Okay, I’m going to tell you a something that only my husband knows…for the past 4 years, I’ve secretly been feeding my in-laws gluten-free gravy for Thanksgiving. Not only do they love it, but there are never any leftovers. In this post, I’m going to share the recipe to a gluten-free gravy everyone (not just you and the dog) will love.

Sweet Rice Flour. Of course, the problem with traditional gravy is that it’s thickened with wheat flour. I’ve experimented with all sorts of alternatives, from patented gluten-free flour mixes to far out starches from my local health food store. The clear winner in my opinion is the humble sweet rice flour. It’s not only cheap (around $1.29 per pound), but pretty easy to find. Oh, and by the way, it’s not actually sweet. It has a neutral taste. In fact, I actually prefer the rice flour to wheat flour, which can have a “floury” taste. The sweet rice flour is more neutral and the texture is right on.

NOTE: Rice flour is not the same as sweet rice flour.  The sweet rice flour is from a different rice variety and has a superior thickening ability, plus it’s more finely milled. If you use a regular rice flour, you may find your gravy a bit grainy. (By the same token, don’t use sweet rice flour for traditional gluten-free baking, it’s much too fine and will render your baked goods super chewy, almost like gum. Stick to plain old rice flour for your baking needs.)

I really like Mochiko brand sweet rice flour. It’s more finely milled than some other brands I’ve tried. It’s also pretty easy to find. Check the Asian aisle in your local supermarket. Or, check out your local Asian grocery store.

Other Thickeners. If you can’t find sweet rice flour, here are some recipes that use alternative flours. Just a quick caveat about one of the starches mentioned, cornstarch… in my experience, if you use even a little too much, the gravy can get an almost gelatinous feel. Gravy gelatin. Yuck, no thanks.  You might want to try using 3/4 of the amount of cornstarch the recipe calls for, and then adding the rest only if you really need it. I haven’t had this problem with other starches or flours.

  • Here’s a recipe that uses cornstarch, which is probably the most readily available starch. You can find cornstarch in any supermarket baking aisle. Check out the Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide for a list of gluten-free cornstarch brands. (If you haven’t already, check out the Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide to help make your holiday cooking easier. The guide lists grocery brands and products that are gluten-free.) The most easy to find brand listed in the guide is Argo cornstarch. Bob’s Red Mill is also listed in the guide as making a GF cornstarch.
  • One of our favorite food bloggers, Elana, has a gravy recipe using kudzu starch.
  • eHow has a recipe calling for tapioca starch.
  • And for our vegetarian readers, Rachel’s Recipe Box has an animal-friendly gravy recipe.

But if you do find some sweet rice flour, check out my recipe below and let me know what you think!

Triumph Family’s Gluten-Free Gravy Recipe

Pan Drippings from Turkey

Chicken Stock, amount varies but a 32 oz. carton should do

Butter, 2T

Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour, 2.5-4T

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

  1. Pour pan drippings into a gravy separator. Or, if you don’t have one, pour drippings into a large measuring cup and let it sit for 2 minutes, or until the fat rises to the top. Use a baster or spoon to separate the juices from the fat.
  2. Reserve just 2T of fat in a separate container and discard the rest of the fat. Now you should be left with just the juices that separated from the fat.
  3. Pour juices into a measuring cup and add enough chicken stock so that the total amount of liquids (juices + stock) equals 4 cups. I prefer Kitchen Basics chicken stock, but any gluten-free stock or broth will do.
  4. Over medium-low, melt 2T butter in a heavy-bottomed pan large enough to hold 4 cups of liquid.
  5. Add 2T of the turkey fat you reserved and slowly sprinkle in 2.5T of the Mochiko rice flour. (You’ll probably need to add more later, but it’s always to start with less and add more later.) Stir the “roux” until it starts to clump together. Do NOT brown the flour like you would a wheat flour roux.
  6. While whisking vigorously, slowly add in the 4 cups of liquid.
  7. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, all the while whisking to dissolve any lumps.
  8. Allow it to boil for 1 minute, then reduce heat slightly until it’s simmering at a brisk pace.
  9. Cook about 15 minutes until it’s reduced to the texture you want, whisking frequently to keep the gravy smooth. You may need to add up more Mochiko during the reducing process. In general, I find that 4T is about right for my family (they like gravy on the thinner side), but you may find you need up to 6T, and not just because it’s a matter of taste. Thickening sauces is not an exact science – some crops of flour have more moisture, and some less. So sometimes you’ll need to use lots of flour, and sometimes less. You’ll have to eyeball the amount of flour that’s right for you. Just remember, the gravy will continue to thicken a little after you take it off the heat, so it’s perfect when it’s just a shade thinner than what you’d normally serve. And don’t worry, if you add too much flour, just add a little more chicken stock.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 10…well, if they really love gravy like my family does!

Variations

Depending on your family’s taste, you may want to add some dry rosemary, thyme or a bay leaf while the gravy is reducing. Or, cook some shallots or garlic in the fat, before you add the flour, until fragrant, for an even more savory gravy.

(By the way, you may be wondering why I don’t just tell my family that the gravy is gluten-free. Well, probably like a lot of you out there, people who are not GF have very, very low expectations of GF foods. I once made the mistake of announcing a casserole was GF, and before anyone even tried it, everyone at the table made a face and insisted we go out for dinner. They didn’t even want to try it because it was GF. Isn’t that crazy? So, I just don’t tell them when something’s GF anymore. It’s been working pretty great so far!)

I’m sure I’m not the only one out there with a gluten-free turkey recipe. What about you? What works for you and what doesn’t – please do share. And stay tuned for our next tip on Gluten-Free Pie Crusts!