Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy (Susan Tusa/Detroit Free Press/TNS)

Cooks are harried on Thanksgiving, so any dish they can make days in advance is highly welcome.

Consider turkey gravy, for example. Sure, you can make it the traditional way from the turkey pan drippings. It’s great if you want to do that and have the time.

But sometimes making gravy can be a pain. What you’re hoping for is glossy, smooth gravy, but what you end up with is a greasy, lumpy mess.

We’ve resolved to always make gravy in advance. It gives us a head start, and we love how it turns out. This is our favorite go-to recipe and we’ve tweaked it a bit over the years.

One of the most important steps we added to the recipe involves de-fatting the strained broth by putting it in the freezer. On Thanksgiving Day, you can also add pan drippings from your cooked turkey to enhance the gravy.

Make this gravy up to 3 days in advance. It can also be frozen. The consistency is almost like gelatin, but will thin when you add turkey drippings to it.

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Total time: 3 hours (not all active time)

  • 4 turkey wings (about 3 to 4 pounds)
  • 2 medium sweet onions, peeled, cut up
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 cups less-sodium, fat-free chicken broth, divided
  • 1 large chopped carrot
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, optional
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the turkey wings in a roasting pan; scatter onions on top. Roast 1 1/4 hours or until wings are golden brown.

Put wings and onions in a large stockpot. Add water to roasting pan; stir to scrape up any brown bits on bottom and add all to the pot. Add 6 cups broth (refrigerate remaining 2 cups), the carrot and thyme if desired.

Simmer, uncovered, 1-1/2 hours.

Remove the wings and cool. Once cool, remove and discard skin; reserve meat for another use. Strain broth into fat separator or into a bowl. Let sit 10-15 minutes until fat rises to the top. Pour de-fatted broth into a saucepan. You also can put the bowl in the freezer. The fat will rise to the top and become solid. What’s left underneath will be jelled, which is what you want.

Whisk flour into remaining 2 cups broth until well blended and smooth. Bring broth in saucepan to a gentle boil. Whisk in flour mixture and cook 5 minutes to thicken gravy and cook out the raw flour taste. Stir in butter and season with pepper.

Makes about 8 cups.

Cook’s note: Freeze the gravy up to 1 month. Thaw and reheat. You can add fat-skimmed drippings from a freshly roasted turkey.

Nutrition information per serving: 26 calories (34% from fat), 1 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 3 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 258 mg sodium, 2 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber.

Susan Selasky is the food writer and Test Kitchen director for the Detroit Free Press, where she develops and tests recipes and answers readers’ questions about all things food. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter @SusanMariecooks

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