Gravy Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

gravy in bowl with spoon

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Gravy is an essential part of many holiday dishes. If you've been watching your weight or trying to follow heart-healthy eating, you may wonder whether you'll have to skip the gravy this year. Gravy adds flavor, mainly due to its sodium and fat content. It imparts richness and decadence to otherwise drier foods, like turkey.

Although gravy isn't the best option as an everyday choice, it's still possible to include this staple on your holiday plate while maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle. Here's some background on the different types of gravy and how to maintain a realistic perspective on healthy eating.

Gravy Nutrition Facts

The nutrition facts on gravy can vary quite a bit depending on the brand you purchase or whether you make it from scratch. Here's a breakdown of what you'll find in a 100-gram serving (roughly 1/3 cup) of a typical store-bought turkey gravy.

  • Calories: 25
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Sodium: 500 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 5 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 1.7 g

Carbs

The carbohydrates in gravy come from modified corn starch and flour, which are used as thickeners.

Fats

You can find "fat-free" gravy at the grocery store, but be mindful of the serving size. The example above contains chicken fat as an ingredient, although a 100-gram portion doesn't technically contain enough fat to be listed on the label.

Protein

There are almost 2 grams of protein in 100 grams of turkey gravy. Turkey itself is an excellent source of protein, so if topping it with gravy makes turkey more enjoyable on Thanksgiving, go for it.

Vitamins and Minerals

Gravy isn't an especially good source of vitamins or minerals. Depending on the base of your gravy, it may have some zinc, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, and phosphorus. Store-bought gravy tends to be high in sodium, so if you're concerned about your blood pressure, limit the amount of gravy you use or seek out a low-sodium brand or recipe.

Varieties

Gravy can be made from a variety of meats including turkey, chicken, sausage, and beef. The fat content and micronutrients differ slightly depending on the type of gravy and how it's prepared. For instance, beef gravy may be higher in fat and calories than poultry gravy.

When you purchase gravy ready-made, you can compare nutrition labels between brands. Making it from scratch means the nutrition facts can be tougher to calculate. However, since gravy is more of a "special occasion food," it's up to you if you want to bother deciphering every detail. A healthy eating mindset includes the ability to let go and relax the rules from time to time.

Storage and Food Safety

A golden rule of food safety is to keep hot foods hot (140 degrees F or hotter) and cold foods cold (40 degrees F or less). After gravy is served, it should be placed in the refrigerator within two hours to prevent the growth of bacteria. Keep gravy (and leftovers covered in gravy) in the refrigerator for no longer than three to four days. You may keep these items in the freezer for up to six months.

How to Prepare

If you want to enjoy gravy with your Thanksgiving meal, try making it at home. If you'd like to modify the nutritional content, here are some tips:

  • 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 also include cream.
  • Make a low-carb gravy. The calories in gravy come primarily from carbohydrates and fat. Reducing either can reduce the calories in your gravy.
  • Skip recipes that call for butter.

When you make homemade gravy with pan drippings, you can reduce the calories and saturated fat 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 3 to 5 minutes.

A Word From Verywell

Keep in mind that it's the food choices we make every day, rather than a few times a year, that have the biggest impact on our health. While there's nothing wrong with modifying favorite recipes to have less sodium or saturated fat, it's not always necessary. Enjoy your holiday plate and move on to make more health-conscious choices at the meals that follow.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. US Department of Agriculture, FoodData Central. Turkey gravy. Updated April 1, 2019.

  2. USDA FoodData Central. Gravy, beef. Updated October 30, 2020.

  3. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. Keep food safe! Food safety basics. Updated December 20, 2016.

Additional Reading