A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

The art of making perfect turkey gravy

I’m reaching into the archives today for my world* famous gravy recipe! You can thank me later.

*and by world, I mean family, and by family, I mean the handful of my husband’s voracious kin whom I can’t seem to scare off with my questionable housekeeping skills.

how to make awesome turkey gravy for thanksgiving by The Bearded Iris.com

My turkey gravy rocks. Ask anyone.

Follow this recipe and yours will too.*

May I present, The Art of Making Perfect Turkey Gravy, in four parts:

1.) The Turkey Stock

Sure, you could use store bought stock, but why would you when it is so easy to make it at home for pennies?

Early Thanksgiving morning, as soon as you are done chasing your little brother around while pretending the turkey’s neck is a big floppy penis, get out an 8 quart saucepan and fill it with the following ingredients:

  • the turkey’s neck and giblets
  • a halved yellow onion with the skin still on
  • a celery heart (keep the leaves!)
  • 1 scrubbed carrot (not peeled)
  • about 12 whole black peppercorns (give ’em a good whack first for more flavor)
  • one (yes, just one) whole clove (the spice that looks like a pushpin)
  • about 6 cups of water (you may need to add more)

Put it on the back burner and slowly simmer that mofo all day. Just before the turkey’s done, remove all the stuff out of the stock with a slotted-spoon and taste the stock for seasoning. Add some salt, to taste. Keep it warm on the stove near the burner where you are going to make the gravy.

If you like a meaty gravy, like I do, pick the meat off that turkey neck and chop it finely. Or, for funsies, hand it to your Mother-in-Law and watch her suck the meat off it while you and your sisters crack all kinds of inappropriate jokes. Chop up the giblets too. You can add all of that nastiness to the gravy and it will make it taste even more turkeyriffic.

2.) Preparation G

Now that your stock is simmering, get the rest of the gravy ingredients measured into separate lidded prep bowls. The French call this cooking technique mise en place. You see TV chefs doing it all the time because it is easier to chit chat while you toss premeasured ingredients into the pot. Trust me, when your kitchen is a flurry of chaos 30 minutes before dinner is served, you’ll be so glad you don’t have to stop, think, and measure the ingredients for your roux, which are:

  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. dry sherry

If you are serving a huge crowd like my family (22+ people), you will want to double this. Trust me. Better to have too much than not enough.

Next, assemble all the special gravy making tools you’ll need (see below) and just put them on the counter until gravy time. You may need your anal-retentive husband to sign a waiver indicating that he supports the new temporary pile of gadgets in plain view and that he promises not to put everything away where it really belongs the minute you leave the kitchen to do a shot of Sambuca.

3.) Harvest the Drippings

As soon as the turkey is done, pour all the drippings from the roasting pan into your handy-dandy fat separator (keep the spout stopper IN while you do this…it will keep the fat at the top so you can pour off the good juices from the hole in the bottom). Don’t have a fat separator? Sorry, you’re fucked. Kidding. Just skim off as much fat as you can. But seriously, buy a fat separator for next year, m’kay?

Now pour the defatted drippings back into the empty roasting pan and add 3/4 cup of water. Heat it up on top of your stove over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom and sides of the roasting pan. Then transfer that juicy brown awesomesauce to a bowl. You’ll need it in a few minutes.

4.) Roux, roux, roux your boat.

Now’s the time you will need those premeasured ingredients I mentioned above. Hopefully you took my advice and they are all sitting in their own little lidded prep bowls, patiently waiting for you. If not, pray you’re not too drunk by now to measure things correctly.

Slowly melt your butter in your saucier or sauce pan. Pay attention and don’t let it burn, Missy! Now add your flour. Stir rapidly with a whisk to cook the gumminess out of the flour. Do this for a couple of minutes until the roux is golden and bubbly.

Rapidly whisk in your reserved juicy awesomesauce and about two cups of your homemade turkey stock (or 4 cups if you doubled the recipe).

Now cook and whisk until the gravy is smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 5 minutes or so…I have no sense of time while I’m whisking…or buzzed).

Stir in the dry sherry and season with salt and pepper. Add in the chopped giblet and neck meat if desired.

Pour the gravy into a warmed sauceboat. Makes 2 to 2 1/2 cups (4-5 cups if doubled). And don’t be surprised if you catch your Uncle Cleofus licking the gravy boat at some point in the evening.

Now, even if your cousin Earline clogs your toilet and Aunt Patty teaches your kids new racial slurs, you’ll still have the best gravy in town. And after all, it’s all gravy.

Oh, like you’ve never chased someone with a turkey neck,

-Iris (aka Leslie)

*Disclaimer: I totally stole this recipe from the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen years ago, so you can trust it. But listen, beeyotch, I’m a comedy writer, not a chef. This is how I make my gravy every damn year. If it doesn’t work for you, I will not be held personally responsible. Follow this recipe and my tips at your own risk. Also, this post contains affiliate links. 

© Copyright 2011 and 2012, The Bearded Iris.

Originally published at The Bearded Iris November 17, 2011



  1. VenusGenetrix

    “…about 12 whole cracked black peppercorns
    one clove
    about 6 cups of water…”

    Wait, a clove like cloves? (Like cinnamon & cloves??) Or a clove of garlic? Please clarify! Thanks 🙂

    • The Bearded Iris

      Yes, one whole CLOVE clove…the spice. And just one. Definitely not garlic…that would not be a good combo here.

