This Easy Onion gravy is so quick and easy to make, packed with flavor and perfect for so many meals!
Learn how to make this classic British gravy from scratch! Plus, you can make this vegetarian with just one simple switch!
Gravy and mashed potato is pure comfort food, and this savory gravy with a hint of sweetness is perfect for serving with beef, pork, chicken, sausages, or Yorkshire pudding.
Forget your packet mix this gravy tastes so much better than any dry mix you can buy! You'll want to drink the leftover gravy (It's been done..... pass me a spoon! Although this does freeze. See below for preparing in advance and freezing leftovers )
Plus, because of the gorgeous onions and butter, there is no need for meat drippings! So you can make this on #MeatlessMonday or if you are serving vegetarians. Or when you just want mash and gravy for dinner.
If you have cooked some meat up and have some drippings, then, by all means, add them to the gravy for even more flavor!
Thickening homemade gravy
An excellent method for thickening any sauce is to use a mixture called a roux. (pronounced: ROO like kangaROO)
A roux is just a mixture of fat and flour.
If you are thickening a brown or dark sauce, then the roux is often cooked over low heat until it is a nutty brown color - this adds flavor to your sauce.
For pale or white sauces, the roux is usually left blonde, so it doesn't impact the color of the sauce.
The flour and butter form a thick paste, that looks like wet sand, and this is what thickens the gravy.
The hot broth/stock is poured slowly over the roux; it will get very thick and then gradually thin down to the perfect pouring consistency.
- Cook the onions over medium heat, so they soften and start to caramelize. This adds extra flavor! (See below for more information on cooking your onions)
- Turn the heat down before you add the flour to ensure the flour doesn't burn - Cook the flour for several minutes at low heat.
- Add the broth/stock slowly, stirring constantly. This will ensure the gravy doesn't have lumps - well, other than the delicious onions!
- Add some bouillon powder/paste - this adds so much depth of flavor and makes up for the lack of drippings. (see below for more details)
- Don't add any salt to your gravy until you have finished cooking. The broth and bouillon both have added salt and as the gravy thickens and reduces, the salt will intensify. So leave seasoning until the gravy is fully cooked.
- To add a little richness, add a splash of heavy cream and mustard just before serving.
Onions - The recipe suggests standard brown onions, but you can make this with white onions, red onions, or shallots.
Broth/Stock - Use whichever stock you have, or that makes sense for your meal. So chicken broth, if you are serving it with chicken, beef is you are serving it with beef. Vegetable broth, if you are serving vegetarians....you get the idea.
Heavy Cream - You can also use whipping cream, double cream, single cream, or half and half. Or you can leave it out altogether. The cream adds a bit of extra richness to the gravy, but it is still delicious without it.
Flour - If you can't use all-purpose flour due to gluten issues, then the flour can be equally substituted with GF flour. Or you can thicken the gravy using a cornstarch slurry.
Thickening with Cornstarch (GF)
To do, cook the onions in the butter and then add the broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer. While this is simmering, mix the cornstarch with some cold water to make a slurry. This can then be whisked into your broth mixture. Simmer the sauce for 2-3 minutes to ensure the cornstarch has been cooked out and as it cooks your gravy will thicken.
Herbs - The addition of fresh herbs, although not traditionally British, does add some great flavor variations. Rosemary, Thyme and Sage are all great additions. Chop them finely and add them to the onions while they cook. Use 1-2 tsp of fresh herbs. (½ - 1 tsp of dried herbs)
Red Wine - add a splash of wine to your onions as they cook and everything will just be better. (Wine just makes things better! Shush don't tell me otherwise) It isn't an essential ingreident, but a splash (about ¼ cup) will add extra flavor and depth. I like to add it when I am going to be serving my gravy with a steak or some roast lamb. But I find the red wine taste too strong for chicken. (p.s port works well too)
Jelly/Jam - these add a beautiful extra sweetness. We like to add redcurrant jelly or cranberry sauce. You only need about a tablespoon melted into the gravy at the end of cooking. When I add these, I don't add the cream.
