My mother was the best gravy maker ever, in my humble opinion. There were never any lumps, so by following her method, my gravy doesn’t have any either. But, I have many times eaten gravy made by others which was quite chunky. However, this can easily be fixed or avoided.
Lumpy gravy can be fixed by stirring or whisking the mixture vigorously while mashing the lumps until they are fully incorporated. Lumpy gravy can be prevented by making a roux (oil and flour) and stirring or whisking it constantly as it browns and while the liquid is added.
The method(s) you can use to fix lumpy gravy and to prevent gravy from being lumpy are discussed more completely in the following paragraphs.
What Causes Lumpy Gravy?
The main cause of lumpy gravy is that adding flour directly to hot liquid without making a roux causes the flour to clump. Flour is starchy and does not mix with hot liquid and will form clumps if added directly to any hot liquid, even if you are only sprinkling a small amount of flour into the liquid.
Flour isn’t like cornstarch which can be added to a little cold water to make a slurry, and then the slurry can be added slowly to the hot broth to thicken it. A cornstarch slurry can easily and successfully be added to the broth to make gravy. In my YouTube video below, I show how easy it is to make a cornstarch slurry.
Flour, however, needs to be added to the oil and mixed well to form a roux and then the hot liquid can be added to the roux to make a smooth gravy if it is stirred or whisked briskly and thoroughly.
If you are making a milk gravy, the roux can be made but not browned before adding milk. But, to make a brown gravy, the roux must be browned before adding the broth and can be either lightly browned or browned to a dark nutty color and taste. My family likes the dark brown gravy, just the way you would make it when cooking gumbo, so that is the way I always make it.
Fixing Lumpy Gravy
There are three methods that I have seen for fixing lumpy gravy. They are:
1. Strain the gravy to remove lumps
One method comes from those who say that you can fix lumpy gravy by straining the gravy before serving it to get out all the lumps.
I agree that gravy can be strained to remove lumps, but it is an unnecessary step if the roux and the hot liquid are combined while briskly stirring or whisking.
2. Process the gravy in a blender to remove the lumps
Another method for fixing lumpy gravy is by pouring the lumpy gravy into a blender and processing the gravy until there are no lumps.
Here again, processing the gravy in a blender to remove lumps is an unnecessary step if a flour and oil roux is made and the hot liquid is added slowly while the roux is being briskly stirred or whisked. If done properly, there will be no lumps.
3. Make the gravy so that it does not have any lumps.
My method involves making gravy that does not have any lumps to get rid of.
Here is my family’s recipe for making brown gravy from scratch using flour. This method produces a milk or a brown gravy that does not have any lumps.
- 3 Tablespoons Cooking Oil or Butter (Use half cooking oil and half butter for a rich flavor.)
- 3 Tablespoons Flour (Plain or Self-Rising)
- 1 cup Broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
- ½ tsp Black Pepper
- Salt to taste
Note: These ingredients can be doubled or tripled, depending on the number of people you will be feeding.
- Season and fry the meat (beef, chicken, veal, wild game, etc.), reserving the oil and pan drippings.
- Leave 3 tablespoons of oil and the pan drippings for each cup of broth you have for gravy (Pan drippings are the fat and juices that cook out of meat, including any crunchy pieces of the breading you used on the meat.) in the skillet or saucepan. If you do not have 3 tablespoons of oil left after frying, add any kind of mild-flavored oil or butter.
- Add the flour and stir well to make a paste or roux. Add extra oil if the paste is too dry.
- Cook over low heat until the flour mixture browns to a dark brown, stirring or whisking constantly.
- Add the hot broth slowly to the roux, stirring or whisking constantly and thoroughly.
- Bring the gravy to a boil and cook over low heat until it begins to thicken, stirring often.
- Add black pepper and salt to taste.
- Allow the mixture to simmer over low heat until it “ripens” into gravy.
If you are interested in making gravy with other types of thickeners, check out my article entitled “6 Delicious Ways to Make Gravy Without Milk.” It even includes a recipe for “Hoover” gravy which is brown gravy made without meat.
Pro Tip: If your gravy becomes too thick, add more broth a small amount at a time until the gravy is the right texture. It should not be too thin nor too thick.
Fixing Other Common Gravy Issues
What Can I Do to Fix Runny Gravy?
If your gravy has turned out too runny, here are a couple of things you can do to fix it:
- Let the gravy continue to cook over a low heat, stirring often to prevent it from burning. Simmering the gravy longer will reduce it through evaporation which will make it thicker. As an added bonus, reducing the liquid in the gravy will also give the gravy a more robust flavor.
- If you are short on time and cannot let the gravy simmer to thicken, you can add equal parts of cornstarch and water to make a slurry and then slowly add the slurry to the gravy, while continuing to stir or whisk briskly.
Both of these methods are easy and will thicken a gravy that is too runny.
PRO TIP: To make a cornstarch slurry that will thicken a cup of broth, all you have to do is add a tablespoon of cornstarch to a tablespoon of water, stir until the cornstarch and water are completely incorporated, and it is then ready to add to broth of any kind to make gravy.
What Can I Do to Fix Bland Gravy?
There are a number of ways to fix bland gravy. They include:
- Add enough salt and pepper to enhance the flavor of the food.
- Add bouillon (chicken, beef, or vegetable) which will give the gravy a more robust flavor.
- Add Kitchen Bouquet or other flavoring sauce that are a staple in most kitchens and can be added to soups, stews, gravies, and sauces to enhance the flavor.
- Add Worchestershire sauce or soy sauce.
- Use any fresh herbs that you have on hand such as parsley or chives.
- Add some onions sauteed in butter.
What Can I Do to Fix Gravy That Is Too Thick?
The best way to fix gravy that is too thick is to add some broth or water or a combination of broth and water, stir well, and simmer it for just a short time until the right consistency is reached.
How Can I Fix Salty Gravy?
There are a number of things you can do to fix gravy that is too salty. They include:
- Make another batch of gravy without salt and combine the two batches.
- Add more liquid, either water or unsalted broth, and simmer.
- Add a raw peeled potato cut into large chunks and simmer for a short time. Remove the potato from the gravy before the potato has cooked all to pieces.
- Cook the rice or potatoes that will be served with the gravy without salt.
- Add about 1/4th teaspoon of sugar.
- Add enough dairy to the gravy to counteract the saltiness. Use either milk, cream, or sour cream.
- Add a small splash of either lemon juice or vinegar.
For more details on how to fix too much salt, please read How to Fix Salty Gravy | Tips From a 50 Year Southern Chef.
Just in case you are interested, check out my YouTube video above that shows the recipe that both my parents made gravy by when I was growing up. It’s easy as can be and will have your family giving you rave reviews on your gravy.
Thanks for stoppin’ by!
For more, don’t miss 8 Ways to Thicken Gravy Like A Pro.
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