Make Ahead Cider and Sage Gravy

Cider sage gravy, in a cup.

Make Ahead Cider and Sage Gravy ~ this upgraded no-drippings gravy is tailor made for cozy fall dinners, and it’ll be in our Thanksgiving gravy boat this year for sure!

cider and sage no drippings gravy dripping down the sides of pan

Make ahead gravy takes the pressure off all your big meal cooking this fall and holiday season.

If your holidays are anything like ours, there’s nothing that causes more tension than the last minute gravy making. Any kitchen’s a stressful place to be minutes before a big holiday meal, but no one has a more nerve jangling job than the gravy maker. Or I guess I should say gravy makers, because there’s usually at least 2 or 3 hovering over the pan as it bubbles away on the stove. And of course there’s always a problem ~ why is it so pale, or lumpy, or greasy?? Or the worst problem of all…there’s not enough!

cider and sage gravy in a glass measuring cup with fresh sage

I love a make ahead gravy for so many reasons, not least of which is that you can prep (and eat) AS MUCH AS YOU WANT (!) and you can make it any time you want, even if you aren’t roasting any meat for drippings. 

Fresh apple cider lends a subtle hint of sweetness to this gravy which balances nicely with the savory flavors of browned onion and garlic, sage, and black pepper. The cider gives it a lovely golden color, too.

This cider and sage gravy is a simple recipe with an unexpected flavor profile, which is exactly the kind of recipe I love to share with you guys. 

cider and sage no drippings gravy in a pyrex measuring cup

How to make no-drippings gravy

  • No drippings gravy means there’s no roasted bird or joint of meat around to provide flavorful drippings and browned bits as a base for the sauce.
  • An alternative way to get that flavor is to sub in something else to create the critical browning ~ you can use vegetables and/or a simple mixture of flour and butter to create a roux.

How to boost the flavor of no drippings gravy

  • The key to dripless gravy is to take your time browning your ingredients. Get them as brown as possible without burning. With each shade darker you go, you’ll intensify the flavor.
  • Use a good quality chicken or beef broth.
  • Often I’ll add a fortified dry wine like sherry, marsala or vermouth. In this case I use fresh apple cider. Hard cider would work well too.
  • Fresh herbs like sage add a brightness you can’t get from dried.
  • Be sure to taste before serving, often an extra dash of salt or pepper is needed. I’ll sometimes finish with a splash of Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, or lemon juice to wake up the flavor.
  • A no drippings gravy also means you can make it ahead, and that’s good because it allows the flavor to develop and deepen.
no drippings cider and sage gravy in a large green pot

How to cook with fresh sage

Sage is one of the best fall skewing herbs and it can add tons of character to your cooking right now.

  • Sage has a beautiful earthy perfume, I can’t resist rubbing my fingers over the velvety leaves and drinking in that scent. It works really well with chicken, pork, and of course, lamb. Fresh sage features in my Homemade Chicken Apple Sausage, and I make a delicious Hard Cider Braised Pot Roast with lots of fresh sage.
  • It adds a nice note to fall root veggies like carrots and parsnips, etc. (See my Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Browned Butter and Sage) It pairs perfectly with pumpkin and all other winter squash, andI love it in cream sauces and gratins. One of my favorite recipes on the blog is my Instant Pot Cheddar Risotto with Sage ~ it’s a super simple quick meal and the flavors are amazing.
  • To use fresh sage remove any tough stem ends, and then either finely mince it, or stack the leaves, roll up like a cigar, and finely slice them into shreds. the fancy term is chiffonade, and it’s the same way you’d slice basil.
  • Sage is one of the strongest and most pungent of all the herbs, so use a light hand with it at first. Some people find too much sage off-putting, but I can’t get enough!
fresh sage leaves

What to serve with cider sage gravy

make ahead cider and sage gravy pin
Cider sage gravy, in a cup.
4.91 from 22 votes

Make-Ahead Cider and Sage Gravy

Make-Ahead Cider and Sage Gravy ~ this easy no-drippings gravy is made for cozy fall dinners, and would be a stunning addition to a Thanksgiving table.make
Course Sauce
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Yield 1 quart
Calories 64kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups finely diced onion about 1 small onion
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt or, to taste, depending on the salt levels in your stock
  • 3 cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock for vegetarian)
  • 1 large handful sage leaves tied in a bundle, or about 1/4 cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh sage
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste


  • Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a heavy bottomed pan, and sautee the onions for about 20-25 minutes, over low-medium heat until they are soft and nicely browned. Take your time here and let them get nice color, it will result in great flavor later on.
  • Add the garlic, and sautee for 1-2 minutes more.
  • Add the rest of the butter to the pan, and while it is melting, slowly add the flour, stirring as you go to avoid lumps.
  • Cook the roux for about 10-15 minutes, you're going to want to stir often, until it's a rich amber brown color, but not burnt!
  • Slowly stir in the apple cider, Worcestershire sauce, and salt, and continue stirring until everything is smooth.
  • Add the chicken stock and the sage, stir until everything is evenly incorporated, and gently bring the gravy to a simmer.
  • Simmer for about 10 minutes or until thickened. This gravy isn’t super thick, but it should definitely coat the back of a spoon.
  • At this point, you have a couple options. If you are serving right away, remove the sage leaves (if you left them whole), and you can either serve the gravy as is, or strain first if you want a very smooth gravy.
  • If you are making this gravy ahead, refrigerate and then re-heat and strain when you are ready to eat. That way, all the flavors can meld and infuse overnight.
  • This recipe makes 1 quart of gravy.

Cook’s notes

Adapted from Rachael Ray.


Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 64kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 106mg | Potassium: 91mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 90IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Hollie Garrett
    November 7, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    5 stars
    This looks so gorgeous- however my local store doesn’t do fresh sage- do you think its possible to use dried or maybe something else such as basil which I grow? Thank you

    • Reply
      November 7, 2020 at 3:05 pm

      Well, I think you could use dried, just use a light touch. I’m not sure basil goes, flavor wise, but I could be wrong!

  • Reply
    September 21, 2020 at 7:12 pm

    5 stars
    This was great even without the sage.

    • Reply
      September 22, 2020 at 5:30 am

      Good to know 🙂

    • Reply
      September 26, 2020 at 3:12 pm

      5 stars
      So delicious. I make it just to have in the freezer. I can’t have stuffing or mashed potatoes without gravy so this is perfect to have and reheat quickly!

  • Reply
    Kari Beauchamp
    September 15, 2020 at 4:45 am

    This looks and sounds absolutely SCRUMPTIOUS!! I think I’ll make it tonight to serve tomorrow with a rotisserie chicken, asparagus, and mashed potatoes… Thank you for this recipe!!

  • Reply
    Marti Bowland
    September 12, 2020 at 4:48 am

    I made this yesterday as an accompanyment to a pork loin roast (a lean cut). It is time consuming for a gravy. The flavors did develope nicely. The War sauce is key. We press our own apples so I used what we call apple juice. We don’t filter or pasturize it, which some sites say is the difference between cider and juice. In the end I think I will add apple juice to the dutch oven along with sage leaves to roast with the pork and thicken it as a normal gravy. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Reply
    September 10, 2020 at 10:23 am

    Can you use vegan butter?

    • Reply
      September 10, 2020 at 10:38 am

      That should be fine.

  • Reply
    September 9, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    Is the apple cider an alcoholic cider or a hot apple cider?

    • Reply
      September 10, 2020 at 7:10 am

      It’s a regular apple cider, but you could certainly use the alcoholic version, that would be delicious!

  • Reply
    September 9, 2020 at 6:59 am

    5 stars
    Could this be canned in a pressure cooker?

    • Reply
      September 9, 2020 at 7:50 am

      I don’t think gravy is appropriate for canning, sorry!

    • Reply
      September 20, 2020 at 9:20 am

      It’s not safe to can anything with flour in it.

  • Reply
    September 30, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    I have made gravy the day before I needed it but not ever frozen it. I shall try that next time.
    I find sage quite a strong herb so would probably leave it whole and remove at the end. As I like a thickish gravy I would probably ‘stick blend’ to keep the onions in the gravy and not strain. Also for the flavour. I do use ‘booze’ in my gravies but I don’t think I have ever used cider but will do next time. Thanks Sue for more good ideas. :))

  • Reply
    September 30, 2019 at 11:59 am

    5 stars
    Awesome recipe, Sue! I’ve never made the gravy ahead of time, but this sounds so tasty, I’m determined to give it a try this year. I agree, no one needs all that last minute stress!

  • Reply
    Jacqueline Isler
    September 30, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Could this be frozen ?

    • Reply
      September 30, 2019 at 11:36 am

      Yes, gravy freezes nicely.

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