White Gravy

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Pan drippings form a base of a creamy thick gravy that goes with everything from steak to fried chicken.

White Gravy pouring over chicken fried steak.

White gravy is a staple sauce down South.  It’s made from the pan drippings left from roasting or pan frying some sort of meat, whether it be steak or poultry or pork.  Flour is added to form a roux, and then this is thinned with milk, a touch of onion (usually), and salt and pepper.  And that’s it!

Plate with green, chicken fried steak, corn bread, and white gravy.

White gravy is the companion to all sorts of Southern dishes, from fried chicken to chicken fried steak to biscuits to grits.   This is usually a fairly thick gravy, creamy and simple, basically a béchamel sauce.  It should be generously seasoned with freshly cracked black pepper (it might also be called pepper gravy in some places).

What is the Difference Between White Gravy and Brown Gravy

In short, white gravy contains milk, while brown gravy contains broth.  Brown gravy might also be more heavily seasoned with herbs and spices, while white gravy is usually a very simple sauce.  

White Gravy: Pan drippings form a base of a creamy thick gravy that goes with everything from steak to fried chicken.

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Chicken fried steak with white gravy being poured on top.

Tips for Making White Gravy

  • If you have flour left from dredging and frying up chicken or steaks or whatever, this is a great place to use it.  Since it will cook as the gravy is being made, any bacteria that might have been introduced by contact with raw meat will be killed off, so it’s perfectly safe, and a nice way to prevent waste.
  • Dori Sanders, in her book Dori Sanders’ Country Cooking says “be generous with the pepper here; it really adds to the flavor.”  She also recommends adding the milk to the pot off the heat, and then returning the pot to the heat and cooking until the mixture thickens. 
  • Whisk the gravy frequently if not constantly to prevent burning and to make the gravy evenly smooth and thick.
Plate of greens, chicken fried steak, and corn bread all topped with white gravy.
  • John Martin Taylor, author of The New Southern Cook recommends adding a couple of tablespoons of grated white onion to the gravy for even more flavor.
  • Gravy thickens as it cools.  If you want to thin it out, add a little bit of hot water to the sauce as it heats or reheats over low heat on the stove.

How to Make White Gravy

In the pan that you use to fry, roast or sear your meat, reserve ¼ cup pan drippings, or transfer them to a saucepot from the cooking pan.  Heat the drippings over medium heat.   

Skillet with pan drippings.

Add the flour to the drippings.  

Flour being whisked into a skillet of pan drippings.

Whisk the flour in until it turns golden brown and starts to thicken and bubble, about 3 minutes.   

Skillet with flour and pan drippings that have been whisked together.

Remove from the heat and gradually add the milk, whisking constantly.  

Pouring milk into a skillet of flour and pan drippings.

Add the onion, if using.  

Return to the heat and whisk frequently until thickened, about 5 minutes.  

Whisk in a steaming skillet of white gravy.

Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Serve hot.

What to Serve with White Gravy

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5 from 1 vote

White Gravy

Pan drippings form a base of a creamy thick gravy that goes with everything from steak to fried chicken.
Prep Time: 0 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 8 minutes
Servings: 8 People
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Ingredients 

  • ¼ cup pan drippings from turkey or pan-fried chicken , pork or steaks
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk (preferably whole)
  • 2 tablespoons grated white onion (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • In the pan that you use to fry, roast or sear your meat, reserve ¼ cup pan drippings, or transfer them to a saucepot from the cooking pan. Heat the drippings over medium heat. Add the flour to the drippings.
  • Whisk the flour in until it turns golden brown and starts to thicken and bubble, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Add the onion, if using.
  • Return to the heat and whisk frequently until thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot.

Notes

  • If you have flour left from dredging and frying up chicken or steaks or whatever, this is a great place to use it.  Since it will cook as the gravy is being made, any bacteria that might have been introduced by contact with raw meat will be killed off, so it’s perfectly safe, and a nice way to prevent waste.
  • Dori Sanders, in her book Dori Sanders’ Country Cooking says “be generous with the pepper here; it really adds to the flavor.”  She also recommends adding the milk to the pot off the heat, and then returning the pot to the heat and cooking until the mixture thickens. 
  • Whisk the gravy frequently if not constantly to prevent burning and to make the gravy evenly smooth and thick.

Nutrition

Calories: 118kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 14mg, Sodium: 34mg, Potassium: 99mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 99IU, Vitamin C: 0.2mg, Calcium: 76mg, Iron: 0.2mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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