Is Gravy Keto-Friendly?

Is Gravy Keto-Friendly?

Is Thanksgiving gravy keto-friendly? It depends. A standard homemade gravy, like this recipe from Epicurious with flour and white wine, will give you about 7.8g net carbs per half-cup serving – and that’s before you add the mashed potatoes. Commercial gravy mixes can have even higher levels of carbs.

Why There are Carbs in Your Gravy

Most gravies are made out of three basic ingredients: a liquid stock, some kind of starch, and a fat. Conventional American Thanksgiving turkey gravy has turkey stock, fatty turkey drippings, and flour.

The carb-busting starch molecules are there because they swell and burst when they’re combined with water and heated, making your gravy thick luscious. Good cooks mix the starch with a fat like butter or turkey drippings before they mix it into the stock, into a mixture called a roux. The fat coats the starch molecules and keeps from bonding with each together in gooey lumps – and it tastes fantastic!

Without the starchy carbs, your gravy will be boiled-down stock with some fat added. That makes for a tasty pan sauce, but it will be thin, and it won’t stick to your meat and mashed cauliflower like real gravy. If you’re yearning for thick, luscious gravy to smother your plate, read on.

Keto Gravy Options

If you want to have keto-friendly gravy this Thanksgiving, you have two main options: you can can mix in a gum – we use xanthan gum – or you can add egg yolks, whichever floats your gravy boat.

Xanthan gum

Xanthan gum is a virtually carb-free fiber-based thickener available in the baking aisle in your local supermarket. It thickens liquids very effectively… and almost instantly. Pour xanthan gum in your gravy, and you can end up with a gummy blob in the middle of your new gravy soup.

There trick is to use a blender to whirl your xanthan gum quickly enough that it won’t congeal before it thickens your gravy. Start whirling your stock and fat, then add a tiny amount of xanthan gum – 3/8 teaspoon for 2 cups of liquid – and keep your blender whirling for at least 30 seconds after you’ve added the gum to mix it thoroughly. The gravy will turn a few shades paler as it thickens.

Keto Gravy

2 cups stock

2 TSP fat

3/8 TSP xanthan gum

Special equipment: counter top blender or immersion blender

-        Heat stock and fat to a simmer (180F). Do not overfill pot – leave some space for splashing.

-        Pour stock mixture into a blender with at least 3” head space OR put an immersion blender into the pot. Begin blending.

-        Sprinkle the xanthan gum in the mixture while the blender is running.

-        Continue to blend for 30 seconds after the xanthan gum is added. Gravy will thicken and become pale.

-        Serve immediately. Makes 4 1/2 cup servings.


Per 1/2 cup serving, prepared with generic commercial chicken broth and turkey fat.

Fat: 6.4 g

Protein: 1.6g

Carbs: 0.4g  

Net carbs: 0.4g

Calories: 65.9

The egg yolk alternative

Chances are you’ve already eaten an egg-thickened sauce. The Hollandaise sauce on your Eggs Benedict is egg yolks whipped with warm butter and lemon juice, while the Bearnaise sauce on your steak is egg yolks, butter, and white wine. Egg-thickened sauces are delicious, and contain keto-promoting quantities of fat, but they’re tricky.

The problem is that egg yolks cook and clump at fairly low temperatures – about 149-158F. To make a smooth, creamy, luscious sauce, you need to whisk the egg with the fat over low heat until they’re thoroughly combined in a mixture called an emulsion. Getting that step right is tricky for cooks, beginners and experienced. If you don’t do it right, you will end up with something resembling super-fatty egg drop soup, with clumps and shreds of egg yolk in broth instead of gravy.

If you’re game for egg-thickened gravy, you can try this gravy recipe from Food 24. But don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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