Make Ahead Turkey Gravy (With or Without Drippings)

Learn how to make turkey gravy ahead of time, with or without drippings! This Make Ahead Turkey Gravy infuses flavorful gravy with fragrant fresh herbs for amazing homemade flavor. Prep it up to 5 days ahead of time, then simply reheat & finish the gravy just before the big meal – the perfect holiday timesaver! This easy make ahead turkey gravy recipe is totally foolproof & pairs with everything from mashed potatoes to stuffing.

Perfect for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or even a simple Sunday roast chicken dinner!

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Make ahead turkey gravy inside of a white ceramic gravy boat is poured out overtop of a plate filled with Thanksgiving dinner plate. The plate sits atop a light peach colored textured surface with a red muted linen napkin and a small clear glass vases filled with Fall florals rest in the background.

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving

This recipe is part of PWWB’s Make-Ahead Thanksgiving series, a complete resource for time-saving holiday dinner prep. No one needs the stress of cooking a multi-course meal all in one day! Whether you’re a savvy home cook or a first-time dinner host, these make-ahead recipes will help you tackle your Thanksgiving prep little by little for a completely stress-free holiday meal. Learn more about Make-Ahead Thanksgiving!

Can You Make Gravy Ahead of Time? Y-E-S! (& It’s a Lifesaver!)

A rich & creamy turkey gravy is a non-negotiable for any Thanksgiving table. (What else are you going to cover your plate of mashed potatoes & stuffing with?!) I think that’s why it’s one of the most intimidating Thanksgiving dishes to prepare – but it doesn’t have to be!

When you think about it, it’s kind of crazy that we traditionally wait to prepare the most beloved Thanksgiving dish in the last 30 minutes before dinner. At my house, that’s always when holiday stress & exhaustion are at their peak. After many, many hours on your feet, guests arrive, everything comes out of the oven all at once…& now’s the time to prep a flawless gravy?! 😅

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy is an easy solution to eliminate all of that extra pressure. This make ahead gravy recipe is a lifesaver – it’s quick, flavorful, & totally meal prep-friendly. You can prep it up to 5 days ahead of time, so all you have to do at dinnertime is gently reheat & whisk in any turkey drippings for the ultimate flavor. Completely stress-free & totally easy!

Make Ahead Gravy Recipe Highlights

You never need to go back to day-of gravy-making again, because make ahead turkey gravy is…

HASSLE-FREE. There’s no need to prep gravy from scratch right before sitting down for dinner. This make ahead turkey gravy recipe is easy to prepare, saving you precious time & energy on Thanksgiving Day.

RICH & FLAVORFUL. While this turkey gravy recipe is easy to prepare, it’s loaded with richness thanks to butter, fresh herbs, & rich & juicy drippings. 🤤 If you don’t have turkey drippings – no problem! You can prepare this recipe with or without drippings, & it’s seriously flavorful either way.

PERFECT ON EVERYTHING. Pour make ahead turkey gravy all over roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing – pretty much anything on your Thanksgiving or holiday dinner plate!

Stress-free meal prep is definitely something to be thankful for! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make Make Ahead Turkey Gravy, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!

Key Ingredients

Much like our Easy Turkey Gravy, this make-ahead version comes together with just a few simple ingredients that build tons of flavor.

Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

You need…

  • Unsalted butter – You need fat to get any gravy recipe going, & using high-quality butter ensures velvety, rich, & flavorful results! For quicker & more even melting, dice the butter into cubes.
  • Flour – A thickening agent that helps create a roux – the secret to a creamy & luscious turkey gravy! While some people like to thicken their Thanksgiving gravy with cornstarch, I’m firmly on team flour – IMHO, it creates a gravy with a rounder, creamier mouth-feel.
  • Turkey goodness – Rich & flavorful turkey base & turkey broth or turkey stock are the foundation of flavor in this recipe. Super concentrated turkey base, in particular, gives the Thanksgiving gravy a big boost! If you’re roasting a bird, you’ll also make use of the turkey drippings, but you don’t need them for this particular recipe – more on this below!
  • Fresh herbs – Generous amounts of fresh rosemary, sage, & thyme infuse this make ahead turkey gravy with herbaceous flavor that pairs with everything on a classic Thanksgiving dinner plate.

Easy Recipe Variation

No turkey? No problem! ⇢ Prepare make ahead chicken gravy for any roast chicken dinner by swapping the turkey base, broth, & drippings (if using), with chicken base, broth, & drippings.

