There’s enough going on when making the Christmas dinner without having to worry about the gravy!
It’s such an important part of the meal, and it’s a real weight off the shoulders to know you’ve already got a great tasting gravy ready.
This is my cheat method for making the Christmas gravy ahead of time.
Note: You will need to get eating some chicken before Xmas!! - or at least roasting some chicken (you can freeze the meat). We're going to need it for the most amazing stock.
Yes, I'm using chicken to make turkey gravy.
Sounds like it makes no sense, but the flavour is very similar. Plus once you've made this gravy, you can add in those turkey drippings from the roasting tin on Christmas day and heat it all through together.
So then we can accurately say that we have turkey gravy!
📋 What do we need?
We need TWO chicken carcasses to make enough gravy for 6-8 people.
It's always a good idea to freeze the bones after you've roasted a chicken so you can make homemade stock when you have more time.
You can even add in other bones - such as beef or lamb if you want a more complex-tasting meaty gravy.
If you find you're a little short on time to make and eat 2 roast chicken before Christmas, you can always roast the chickens, then take off the meat and freeze it.
It's great to have a stash of chicken slices/pieces in the freezer for Chicken Pasta or Tuscan soup or for just in case you find you don't have enough turkey on Christmas day (no-one will notice if you add a slice of chicken to their plate!) and those little shreds of chicken are great for Chicken Fried Rice or Mee Goreng.
🔪 How to make this make ahead gravy
**Full recipe with detailed steps and quantities in the recipe card at the end of this post.**
- Add two chicken carcasses, plus carrots, celery and onions in a large pan and cover with cold water.
- Season with salt, pepper and crumbled stock cubes (plus any meat drippings if you have them) and bring to the boil.
- Simmer for 4-5 hours until reduced by half, then strain and pour the liquid back in the pan.
- Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and slowly pour in a cornstarch slurry while stirring with a whisk, until the gravy thickness is to your liking.
👩🍳PRO TIP If you want the gravy to be a darker colour, stir in a few drops of gravy browning too.
Plenty of tasty gravy to serve with that Turkey dinner.
This chicken gravy makes a great base for any meaty gravy. Simply replace the chicken stock cubes with the flavour stock cube relevant to the meat you'll be roasting (I would still use chicken stock cubes for pork or goose).
Then add the meat juices from the meat you roast on Christmas day to the make ahead gravy and re-heat it together.
Make red onion gravy!
Fry a finely sliced onion, along with 1 tsp light brown sugar and 2 tbsp of unsalted butter over a low heat for 15-20 minutes, until starting to caramelize. Sprinkle over 2 tbsp flour and stir. Cook for 2 minutes to cook out the taste of the flour. Add in 2 cups (420ml) of hot vegetable stock (water plus 2 stock cubes), slowly, whilst stirring all the time, until the gravy thickens. Add a splash of vegetarian Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper before serving.
If you want to make less, you have halve the recipe. The stock will boil down a little quicker - usually in about 2.5-3 hours, rather than 4-5 hours.
📺 Watch how to make it
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Make Ahead Gravy for Christmas
- 2 leftover roasted chicken carcasses
- 2 large carrots - broken in half, no need to peel
- 2 sticks celery - roughly broken
- 2 onions - sliced in half, no need to peel
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 3 chicken or turkey stock cubes - crumbled
- *Optional* leftover meat drippings from the roasting pan - (from roasting a chicken) don’t worry if you haven’t got any
- 3 tbsp cornflour - mixed with 80ml (⅓ cup) cold water
- ½ tsp gravy browning - optional
- Place the chicken carcasses, carrots, celery, and onions in a large pan and cover with cold water.2 leftover roasted chicken carcasses, 2 large carrots, 2 sticks celery, 2 onions
- Add in the salt, pepper, and crumbled stock cubes (plus any meat drippings if you have them) and bring to the boil.1 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, 3 chicken or turkey stock cubes, *Optional* leftover meat drippings from the roasting pan
- Turn down the heat and simmer for 4-5 hours until reduced by half.
- Turn off the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then place a fine sieve over a jug. Pour the contents of the pan through the into the sieve, squeezing any juices out with the back of a spoon.
- You may have to do this in two goes, as there will be enough bones and veg to fill the sieve twice.
- Clean the pan (or use a different sauce pan) and pour in the strained stock.
- Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and slowly pour in the cornstarch slurry while stirring with a whisk, until the gravy thickness is to your liking.3 tbsp cornflour
- If you want the gravy to be a darker colour, stir in the gravy browning too.½ tsp gravy browning
- Turn off the heat and allow to cool, then transfer to an air-tight container and place in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to a month.
- If freezing, allow to defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
- To reheat, pour into a pan (it will probably be quite jelly-like) and heat over a medium-high heat, whilst stirring with a whisk, until piping hot.
- NOTE: If you have meat drippings in your roasting tray from roasting the turkey, you can stir these in now whilst heating the gravy through.
- Pour into a warmed gravy jug (I fill mine with water from the kettle for a few minutes to warm it up) and serve.
This recipe makes approx 700ml (a little under 3 cups) - which i've divided into 8 servings - meaning each serving is approx 88ml (approx ⅓ cup + 1 tbsp). Will I get enough gravy? This recipe makes approx 700ml (a little under 3 cups) of gravy.
If you find you don't have 600-700ml of stock after straining the liquid, you can top up with a little water, as the stock is quite strong after 4-5 hours of simmering.
Adding in any turkey drippings mixed with a little boiling water will also increase the amount of gravy slightly.
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