How to Thicken Gravy & Sauce
This is how to thicken gravy, or any other sauce, giving your meal an extra dimension in flavor, and consistency.
There are several ways to make your gravy nice and thick.
In this post I will list through a few methods.
Gravy has an interesting history, and seems to have first come about as a thing in the 14th century.
The first word that referred to this meat sauce was the word gravé, most likely taken from the French.
The original gravy was simply the natural juices that ran from cooked meat.
However, these days, gravies are often thickened to create a heavier sauce.
With time gravy has become more sophisticated, many times thickened using a roux, and often made from stock.
It no longer has to be attached to or part of the animal you will be eating but can easily be made from other sources.
Soon gravy began to be added to all kinds of foods, and not just as a way to reintroduce the moisture to the meat.
People began to get used to this additional way of flavoring their food, and began to ask for it.
The thickness of the sauce or gravy often depends in large part where you are in the world.
In the US gravy tends to be very thick, whereas in the UK gravy tends to be thin and runny.
Common Gravy Issues
It is indeed possible to have issues when it comes to making that gravy you want to smother your food in.
One of the most common things that can come up is the lumps that show up in your gravy when you begin to thicken it.
Gravy should not form lumps if it is made properly, and I will discuss the best techniques below.
However, should you encounter lumps in your gravy, don’t panic.
All is not lost, either strain them out with a sieve, or blend them with the aid of a blender.
Another common problem is that gravy is too thick or thin.
If too thick you can add more stock to thin it.
If your sauce is too thin, check below for the best ways to thicken your gravy.
Sometimes a gravy can be very greasy.
This is usually due to the fact that not enough of the meat fat was drained off before making the gravy.
Investing in a good fat separator is something you will never regret.
It makes keeping fat and grease at bay so easy, and with no mess.
Another issue that can cause distress is an overly salty gravy.
Again, don’t worry!
Just make another portion of gravy without salt and add to the one that is too salty.
How to Thicken Gravy
One of the most common ways to thicken gravy is by using flour, done via the use of a roux.
A roux is when you heat flour and fat together in equal parts, and when a hot liquid is added it is immediately thickened.
Another way to add thickness using flour is to add water to flour and whisk until you have a smooth paste.
This is known as a slurry in cooking, and is defined as a mixture of an equal amount of flour and water.
Add the slurry to your gravy and stir constantly, as the sauce heats up it should begin to thicken.
Another easy way to thicken is by using cornstarch to make your gravy.
This is done by mixing cornstarch with cold liquid and pouring it slowly into your gravy as you heat it.
Once your gravy comes to a boil, you should begin to feel the gravy getting thicker and thicker.
Arrowroot, which is a powder that is obtained from tropical plants, is another way to thicken liquids.
Once again a slurry is made from the arrowroot and water or cool broth, then added to the gravy, heated and stirred.
Potato starch is a thickener you can buy in the store.
A ratio of one tablespoon potato starch to two tablespoons of water should do the trick.
One way to make a thick sauce or gravy is to puree vegetables.
And allow the density of the vegetables to act as your thickener.
It is as easy as adding a cup of liquid to some cooked vegetables and blending them into a puree.
Add a small amount at a time until you get the thick level of gravy you are looking for.
Whether it’s cornstarch, or flour with an amount of cold water, or the thickening power of cornstarch or arrowroot, a thick gravy usually starts with pan drippings.
Go ahead and add that tablespoon of flour, or tablespoon of cornstarch to your gravy.
Your mashed potatoes are calling out for it!
My Favorite Gravy Recipe
I like to make my own chicken stock by boiling chicken bone carcasses in water with a little vinegar.
You can’t beat making your own, even if just for the purity of what’s in it, you definitely can’t beat the flavor.
I like to begin my gravy with a roux of butter and cornstarch to which I add my stock, salt and pepper.
I also like to include finely chopped parsley, and a little bit of minced garlic for a deep and unique flavor.
How to Thicken Gravy Recipe
- 3 tbsp Corn Starch
- ¼ cup Water cold
- 2 cups Gravy unsalted
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder optional
- ¾ tsp Salt
- Heat the thin gravy or sauce in a pan.
- Add the salt, and garlic powder if using, and whisk.
- In a small bowl, whisk the corn starch and water together until combined.
- Pour into your gravy, and stir continuously until thickened.