Chef John’s Make Ahead Turkey Gravy Recipe

It isn’t really Thanksgiving if there is no turkey with gravy being served! But, on the day of Thanksgiving, it can be a huge task to make everything fresh. So instead, you can make your turkey gravy prior to turkey day by following this simple Chef John’s Make Ahead Turkey Gravy Recipe! 

Chef John's Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

Let’s face it; Thanksgiving is surely one of those days with too many elements to be made. That means you need as many stovetops free as possible to get everything ready on time. So, most of us like to finish the preps before the time at least. 

These can be absolutely any dish. But imagine if you can take care of a whole recipe out of the dinner a few days prior? That does sound like a blessing, right? One of the easiest things to make and yet takes the most amount of time is the simple Thanksgiving Turkey gravy. 

So, instead of spending a lot of time on this one dish on Thanksgiving day, you can make this ahead of time and store it for as long as four days! This recipe is exactly that, as it stays fresh and delicious for as long as four days in the refrigerator! 

In this article, you will find a complete guide on how to prepare Chef John’s Make Ahead Turkey Gravy. I have listed the equipment you will need, followed by the time, ingredients, method, and, finally, the nutritional information. So, let us take a look at this recipe right away!  

Other Thanksgiving Recipes That You Can Try

  • Turkey Cranberry Sandwich

What Equipment Will You Need To Make Chef John’s Make Ahead Turkey Gravy? 

  • Roasting Pan – To roast the veggies and the turkey before turning them into stock and eventually into the turkey gravy, you will need a deep roasting pan. 
  • Stockpot – You will need a large stockpot to prepare your turkey stock to make the gravy. 
  • Wooden Spoon – You will need a large wooden spoon to stir everything together while making the stock. 
  • Whisk – A whisk will be needed to make the turkey gravy. 
  • Saucepan – A medium-sized saucepan will be good enough to make the turkey gravy. 
  • Large Knife – To chop all the veggies that make the ‘mirepoix’ or aromatic vegetables in the stock, you will need a sharp, large knife.
  • Cutting Board – You will need a cutting board to chop the vegetables added to the stock. 
  • Measuring Cups And Spoons – When making gravy, precise measurements can be really important, so a set of measuring cups and spoons will be handy while making this recipe. 
  • Bowl – You will need a large bowl to strain the stock into once it is ready. 
  • Ladle – We will take some of the fat that will be released from the turkey in the stock while preparing it. 
  • Strainer – Lastly, once the stock is ready, we will strain it into a separate bowl, and for that, you will need a large strainer. 

How Much Time Will You Need To Make Chef John’s Make Ahead Turkey Gravy? 

Preparation TimeCooking TimeTotal Time
20 Minutes4 Hours4 Hours 20 Minutes

What Ingredients Will You Need To Make Chef John’s Make Ahead Turkey Gravy? 

For The Stock :

  • Turkey Wings – As turkey is a large bird, two turkey wings will be enough to make a large batch of turkey stock. The eventual result will give you 8 servings of gravy. 
  • Onion – While making stock, adding as many aromatic vegetables as possible is important, which is a pretty relevant one. You will need a large onion for this to be roughly chopped. 
  • Carrot – To add flavor to the stock, you will need two large carrots for this recipe. There is no need to take the peel off, and you can chop the carrots roughly.
  • Celery – Celery is also a major ingredient in any stock; hence, you will need roughly chopped pieces of celery for this recipe. 
  • Vegetable Oil – Vegetable oil will be needed to roast the vegetables and turkey wings just a little before converting them into stock. Vegetable oil is highly recommended here, but you can also use any other sort of oil that does not have a pungent smell and flavor. 
  • Thyme – Thyme will help add freshness to the stock; hence, you will need four sprigs of the same. 
  • Garlic – You will need two cloves of garlic for this stock recipe, crushed. 
  • Cold Water – Lastly, you will need ten cups of cold water and an additional two tablespoons of the same, all for the stock. 

For The Gravy : 

  • Butter – You will need about three tablespoons of butter to make the gravy. 
  • All-Purpose Flour – For this recipe, ½ cup of flour will be needed to thicken the gravy. 
  • Cayenne Pepper – Just for an added spice kick, we will add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper to this recipe. 
  • Salt and Black Pepper – You will need a pinch of salt and black pepper to season the gravy. 
Chef John's Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

Steps To Make Chef John’s Make Ahead Turkey Gravy? 

1. Chopping And Roasting

The first step in this recipe is to make the stock. Start off by preheating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, start by chopping all the vegetables, placing them in the roasting pan, and tossing them together with the vegetable oil. 

On top of these vegetables, place the turkey wings and roast them in the preheated oven for close to one hour until everything is cooked and soft. Once the pan is out of the oven, transfer everything to the large stockpot.

Then, place the roasting pan over medium heat and add two tablespoons of cold water to collect all the brown bits. Finally, add them to the stockpot too. 

2. Making The Stock 

Once you have transferred the roasted vegetables and turkey wings into the stockpot, add ten cups of cold water to the mix. Along with that, add in the garlic cloves and thyme springs. 

First, let it come to a boil and after it does, reduce the heat to low and let the stock simmer for a good amount of time which should be around 2 hours. The stock will be ready when the turkey meat falls off the bone easily. 

Before you strain the stock, once it is ready, you will see turkey fat floating on top of the stock. An easy way to skim it off, as we will need it for the gravy, is to first dip the ladle in ice-cold water and then dip it slightly in the stock. 

All the turkey fat will end up sticking to the ladle and will be much easier to take off. You will need 2 tablespoons of the same. After that, strain the stock into a large bowl and keep 6 cups aside for the gravy. The rest can be stored and used for whatever you like. 

