How to Fix Salty Gravy | Tips From a 50 Year Southern Chef

When I was growing up, we had gravy almost every day, rice and gravy most days, and mashed potatoes and gravy once in a while. And, sometimes, right before payday, it was “Hoover” gravy, which was gravy made without meat, but we always had plenty of rice and hot homemade biscuits to go with it. But what happens when the gravy is too salty?

The best way to fix gravy that is too salty is to make another batch of gravy and combine the two. The second best option is to add more water or unsalted broth. Either option will dilute the saltiness and resolve the issue.

Here are 5 other options:

  1. Adding a raw potato, and simmering until done
  2. Cooking rice or potatoes that will be served with the gravy without salt
  3. Adding 1/4th teaspoon of sugar
  4. Adding cream to counteract the saltiness
  5. Adding a small amount of lemon juice or vinegar.

In the following paragraphs, I will discuss each of these ways of fixing salty gravy in more detail.

1. Add a Second Batch of Gravy

If time permits, the best way to fix salty gravy is by making another batch of gravy without salt and combining the two batches, which should solve the problem and result in a gravy that is close to being perfect in seasoning and consistency.

Anne-James'-Homemade Steak and Gravy
My “famous” homemade steak and gravy

2. Add More Water or Unsalted Broth

Another way to fix salty gravy is by adding more liquid. You can add water as the liquid, but adding extra water could affect your gravy in 2 ways:

  1. It could make your gravy too bland so that you will have to make adjustments to the seasonings, and
  2. It could make your gravy too thin, making it necessary to thicken it with a cornstarch slurry.

But, you can add unsalted broth if you have it on hand, which could fix the problem of being too salty, but it could still make your gravy too thin. That problem, however, can be fixed by using a small amount of cornstarch to make a slurry and then adding that slurry, a small amount at a time, to the gravy until the desired consistency is achieved. My article entitled 8 Ways To Thicken Gravy Like A Pro discusses several different ways to thicken gravy using common ingredients found in most kitchens..

Of these two choices, I would recommend adding any unsalted vegetable, chicken, or beef broth that you may have on hand. By adding the broth, the gravy will maintain its hearty flavor and not be watered down.

Bowl-of-beef-broth-in-glass-bowl-on-a-white-table
Make sure it’s plain Jane unsalted broth

3. Add Raw Potato and Simmer Until Done.

I have never tried it, but most people say that if you have made any soup, stew, or gravy and gotten it too salty, by adding a few chunks of raw potato, the salt will be soaked up by the potato, and the potato can be removed before the dish is served, thus making the dish you are serving less salty.

Just peel and cut the potato or potatoes into large chunks and add them to your food and simmer just until the potato is done. Don’t let the potato cook all to pieces because it will be too hard to scoop it all out. In a pan of gravy, you would probably need one large or two medium potatoes to do the trick.

Related How to Fix Too Much Salt in Baking (6 Simple Solutions).

4. Cook the Rice or Potatoes That Will Be Served With the Gravy Without Salt

My go-to method for correcting a too-salty gravy or stew is by cooking the companion dish, rice, or mashed potatoes, with no salt. This is a little trick for correcting a too salty gravy or stew that I have used successfully for many years. When the gravy is served over the rice or potatoes, your family or guests will never know that the gravy is too salty.

5. Add 1/4th Teaspoon of Sugar

Many people use the old trick of adding a small amount of sugar to combat saltiness in food. I have never added sugar to correct a pan of gravy that is too salty. But, I have on occasion added sugar to fresh greens that were too bitter, and the sugar definitely takes the tartness out of the taste of the greens.

If using this method, only add a small amount of sugar because you don’t want sweet gravy. Give the sugar time to dissolve completely before giving up on it, because the sugar will have to be dissolved to work its magic. Just be sure to use granulated sugar. Just add 1/4th teaspoon at the time until the right taste is achieved. However, at a certain point, the taste of the gravy could be ruined if too much sugar is added.

6. Add Cream

Adding a small amount of dairy to gravy that is too salty will give your gravy a creaminess and will make the gravy less salty. You can use milk, cream, or sour cream. Adding dairy will not completely get rid of the salty taste, but it should tone it down a bit to make it much more edible. Just be sure that a creamy gravy will fit in with your meal plan and the other dishes you have prepared.

To learn how to make gravy without milk, check out my article called: 6 Delicious Ways to Make Gravy Without Milk.

