Perfect Gravy Without the Bird

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Gravy made with Swanson Broth

Perfect Gravy Without the Bird ~ this is an amazing hack for making gravy without any drippings, so no need for a bird or a roast in the oven.  With this easy technique you’ll never be left high and dry with not enough gravy for dinner or leftovers.  Better make lots, you’re gonna need it!

*This post is in association with Swanson.

What’s your favorite part about Thanksgiving — the gorgeous bird?  The ruby red cranberry sauce?  The pies?  Family time?  Wrong.  The absolute best part about Thanksgiving is the leftovers.  You know what I’m talking about.  After all the warm and fuzzy festivities are done, there’s that moment, the next day, in the the peace and quiet of your own kitchen, when it’s just you and your plate of leftovers.  Nirvana.

Only problem is, there’s usually something missing…the gravy.  There’s never enough leftover gravy to go around and so you get left high and dry.  It’s a bummer.  But I’ve set out to solve that problem with my friends at Swanson.  I’m excited to be partnering with them because Swanson broths and stocks are the only ones I ever buy.  They always have my back when I cook and I count on their quality.   I think we make a pretty good team, and today we’re tackling that frustrating dilemma of dry leftovers with an easy recipe for Perfect Gravy Without the Bird!

Thanksgiving leftovers with Swansons broth and Perfect Gravy Without the Bird

We all know that everything is better with gravy, it raises the enjoyment factor of so many dishes, but I hardly ever think to make it because I assume I need a big old piece of meat or poultry roasting away in the oven to get the whole thing started.  With Swanson chicken broth and this incredibly simple method you can have gravy on demand — instant gravy gratification — whenever you need some thick, warm gravy love.  Imagine the possibilities — gravy on a Tuesday night, gravy on a rotisserie chicken — let me put it this way, you’ll never have to suffer through inadequate gravy syndrome again.  You can thank me later, right now, get to your kitchen, Thanksgiving’s just around the corner!

With this simple method for making Perfect Gravy Without the Bird, you can have homemade gravy any time you like!

One of the best things about this method is that there are no artificial ingredients or flavor ‘enhancers’ like you find in bottled gravies and powdered mixes.  This is a simple 3-ingredient, all natural recipe and it turns out fantastic gravy.  The secret is Swanson premium broth, a little bit of butter, and an ingredient you may not have heard about before, but it’s sitting right there in your cupboard.  Read on…

Browned flour is the secret to Perfect Gravy Without the Bird

The ingredient that turns broth or stock, and a bit of butter in to a rich thick gravy is browned flour.  I know, I’d never heard of it either, but it’s amazing stuff.  To make it you put plain white flour in a heavy skillet and cook in a hot oven for somewhere between 40-50 minutes.  You stir every so often and eventually the snowy white flour starts to turn a nutty brown.  You can actually store this stuff, after it’s cooled, in a jar and use it to make everyday gravy all year round.

Making perfect gravy without the bird with browned flour and Swanson broth

You use it just like any regular flour when you are making a roux to create and thicken sauces or gravies.  But because the flour has been toasted it becomes an instant deep rich brown when you add it to the melted butter.  Slowly pour in your Swanson chicken broth or stock and voila — gravy — good gravy!  (I wonder if that’s where the phrase comes from?)  The browned flour colors, flavors, and thickens the broth and you get a quick wholesome, gravy without any of the scary ingredients that go into the bottles or envelopes.  I didn’t even add salt or pepper to this, I didn’t think it needed it.

Browned flour for making Perfect Gravy Without the Bird, with Swanson broth

With this little jar of magical browned flour and my stash of Swanson I’m going to be upping the comfort factor of my meals all winter long.

You can make perfect gravy without the bird with this simple recipe!

This is just one of the many ways to make Perfect Gravy Without the Bird.  There are all kinds of things you can add to your Swanson broths and stocks to make a fabulous gravy,  I asked Jane Freiman, Director of Campbell’s Consumer Test Kitchen about ideas for adding color and flavor to gravy without the drippings, and she suggests caramelizing shallots, or shallots and mushrooms, for color and a rich flavor.  This means simply cooking them long and slow so their natural sugars ‘caramelize’, and they turn a rich flavorful brown.  If you do that you can either puree the gravy, strain out the solids, or serve it as is, depending on what texture you prefer. 