3. Making The Gravy

Once your stock is ready, you can finally prepare your gravy. This step is easy but can also be tricky for people making it for the first time. So, start off by adding the butter and turkey fat into the medium saucepan and let them melt over medium heat. 

Make sure not to keep the heat too high as that will make the butter reach its smoking point and unnecessarily brown it. Once the fat and butter have melted, add the flour and mix it immediately with a whisk until everything is well combined. 

This thickens the gravy and is known as a ‘roux.’ Once the roux is ready, add 6 cups of turkey stock to it while whisking constantly. After everything is combined together, increase the heat and let the gravy simmer until it is thick. 

Once it has reached the desired consistency, add in the cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Transfer to an airtight container and store the gravy easily in the refrigerator for as long as four days! 

What Can Turkey Gravy Be Served With? 

  • Roast Turkey – Of course, the most obvious answer when it comes to serving turkey gravy is indeed on a Thanksgiving spread with roast turkey. The combination is absolutely divine! 
  • Meatloaf – Gravy, and meatloaf make a great combination, and any meatloaf is surely worth a try with some turkey gravy! 
  • Hot Turkey Sandwich – Yes, you can also make a delicious, hot turkey sandwich with turkey gravy. It is simple and truly amazing. 
  • Biscuits – Biscuits and gravy are another known entity and a common breakfast option for many. You can switch up the regular gravy with some of this turkey gravy! 
  • Fries – If you are a true foodie, you must know about Canadian poutines. Well, you can make one at home by topping some fresh french fries with this gravy and cheese curds! 

Nutritional Information

Calories115 kcal
Fat7 grams
Saturated Fat3 grams
Cholesterol23 milligrams
Sodium92 milligrams
Carbohydrates10 grams
Fiber1 gram
Sugar2 grams
Protein4 grams
Vitamin C4 milligrams
Calcium33 milligrams
Iron1 milligram
Potassium163 milligrams

What Will Chef John’s Make Ahead Turkey Gravy Look And Taste Like? 

Whenever trying out a new recipe, there is, without fail, some anticipation that follows. The anticipation is mainly about what the final product will look like or, rather, what it is supposed to look like. Let me help you the best way I can by describing exactly that. 

When it comes to what the turkey gravy is supposed to look like, it will have an amber color. The color is such because of the use of turkey stock and also the turkey fat. If the gravy looks too brown, it means that you may have overcooked your roux. Depending on how much the roux is overcooked, there will be slight variations in the flavor too. 

Coming to the flavor of this gravy, it will have a subtle flavor of the meat and stock, which works really well together and will also be thick and glistening. Paired with the cayenne and black pepper, there will also be a very soft underlying kick of spice. 

Recipe Card

Chef John's Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

Chef John’s Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

Turkey gravy is one of the most important sides that is served for Thanksgiving dinner. But, making turkey gravy on the actual holiday can be very time consuming! So, you can save a lot of time on the actual day and make this easy turkey gravy way ahead of time!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes
Course Dips and Sauces
Cuisine American
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 115 kcal


  • Roasting Pan
  • Stockpot
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Whisk
  • Saucepan
  • Large Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Measuring cups
  • Bowl
  • Ladle
  • Strainer


For The Stock

  • 2 nos. Turkey Wings
  • 1 no. Onion
  • 2 nos. Carrot
  • 2 nos. Celery Stalks
  • 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 4 sprigs Thyme
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 10 1/4 cups Cold Water

For The Gravy

  • 3 tablespoons Butter
  • 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper


For The Stock

  • Preheat the oven 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Chop all the vegetables and add them to a roasting pan with oil.
  • Toss the veggies until they are completely coated in oil and place the turkey wings on top.
  • Roast the vegetables and turkey wings in the preheated oven for one hour.
  • Once out of the oven, transfer everything to a large stock pot.
  • Place the roasting pan over medium heat and add in two tablespoons of cold water. Once all the brown bits are off the roasting pan, transfer them into the stockpot.
  • Add ten cups of water to the stockpot and let the stock simmer for 2 hours at medium heat, until the meat falls off the bone.
  • Skim off some of the turkey fat that is collected on top and keep it aside.
  • Once the stock is ready, strain it and keep six cups of it aside for the turkey gravy.

For The Gravy

  • In a medium saucepan, add in the butter and turkey fat, let it melt.
  • Once the fat has melted, add in the flour and mix until it forms a roux.
  • After the roux is formed, add in six cups of turkey stock and whisk. Simmer the gravy at low heat until it is thick.
  • Once the turkey gravy is thick enough, add in the cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt.
  • Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to four days.


Serving: 1Portion | Calories: 115kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 92mg | Potassium: 163mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword Chef John’s Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy, Gravy, Thanksgiving
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How many days prior to serving this gravy can it be made and stored?

This turkey gravy can be made and stored four days in advance of when you are planning on serving it. 

Can any other part of the turkey be used to make the stock? 

You can use other parts if you would like; however, the stock will take longer to simmer. 

Why are turkey wings used to make the stock? 

The reason behind using turkey wings to make the stock is simply that the meat is more tender and flavorful on the wings. 

Can other vegetables be added to the stock? 

You can add other aromatic vegetables to the stock, too, if you like. 

Can this turkey gravy be frozen? 

Yes, the turkey gravy can be frozen for up to three months, thawed, and reused whenever needed. 


Chef John’s Make Ahead Turkey Gravy is truly a boon for Thanksgiving day. Making this gravy prior will save a lot of your time on the holiday. Also, it is totally worth it as the gravy is rich, smooth, and flavorful and can be paired with several dishes! 

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