Butterball Now Offers Gluten-Free Gravy!

turkeyWhile doing research for an article about gluten-free turkeys, I called the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line just to make sure their turkeys were still gluten-free as long as you threw out the gravy packet that comes with their frozen and fresh whole turkeys. Both the fresh and frozen whole turkeys are gluten-free, by the way. They make a stuffed turkey that is not. But the big news is that the Butterball gravy concentrate packets were recently reformulated to be gluten-free! The representative explained that some gluten packets are likely still in the stores so you have to read the ingredient label before using  the gravy packet.

It’s my bet that there might be a lot of gluten gravy packets out there and we might have a situation like we did a couple of years ago when Honeybaked Hams changed their glaze to be gluten-free. It took well over six months for all the existing gluten glazed products to be sold. In fact, it was a bit of a PR nightmare for the corporate office. So, please don’t rush out and expect that all the gravy packets that come with some Butterball turkeys are going to be the new gluten-free gravy version. That is likely not the case.

The gluten-free gravy concentrate ingredients include rice flour instead of wheat flour. There is no rye, barley or oats in the new formulation and the company considers it to be gluten-free. But this new gravy item is not available in the old fashioned frozen Butterball turkeys, according to the Turkey Talk-Line representative I spoke to at length about it.

The woman I spoke to made it clear that this new gravy concentrate is only available in some of the Butterball specialty items like Ready to Roast turkeys, ‘Lil Butterball turkeys and whole turkey breasts. You would think the company would include this item in the traditional frozen whole turkeys, but for now they are not doing so – unless the person I spoke to was confused. I let her know that this information is nowhere to be found on the Butterball website, nor is there a press release about it. She explained that this is very new information.

After confirming this information with two other calls to the Turkey Talk-Line, I called Butterball’s Consumer Affairs office as well. The person I spoke to in that department gave me the new gluten free gravy ingredients over the phone but I did finally locate them on the Butterball website (with the stuffed turkey ingredients).

NEW Butterball gluten-free gravy ingredients:

Modified Corn Starch, Maltodextrin, Salt, Rice Flour, Cooked Turkey, Onion Powder, Caramel Color (yes, it is gluten-free), Garlic Powder, Spices.

The consumer affairs representative also said that many of the old formulation gravy packets are in stores so we MUST read the ingredient list before consuming any gravy related items from Butterball. Additionally, she told me the new packet is included with the stuffed whole turkeys. That’s right – a gluten turkey with a gluten-free gravy packet. There is a learning curve for companies too when it comes to the gluten-free diet.  I give them credit for trying. When I mentioned that they might want to offer the gravy with a whole turkey that is not stuffed, the representative explained that if the response to this gravy is positive, that might be something the company will do later.

I’m familiar with the ‘Lil Butterball turkey but have never seen the Ready-to-Roast version. You can bet I’ll be looking for it on my next trip to the grocery store, even though I don’t care that much for gravy. I just want to check it out because I can. For me it’s kind of like the movie ‘Field of Dreams’ – make gluten-free gravy and they will come!

The Turkey Talk-Line toll free number is 1-800-BUTTERBALL, in case you have questions or just want to thank the company for making gluten-free gravy.  I am very thankful that a company like Butterball is paying attention to the gluten-free market and this is the season to give thanks, after all.

If you want to make your own gravy from scratch, you might want to check out the gluten free gravy recipe that Kay secretly serves to glutenoids!

Triumph's Thanksgiving Tips: Part 2, Gluten-Free Gravy

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!


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!

Thanksgiving Anytime

I know, I know. It’s June and here’s a post about Thanksgiving. What on earth am I thinking?

I’m thinking about my parents, actually. When my parents were still newlyweds, my mother noticed that my father was a spare eater. That was fine with her until they visited a friend’s house and my father scarfed down the food served there like he had been starving for weeks. What food was it? Thanksgiving food, with the turkey and the mashed potatoes, the stuffing and the cranberry. Well, my mother had some pride; she immediately learned how to make Thanksgiving food and then proceeded to serve it frequently, with excellent results. My dad gained some weight and everyone was pleased.

Hearing that story got me thinking about classic American food and how it strikes a unique chord within us. Southern New Englanders line up at clam shacks for fried clams and clam chowder (Boston, New England or Rhode Island style); Southerners proudly serve biscuits, black-eyed peas, collard greens, and sweet potato pie; Hawai’ians cherish their spam musubi; the denizens of Maine wolf down fresh lobster; New Yorkers nosh on bagels; and everyone has their local pizza which is of course the very best pizza in the United States. Is Thanksgiving the one meal we all love equally? In Chicago or Texas, Connecticut or California, I haven’t noticed much of a difference in anything but the stuffing.

So because this is the American cuisine you can serve anytime and expect a positive response, I think it’s fantastic that A Gluten Free Guide has provided a great service by posting a permanent sidebar of videos teaching you how to cook gluten-free Thanksgiving food: turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potato casserole, and pecan pie. Plus pineapple cheesecake, just for the hell of it. The videos are by myrecipe.com and explained by Catherine Oddenino, who I found quite easy to understand. She mostly doesn’t mention measurements and therefore gives you an idea of how to adjust any recipe you originally have for these foods. The videos are very short; give them a try!

If you’d like more information about making gluten-free Thanksgiving food, try About.com’s page on the subject, Episode 12 of the Hold the Gluten podcast, Book of Yum’s Thanksgiving menu swap, and Simply…Gluten Free’s Thanksgiving recipe page. Treat yourself and your loved ones to some of their favorite American food this summer. Yum yum yum!