7. Add a Small Amount of Lemon Juice or Vinegar

Adding anything acidic like lemon juice or vinegar to the gravy should enhance the flavor and make it taste less salty. Just be sure you are not adding too much of either one or the gravy will taste sour. Just give the lemon a quick squeeze, or just a splash of bottled lemon juice or vinegar and that should do the trick.

How Do You Prevent Making Gravy That Is Too Salty?

The best way to prevent making gravy that is too salty is:

When making gravy after cooking whatever meat you are having, do not add any salt or seasonings until after the gravy has simmered for a few minutes and you have a chance to taste it. How much salt you will need will be determined by how much salt and other spices you put on the meat before cooking. 

I have a few times in my life added salt and pepper to the roux as it was cooking, but you normally wouldn’t taste the pan drippings to see how salty they are before adding them to the pan. Once the juices that cook out of the meat are added to the roux, that is the time to taste and to add your seasonings.

How Do I Fix Other Common Gravy Issues?

What Can I Do to Fix Runny Gravy?

If you have made gravy that is too runny, there are a couple of things that you can do:

  • Let the gravy simmer longer which will reduce it and make it thicker. Reducing the liquid in the gravy will give it a more robust flavor.
  • Add a little cornstarch to a small amount of cold water, equal parts cornstarch and water, to make a slurry and add the slurry slowly to the gravy, while stirring or whisking briskly. 

Both of these methods are easy and will thicken a gravy that is too runny.

Pro Tip: All you have to do is add a tablespoon of cornstarch to an equal amount of water to dissolve the cornstarch entirely and form a slurry that will thicken a cup of broth, and it is then ready to add to a broth of any kind to make gravy.

What Can I Do to Fix Lumpy Gravy?

The best way to fix lumpy gravy is to continue stirring or whisking the gravy until it is smooth. It might be necessary to add a little more liquid while you are stirring. Keep the gravy simmering as you are trying to get rid of the lumps.

To prevent this from happening in the future, be sure to add the liquid slowly to the roux while stirring vigorously and continuing to stir until the ingredients are completely incorporated and smooth. Adding the liquid too fast can cause lumps in the gravy.

For more details on this fix, check out my article called: How to Fix Lumpy Gravy (And Prevent It).

What Can I Do to Fix Bland Gravy?

There are a number of ways to fix bland gravy. They include:

  • Add a sufficient amount of salt and pepper to taste. Salt in particular enhances the flavor of the food.
  • Add bouillon which gives the gravy a more robust taste.
  • Add Kitchen Bouquet or a similar product.
  • Add Worchestershire or soy sauce.
  • Use fresh herbs 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 thin it with some broth or water or a combination of broth and water and simmer it for just a short time until the right consistency is achieved.

How to Make Brown Gravy From Scratch

Anne James' Homemade Gravy

Here is my family’s recipe for making brown gravy from scratch using flour:

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons Cooking Oil or Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Flour (Plain or Self-Rising)
  • 1 cup Broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
  • ½ tsp Black Pepper
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Season and fry the meat, reserving the oil and pan drippings.
  2. Leave 3 tablespoons of oil and the pan drippings in the skillet or saucepan. If you do not have 3 tablespoons of oil left after frying, add any kind of oil or butter.
  3. Add the flour and stir well to make a paste or roux. Add extra oil if the paste is too dry.
  4. Cook over low heat until the flour mixture browns to a dark brown.
  5. Add the hot broth slowly to the roux, stirring or whisking constantly.
  6. Bring the gravy to a boil and cook over low heat until it begins to thicken, stirring often.
  7. Add black pepper and salt to taste
  8. 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.

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.

Final thoughts

Personally, when faced with gravy that is too salty, I just cook the rice or mashed potatoes that will be served with the gravy without adding any salt or, if I have time, I make a second batch of gravy without salt and mix the two batches together. In my opinion, these are the best ways to solve the problem. But, when faced with a gravy that is too salty, you are sure to find a method in this article that will work for you.

And just in case you are curious about “Hoover” gravy, we made “Hoover” gravy by using Crisco or cooking oil instead of pan drippings and flour to make the roux and then adding water, although sometimes my mother sauteed onions in the roux or added leftover chicken or beef broth for a little extra flavor. It may not sound very good, but it was actually quite tasty.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss How Long Does Gravy Last? | With Basic Storage Guidelines.

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page.

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