      One whole clove is THE secret ingredient to my stock. I use it in chicken stock too. It’s magic. It’s like adding a dash of nutmeg to cream sauce or a dash of allspice to meat sauce…a magical flavor enhancer. Try it!

      • VenusGenetrix

        Cool, thanks!

        • The Bearded Iris

          No, thank YOU for making me clarify. My mom called me today to ask what the hell a clove was too. “You mean those things I stick in my ham?” 🙂

  2. Lisa Hewitt

    I so just stalked that picture. The stove is too clean.??? (did you photoshop?) Those are some cute bowls and I love William-Sonoma.

    • The Bearded Iris

      That’s my aunt’s house in Pittsburgh. My stove is NEVER that clean. But I did take my saucier and whisk with me last year to her house because I can’t make my gravy without them.

  3. Famous SpokesGoat Pricilla

    I am a vegetarian goat so I don’t eat turkey. I have had murderous thoughts about the chickens in my goat pen, though.

    The publicist said this looks yummy. She, like the chickens will eat just about anything that moves. Unless it has more than four legs. She does not like things with more than four legs.

    Happy Thanksgiving you and your beautiful family.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Happy Thanksgiving Pricilla and family! XO

  4. The Sadder But Wiser Girl

    A concise guide that I may print out for my husband, since he’s doing that stuff and I am the official green bean casserole maker. He’ll like it because it’s the only turkey gravy recipe with the word “penis” in it for sure. At least I think so.

  5. Teri

    Ok stop with them fancy big words. Saucier? Roux? What part of France are we in??

    Ok now that I have that snark out of the way, this looks SO much tastier than the crap I slap together every year so I’m definitely going to give it a shot. Now, when you say clove, I have cloves that I stick in a ham at Easter, they are little things that almost resemble tiny pushpins (don’t judge, I kick ass at French toast). So do I just use one little pushpin clove or would you recommend more?

    • The Bearded Iris

      Yes – one little pushpin clove is all you need. You don’t want it to overpower the flavor of the stock. Merci!

    • VenusGenetrix

      That was a wonderfully explained question, Teri. I loved it. Thank you.

    • The Bearded Iris

      And also, I agree with Venus, thank you for that “pushpin” comparison. I’ve amended the post with it! BRILLIANT. Thanks! Good luck on the gravy, Tutz. Report back and tell us how it went!

      • Teri

        Thanks for the clarification! Can’t wait to try this. Won’t the inlaws be surprised when the gravy actually has some FLAVOR this year?!?

        • The Bearded Iris

          Guuuurl, your in-laws are going to WORSHIP you after they taste this gravy! Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Kate

    This is similar to how I make gravy. My SIL once had us over for a turkey dinner (before I was actually married to her husband’s brother) and I asked her if she needed help, and I could make the gravy. She said, “Oh, I’m not making gravy.” What, What WHAT?! She said she didn’t know how, so she never made it. Well, I schooled her (as best I could with no giblets or neck, which was thrown away “because there is no use for that”… Ugh) I have no idea if she’s ever made it after that… sigh.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Good LORD! No gravy?! That’s not a turkey dinner. That’s a turkey sandwich from a vending machine. And she threw away the giblets and neck?! You are the BEST SIL ever for not slapping her into a new zip code for that bullshit.

  7. Anne (@notasupermom)

    Brilliant! I make fab gravy too. I think it’s a southern thang.
    First it’s in our genes. Then, it’s in our jeans.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Ain’t that the truth! Also, I have an Uncle Gene.

  8. Menopausalmother

    I start drinking mimosas (90% champagne, 10% OJ) at 7:00am when the bird goes in the oven so I can be stinkin’ drunk by noon when the relatives descend upon the house.
    Found your blog on Pinterest–love it–subscribed to you via email under the name marciakesterdoyle and now I’m going to follow you on Facebook as well…I’m your newest blogger/stalker friend!

    • The Bearded Iris

      YAY! Welcome! Glad you found me and looking forward to getting to know you better. (And mmmmm, mimosas!)

  9. Allysgrandma

    I would be the anal retentive spouse…thanuverymuch…..but then I wa smart enough to snatch me a hairy man who cooks. I am proud to say I have never cooked a holiday dinner in 34 years of marriage. However now that I am the cool grandma with the mini IPad I will share ur recipe with said hairy man. He is usually up for trying new things…..and I don’t mean just cookin!

  10. Dyanne

    1. My gravy looks and tastes like library paste. Fortunately, I married a man who makes spectacular gravy. 2. I am still so immature as to pretend the turkey neck is a penis and wave it around the kitchen during turkey prep time.

  11. Meili

    LITERALLY THE BEST GRAVY ON THE PLANET. Do it just like Iris says, and unless you’re so plowed you can’t find the whisk, it will be awesome. I suck at gravy, made it just like this last year, with recommended equipment, and it was so good…. the 9 year old girl child was caught DRINKING it out of the gravy boat after the meal. Happy Turkey Day, all. May the gravy be with you.

    • The Bearded Iris

      Aw, thank you Meili! I love you for coming back and writing such a glowing endorsement! Happy Thanksgiving and save a gravy shot for me, sister.

© 2021 The Bearded Iris

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