How to Make Turkey Gravy Ahead of Time

Whipping up make ahead gravy for turkey dinner is the best Thanksgiving prep hack! It comes together in less than 30 minutes, & it couldn’t be easier to make.

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.


Bloom the herbs. Melt butter in a large pot or sauce pan, then add finely chopped fresh rosemary, sage, & thyme. The herbs will sizzle immediately, becoming beautifully fragrant. Why? ⇢ Much like blooming spices, blooming fresh herbs wakes up all of their herbaceous aromas. It’s a simple step that adds a lot of flavor to the base of the gravy!


Prepare the roux. Add flour to the herb butter mixture, along with a little turkey base, & whisk vigorously to eliminate any lumps or bumps. The mixture will bubble & turn golden brown after a few minutes. Why? ⇢ This mixture of flour & butter is roux, the foundation of any classic gravy. It acts as a thickening agent, which helps create the luscious, creamy texture we’re after.


Build the gravy. Slowly pour turkey broth into the roux, whisking until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. The French call this nappe, aka the perfectly silky smooth consistency for any sauce. Perfect Gravy Tip! ⇢ Constantly whisking is one of the key elements to making any Thanksgiving gravy – we don’t want any lumps or bumps!

How to Store Gravy for Later

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

Once the gravy is prepared, remove it from the heat. Let it cool completely before transferring to an airtight container. From here, you can keep the make ahead gravy in your fridge until just before the big meal, up to 5 days.

You may notice the Thanksgiving gravy thicken as it sits in the fridge. This is fine! It loosens back up when it’s reheated. Additionally, this make ahead gravy recipe is designed such that you add more liquid as you reheat, making it easy to reach your desired texture.

Storage Tip!

Since our fridge is always pretty packed in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I store make ahead gravy in quart-sized mason jars. They are great for storing liquids & save tons of much-needed fridge space!

Other Storage FAQs

How far ahead can you make gravy?

You can prepare this recipe up to 5 days before your Thanksgiving dinner & keep it in the fridge. Simply take it out & reheat the day of – more on that below!

Can you freeze make ahead turkey gravy?

Yes, this is a great option if you’re really planning ahead. Prepare & cool the make ahead turkey gravy as directed, then transfer to a freezer bag or your favorite freezer container. (We love our Souper Cubes!) You can freeze the gravy for 3-4 months. To thaw, place the frozen gravy in the refrigerator overnight or submerge the freezer container in room temperature water for a quicker thaw, then reheat as directed.

How long can you keep homemade turkey gravy?

You can store any leftover reheated turkey gravy in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days after your big meal. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for more storage & reheating guidance.

How to Reheat Turkey Gravy on Thanksgiving

You’ll be so grateful for your make ahead gravy on Thanksgiving Day! At dinnertime, all you have to do is reheat & serve, adding in the hot turkey drippings for even more flavor & classic golden brown color. So simple!

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.


Reheat. Transfer the make ahead gravy to a saucepan, whisking often to bring it back to life. If you roasted a Thanksgiving bird, be sure to make use of the delicious turkey juices. If you don’t have any drippings, no worries – you can finish this turkey gravy without drippings too.


Option #1: Finish the gravy with drippings. Carefully transfer the roasting pan drippings to a liquid measuring cup – if they have lots of little bits & pieces, it’s helpful to strain them through a fine-mesh strainer. Use a spoon to skim fat off the top, then slowly stir the remaining liquid into your warm make ahead gravy until you’ve reached your desired texture.


Option #2: Finish the gravy without drippings. If you don’t have turkey drippings or pan juices on hand, I highly recommend using a few spoonfuls of something like Kitchen Bouquet Browning & Seasoning for extra flavor & color. While not 100% necessary, it adds a little extra flavor & really nice color. If you prefer not to use any extra product, that’s ok – your make ahead gravy will still be super delicious, with a slightly paler color.

Easy Gravy Troubleshooting

If your Thanksgiving gravy isn’t coming together as expected, no worries! This gravy recipe is very forgiving. You can easily achieve the result you’re after with a few quick adjustments.

If your turkey gravy is too thick ⇢ Add more liquid! Simply whisk in some more turkey stock, a few tablespoons at a time, until you’ve reached your desired consistency.

If your turkey gravy is too thin ⇢ Thicken with heat or with a thickening agent! There are a few options to choose from here, so use your best judgement as to which will work for your gravy:

  1. Crank up the heat. Increase to medium or medium-high heat, enough to maintain a slow boil, & reduce the gravy. Be sure to whisk constantly as the gravy thickens to prevent burning. This is the easiest & best way to thicken a gravy that’s just about the right texture.
  2. Make another roux. In a separate pot, prepare a second roux, then whisk it into the gravy little by little, until it’s reached your desired consistency. This option requires a little more effort & patience, but it will result in the classic silky-smooth texture we’re after here.
  3. Create a slurry with cornstarch & cold water. You’ll only need a small amount of this to thicken up your gravy. This is the best option if you’re REALLY having a hard time getting the right consistency.

