste

  • salt and ground black pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

  2. Combine onion, carrots, celery, and oil in a large roasting pan; toss to coat. Place turkey wings on top of vegetables.

  3. Roast in the preheated oven until 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 set to medium heat. Pour 2 tablespoons cold water into the pan and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Pour mixture into 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, reserving 2 tablespoons.

  6. Strain turkey stock and reserve 6 cups stock; discard all solids.

  7. Heat butter and reserved turkey fat in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook until it smells like cooked pie crust, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly pour in reserved turkey stock, whisking constantly.

  8. Increase heat to high and simmer gravy until thick and warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season with cayenne, salt, and black pepper.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

115 Calories
7g Fat
10g Carbs
4g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 115
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g 8%
Saturated Fat 3g 16%
Cholesterol 23mg 8%
Sodium 92mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 4mg 18%
Calcium 33mg 3%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 163mg 3%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

You’ll Also Love