Gravy Alternatives

A variety of savory sauces and condiments to accompany a dish

When it comes to holiday meals, one of the most essential elements is undoubtedly the gravy. Whether poured over turkey, mashed potatoes, or stuffing, gravy has the power to enhance the flavors of any dish it accompanies. However, many people have specific dietary restrictions or preferences that prevent them from consuming traditional gravy made with flour, butter, or meat drippings. That’s where gravy alternatives come in. In this article, we’re going to explore why you might want to consider using a different type of gravy and provide you with an exhaustive list of the best gravy alternatives available for various diets and situations.

Why Look for Gravy Alternatives?

There are several reasons why you might want to look for gravy alternatives. Perhaps you or your guests have specific dietary requirements, like being gluten-free or dairy-free, and can’t consume traditional gravy. Maybe you’re looking for a healthier option that’s lower in calories or offers more nutrients. Or, you might be tired of the same old gravy and want to experiment with different flavors and textures. Whatever your motivation, there are plenty of gravy alternatives available that can meet your needs.

One reason to consider gravy alternatives is to cater to different cultural tastes. For example, in some Asian cuisines, gravy is not a common condiment, and instead, sauces like soy sauce or hoisin sauce are used. By offering alternative sauces, you can provide a more diverse and inclusive dining experience for your guests.

Another reason to explore gravy alternatives is to reduce food waste. Traditional gravy is often made from meat drippings, which can be limited in quantity and may not be available if you’re serving a vegetarian or vegan meal. By using alternative ingredients like mushrooms, onions, or vegetable broth, you can create a flavorful sauce that doesn’t rely on animal products and reduces food waste.

Health Benefits of Using Gravy Alternatives

Aside from catering to various dietary restrictions, gravy alternatives can also offer some health benefits. For example, many vegetarian and vegan gravies are made with nutritious ingredients like mushrooms, vegetable broth, and miso paste, which provide essential vitamins and minerals. Similarly, low-calorie gravy alternatives can help to reduce your overall calorie intake while still adding flavor to your meal. Plus, homemade gravy alternatives allow you to control the ingredients and avoid any unwanted additives or preservatives that may be present in pre-made gravies.

Another benefit of using gravy alternatives is that they can be lower in sodium than traditional gravies. Excessive sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure and other health issues, so reducing your sodium intake can be beneficial for your overall health. Many gravy alternatives use herbs and spices to add flavor instead of relying on salt, making them a healthier option. Additionally, some gravy alternatives are gluten-free, which can be beneficial for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities.

Vegetarian Gravy Alternatives

For those who don’t eat meat or are looking to reduce their meat consumption, there are plenty of vegetarian gravy alternatives available. One of the most popular options is mushroom gravy, which is made with sautéed mushrooms, onion, garlic, and vegetable broth. Another option is miso gravy, which is a savory Japanese-style gravy made with miso paste, soy sauce, and vegetable stock. You can also experiment with other ingredients like lentils, chickpeas, or nutritional yeast to create a unique and flavorful gravy.

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to traditional gravy, you can try making a vegetable-based gravy. Simply sauté onions, carrots, and celery in a bit of olive oil, then add vegetable broth and herbs like thyme and rosemary. Let the mixture simmer until it thickens, then strain out the vegetables and serve. This gravy is not only delicious, but it’s also packed with nutrients and lower in fat than traditional gravy.

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Gluten-Free Gravy Alternatives

If you’re following a gluten-free diet, traditional flour-based gravy is off the table. However, there are several gluten-free gravy alternatives that can still provide the rich and savory flavor you’re looking for. One option is cornstarch gravy, which is made with a mixture of cornstarch and water or broth. Another alternative is using gluten-free flour like rice flour or chickpea flour to thicken your gravy. Alternatively, you can skip the flour altogether and use pureed vegetables or beans to add thickness and flavor to your gravy.

