Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

Thanksgiving is all about familiar smells, tastes, and feelings.  We love to celebrate the harvest and give thanks for all of our blessings, and at our house, that includes lots of gravy.  So if I want to sleep well on Thanksgiving Eve, I’ve got Make Ahead Turkey Gravy chillin’ in my fridge!

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

I’ve had lots of years to get Thanksgiving dinner right.  Through it all I’ve had some flops; over-done/under-cooked turkeys, rolls that fell flat, pumpkin pie with tough crusts, and lots of complaints about my grandma’s Tomato Aspic Salad.  I’ve had to strain lumps out of my gravy and used every pot and pan in my kitchen.  It seems that by the time I pull the turkey from the oven, remove it to my platter, cover and let it rest, while I start the gravy, bake the rolls so they’ll be perfection from the oven, and whip the potatoes, (just like this run-on sentence), it’s just too much!

So I’m delighted to share the secrets to a successful meal I’m actually grateful for.  I use a roaster oven and roast my turkey, breast side down, to free up my oven on Thanksgiving Day.  I make as much as I can the day before too, stuffing, that I cook in my slow-cooker, candied sweet potatoes, shrimp cocktail, fresh cranberry sauce, and various desserts.  I make and freeze my rolls so they are ready to thaw and bake, and 3 or 4 days ahead I roast turkey drumsticks for my Make Ahead Turkey Gravy.

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

Drumsticks roasting with fresh garlic, onions, and celery will get you in the “Thanksgiving Spirit!”  Plan to do it in the morning or afternoon while you get other things done.  It’s not difficult, but it does require a few hours of preparation.

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F.  Place your turkey drumsticks in a large roasting pan with celery, onion, and garlic.  Roast on the lowest oven rack uncovered for 2 hours and remove from the oven.

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

I transfer the roasted drumsticks and veggies to my 7 quart dutch oven and add 2 cups of water to the roasting pan to deglaze it.  Then I add it to my pot along with 10 more cups of water.  I let it simmer for 2 hours and let the stock reduce.

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

Strain the stock into a large bowl.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 4 hours so you can defat the stock as it accumulates on the top.

Next, in my large pot, I melt the butter and whisk in the flour, making a rue.  Cook, whisking it over medium heat for a few minutes till it’s thick and bubbly.  Add in the defatted turkey stock and cook until thick.  I like to add about a cup of whole milk to make it a little creamy.  My mother-in-law taught me that the secret to really tasty gravy is to add a little ground marjoram, so I always add between 1/2 to 1 teaspoon.  I also add salt and pepper to taste, I use 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

If you’d like to thicken your gravy a little more, you can always add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of cold water.  Be careful though, you don’t want to get it too thick.  After you remove it from the heat it will naturally thicken up a little.  You want to make sure it’s still pourable.

Sometimes I like to add a little apple cider to my stock or some white wine in place of some of the water.  It makes it really delicious, I just make sure to cook the alcohol out of it which takes about 30 minutes.

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Make Ahead Turkey Gravy
Prep time
Cook time
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Roasted turkey drumsticks, celery, onion and garlic make a hearty stock that you create for Make Ahead Turkey Gravy. It's easy and delicious and can be made days ahead of Thanksgiving.
Recipe type: Sauces
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6 cups
For Turkey Stock
  • 4 turkey drumsticks
  • 8 ribs of celery
  • 2 onions, cut into chunks
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 12 cups water
For Turkey Gravy
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 cups turkey stock, strained and defatted
  • 1 cup whole milk or light cream
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon of marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large roasting pan, arrange turkey drumsticks, celery, onion, and garlic. Roast on the lower rack of the oven for 2 hours.
  2. Remove from oven.
  3. Transfer to a large dutch oven and add 2 cups of water to the roasting pan to deglaze the drippings. Add it along with 10 cups of water to the drumsticks and vegetable in the pot. Bring it to a boil and then decrease the heat to low to medium low and simmer uncovered for 2 hours. The stock will reduce.
  4. Strain the stock into a large bowl. Place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and remove the fat that collects on the top of the stock.
  5. In Dutch oven, melt butter and whisk in the flour. Cook and stir constantly over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes until it's thick and bubbly.
  6. Whisk in the defatted turkey stock and cook until thick. Add milk, marjoram, salt and pepper.
  7. Keep warm,(but don't boil) and serve.
About 4 hours before I serve my already made gravy, I add it to a slow-cooker and set it to low. Then I ladle warm gravy into a gravy boat to serve.

Be sure to enjoy your roasted drumsticks.  The meat is tender and delicious and you can sneak a little gravy for them, or add it to a casserole or chicken salad.  They will freeze well too for a future soup.

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

How do you destress and simplify when you’ve got a big celebration in front of you?

Have fun making gravy in your cheery kitchen.  Thanks for coming to check our’s out and for pinning.Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

About The Author


Renée is passionate about making and sharing ALL things delicious! Her happy place really is her kitchen where she loves whipping up memories with her family and friends. Raised in sunny Southern California she's spent her adulthood in Idaho, both sides of her great state. She's married to an amazing man, and together they have 5 children, who gave them five more, and now they have 28 grandchildren. So there’s always a reason to cook and celebrate around their place!


  1. Susan

    I make something very similar every year and just made my stock from turkey wings today 🙂 It’s a wonderful time-saver!

    • Renée

      It just feels good! Actually it tastes good too. Have a happy week Susan.

  2. Jenni

    Love this idea! How brilliant to make your gravy ahead of time, and great tutorial as well!

    • Renée

      Thanks Jenni for your comment and for coming by. I’m excited to visit you at The Gingerbread Whisk!

  3. Alina

    I do the very same thing, except I roast the drumsticks in my cast iron dutch oven, so I don’t have to clean an additional pan.

    Yes. I’m a lazy cook. LOL

    • Renée

      I like the idea of not having to clean 2 pans, lol, but I like how the turkey browns when it’s in a single layer rather than a pot. It’s very tempting though. Thanks for coming by Alina and for your comment. Maybe next round I’ll give your way a try!


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Welcome to CK!

We're Alison and Renée, and we're so glad you've joined us! Our kitchens are our happy place, where we're whipping up memories. Get comfy and check things out. We hope you find inspiring dishes and ways to better your life. Feeling optimistic, trying new things and sharing with those we love brings joy in all we do. It's time to cook, create and celebrate. CHEERS! Read More…



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