Gravy Tips & Fixes: Darken, Add Flavor & More

Here are a bunch of tips and tricks for jazzing up this oh-most-flavorful sauce that I’ve collected from my notes and cookbook collection…

BoatLast minute “in a pinch” fixes to darken gravy…

  • Instant Coffee Granules
  • Soy Sauce
  • Dark Molasses
  • Cocoa
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Try enhancers like Kitchen Bouquet

Kitchen Bouquet Copycat Recipe

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups water


  • Cook brown sugar slowly in a pan on stovetop till it burns, stir slowly throughout entire cooking process.
  • Once the sugar turns dark brown in color, add the water. Bring to a boil, stir well.
  • Remove from heat after sugar is near black in color.
  • Once cooled, seal in sterilized jars or small bottles. Use as needed, normally just a few drops at a time will do the trick.

Burnt Sugar Caramel Darkener (Idea similar to above)

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 TBS water
1 cup boiling water


  • Cook brown sugar and the 2 tablespoons water over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
  • Slowly add boiling water and continue cooking until mixture becomes syrupy (approximately 15 minutes).
  • Bottle and use as needed.

Dark Roast Flour for Roux & Thickener

2 cups flour


  • Roast flour in oven, stirring frequently to brown evenly. Process will take several hours, brown until the color of light cocoa.
  • Store in airtight container and use as needed.
  • Use for thickening and making roux, the roasted brown color of the flour will deepen the color too.

Caramel Powder Recipe

2 cups brown sugar


  • Line baking pan (10x15x2 inches) with foil–make sure to line sides as well by folding foil up and over edges.
  • In a large nonstick saucepan or frypan, cook sugar over medium-high heat. Shake pan frequently until most of the sugar is syrup, approximately 10 minutes.
  • Reduce to medium heat and continue swirling the syrup until all sugar is dissolved. After 3 to 5 minutes the color should be a deep, rich amber.
  • Pour hot syrup into the foil lined pan, spreading into a thin layer. Be very careful, it’s HOT! Set aside to cool for at least 30 minutes.
  • Once completely cool, lift caramel out of pan and remove foil. Break caramel into chunks.
  • Using a food processor, grind chunks down into a powder.
  • Store in an airtight container.
  • Add as needed for darkening

You can also cook your spices in with the syrups and roasted flour if you’d like, or simply add at the time you are preparing your gravy (preferred method).

When using roux:

Brown roux to the colour that you want your sauce to be, the roasted flour (recipe above) helps achieve the color more quickly.

Getting Rid of Lumps

It happens to the best of us: lumps…it looks nasty but no worries, this is an easy fix! Simply:

  • Pour the sauce through a sieve, this will remove the lumps. Return to pan and simmer until ready to serve.

Too Greasy?

Two easy ways to make sure that it’s flavorful and not too fatty:

  • Pour pan juices into a gravy separator, let it sit for a few minutes then pour pan juices out of the spout (the fat will float to the top).
  • Pour pan juices into a large bowl or measuring cup, allow to cool until a layer of fat settles on the top. Remove fat with a spoon or sweep a piece of bread across the top to absorb the fat.

Once you have removed all the fat, return juices to the pan and begin making your gravy.

To Thin? Here’s How To Thicken It

Sometimes all it takes is allowing it simmer for awhile (stir frequently). If you’re out of time or see no progress, here’s a simple fix:

  • Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or flour to 1/4 cup of cold water, whisk well to blend. Pour into gravy, stirring constantly. Allow to simmer and it will thicken.


  • Try adding potato water, it greatly improves the flavor.
  • Gravy thickening can be made smooth by using a small jar with a tight lid. Put the mixture of milk or water and flour into the jar and shake well until all lumps disappear.
  • Salty taste can be eliminated by dropping a piece of raw potato into the liquid for a few minutes before removing from the fire.

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    • Pauliner

    My tip for darkening gravy without using proprietary browning agents (which, unless vegetarian, are made as a by product of factory farming) is a dollop of Marmite. Not enough to flavour, but a small amount makes a really nicely coloured gravy.

      • SIobhan

      Perfect solution – thank you!

    • Todd Elkington

    Hi, i found this fix for darkening my gravy really interesting, it has revolutionised my life. Cheers!

    • marie

    need to thicken gravy stew soup etc. add some instant potato a little at a time till it is the right consistency it also adds some extra vitamins

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