Another gluten-free gravy alternative is using arrowroot powder, which is a starch extracted from the roots of tropical plants. Arrowroot powder is a great thickener for gravies and sauces and has a neutral taste, making it a versatile option for different types of dishes. Additionally, you can also use mashed potatoes to thicken your gravy. Simply add mashed potatoes to your gravy and stir until it reaches the desired consistency.

It’s important to note that some store-bought gravies may contain gluten, so always check the label before purchasing. You can also make your own homemade gravy using gluten-free ingredients to ensure it’s safe for your diet. With these gluten-free gravy alternatives, you can still enjoy the delicious taste of gravy without compromising your dietary needs.

Dairy-Free Gravy Alternatives

For those who are lactose intolerant or follow a dairy-free diet, butter and cream-based gravies are a no-go. However, there are plenty of dairy-free gravy alternatives that can still provide that rich and creamy texture. One option is using coconut milk or coconut cream as the base for your gravy. Another alternative is using non-dairy cream cheese or milk to add creaminess. You can also create a roux using olive oil or vegetable oil instead of butter to start your gravy.

Another great dairy-free gravy alternative is using nut-based milks, such as almond or cashew milk. These milks can add a nutty flavor to your gravy and can be easily found in most grocery stores. Additionally, you can add herbs and spices to your gravy to enhance the flavor and make it more interesting. For example, adding rosemary, thyme, or sage can give your gravy a savory taste that pairs well with roasted meats and vegetables.

If you’re looking for a gluten-free option, you can use cornstarch or arrowroot powder instead of flour to thicken your gravy. These alternatives are also great for those who are watching their carb intake. Just be sure to mix the cornstarch or arrowroot powder with cold water before adding it to your gravy to prevent clumping.

Low-Calorie Gravy Alternatives

If you’re watching your calorie intake, traditional gravies can quickly add up. However, there are several low-calorie gravy alternatives that can still provide flavor and richness without breaking the calorie bank. One option is using a vegetable-based gravy, like mushroom or miso gravy, which tends to be lower in calories than meat-based gravies. Another alternative is using vegetable broth or low-sodium chicken broth as the base for your gravy instead of heavy cream or butter. You can also experiment with using pureed vegetables or beans to thicken your gravy for a low-calorie option.

Another low-calorie gravy alternative is using Greek yogurt or sour cream as a base. These dairy products can add a creamy texture to your gravy without adding too many calories. You can also add herbs and spices like thyme, rosemary, and sage to enhance the flavor of your gravy.

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It’s important to note that while these low-calorie gravy alternatives can help you cut down on calories, portion control is still key. Be mindful of how much gravy you’re adding to your meals and try to stick to a reasonable serving size. Additionally, incorporating more vegetables and lean proteins into your meals can help you feel fuller for longer and reduce the need for excessive gravy consumption.

Homemade Gravy Alternatives

If you want to avoid pre-made gravies with added preservatives and additives, making your own gravy at home is an excellent option. Homemade gravy allows you to control the ingredients and tailor the flavor to your specific tastes. You can use a variety of ingredients like herbs, spices, and vegetables to create unique and flavorful gravies. Plus, making your own gravy is relatively easy and can be done in just a few steps.

One of the best things about making your own gravy is that you can adjust the consistency to your liking. If you prefer a thicker gravy, you can add more flour or cornstarch to the mixture. On the other hand, if you like a thinner gravy, you can add more broth or water. This level of customization is not possible with pre-made gravies.

Another benefit of making your own gravy is that it can be a healthier option. By using fresh ingredients and avoiding processed foods, you can create a gravy that is lower in sodium and free from artificial flavors and colors. Additionally, you can use organic or locally sourced ingredients to ensure that your gravy is made from high-quality, sustainable ingredients.

Instant Gravy Mixes: Are They Worth It?

If you’re short on time or don’t want to go through the hassle of making your own gravy from scratch, you might be tempted to use an instant gravy mix. However, it’s essential to understand that these pre-made gravies can be full of preservatives, sodium, and other unwanted ingredients. While they might be convenient, they’re typically not the healthiest or most flavorful option available. If you’re going to use an instant gravy mix, be sure to read the label and choose one with minimal additives and preservatives.