I even polled my facebook friends (I hope you’re following along!) about their ideas for making great gravy without the bird and they came up with all kinds of creative ideas.  Here are a few of my favorite add-ins: wine, fresh herbs, especially thyme and sage, dried mushrooms ground to a powder and dissolved in the gravy, Some people like to enrich the broth with roasted veggies like onion, celery, fennel and carrot.  Some readers like to add a touch of heavy cream to give the gravy a rich finish.  Other heavy flavor hitters are soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, dry vermouth or sherry.  And of course there’s always the good old fashioned bouillon cube.

Thanksgiving leftovers with Swansons broth

When it comes time to dole out my leftovers I like to layer them in large mason jars so everybody can have their own personal mini feast the next day.  Stuffing and mashed potatoes can be re-moistened with broth to bring them back to life before packaging.  And don’t forget the gravy!

Looking for more holiday meal inspo?  

Be sure to leave me YOUR gravy making secrets in the comments — I’d love to collect as many ideas as we can here.  I’m getting hungry, how about you?

Perfect Gravy Without the Bird
Rate this recipe

Yield: makes 2 cups

Perfect Gravy Without the Bird

recipe adapted from Saveur


  • 4 Tbsp browned flour (recipe below)
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups Swanson Chicken Stock or Broth
  • salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste


  1. Set oven to 400F
  2. To make the browned flour: put the flour in a shallow pan or skillet, I used my 10" cast iron skillet. Put the skillet in the oven and toast the flour for about 40-50 minutes, stirring every 5-7 minutes or so, until the flour turns a nutty brown. You can put it in a jar after it's cooled and it will keep for a couple of months in the cupboard.
  3. To make the gravy, melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy skillet or pan, and add the browned flour to it, stirring until combined. Continue stirring for a minute and then slowly add the Swanson broth to the pan, stirring or whisking as you go.
  4. Bring the gravy to a simmer, stirring constantly. Taste and add salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
  5. If you would like your gravy even thicker, you can whisk in some Wondra flour.


  • This perfect gravy without the bird can be adapted for vegetarians, just use Swanson vegetable stock or broth.
  • Use plain flour for a paler gravy.
  • Confused about stock versus broth?  Stocks are a little bit richer than broths, but with limited seasonings so the flavor profile is pure and the cook has complete control over flavor.  When I want a stronger flavor I go with stock.  I use broth when I am making soups, and it’s a perfect choice as a water replacement when cooking rices, couscous, and other grains.  The flavor will infuse into the grains without overpowering.


Don’t forget to pin this Perfect Gravy Without the Bird!

Perfect Gravy Without the Bird ~ an easy no drippings gravy recipe that you can make without roasting an entire turkey! This quick browned flour gravy will be your new best friend for the holidays and weeknight dinners all year long. #easygravy #instantgravy #gravy #bestgravy #Thanksgiving #Christmas #nodrippingsgravy #brownedflour #pangravy #homemadegravy



You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply


  • Reply
    Christmas Dinner 3 Ways: Menus for 3 Types of Cooks | Lepp Farm Market
    December 10, 2018 at 10:32 am

    […] The Trimmings: Lepp’s house-made cranberry sauce, Lepp’s Maple Sausage Stuffing, Gravy without the Bird […]

  • Reply
    Choose Your Own Adventure: Thanksgiving Dinner Menu - Design Crush
    November 13, 2018 at 10:01 am

    […] Classic Southern Gravy // Make Ahead White Wine Gravy // Perfect Gravy Without the Bird […]

  • Reply
    25 Foolproof Recipes for Hosting your First Thanksgiving - Camille Styles
    November 7, 2018 at 9:27 am

    […] click to see the recipe from the view from great island 22 of 25 DESSERT […]

  • Reply
    November 22, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    Thank you for the recipe! Is there any other flour substitutes I can use? I won’t be able to brown the flour before hand. I was wondering if almond flour was an option, or wheat flour? If not, I’m happy to use good ol’ purpose flour.
    Thank you for the great recipe and time saver :) I’m in charge of the gravy…hope to not mess this up!

