How to Make Gravy (And How It Can Liven Up Frugal Food)

Maybe it’s because I grew up in the South, but to me, nothing helps stretch a meal, pull things together, or disguise less than stellar quality food like gravy. You can put gravy on just about anything and suddenly, the meal feels far more hearty.

I make two basic kinds of gravy – brown gravy and white gravy.

Both are pretty similar to start out with. You are going to brown some flour in some fat. It’s what you add next that changes things. For brown gravy, broth is the gold standard for a rich, savory gravy. However, if times are tight, water, salt, and pepper can make a fine gravy as well. For white gravy, you’ll be adding milk, salt, and pepper for a creamy, flavorful sauce. In difficult times, I usually use water and a couple of tablespoons of powdered milk for my white gravy. (Keep reading – the specific recipes are below.)

How can you use gravy?

Gravy goes with just about anything at our home. But here are a few specific ideas.

Brown Gravy:

  • Simmer hamburger patties or cube steaks in brown gravy and serve over mashed potatoes or rice. You can add some sauteed onions, mushrooms, and/or peppers to this dish to extend it inexpensively. This can also be cooked in the crockpot.
  • Top French fries with brown gravy. If you want to be Canadian, add cheese curds before you add the gravy (or shredded cheddar).
  • Make your roast go further by making gravy from the drippings or cooking liquid.
  • Meatballs and gravy are delicious served over noodles
  • I always make brown gravy with the drippings from a roasted chicken and drizzle it over everything on my plate.
  • Meatloaf is lovely with gravy

White Gravy:

  • The eternal Southern classic: biscuits and gravy – use a small amount of bacon or sausage to get your drippings, then crumble the meat into the gravy at serving time.
  • Chicken-fried steak with white gravy
  • Shredded chicken in white gravy (you can either top it with biscuit dough or serve it over potatoes)
  • Pork chops – if you make shake-and-bake style pork chops from a thinner cut of meat, white gravy will make the meal more filling (and tastier).
  • Fried chicken with mashed potatoes and white gravy is another Deep South classic.

Any Gravy:

  • Add gravy to vegetables and leftover meat then put it inside a pot pie.
  • Add gravy to leftover meat, vegetables, and grains, then thin the gravy with broth or water to make a leftover stew. Serve with bread.
  • Bread and gravy: my dad grew up during the Great Depression. For him, a favorite meal was a slice of bread (from a storebought loaf) drenched in any kind of gravy. (This is a good way to use up leftover gravy – I read some people actually have leftover gravy!)

How to make brown gravy

This is how to make a simple brown gravy.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp of meat drippings
  • 3 tbsp of flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of broth, drippings, or water

Directions

  1. Add drippings to a saucepan and turn the heat on your stove to medium.
  2. When the drippings are hot enough that a tiny bit of water splashed into the skillet off your fingertips sizzles on contact, use a whisk to mix in 2 tbsp of flour. Whisk vigorously until the flour and fat are completely incorporated with no lumps. You should end up with a smooth, creamy-looking mixture. (This is called a roux.)
  3. Stir in the water or broth. Broth gives a slightly richer flavor, but gravy made with water is still delicious and much more frugal. Using the whisk, mix the roué and water thoroughly.
  4. Cook, whisking almost continuously, for 3-5 minutes until your gravy reaches a uniform consistency and the desired thickness. If it is too thick, whisk in more liquid, half a cup at a time.
  5. Keep warm over the lowest heat your stove allows.

Gravy rocks because it can make a lesser cut of meat taste delicious. Your gravy leftovers (if you have any) can be used as the basis of a nice soup or stew.

How to make white gravy

The directions for white gravy are almost identical to making brown gravy.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp of meat drippings
  • 3 tbsp of flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of milk or 2 cups of water and 4 tbsp of powdered milk or 1 cup of water and 1 cup of milk

Directions

  1. Add drippings to a saucepan and turn the heat on your stove to medium.
  2. When the drippings are hot enough that a tiny bit of water splashed into the skillet off your fingertips sizzles on contact, use a whisk to mix in 2 tbsp of flour. Whisk vigorously until the flour and fat are completely incorporated with no lumps. You should end up with a smooth, creamy-looking mixture. (This is called a roux.)
  3. If you are using milk powder, whisk that into your roux.
  4. Stir in the milk or water. Using the whisk, mix the roué and milk or water thoroughly.
  5. Cook, whisking almost continuously, for 3-5 minutes until your gravy reaches a uniform consistency and the desired thickness. If it is too thick, whisk in more liquid, half a cup at a time.
  6. Keep warm over the lowest heat your stove allows.

How do you use gravy?

I really think gravy is the best frugal condiment around. Are you a fan of gravy? How do you serve it? Share your gravy tips here in the comments.

How to Make Gravy (And How It Can Liven Up Frugal Food)
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is an author and blogger. She's the single mom of two daughters and credits extreme frugality and a good sense of humor for her debt-free lifestyle. She is the author of numerous books, the editor of TheOrganicPrepper.com, and is the founder of a small digital publishing company in the emergency preparedness niche.

7 thoughts on “How to Make Gravy (And How It Can Liven Up Frugal Food)”

  1. Thanks for the recipes Daisy. My father is from the South and is rather a connoisseur of biscuits and gravy at the restaurants he visits. Oddly enough, gravy has never taken with me all that much except with mashed potatoes at a holiday gathering.

  2. I am sixty and grew up eating gravy on white bread as a side to dinner. We weren’t broke but sure didn’t have a lot of money. My dad was from the south and both of my folks lived through the depression and knew how to stretch of meal.

  3. I grew up rather poorly in the 50’s and 60’s. Towards pay day food was getting low. Mom would go to the day old bakery and get 5 loaves of bread for a dollar. She made gravy and cut the bread up into chunks. Amazingly it filled you up. and was tasty. Sometimes we got rice instead of bread. Awe the advantages of having a mom who grew up during the great depression. I don’t have to eat that way anymore, but I know how should the need arise. And yes I still love any kind of gravy.

  4. If you are a canner- make a chicken or beef base/water solution and process in an 8 ounce jar or 16 ounces- directions for dilutions are on the base container. Corn starch or flour paste in these heated solutions make great gravy in a pinch, and even more tasty with a bit of meat drippings.

  5. Thanks for the recipe. My mother and both grandmothers all had secret recipes for their homemade gravy they wouldn’t share with anyone, not even me. Now I know how they did it!

  6. don’t forget cornstarch gravy. use about half as much cornstarch as you would flour. heat pan drippings and broth in skillet. while that is happening, put cornstarch in a little bowl and add cool liquid. stir until smooth and a thick liquid. slowly pour into hot broth/drippings while stirring. when it begins to bubble and has become thick and translucent, it’s ready. waxy corn, the type used in cornstarch, is not a gmo corn.

  7. I adore gravy , nan always made it to help soften the cheaper cuts of meat in the slow cooker. And roast isn’t complete without it. Use pan drippings, a pinch of salt, sprinkle of flour , squirt of tomato sauce and about the same of whistire sauce . I usually make a big pan and freeze in ice cubes to use during the week.

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