Perfect Gravy Without the Bird

Gravy made with Swanson Broth

Perfect Gravy Without the Bird ~ 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!

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

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





  • 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 :)

  • Reply
    November 27, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Give me a bucket of mashed potatoes and a pitcher of this gravy and you will have one happy girl!

  • Reply
    November 27, 2015 at 9:51 am

    I followed this recipe exactly yesterday and it was such a success! I did add the separated pan drippings at the last second on a whim, but it was still a terrific texture. GREG

  • Reply
    Rosemary Wolbert | Sprigs of Rosemary
    November 27, 2015 at 3:43 am

    I have to cook a turkey for a church dinner (at home, then carat it to the hall) and I like the assurance of knowing I’ll definitely have gravy, whether I have pan drippings enough or not. Great ideas, all, but especially your browned flour. Now . . . . . what stuffing? (Hope — I KNOW — your Thanksgiving was outstanding.)

  • Reply
    Jean |
    November 26, 2015 at 7:20 am

    Sue, I could climb into the screen and eat those photos! I learned the browned flour trick when I was a young girl. Isn’t it great! I love that you’ve introduced this to readers unfamiliar with it, so now they won’t need to resort to fake ingredients. It’s great to use when you cook just a little half turkey breast and get none of those wonderful brown bits in the pan that would give your gravy color.

    • Reply
      November 26, 2015 at 8:54 am

      Happy Thanksgiving Jean!

  • Reply
    November 26, 2015 at 6:25 am

    Love your recipes, there are lots of times that we don’t have dripping that are suitable for gravy, or not enough. I love making extra gravy and your recipe looks perfect!!

  • Reply
    Karen Harris
    November 25, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Beautiful photo! Just mouthwatering. You are so right, there is never enough gravy. Thanks for the wonderful leftover inspiration in the jars. Love it!

    • Reply
      November 26, 2015 at 6:23 am

      Thanks Karen, wouldn’t you love to walk away from a Thanksgiving dinner with a jar like that? Have a great day.

  • Reply
    November 25, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    can this recipe be doubled or
    tripled from 4T to handle larger quantities?
    sounds amazing!

    • Reply
      November 26, 2015 at 6:24 am

      Yes, sure, sassygirl.

  • Reply
    Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
    November 25, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Love this recipe and I love your leftover jars! Oh my gosh!! So cute.

  • Reply
    November 25, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Brain Storm! I’m suggesting you test this magical sounding browned flour on other things.

    How about “brown butter sugar cookies”, etc? Sure, you might try half browned flour and 1.2 white but maybe there are applications for a nuttier tasting pie crust, for instance. I’m thinking for quiche. You are so brilliant I’m guessing you’ll find more ways to add deeper flavors and nuances to other sweets and savories with your jar of toasted flour! If so, please share !!!

    • Reply
      November 25, 2015 at 5:43 pm

      I have to admit Jane, I hadn’t thought about baking with this, but you are right, there are definitely possibilities…I will get to work and report back ;)

  • Reply
    2 Sisters Recipes by Anna and Liz
    November 25, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Very cool!! We never heard about browning the flour- but it makes perfect sense.
    Genius Sue!
    We want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!! Enjoy!

    • Reply
      November 25, 2015 at 5:43 pm

      Thanks ladies, and Happy T Day right back at you!

  • Reply
    November 25, 2015 at 11:21 am

    This is SUCH a useful idea! I love that you can make a batch of the brown flour and keep it around–genius!!

    • Reply
      November 25, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      I think it’s going to be great for things like pot pies and casseroles, etc…

  • Reply
    November 25, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Is the time in the over supposed to be 40-50 minutes?
    You have typed 4-50.

    • Reply
      November 25, 2015 at 10:30 am

      Thanks Penny, fixed that :)

  • Reply
    November 25, 2015 at 10:13 am

    I’m thrilled with this post Sue, I’m doing a turkey breast tomorrow which we love but the drippings are kind of slim. I will definitely use your technique! Pinning!

    • Reply
      November 25, 2015 at 10:31 am

      It’s great for turkey breasts, or brined turkeys, Chris — I’m sure yours is going to be amazing — have a wonderful day tomorrow!

  • Reply
    John/Kitchen Riffs
    November 25, 2015 at 10:09 am

    I’ve used that browned flour trick before! It really works. And although I usually brown a turkey leg in the oven the day before Thanksgiving, then make a turkey stock from that, this is way easier. Need to try this — thanks. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Reply
      November 25, 2015 at 10:32 am

      Thanks John, I was definitely surprised to see how well it does work. I’ll try that turkey leg idea too. Have a great one :)

  • Reply
    Sabrina Modelle
    November 25, 2015 at 10:05 am

    Okay, mind is officially blown. Browned flour? I am so on it! Also, I am totally on the same page as you with the leftovers. YUM!

    • Reply
      November 25, 2015 at 5:49 pm

      After I thought about it for a while I realized that when you brown anything you get more flavor…meat, onions, etc. It makes so much sense when you think of it that way.

  • Reply
    November 25, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Wow! What a concept, Sue! I’ve never heard of this! I always make my gravy with pan drippings and start off with a roux, but there is never enough leftover for leftovers! I am just now running to the cupboard to make the brown flour! Mr. Squash will stay here and drool over the photos!

  • Reply
    November 25, 2015 at 9:18 am

    So THIS is what you had brewing. I’m definitely going to try it, it looks great!

    • Reply
      November 25, 2015 at 9:20 am

      I’m in love with the browned flour, when you mix it with a good broth like Swanson, it’s instant gravy!

  • Reply
    November 25, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Such a great idea when you need to make more gravy and there’s no bird-drippings.

    • Reply
      November 25, 2015 at 9:15 am

      Gravy is always the first thing to go at our Thanksgiving table, so I’m really happy to have this in my back pocket…thanks for stopping by Naomi :)

  • Reply
    November 25, 2015 at 8:00 am

    Love that it can be adjusted for vegetarians – I have a few coming over this year. I’ll be making this !

    • Reply
      November 25, 2015 at 8:10 am

      It is a really great idea for vegetarians, Jen, and in that case I might definitely add in some fresh herbs or the caramelized onions, etc, to give it an extra flavor boost. Happy Turkey Day!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    November 25, 2015 at 7:10 am

    This is a completely genius recipe – I’ve always made a roux when making gravy but I never thought to brown the flour – absolutely brilliant! Thank you sooooo much! Happy Thanksgiving Sue!

    • Reply
      November 25, 2015 at 7:16 am

      You will love this idea Tricia, I now have a jar of browned flour next to my stove and I can’t tell you how many times it’s come in handy! Happy Thanksgiving to you!

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