Gravy is a holiday staple and there’s no doubt it will be on your Thanksgiving table in 2019. People tend to put it on everything, sometimes without even fully knowing what it is. You might even think it is vegan. Gravy, after all, looks and tastes like a seasoned sauce. But if you’re vegan or vegetarian, gravy isn’t what it appears to be. So, whether you follow a plant-based diet or will be hosting Thanksgiving for someone who is, you’ll want to know how to make vegan gravy.
The popular holiday sauce, in its traditional form, is a brown (sometimes white), savory mixture of fat juice and drippings from roasting meats that is thickened with flour, seasoned, and stirred to make meat nice and moist. Clearly, not vegan.
Fortunately, gravy isn’t exclusive to meat eaters. There are a number of ways to make gravy in a vegan-friendly way to add complementary flavors to your meal.
What’s in Vegan Gravy?
The beautiful thing about vegan gravy is that it can be incredibly diverse. There are plenty of base flavors that can be seasoned just like traditional gravy, or provide something totally new. Some popular vegan gravy items include: mushrooms, black beans, onions, and miso.
Nutritional yeast is typically included not only to boost the overall nutrition of the sauce, but also to provide a savory flavor and a thicker consistency. Although it doesn’t sound like the most appealing ingredient, it’s definitely a great additive to vegan gravy—and if you’re vegan, surely you’ve got it on hand.
Rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and flavor, nutritional yeast is grown specifically to be used as a food product. It is a vegan source of complete protein and B vitamins, which gives it a little extra added benefit.
Another popular ingredient in vegan gravy is the mushroom. Mushrooms can add a bit of a “meaty” flavor or consistency if you want, and the degree will be based on the mushrooms you pick. Of course, if you hate mushrooms, you don’t need to add them at all!
Many of the seasonings in vegan gravy are the same as meat-based gravy. You may need to use vegan margarine if you want to recreate a bit of the fat, so feel free to play with it. And, like meat-based gravy, it can be rather difficult to cook.
In order to get the desired consistency and keep it free of lumps, you’ll have to pay attention with regular stirring.
Vegan Gravy Recipes for Thanksgiving 2019
Autumn Mushroom Gravy
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cups baby Portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 tsp sage
1/8 tsp allspice
salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a medium-sized frying pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onions, and mushrooms, and sauté for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown.
- Add in flour, mixing well, and cook for additional two minutes; stir constantly. The consistency will be very thick and sticky; keep stirring to prevent mixture from sticking to the bottom.
- Pour in vegetable broth, red wine, allspice, and sage and stir together. Bring to boiling, then stir constantly for five to seven minutes, until gravy has thickened. (Scrape the bottom of the pan as needed).
- Remove from heat. Serve immediately.
Easy Vegan Gravy
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes Total Time:20 minutes
2 tbsp vegan margarine (or other vegan butter substitute)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp garlic salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari)
- Melt vegan margarine or butter substitute in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for two minutes.
- Add flour and garlic salt to the pan and sauté for five minutes. Stir often to keep the flour from burning.
- Stir in cornstarch and vegetable broth; mix well. Bring to boiling, then reduce to a simmer over low heat, stirring frequently to avoid clumps. Keep stirring as gravy begins to thicken.
- Pour in nutritional yeast and soy sauce/tamari and reduce heat to very low. Cook and stir for one more minute. Add a little more liquid if needed, but remember that the gravy will slightly thicken as it cools.
- Serve immediately.
Hearty Holiday Gluten-Free Vegan Gravy
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 15 minutes
2 cups cremini or shiitake mushrooms, chopped
2 1/2 to 3 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp avocado oil
3/4 cup yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp arrowroot starch/flour
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk (optional)
- Pour broth in a large pot. Add mushrooms and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once broth starts to bubble, turn off heat and cover; let rest.
- Heat a large rimmed pan over medium heat. Once hot, add oil and onion; sauté for five minutes. Add garlic and sauté for an additional two to three minutes, stirring frequently.
- Stir in cornstarch and coat evenly. Cook for another two minutes. Then add rosemary and thyme and mushrooms with some broth. (Save some broth for later if needed reduce thickness.) Stir to combine and cook for two to three minutes.
- Transfer gravy to a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. If desired, leave some onions or mushrooms unblended for more texture. Return gravy to the pan and warm over low heat for another two to three minutes. Try adding a little almond milk to lighten the color and add some flavor (optional).
- Season to taste, adding additional spices as needed. For a thinner gravy, add the reserved vegetable broth. For a thicker gravy, scoop out a small amount of the gravy and mix in one to two teaspoons of cornstarch until smooth. Then add it back to the larger batch – repeat as needed until desired thickness is reached.
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Sarah, “Vegan Mushroom Gravy,” My Darling Vegan, 2019, https://www.mydarlingvegan.com/vegan-portobello-mushroom-gravy/, last accessed October 16, 2019.
Julson, E., “Why Is Nutritional Yeast Good for You?” Healthline, November 30, 2017; https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/nutritional-yeast, last accessed October 16, 2019.
Hackett, J., “Basic Vegan Gravy,” The Spruce Eats, June 11, 2019; https://www.thespruceeats.com/basic-vegetarian-gravy-recipe-3377667, last accessed October 16, 2019.
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