We're reader-supported. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission at no cost to you.

Jus, Jus Lié, Gravy: What Sets Them Apart?

Stumped by the difference between jus, jus lié, and gravy? Let’s lift the lid and pour out the facts on this saucy subject.

Jus, jus lié, and gravy: three sauces, one origin. All originating from the flavorful juices that are released when meat meets dry heat.

Whether you’re learning your culinary A B C’s or are simply trying to understand why a recipe is written the way it is, we bet you’re here to figure out what sets these three sauces apart from one another.

Spoiler: it’s all in the preparation technique and final consistency of each sauce. Let’s break it down.


What Is Jus?

Jus (pronounced “zhoo,” like “zoo” with an “h,” minus the “s” sound at the end) is a French term for the unthickened juices that pool around a perfectly roasted cut of meat.

Think of jus as a deeper, more concentrated version of broth. When these thin and flavorful juices are drizzled over meat, it’s described as being served “au jus,” translating to “with the juice.”

Whether to strain the jus for a clearer appearance or retain the meat drippings for a chunky texture is a decision left to the cook’s discretion.

Jus can be kept simple, spooned directly over the meat, or its flavors can be enhanced with additions like butter, alliums like garlic or onions, herbs, and spices. A word to the wise: the more sophisticated the jus, the trickier it gets to prepare properly. Start simple and work your way up as you learn.

In situations where the jus is too runny, arrowroot powder can be added to make jus lié.

How to Make Jus

Once your meat is roasted, tilt the pan to gather the juices. If they’re too thick, thin them with a splash of broth. Pour them out into a sauce bowl or directly drizzle them over the meat before serving.

For a richer jus, pour the juices into a saucepan. Add butter, salt, and your choice of aromatics, then let it simmer. The jus is ready to pour over the meat when it has simmered down to your liking.

Jus Lié

What Is Jus Lié?

Jus lié is a thickened version of jus from classic French cooking. Its name translates as “bound juice” or, more literally, “juice held together.”

While some online recipes might suggest cornstarch as a thickener for jus lié, arrowroot powder is the smarter choice. This is so because jus lié thickened with arrowroot powder doesn’t break easily with prolonged cooking.

Now that we’ve covered jus and jus lié, let’s switch to their heartier cousin originating from Britain and the United States—the gravy.

How to Make Jus Lié

Jus lié begins much like jus. Add a splash of broth to the pan to release the meat drippings. Pour everything into a saucepan, season, and let it simmer. Whisk in a slurry from either arrowroot powder or cornstarch. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens and the raw taste of the slurry cooks off.

Professional chefs make their jus lié right in the roasting pan. For home cooks, it’s often simpler to start with a saucepan. Once you’ve got the hang of the technique, level up and try making it directly in the roasting pan.

You have the option to serve the jus with its meat drippings for added texture, or strain it through a sieve for clarity.


What Is Gravy?

Gravy is a thickened sauce made from meat drippings.

Gravy begins with deglazing the pan with the help of a liquid—broth, stock, beer, wine, or sherry. This action loosens the browned bits of meat stuck to the pan’s bottom.

To this, alliums like onions or garlic and fresh herbs are added. The mixture is then reduced through slow simmering. Lastly, the gravy is thickened by whisking in a roux or a cornstarch slurry.

With continuous stirring and slow-simmering for ten or more minutes, the gravy turns into a rich, velvety sauce that generously coats each bite of meat.

Editor’s note: Roux is to be preferred over cornstarch for thickening gravy because it allows the cook to control the depth and darkness of the final product. The longer the roux is cooked before being whisked into the sauce, the darker it turns out—resulting in a brown, rich gravy.

How to Make Gravy

Begin by deglazing the pan, using a splash of broth to loosen the browned bits and food drippings. Pour these drippings into a bowl and set aside for a moment.

Now make a roux. Combine equal parts unsalted butter and all-purpose flour. Over medium-low heat, whisk this mixture until it achieves a blond or light brown hue, which typically takes about 7 to 10 minutes. (Don’t be alarmed if, with prolonged cooking, the roux appears broken.)

Whisk the reserved meat drippings into the roux gradually, then increase the heat to medium. Season with salt and spices, and if you like, toss in some garlic. Allow the mixture to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will allow the sauce to thicken and the flavors to harmonize—resulting in a delectable gravy ready for pouring over meat.

Again, professional chefs often make their gravies right in the roasting pans—placing them on the burner and mixing on the spot. For home cooks, especially considering the heat and mixing involved, using the right cookware like a saucepan might be more manageable.

What to Remember

Jus, jus lié, and gravy are the three-step evolution of meat drippings being turned into a savory sauce.

Remember that each step is a one-way street: Once you’ve thickened jus into jus lié, there’s no turning back. And once it’s gravy, it’s staying gravy.

Jus lié is thickened jus, but it’s normally thinner than a gravy. Jus lié comes from French cuisine, and gravy comes from British and American cuisines—the two sauces are distant cousins from a family with the same roots, but definitely not brothers.

Know your author

Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.