Storing Extra Turkey Drippings For Later

Drippings are liquid gold! Since a Thanksgiving turkey is typically roasted over aromatic vegetables like carrots, celery, onions, & garlic, the drippings are rich & flavorful. Save any extras or leftovers for the next time you want to prep more make ahead gravy but don’t plan to roast a whole bird.

How do you store fresh drippings? ⇢ Skim off the layer of fat from the drippings & transfer the liquid to your favorite freezer containers & freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the drippings later for a post-Thanksgiving Friendsgiving or Christmas turkey dinner!

Serving Suggestions – Gravy Goes with Everything!

This rich & flavorful turkey gravy is SOO good, you’ll want to pour it all over your plate. It’s just as delicious as same-day Thanksgiving gravy…& might even taste better since you didn’t have to rush through making it!

Some of our favorite Thanksgiving sides to douse with gravy:

I can’t wait for you to try this Make Ahead Turkey Gravy! It’s insanely delicious, but so simple to make – especially when you prep it ahead of time. We think you’ll love it just as much as we do!

If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy Thanksgiving!

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Make ahead gravy fills a white gravy boat for serving. The gravy boat sits atop a light peach colored textured surface surrounded by a small wooden pinch bowl filled with kosher salt, orange florals, a muted red linen napkin, two amber colored drinking glasses, and a white plate with two gold forks resting atop.

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy (With or Without Drippings)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 1012 1x
  • Category: Sauces & Condiments, Side Dish Recipes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


To me, prepping a perfect turkey gravy is Thanksgiving’s most intimidating to-dos. Gravy is a non-negotiable for most holiday menus, but tradition dictates that we wait to make it in the last 30 minutes before sitting down for dinner. So much pressure for one little dish! 

That’s exactly why I’m a big proponent of learning how to make gravy ahead of time for Thanksgiving or any other holiday dinner, & this easy Make Ahead Turkey Gravy recipe is the perfect place to start.

It’s a simple roux-based gravy infused with plenty of butter & aromatic fresh herbs to create amazing homemade flavor & silky-smooth texture. Prep it up to 5 days in advance, reheating it just before dinnertime with or without turkey drippings. 

This gravy is flavorful, luscious, & its classic flavors are the perfect pair for pretty much anything on your turkey dinner table – we’re pretty sure everyone at your Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or holiday meal will love it!

Be sure to check out the blog post, above, for plenty more tips & tricks, & if you love the idea of a make-ahead Thanksgiving, be sure to check out our complete Make-Ahead Thanksgiving guide. ♡ Happy holidays!


  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick, 8 tablespoons), diced into tablespoon-sized cubes
  • 1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage (or ½ teaspoon dried sage)
  • ¾ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme (or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme)
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (or pinch dried rosemary)
  • ½ ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turkey base (can substitute chicken base)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups low-sodium turkey broth (can substitute chicken broth)
  • kosher salt, to season
  • for reheating: roasted turkey drippings or roasted chicken drippings (see Recipe Notes) 
  • for reheating: ½ cups low-sodium turkey broth (can substitute chicken broth)