Another thing to consider when using instant gravy mixes is that they may not have the same depth of flavor as homemade gravy. When you make gravy from scratch, you have control over the ingredients and can adjust the seasoning to your liking. With instant mixes, you’re limited to the flavors that come in the package. If you have the time and ingredients, making your own gravy can result in a more delicious and satisfying meal.

Top 10 Gravy Alternatives to Use this Holiday Season

Now that we’ve explored the various types of gravy alternatives available let’s take a look at the top 10 gravy alternatives to use this holiday season:

  • Mushroom gravy
  • Miso gravy
  • Cornstarch gravy
  • Coconut milk gravy
  • Vegan cashew gravy
  • Roasted vegetable gravy
  • Caramelized onion gravy
  • Red wine gravy
  • Balsamic mushroom gravy
  • Herb-infused gravy

1. Mushroom gravy: This is a classic alternative to traditional gravy. It’s made by sautéing mushrooms with onions and garlic, then adding vegetable broth and flour to thicken it up. It’s perfect for those who want a rich, savory flavor without the meat.

2. Vegan cashew gravy: This is a creamy and nutty alternative to traditional gravy. It’s made by blending cashews with vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, and spices. It’s perfect for those who want a dairy-free option that’s still rich and flavorful.

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Traditional vs Modern Gravy Alternatives: Which is Better?

When it comes to gravy, there’s always the debate between traditional and modern methods. While traditional gravies made with meat drippings and flour have been around for ages, modern gravy alternatives offer unique and diverse options that cater to specific dietary preferences and sensitivities. Ultimately, the best choice comes down to personal preference and what works best for you and your guests.

One of the most popular modern gravy alternatives is vegetarian or vegan gravy, which is made without any meat or animal products. This type of gravy is perfect for those who follow a plant-based diet or have dietary restrictions due to allergies or religious beliefs. It can be made with vegetable broth, mushrooms, or other plant-based ingredients to create a rich and flavorful sauce.

Another modern gravy alternative is gluten-free gravy, which is made without wheat flour. This type of gravy is ideal for those who have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Instead of wheat flour, gluten-free gravy can be made with cornstarch or rice flour to thicken the sauce. It still offers a delicious taste and texture that is similar to traditional gravy.

Tips for Making the Perfect Gravy Alternative at Home

If you’re planning on making your own gravy alternative at home, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose the right ingredients for your specific dietary needs.
  • Use a mixture of herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of your gravy.
  • Whisk the gravy constantly to avoid lumps.
  • Adjust the seasoning to your personal taste.
  • Allow the gravy to cook for at least 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  • Experiment with different thicknesses and textures until you find the perfect gravy consistency.

Adding Flavor to Your Gravy: Spices and Herbs to Use

If you want to amp up the flavor of your gravy, using herbs and spices is an excellent way to do so. Some popular herbs and spices to add to your gravy include:

  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Bay leaves
  • Parsley
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves

How to Thicken your Gravy Alternative without Flour

If you want to avoid using flour to thicken your gravy alternative, there are several options available. Some of the most popular thickeners include:

  • Cornstarch
  • Pureed vegetables or beans
  • Arrowroot powder
  • Coconut cream or milk
  • Cashew cream
  • Mashed potatoes

Using Leftovers: How to Make a Delicious Sauce from Scraps

Finally, if you have leftover scraps from your holiday meal, you can use them to create a delicious sauce or gravy. To do so, simmer your leftover vegetables, bones, and herbs in a pot with water for several hours to create a flavorful broth. Strain the broth and use it as the base for your sauce or gravy. You can add thickeners, seasonings, and other ingredients to customize the flavor to your liking.


As you can see, there are plenty of gravy alternatives available for various diets and preferences. Whether you’re vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, or just looking to mix things up, there’s a perfect gravy alternative out there for you. Experiment with different flavors and textures, and don’t be afraid to make your own gravy at home. With the right ingredients and techniques, you can create a delicious and healthy gravy alternative that enhances the flavor of your holiday meal.

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