    • Reply
      November 22, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      This recipe is tested with regular flour, Cate, so I would stick to that ~ Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Reply
    November 16, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    So I just tried this recipe, and for some reason it came out looking oily and sepparated no matter how much i stirred it. I dont know what i did wrong… It tastes like gravy but doesnt look like it. Help please?

    • Reply
      November 16, 2017 at 8:58 pm

      Are you sure you measured your butter and flour correctly Tiara? Once you cook the two together for a minute or two, and then add the stock, it’s a standard thickened sauce, and should come together beautifully.

  • Reply
    Nancy Chapman
    November 16, 2017 at 8:05 am

    I’ll be 70 in December, and this will be the first time I make homemade gravy for Thanksgiving! And I love to cook! I just finished browning the flour. Thanks for the inspiration, and about those leftovers? Absolutely the best part of Thanksgiving. I eat pumpkin cheese pie twice a day until it’s gone! Happy Thanksgiving, Sue.

    • Reply
      November 16, 2017 at 8:11 am

      You know I’ve only made a full on Thanksgiving dinner a few times in my life, it just worked out that I’m usually the guest, not the host. I hope you have a lovely holiday season, Nancy, we all need it after the year we’ve had :)

  • Reply
    November 14, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    thanks for thinking of vegetarians. Now, how about those who can’t eat wheat – or have celiac disease? I usually make gravy with rice flour and it mostly works although it seems tricky when I try to make adjustments. Seems to work best if I get the ingredients all correct as possible up front and not add more liquid or rice flour later. I’m not sure that rice flour gains any advantage from being toasted…any ideas?

    • Reply
      November 14, 2017 at 2:49 pm

      Great question Carole. I’m not sure if you can toast rice flour, but you can make a roux with equal parts butter and rice flour, and toast that until it turns golden brown. Then add your stock. I’ve heard that sweet rice flour is best, but regular rice flour works too. Bob’s Red Mill carries both.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    hi there! this might be a dumb question, but if i were to enhance the gravy with caramelized shallots, should i make those separately and add them to the broth/butter/flour mixture at the end? or make the shallots in the butter and then add the flour? some other process entirely? thanks!

    • Reply
      November 14, 2017 at 2:42 pm

      I think I would caramelize them first and add them at the end, Laura.

      • Reply
        November 15, 2017 at 7:28 am

        Thanks, Sue!

  • Reply
    Darlene G.
    November 11, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    This is an older post, but I’m here so maybe some others are coming here ‘late’ also….I’ve read through all the comments and didn’t see this suggestion so here goes…one guy referred to an oil-less roux…well I’ve done a roux on the stove top for years. Use same measurements as recipe, heat butter and flour in skillet until it’s the color of peanut butter on med to med high heat this takes a few minutes compared to the oven! Just tried this recipe and it works beautifully. I added a little onion powder and some Kitchen Bouquet. It was great!

    • Reply
      November 11, 2017 at 5:32 pm

      Thanks Darlene ~ a nice dark roux is also a great way to make gravy ‘without the bird’ for sure!

  • Reply
    alice muise
    February 1, 2017 at 9:18 am

    can you make this gravy a couple of days before you need the gravy

    • Reply
      February 1, 2017 at 9:43 am

      I don’t see why not, Alice. It will probably thicken after being refrigerated, so you can thin it with some stock or broth.

  • Reply
    November 15, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    I was just taught how to do this over the weekend, to make a gumbo. I am making this over the weekend in preparation for Thanksgiving!

