Best Store-Bought Turkey Gravy for a Thanksgiving 2021 Shortcut

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Cooking up a Thanksgiving meal is as much a test of planning prowess as it is cooking ability. With so many dishes in play (all of which have to hit the table hot and ready at the same time!), it’s only natural to seek out time-saving shortcuts. 

For those who’d rather not deal with whisking up a lump-free gravy from scratch, the grocery store has your back. That’s where ready-made turkey gravy — in cans, jars, cartons, cubes, and just-add-water pouches — comes in. Even if you plan on making your own from scratch, these shelf-stable options are good to have on hand just in case you run out. (And so that you have lots on hand for those oh-so-important leftovers sandwiches.)

But which to choose? The end goal is to make sure you get the one that tastes the closest to homemade. We rounded up all the shelf-stable turkey gravies we could find in our local grocery store and put them to a taste test.

How We Tested the Gravy Options

Out of the nine different options we found, there were quite a few variations. Some were too thick, some were too thin, some lacked flavor, some had TOO much flavor — the list goes on. But one (our winner!) was Goldilocks-level “just right” as a standalone option.

Because we like no leave no stone unturned, however, we also chose a runner-up that we found serves as an excellent supplement for those glorious pan drippings — Sandra Lee’s Semi Homemade-style.

We gathered up all the gravies, cooked them according to package directions, and tried them the way everyone wishes gravy could alway be eaten — with a spoon. Here are our top two.

The Best Standalone Turkey Gravy Mix: Knorr Roasted Turkey Gravy Mix

Maybe you don’t plan to roast a whole turkey, so drippings will be scarce. Maybe you just want/need to keep things super-simple. If that’s the case, this gravy mix is very full-flavored, so you can serve it as is (just follow the instructions) and be perfectly satisfied. The super-dark and toasty color is your first clue this is a very savory gravy with a deep, roasted flavor — it’s so savory it almost tastes beefy. This mix doesn’t need any pan drippings to enhance it (in fact, they might be overkill), but a splash of white wine or vermouth would add a great touch. A tip: Sprinkle some chopped fresh herbs to make it more visually appealing and fresh-smelling.

Buy: Knorr Roasted Turkey Gravy Mix, $1.65 for 1.2 ounces on Instacart

The Best Gravy Mix to Upgrade Pan Drippings: McCormick Turkey Gravy Mix 

On its own, this just-add-water mix won’t win any flavor awards. It tastes like the kind of poultry-flavored gravy you’d get on a frozen dinner — savory, sage-y, lightly salty, with a pleasant buttery flavor and the aroma of turkey stuffing. The best part about this mix is how it isn’t overly spiced or salted, which means you can pair it with all your delicious roast-y pan drippings and you won’t end up with a salt bomb. Add a splash of dry sherry or white wine, maybe a few sprigs of fresh herbs if you have them, and you’ll have a show-stopping (mostly store-bought) gravy with very little effort. Get this if you’re worried you’re not going to end up with enough gravy on the big day.

Buy: McCormick Turkey Gravy Mix, $1.29 for 0.87 ounces at Target

What’s your go-to gravy short cut? Tell us about it in the comments.

Danielle Centoni


Danielle Centoni is a James Beard Award-winning food writer, editor, recipe developer, and cookbook author based in Portland, Oregon. Her latest cookbook is “Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up The World’s Favorite Grain.”

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