Tomato Paste - A tablespoon or so of tomato paste turns the gravy into an excellent sauce for vegetables, or it is great with pot roast!
Cooking the onions
How long you cook your onions will change the taste of the gravy. For a deeper savory flavor, the onions want to be cooked for just 5-6 minutes until softened and just starting to color. For a sweeter but richer gravy, the onions can be cooked for 15 minutes until they begin to caramelize more.
Using bouillon powder or paste
Bouillon powder or paste is an intense base that you can use to make broth/stock. Better than Bouillon is a great brand, or you can use half a crumbled stock cube or a half teaspoon of bouillon powder.
It adds an extra layer of flavor and a touch more salt to the gravy. This is why it is important not to salt your sauce until the end of the cook.
I usually match the base to the broth/stock I am using. So when making this vegetarian, I will pick a vegetable bouillon paste, or if I am using chicken broth, then I will use Chicken Better than Bouillon.
(The onion gravy in these photos was made using beef broth and Beef Better than Bouillon)
What to serve with onion gravy?
This is such a versatile sauce, but try adding it to meals like:
- Seared Steak
- Salisbury Steak
- Mashed Potatoes
- Cube Steak
- Roast Pork
- Chicken Fried Chicken
- Chicken Fried Steak
- Pork Chops
- Chicken Schnitzel
- French Fries
- Toad in the hole (a British classic)
- Roast Chicken
- Yorkshire Pudding (a British classic!)
This onion gravy can be made ahead of time and then just warmed up in a saucepan when you are ready to eat. Store the cooled gravy in the refrigerator, in a covered, non-metallic container, for up to 3 days.
To reheat - Heat it over medium heat stirring frequently. Or reheat on 50-75% powder in the microwave for 3-4 minutes. You may find you need to thin the gravy with a little extra broth.
If you have leftovers, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze it in containers or zip lock bags. I like to freeze it in half cup measures so I can grab an individual serve of gravy out of the deep freeze for when the comfort food bug hits! Defrost and then warm through in a saucepan.
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Easy Onion Gravy
- 2 onions - see note 1
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp AP flour - see post for alternatives
- 1 ½ cup broth/stock - see note 2
- ½ tsp better than bouillon/bouillon powder - see note 3
- 1 tsp mustard
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- salt to taste
- Peel and slice the onions into thin half-moon-shaped slices.
- Melt the butter and oil together in a small saucepan over low heat.
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp oil
- Add the onions and cook for 5-8 minutes until tender and starting to color. (see note 4)
- Add in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes until well combined and golden brown.
2 tbsp AP Flour (plain flour)
- Whisk in ¼ cup of the broth. The mixture will become a very thick paste. Gradually whisk in ¼ cup more broth. Once the mixture has thinned slightly, you can slowly whisk in the remaining broth.
1 ½ cups broth
- Add the bouillon powder/paste.
½ tsp better than bouillon/bouillon powder
- Bring to a low simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened and glossy.
- Add the mustard and heavy cream, taste and season with salt if needed.
1 tsp mustard
2 tbsp heavy cream
- You can use brown onions, white onions, red onions or shallots. I use brown onions as they are cheap and easy to find.
- Use whichever broth makes sense with your meal, chicken broth for chicken, beef broth for beef etc.
- Bouillon powder or paste is an intense base that you can use to make broth/stock. I like the Better than Bouillon brand. But you can use your favorite bouillon powder or half a crumbled stock cube. Like the broth in note 2, I usually match the bouillon base to the broth/stock I am using. So when making this vegetarian, I will pick a vegetable bouillon paste, or if I am using chicken broth, then I will use Chicken bouillon.
- For a richer, sweeter gravy, allow the onions to cook over very low heat until caramelized and sweet.