    • Reply
      November 15, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      I have never made a gumbo…it’s on the list :)

  • Reply
    August 19, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    The browned flour trick has been passed down in my family for generations. It’s the key ingredient to the best giblet gravy EVER! We don’t let it brown in the oven as oven temperatures can vary and once the flour is burned you have to start all over again. Maybe that’s when Carol said it was smelled like coffee. The week before I need it, put a cup of white all-purpose flour in a dry skillet, turn the heat to medium high & stir, stir stir….with a wooden spoon. It does take awhile to get the flour to a dark gold but so worth it. I usually make several batches & store it in a plastic container in the refrigerator. When ready to make gravy, melt unsalted butter, add flour enough to make a nice roux, then add turkey broth (from cooking turkey giblets, turkey neck & heart with celery, carrots & onion & water that I make a day or two before.) If I need to, I’ll add purchased turkey or chicken broth. After the gravy thickens, add the cooked, peeled & chopped giblets, heart, and shredded neck meat. I make this for 25 @ every Thanksgiving. I even make enough for family to take home with leftover turkey & fixings. I’ve made up to 2 gallons. Now, that’s seriously some turkey gravy! Sorry this is so long winded. This is the first time I’ve given out this recipe.

    • Reply
      August 19, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      Thank you SO much for taking the time to write all this out for us PJ, I’m definitely going to give your recipe a try, I can’t wait!!

  • Reply
    March 15, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    This was a fail for me! It tastes like coffee and I hate the taste of coffee. Threw out the browned flour. Will not get back that 40 minutes that it took to bake it. So disappointed. Had I known beforehand what to expect for taste I would have moved on.

    • Reply
      March 15, 2016 at 6:32 pm

      I’m really sorry this didn’t work for you Carol, I didn’t get the taste of coffee in mine, but everyone responds differently to flavors, etc. I hate it when something doesn’t turn out for me, so I understand!

      • Reply
        August 22, 2016 at 1:04 pm

        Another use for your browned flour is babies butt. My friend has a grandson with a broke out butt and all the medicine and prescriptions they tried could not help this poor baby. They called their pastor and his wife told them to brown some flour use that. Three days later butt was all cleared up and no more screaming baby when he would mess his diaper. aww poor baby boy who knew a simple remedy like brown flour would work wonders.

    • Reply
      Donora Alberts
      November 5, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      Perhaps, you may have browned it too much. Did your gravy have a slight or heavy burnt under-taste?

  • Reply
    Vicki Bensinger
    December 16, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Sue I’ve never heard of this method. I’m going to have to make a batch of the flour this week to test it out. Who would have ever thought that one day I’d get excited about browning flour? ? I love this idea.

    • Reply
      December 17, 2015 at 7:53 am

      I know, Vicki, I’m still kind of amazed.

  • Reply
    December 13, 2015 at 10:07 am

    This is one of the best new tricks I’ve learned. Browned flour… who knew? I’m so going to do this! I do my make ahead gravy recipe, but this is one more great trick. Thanks!

    • Reply
      December 13, 2015 at 1:07 pm

      I was just looking at my little jar next to the stove and thinking the same thing :)

  • Reply
    December 2, 2015 at 5:53 am

    This is basically an oil-less roux and has been done for years in the South. Cooked in the over our a cast iron skillet. Add it to broth, meat and veggies for an instant gumbo.

    • Reply
      December 5, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Sounds yummy!

  • Reply
    December 1, 2015 at 3:52 am

    Wow, never heard of browned flour, I will definitely try it, I am missing some sauce especially when eating meatballs with mashed potatoes. I normally freeze leftover sauce just for this purpose, but it would be great to have sauce even when I don’t have any in the freezer. And totally great when cooking for vegetarians.

    • Reply
      December 5, 2015 at 4:38 pm

      This would be so great with meatballs and mashed potatoes, just the thought is making me hungry :)

  • Reply
    Monique @ Ambitious Kitchen
    November 30, 2015 at 8:10 am

    This is such a great how to. My mom usually always makes the gravy, but she doesn’t brown the flour. I love the idea of this — especially for vegetarians (using veg broth) :)

    • Reply
      November 30, 2015 at 8:41 am

      Thanks Monique — it was a real game changer for me :)

  • Reply
    November 29, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    I have never heard of browned flour but it sure beats cooking a long roux! This gravy is just perfect and not just for Thanksgiving but for year round!

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    November 28, 2015 at 7:25 am

    I have heard of flour browning, but never tried it. I absolutely must now because that gravy looks delicious. Would be great for impromptu poutine sessions :)

  • 1 2