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How to Make the Ultimate Gravy

What is the secret to a rich tasty gravy? 
It's all in the stock! Gravy is a sauce made from stock thickened with starch. You can actually get good results using instant gravies such as those made by Bisto and Oxo but for an outstanding gravy you can't beat making it from scratch.

  • Dripping from a roast
  • Flour
  • Olive oil
  • Seasonings

We will split the preparation into two parts; (1) the stock and (2) the starch. My favourite method begins with the starch so we will discuss that first.

A Saucy Roux
Warm a splash of olive oil in a pan and stir in two tablespoons of plain or all-purpose flour. Remove from the heat and stir very thoroughly until the oil and flour mixture forms a smooth paste. Do this stage properly and there will be no lumps in your gravy.

Return to the heat and cook gently for a few seconds to allow the flour to swell as it absorbs the oil. Slowly add 1 cup of water, stirring all the time, to thin the roux. Once you are sure you have a perfectly lump free white sauce you can splash in the remainder of the water.

Take Stock
The very best stock is made from fresh dripping left in a pan after cooking a roast (beef, turkey, chicken etc). Stir some hot water into the dripping pan and scrape all the dripping into a tall, slim glass jug. Set aside for a few minutes to allow the fat to rise to the top. Carefully remove the fat with a spoon and discard it.

I like to use a hand blender to smooth the dripping at this stage. Now pour the dripping into a saucepan and cook gently, adding a little seasoning (salt, pepper, basil, oregano and garlic). A splash of Soy Sauce and a few drops of Worcestershire Sauce add a nice additional savoury flavour.

Stir the stock into the white sauce, cover and cook over a low heat until its consistency is just right. Good gravy should be slightly thick but should still pour easily.

An interesting variation is too add some chopped cooked onion, mushroom or other vegetable to the finished gravy.

If you would prefer a vegetarian gravy, simply substitute the roast meat dripping with scratch vegetable stock. To make a vegetable stock simply fry finely chopped onion, potato, carrot and celery until tender then add water and bring to the boil. Cook gently for a half hour.

John's Notes
What no picture? Come on, we all know what it is supposed to look like. I like my gravies to taste very beefy so I use lots of stock and just sufficient starch to thicken the gravy to the point where it will stick to the back of a spoon. You can experiment to get a flavour that suits your family.

So what is the purpose of gravy anyway? For me it serves two purposes. First and foremost it adds and enhances the flavour of a good Sunday dinner. Secondly, it moistens the food making it more easily digestible.

Bonus Recipe - How to Make Beef Tea
  1. Buy a jar of Bovril Beef Extract
  2. Put one teaspoon of Bovril in a cup and stir in piping hot water.
  3. Best enjoyed while watching a soccer match on a cold, wet Saturday afternoon!


  1. A splash of lemon juice never hurts to spark up a gravy. Or white wine, or brandy.

  2. Hi John, Beef Tea is a family favourite (the George Family from Portsmouth, Hampshire).

    We buy a piece of 'best' steak, usually sirloin or fillet, cut in pieces and gently simmer it in a small saucepan of water. Cook until the liquid reduces to a tasty tea. Sometimes we add a quarter of an onion. Strain and disgard or use the beef in another dish. This is excellent for recovery after illness especially for the elderly. A few sips of goodness and nice flavours works wonders!

    Sorry, this method doesn't use any products from your fabulous British Store.
    Regards, Alison

  3. Thanks for the comments. There must be a thousand ways to make gravy and each one is the right way!

    And beef tea Alison; yes a scratch recipe is almost always better than a commercial product, but Bovril is a bit of a tradition among British soccer fans. It is also very convenient and quick to make.