Reducing Calories in Homemade Gravy

gravy in bowl with spoon

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Gravy is an essential part of many holiday meals. But if you're trying to lose weight, you might want to do some homework before you ladle the sauce onto your food. Most gravy recipes are high in calories. There are a few smart ways, however, to reduce the calories in gravy.

Calories in Gravy

There are only 20 calories in fat-free turkey gravy as prepared by companies like Campbell's or Heinz and about 30 calories in their regular turkey gravy. That doesn't sound too bad, does it? The catch is that a single serving of gravy is just 1/4 cup. Most of us don't measure gravy before we pour it on top of our meal. It's easy to consume more than a single serving.

Cream gravy will have more calories in it. Prepared cream gravy has 45 calories per 1/4 cup. Sausage gravy is even higher in calories, at 70 per 1/4 cup.

Calories in Homemade Gravy

Do you make gravy at home? There are only 15 calories per 1/4 cup serving if you make a standard gravy recipe with stock, flour, and water. But this is where counting gravy calories can get tricky. Many traditional gravy recipes call for butter and pan drippings. If you add those fatty ingredients, the calorie count goes way up depending on how much you add. Some estimates put the calorie count at 45 to 50 calories per 2-ounce serving.

Finding a Low-Calorie Gravy Recipe

If you want to enjoy gravy with your Thanksgiving meal, make it at home. There are a few good recipes that reduce the amount of fat and calories in the finished sauce. Here are tips for finding a recipe lower in calories:

  • Make a low-carb gravy: The calories in gravy come primarily from carbohydrates and fat. Reducing either can reduce the calories in your gravy.
  • Avoid recipes that call for cream. You may be able to substitute skim milk, but that may also result in a thinner gravy.
  • Avoid sausage gravy recipes, especially those that include cream.
  • Avoid recipes that call for butter.

Reducing Fat and Calories in Homemade Gravy

When you make homemade gravy using pan drippings, you can reduce the calories by eliminating most of the fat. If you are used to making gravy with flour, the fat combined with the flour makes the thickening roux. Instead, you can retain the flavor of the meat and use cornstarch as the thickening agent.

  • Use a fat separator cup for any liquid pan drippings you want to use for the gravy, retaining only the non-fat portion.
  • Deglaze the roasting pan with turkey stock by heating the pan with the stock for five minutes and scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Strain the deglazed drippings into the fat separator cup and use the non-fat portion for making gravy.
  • An alternative method to remove the fat is to add ice cubes to the drippings and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. The fat will solidify so you can remove it and use the rest for making gravy.
  • Make gravy with water and cornstarch or skim milk and cornstarch. Mix 1/4 cup of cornstarch with a cup of milk or water to add to 4 cups of simmering stock and de-fatted drippings. Bring it to a boil, with stirring, for three to five minutes.
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Article Sources
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  1. US Department of Agriculture. Turkey Gravy. FoodData Central.

  2. US Department of Agriculture. Sausage Gravy. FoodData Central.

  3. US Department of Agriculture. Flour and water gravy. FoodData Central.

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