5 Best Store-Bought Gravy Hacks to Make It Taste Homemade

Never serve bland store-bought gravy again.

The mere thought of having to make an elaborate meal for hungry guests can quickly amp up your stress meter. However, whether it's the 10 different dishes you need to make simultaneously for Thanksgiving dinner or your hangry family awaiting food after a busy day, time-saving cooking hacks are always welcome in the kitchen.

Though essential during a holiday meal, gravy usually becomes an afterthought when overshadowed by the stress of cooking a 15-pound turkey. However, there's good news. Remove one more item from your to-do list and opt for store-bought gravy instead of making it from scratch. With a few simple modifications and tweaks, you can easily transform store-bought gravy into a richer, tastier sauce—and fool everyone into thinking it was homemade.

Steak with Mushroom Wine Sauce and Vegetables
Getty Images

And, if you happen to have some extra, there's no harm in transforming your leftover gravy into classic Canadian-style poutine or hearty brunch biscuits and gravy.

01 of 05

Incorporate the "Fond" or Drippings From the Roasting Pan

Stock Poured from the Measuring Cup into a Pan on the Stove

Simply Recipes / Alison Bickel

Relying on the drippings to make enough sauce to feed the entire family can turn into a risky guessing game and fall short of the quantity you needed. However, with a little help from store-bought gravy, you can ensure you have enough sauce to coat any dry turkey, bland mashed potatoes, or lonely green beans.

To make the sauce even more flavorful, add the drippings from the bottom of the roasting pan while heating the gravy. The extra fat and flavorful little brown bits, also known as the "fond," will help give the store-bought gravy depth and complexity.

02 of 05

Infuse the Sauce With Aromatic Herbs

Bunch of fresh tarragon herb leaves on slate worktop
malcolm park / Getty Images

Refresh store-bought gravy using fresh herbs like sage, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Playing off of the classic Thanksgiving flavors, these fresh greens can transform any plain gravy into something special. To maximize the aromatic infusion, slowly simmer the sauce and herbs in a small pot until flagrant and flavorful, then remove or strain the gravy before serving.

03 of 05

Liven Up the Gravy With a Splash of Alcohol

High angle view of the best turkey gravy in a small gravy boat with a whole plated turkey peeking in the frame.
Lindsey Hayes

Give store-bought gravy the life it might be lacking with a splash of your favorite cooking wine or spirits like cognac, brandy, or sherry. As you reheat the sauce, add a few tablespoons of wine or liquor, and simmer until the alcohol has fully evaporated. The result: a creamy, full-bodied gravy that can rival any homemade version.

04 of 05

Boost the Flavor Profile With Umami-Rich Ingredients

bowls of umani food

The Spruce/Maxwell Cozzi

If you're left with tons of leftover gravy or are simply looking to try something new, experiment by adding umami-rich ingredients to make an ordinary sauce, extraordinary. Umami, one of the five basic tastes also referred to as monosodium glutamate, is often associated with meaty, earthy, and rich flavor profiles from ingredients like bacon, mushrooms, and fish sauce.

Adding ingredients like mushrooms, bacon lardons, prosciutto, caramelized onions, porcini mushrooms, truffle, or black garlic can give store-bought gravy the complexity it might be lacking.

05 of 05

Make It a Meal Aside From Thanksgiving Dinner

Dark french fries frying in hot oil

Serious Eats / Eric Kleinberg

Although this sauce might have deeply-rooted ties with the holiday season, gravy is delicious year-round in dishes like Canadian-style poutine or hearty biscuits and gravy. Doctor-up store-bought gravy with additions like pork sausage to lather over freshly baked, warm biscuits. Or, serve over a bed of crunchy french fries and cheese curds to enjoy a classic Canadian dish.

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