6 Genius Ways to Thicken Gravy Using Items From Your Pantry (2024)

It's the annual wintry cooking-skill conundrum-figuring out the best way to thicken your gravy. As you start craving chilly weather dishes and comfort foods, like robust roasts, mashed potatoes, and (of course), Thanksgiving turkey, you may find yourself at the stove wondering: Why won't my gravy thicken?

6 Genius Ways to Thicken Gravy Using Items From Your Pantry (1)

First, Try Reducing the Liquid

One easy way to thicken gravy is to simply reduce the liquid. Add any pan drippings you have to a small or medium-sized saucepan. Then, add in 1 cup of liquid, and simmer on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces by at least a third and the flavors are more concentrated.

No time to simmer? No problem. We certainly don't want your table full of gravy-loving guests to wait. Grab a whisk and follow these tips for how to thicken gravy with cornstarch, flour, or using alternative ingredients in your pantry.

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How to Thicken Gravy With Cornstarch

Cornstarch isn't just a handy all-around kitchen staple to keep in your pantry—it's also a gluten-free gravy thickener that saves the day for the gluten-averse. How much cornstarch is needed to thicken gravy? The ratio is an easy one to remember: Use 1 tablespoon of cornstarch per 1 cup of liquid for a perfect gluten-free gravy thickener every time. If you want extra-thick gravy, use 2 tablespoons per 1 cup of liquid (vegetable, chicken, or meat stock, ideally, a combination of pan drippings and stock, or water and bouillon). A good rule of thumb is to start with a single tablespoon-you can always add more.

To thicken gravy with cornstarch and get smooth results, mix the cornstarch with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to make a liquid-like paste or slurry. Another method is to strain the dry cornstarch through a fine-mesh sieve, although using this method to thicken gravy may result in a more lumpy gravy.

Once you add the cornstarch to your hot liquid, use a whisk or wooden spoon to incorporate it, whisking or stirring constantly until it is well incorporated and the gravy starts to thicken. Bonus: In addition to being a gluten-free gravy thickener, you need less cornstarch than other gravy thickeners to get the job done.

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How to Thicken Gravy With Flour

Similar to cornstarch, the technique to thicken gravy with flour works best if you add a little water to your flour to create a liquid-like paste or slurry (you may also use a fine-mesh sieve to strain the dry flour into the hot liquid). However, when using flour as a gravy thickener, you must double the amount—use 2 tablespoons of flour per 1 cup of liquid. Use a whisk or wooden spoon to incorporate, stirring constantly until you thicken the gravy to the desired consistency.

How to Make Classic Gravy

How to Thicken Gravy Without Cornstarch or Flour

Don't have cornstarch or flour on-hand? There are lots of cornstarch alternatives and flour substitutes you can use (many are gluten-free gravy thickeners, too)-you just need to get a little creative. Here are a few pantry items you can use to thicken gravy.

Flour and Cornstarch Alternatives:

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This powder comes from rhizomes of the Marantaceae family of tubers. It's a great natural substitute for those needing a gluten-free gravy thickener. As with using cornstarch or flour to thicken gravy, make a slurry with your arrowroot powder by mixing 2 to 3 tablespoons with an equal amount of water. Add to 1 cup hot liquid with a whisk or wooden spoon, stirring until incorporated and the gravy thickens.

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Tapioca is derived from the cassava root. To thicken gravy, add 1 ½ teaspoons of tapioca starch into the hot liquid, whisking until well incorporated and the gravy thickens.

RELATED: The Safety Tip You Need to Know Before Cooking With Cassava

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Potato Starch

This gluten-free gravy thickener requires 1 tablespoon of starch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water to create a slurry. Whisk or stir into 1 cup of hot liquid, stirring constantly until the gravy thickens.

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Pureed Vegetables

Who knew? This smart way to thicken gravy allows you to use what's in your veggie crisper. Roast any kind of potato, parsnip, beet, or carrot, puree in a blender or food processor, and stir into gravy until completely incorporated. (Just remember: Vegetables have their unique flavors, so you'll be altering the taste of your stock base with whatever vegetable you decide to add.)

6 Genius Ways to Thicken Gravy Using Items From Your Pantry (2024)


6 Genius Ways to Thicken Gravy Using Items From Your Pantry? ›

If your gravy is looking watery, you can add a slurry (a mixture of cornstarch/flour and water) or a roux (a mixture of flour and butter) to thicken it up. Other pantry ingredients like Wondra (an instant flour), arrowroot, tapioca, and potato starch can also be used to thicken gravy to a deliciously silky consistency.

How can I thicken my gravy? ›

If your gravy is on the skimpy side, you can thicken it quickly with flour or cornstarch. But don't add your thickener directly to the gravy, which will create lumps. Instead, try stirring in three or four tablespoons of flour or cornstarch into a small amount of cold water until you have a smooth paste.

