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 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 a few main options: you can mix in a vegetable gum – we use xanthan gum, or you can use egg yolks, cream cheese, half-and-half, ‘Au Jus,’ or unflavored gelatin powder, whichever floats your gravy boat.
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.
Their 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 Recipe
- 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 the 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.
Keto Gravy Nutrition Facts
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
Additional Keto Gravy Alternatives
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.
Cream Cheese or Half-and-Half
For a richer, country-style inspired gravy, cream cheese is a great low carb addition! Simply heat the cream cheese and whisk with the fat until smooth. If the gravy becomes too thick, you can add a little bit of water or cream to thin out the texture. Add salt, pepper or any other seasonings you prefer. We love this gravy for the perfect, comfort-food add on! Enjoy topped on your favorite meats or mashed cauliflower.
‘Au Jus’ gravy is perfect for highlighting all the natural flavors of the meat. There are a few more steps required, but it is well worth the effort!
- Remove meat from pan and strain juices into a separate bowl. Skim fat off the top.
- Place pan back on stove over low heat and add a few tablespoons of juices to the drippings left on pan
- Continue to add juices slowly to the drippings until completely dissolved and blended with the juices
- Continue to cook until sauce has reached desired saltiness (the longer you cook the saltier it becomes)
- For a stronger flavor, continue to cook but make sure to be tasting the sauce along the way (if it becomes too salty, adding a few tablespoons of stock to the sauce is a quick fix!)
- For a more French inspired gravy, add 2-3 tablespoons of cold butter with pan off the heat and mix until melted (this adds a bit of richness to the flavor for a more mouth-watering gravy!)
For a natural and flavorless add-in try using gelatin to thicken your gravy! We love this option because it’s easy to make and pairs wonderfully with almost everything.
- Pour one cup of water in a bowl and sprinkle 3 tbsp of gelatin over it
- Mix together until smooth. Set aside to “bloom” (3-5 min)
- Melt ½ a cup of butter in a pan over medium heat and slowly mix in drippings and 2 cups of broth (chicken or beef)
- Bring to a boil then turn down heat to simmer
- Add gelatin to the sauce and whisk until smooth
- Remove from heat to allow it to settle and cool for serving
Try one of these low-carb gravy recipes over warm biscuits with this Keto Flatbread and Pizza Bread Mix or topped on Keto Riced Cauliflower. The perfect way to warm you up during the holidays or make any day, a little more special!