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How to Thicken Gravy Without Cornstarch

Don’t let a lack of cornstarch ruin your gravy game. Try these ingenuitive methods for thickening up your sauce without it.

Do you know what’s a total Thanksgiving disaster? Thin gravy.

Forget Thanksgiving, thin gravy is a disaster any day of the year. And when you don’t have cornstarch on hand, it can seem like an impossible feat to fix. But fear not, because I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve for thickening gravy without relying on that boxed cornstarch.

Sounds like a plan? Let’s get to it, then, so you turn that thin, sad gravy into a rich, velvety masterpiece.

Cook the Gravy Down

Now, before we dive into the methods that require you to add extra ingredients to your gravy, I’ve got a quick tip that might help you out. If you’re looking to thicken your gravy without adding any extra ingredients, try cooking it down.

That’s right, simply turn the heat down to medium, remove the lid from your saucepan, and let the gravy cook down. As it cooks, keep stirring so that the excess water can turn to vapor and the gravy can thicken up to your desired consistency.

Trust me on this one. It may take time and patience, but the gravy you’ll end up with will be just as delicious and aromatic as you intended it to be.

Make a Roux, Stir In the Gravy

If you’ve got some all-purpose flour in the pantry, you’re in luck. You can cook up a roux and thicken the gravy with it.

Here’s how this works:

  1. Melt some butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Just melt it; don’t brown it.
  2. Once the butter is melted, whisk in an equal amount of all-purpose flour.
  3. Cook the roux for 2-3 minutes, until it becomes fragrant and slightly golden in color.
  4. Gradually whisk in your gravy. As you add the gravy, the roux will slowly but surely thicken it.

And that, my dear readers, is all there really is to it! This method may take a little bit of time, but the end result is a smooth and velvety gravy that’s sure to impress. The longer you cook the roux before mixing it with the gravy, the richer and deeper its aroma and flavor will turn out.

Work In Some Mashed Potatoes

Here’s another tip for thickening gravy without using cornstarch. If you’ve got leftover mashed potatoes in the fridge, or you’re in the process of making some as a side for your meal, you can use some of them to give your gravy a little extra body—and, as a result, thicken it.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Warm up your gravy in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Once the gravy is hot, whisk in a spoonful or two of the mashed potatoes.
  3. Keep whisking the gravy until it reaches the desired thickness.

The starch in the mashed potatoes will thicken the gravy, giving it a creamy, smooth texture. And the best part? You’re using up leftovers or incorporating a side you planned on serving anyway, so nothing goes to waste and the final taste remains more or less the same.

Melt Butter in the Gravy

Now here comes my last and final tip for thickening gravy without using cornstarch. If you’re all out of other thickening agents and you’re in a pinch, try using butter.

Here’s how this goes:

  1. Cut a piece of butter up into cubes.
  2. Warm up your gravy in a saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Once the gravy is hot, start whisking in the butter cubes into the gravy.
  4. Keep whisking the gravy until it reaches your desired consistency.
  5. Cook down for 2-3 minutes.

Now, you’ve probably guessed it already, this method won’t make your gravy super thick, but it will add a rich, decadent flavor and create the illusion of thickness. And really, isn’t that something? So if you’re in a bind and you don’t have any other thickening agents on hand, give this last resort a try.

Final Words

Well there you have it, fellow home cooks! A few different methods for thickening gravy without cornstarch.

Whether you choose to cook the gravy down, make a roux, whisk in some mashed potatoes, or even just add a little bit of butter, you’ll be well on your way to creating a rich and velvety masterpiece. So don’t let thin gravy bring you down—get creative in the kitchen and try these methods out.

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.