What is the best thickening agent for gravy? ›

To make a good cheese sauce or gravy, you need a thickening agent. Cornstarch and flour are two common thickening agents in the home kitchen. Both are cereal starches and when they're mixed with a liquid and then heated, they gelatinize.

How to make gravy thicker without flour or cornstarch? ›

It is possible to thicken gravy without flour or cornstarch, and it's as simple as keeping it on the heat. When gravy is left to simmer or reduce, it naturally thickens, so be patient with your gravy. One downside to reducing gravy, though, is that it can become too salty.

Is it better to thicken gravy with cornstarch or flour? ›

Browning adds more flavor to the gravy and gets rid of the raw flour taste. You're basically making a roux. We find that a flour-based gravy holds up better and reheats better later, which is why we tend to prefer using flour over cornstarch to make gravy unless we have a guest who is eating gluten-free.

How to thicken sauce with no cornstarch? ›

Combine 2 tablespoons flour with every 1/4 cup cold water and whisk until smooth. Add the mixture to your sauce over medium heat, and continue to stir and cook until you've reached your desired consistency. Test with a spoon.

What can I add to thick gravy? ›

Adding dairy products like cream, milk, or yogurt can also help in thickening gravies while imparting a creamy texture. Dairy products add richness and depth to the gravy, making it more indulgent and satisfying. Just be careful not to let the gravy boil after adding dairy, as it can cause the sauce to curdle.

What is the strongest thickener? ›

Potato starch is the most potent of the bunch, with long starch molecules that quickly tangle with each other and thicken a liquid.

What is a substitute for gravy thickener? ›

7 Ways to Thicken up a Sauce
  1. Flour. If being gluten-free isn't a concern, adding flour is a fantastic way to thicken dairy-based sauces, thick soups and gravies. ...
  2. Cornstarch or arrowroot. ...
  3. Tomato paste. ...
  4. Reduce the liquid. ...
  5. Swirl in a pat of butter. ...
  6. Add an egg yolk. ...
  7. Puree some vegetables.
Apr 9, 2019

What is the healthiest thickening agent? ›

Easy-to-access alternatives are wheat flour, arrowroot flour, and rice flour. These are good alternatives to cornstarch because they are more nutritious and contain fewer carbohydrates and calories. Xanthan and guar gum are much stronger thickeners than cornstarch, but they can be harder to obtain and use.

What can I use in place of flour for gravy? ›

Cornstarch and potato starch are the best options for gravy. Avoid arrowroot and tapioca starches because they can get "stringy" and look artificial in gravy. Cornstarch gravy is more translucent than flour based sauces. Potato starch gravy is more opaque than cornstarch, but less opaque than flour.

Can you use pancake mix for gravy? ›

In nonstick pan over medium heat, toast ¼ cup of All-Purpose Flour Artisan Blend, Bread Mix, or Baking & Pancake Mix, whisking constantly until it colors from white to tan, 5 to 10 minutes. Melt butter in pan, add the toasted flour, and mix well. Add stock, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming.

What can you use as a thickener instead of flour? ›

Cornstarch can be subbed in for wheat flour at a 1:2 ratio. Because it's a durable thickener, you only need half the amount of cornstarch to create the same effect. Also, adding cornstarch to a gluten free recipe is a great way to add softness and texture to baked goods while keeping them grain free!

What is the healthiest way to thicken gravy? ›

Arrowroot. This powder comes from rhizomes of the Marantaceae family of tubers. It's a great natural substitute for those needing a gluten-free gravy thickener. As with using cornstarch or flour to thicken gravy, make a slurry with your arrowroot powder by mixing 2 to 3 tablespoons with an equal amount of water.

What happens if you put too much cornstarch in gravy? ›

It should look like gravy. So if you added too much cornstarch, you can always dilute it. with a little bit more chicken stock or water. If you're thinking it too much, it looks like pudding.

Why won't my gravy thicken? ›

Cornstarch should thicken gravy in less than a minute when at a simmer. If it doesn't thicken enough, it's a sign that you need more cornstarch. Whisk in more cornstarch slurry a little at a time, and let each addition come to a simmer before adding more.

How do you fix gravy with too much cornstarch? ›

How do you fix gravy if you accidentally added too much cornstarch? The best thing you could do to loosen the gravy is to add more liquid - broth or water. Then, check the seasonings. You would need to add salt if you added water to it.

How to fix gravy that tastes like flour? ›

If you realize that your gravy tastes like flour when you're almost finished, turn up the heat to maintain a rapid simmer for several minutes; then thin it again with more stock or water if necessary.

How much flour does it take to thicken 3 cups of liquid? ›

Slurry. This thickener is a smoothly blended mix of all-purpose flour and water or other liquid, such as stock. For example, to thicken three cups of simmering stock to make gravy, combine 1/4 cup (for thinner gravy) or 1/3 cup (for thicker gravy) all-purpose flour in a bowl with 1/2 cup water or stock.

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