  1. Prepare the roux: Add the butter to a large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, sprinkle the fresh herbs & ground black pepper over top, letting them sizzle & bloom in the butter until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the turkey base & flour to the pan, whisking vigorously to eliminate any lumps in the roux. Cook the roux for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until golden brown.A roux fills a large white double handled braising pan that sits atop a light peach colored textured surface. A large metal whisk rests inside of the pan for stirring. The pan is surrounded by fresh herbs and a small wooden pinch bowl filled with kosher salt.
  2. Build the gravy: Slowly add the turkey broth into the pan, whisking constantly to eliminate any lumps in the roux. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened to the point that it coats the back of a spoon (nappe). Reduce heat to medium-low &, while stirring occasionally, let the gravy simmer for 3-4 minutes longer, until thickened. Season with kosher salt to taste. Remove from the heat & allow to cool completely. Make ahead gravy fills a large white double handled braising pan that sits atop a light peach colored textured surface. A large metal whisk rests inside of the pan for stirring. The pan is surrounded by fresh herbs and a small wooden pinch bowl filled with kosher salt.
  3. Store for later: Once cooled, transfer the prepared gravy to a large airtight container or jar. We like to use a quart-sized mason jar to save space in the refrigerator during busy holiday weeks. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Make ahead turkey gravy fills a large clear glass mason jar. The jar sits atop a light peach colored textured surface and is surrounded by orange florals, a small wooden pinch bowl filled with kosher salt, a muted red linen napkin, and loose sprigs of fresh herbs.
  4. Reheating: Transfer the make-ahead gravy to a large saucepan. Reheat over medium-low heat, whisking often, until warmed through, about 5-8 minutes. Meanwhile, as the gravy reheats prepare the drippings. If you have roasted a chicken or turkey, transfer the drippings from the roasting pan to a large liquid measuring cup. Use a spoon to skim off most of the fat & discard. (If your chicken or turkey is butter roasted, there will be a lot of fat – leave some of it in for flavor, but you definitely don’t need it all for a rich gravy!) Stir the drippings into the warm gravy for added color & flavor. If needed, whisk in the remaining ¼ – ½ cup turkey or chicken broth until desired consistency is reached. Taste & season with additional kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired.Make ahead gravy fills a large white double handled braising pan that sits atop a light peach colored textured surface. The pan is surrounded by a small wooden pinch bowl filled with kosher salt and a muted red linen napkin.
  5. Serving: Reduce the heat to low to keep the gravy warm until you are ready to serve, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. If a film forms at the surface just give it a good whisk & it will incorporate back into the gravy in no time. Transfer to a gravy boat & serve alongside your roast turkey or roast chicken, mashed potatoes, & stuffing. Enjoy!A make ahead thanksgiving dinner is served atop a white dinner plate with a gold fork resting atop. The plate is filled with make ahead sweet potato casserole, make ahead thanksgiving stuffing, make ahead mashed potatoes with make ahead gravy, make ahead green bean casserole, and a few slices of carved turkey. The plate is surrounded by a red muted linen napkin, red and orange Fall florals, a small wooden pinch bowl filled with kosher salt, two amber colored drinking glasses, a white ceramic gravy boat, and a clean white dinner plate with a gold fork resting atop.


  • Make ahead gravy without drippings: If you are preparing gravy without drippings, feel free to add in up to 2 teaspoons of Kitchen Bouquet Browning and Seasoning, which adds both rich flavor & color to the gravy. If you prefer not to use an additional product, your make ahead gravy will still be delicious – its color will just be a little pale. 
  • Troubleshooting make ahead gravy: The nice thing about gravy is it’s pretty forgiving! You can play with a couple of variables to achieve just the right texture & consistency:
    • My gravy is too thick! ⇢ You just need more liquid! Whisk in some extra turkey or chicken broth a few tablespoons at a time until it’s thinned out to your liking.
    • My gravy is too thin! ⇢ You simply need to thicken it. If the gravy is slightly too thin, just crank up the heat, letting it simmer until it’s thickened up a bit – be sure to whisk constantly to prevent burning. If your gravy seems way too thin, add a thickening agent. The best option is prepping a quick cornstarch slurry by mixing cornstarch with cold water. Whisk the slurry into the gravy little by little – it only takes a small amount to make your gravy thicken up!
  • Storage & Reheating: Leftover reheated make ahead gravy (i.e. prepared through Step 4 of Recipe Directions, above), will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through.

Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by KJ & Company, Kate Poskochil

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest for more unfussy recipes that pack a big punch of flavor!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.


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  1. 11.20.22
    Mara said:

    I’m a vegetarian and made this with vegetable base (better than bouillon) for both the base part and the broth. Holy smokes does it taste great, and is the perfect texture. Love using the fresh herbs. I’ve only had a few tastes so far – I made it ahead for my family’s Thanksgiving – so fingers crossed for the reheat!!

    • 11.21.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      So glad to hear it, Mara! We love their bases 🙂 Let us know how reheating goes & check out the recipe notes for helpful tips & troubleshooting if needed.

    • 11.27.22
      Mara said:

      Following up post-reheat. It was a huge hit! Got so many comments from the whole family about how flavorful and delicious the gravy was. Added quite a bit of broth a little at a time on the reheat – didn’t keep track, just added until it was the consistency I wanted. Whisked the hell out of it and was super smooth.

      Super easy, was nice to reheat quickly on the stove without creating any new dishes. Makes quite a lot – I have way more gravy leftover than needed. Guess I’ll need to make more potatoes! Tragic!

      • 11.29.22
        Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

        Hahah definitely a great excuse to make more mashed potatoes! We’re so glad you and your family enjoyed this gravy & that the reheat was a success!