Here's how to thicken gravy using cornstarch or flour—plus, alternative ingredients for thickening gravy (including gluten-free options).
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It's the annual wintry cooking-skill conundrum-figuring out the best way to thicken your gravy. As you start craving chilly weather dishes and comfort foods, like robust roasts, mashed potatoes, and (of course), Thanksgiving turkey, you may find yourself at the stove wondering: Why won't my gravy thicken?

First, Try Reducing the Liquid

One easy way to thicken gravy is to simply reduce the liquid. Add any pan drippings you have to a small or medium-sized saucepan. Then, add in 1 cup of liquid, and simmer on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces by at least a third and the flavors are more concentrated.

No time to simmer? No problem. We certainly don't want your table full of gravy-loving guests to wait. Grab a whisk and follow these tips for how to thicken gravy with cornstarch, flour, or using alternative ingredients in your pantry.

How to Thicken Gravy With Cornstarch

Cornstarch isn't just a handy all-around kitchen staple to keep in your pantry—it's also a gluten-free gravy thickener that saves the day for the gluten-averse. How much cornstarch is needed to thicken gravy? The ratio is an easy one to remember: Use 1 tablespoon of cornstarch per 1 cup of liquid for a perfect gluten-free gravy thickener every time. If you want extra-thick gravy, use 2 tablespoons per 1 cup of liquid (vegetable, chicken, or meat stock, ideally, a combination of pan drippings and stock, or water and bouillon). A good rule of thumb is to start with a single tablespoon-you can always add more.

To thicken gravy with cornstarch and get smooth results, mix the cornstarch with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to make a liquid-like paste or slurry. Another method is to strain the dry cornstarch through a fine-mesh sieve, although using this method to thicken gravy may result in a more lumpy gravy.

Once you add the cornstarch to your hot liquid, use a whisk or wooden spoon to incorporate it, whisking or stirring constantly until it is well incorporated and the gravy starts to thicken. Bonus: In addition to being a gluten-free gravy thickener, you need less cornstarch than other gravy thickeners to get the job done.

How to Thicken Gravy With Flour

Similar to cornstarch, the technique to thicken gravy with flour works best if you add a little water to your flour to create a liquid-like paste or slurry (you may also use a fine-mesh sieve to strain the dry flour into the hot liquid). However, when using flour as a gravy thickener, you must double the amount—use 2 tablespoons of flour per 1 cup of liquid. Use a whisk or wooden spoon to incorporate, stirring constantly until you thicken the gravy to the desired consistency.

How to Thicken Gravy Without Cornstarch or Flour

Don't have cornstarch or flour on-hand? There are lots of cornstarch alternatives and flour substitutes you can use (many are gluten-free gravy thickeners, too)-you just need to get a little creative. Here are a few pantry items you can use to thicken gravy.

Flour and Cornstarch Alternatives:

Arrowroot

This powder comes from rhizomes of the Marantaceae family of tubers. It's a great natural substitute for those needing a gluten-free gravy thickener. As with using cornstarch or flour to thicken gravy, make a slurry with your arrowroot powder by mixing 2 to 3 tablespoons with an equal amount of water. Add to 1 cup hot liquid with a whisk or wooden spoon, stirring until incorporated and the gravy thickens.

Tapioca

Tapioca is derived from the cassava root. To thicken gravy, add 1 ½ teaspoons of tapioca starch into the hot liquid, whisking until well incorporated and the gravy thickens.

RELATED: The Safety Tip You Need to Know Before Cooking With Cassava

Potato Starch

This gluten-free gravy thickener requires 1 tablespoon of starch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water to create a slurry. Whisk or stir into 1 cup of hot liquid, stirring constantly until the gravy thickens.

Pureed Vegetables

Who knew? This smart way to thicken gravy allows you to use what's in your veggie crisper. Roast any kind of potato, parsnip, beet, or carrot, puree in a blender or food processor, and stir into gravy until completely incorporated. (Just remember: Vegetables have their unique flavors, so you'll be altering the taste of your stock base with whatever vegetable you decide to add.)