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 teaspoon of fresh herbs. (½ - 1 teaspoon 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.
For other delicious gravies and sauces why not try:
Pin this recipe for Onion Gravy. Pin it here.
Easy Onion Gravy
- 2 onions - see note 1
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 tablespoon AP flour - see post for alternatives
- 1 ½ cup broth/stock - see note 2
- ½ teaspoon better than bouillon/bouillon powder - see note 3
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 2 tablespoon 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 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon 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 tablespoon 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 teaspoon 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 teaspoon mustard
2 tablespoon 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.
Great easy quick I added finely chopped celery little gravy browning & dijon mustard I didn't add any cream & it was delicious, will definitely make again many thanks
Claire McEwen says
So pleased you enjoyed it Lynda 🙂
I bet the celery added a great savory note!
Came together nice and easy for me. I didn't read far down enough in the comments, so used Dijon for the mustard, as opposed to mustard powder. Still very yummy! I will use dried next time. I also look forward to using this as a base for other gravies!
What type of mustard do you suggest for the onion gravy? I am partial to Dijon mustard, but I also use dry mustard. Is there a brand to use to keep it authentically English?
Claire McEwen says
I tend to use Dijon mustard or a mild English mustard (or a smaller amount of the strong English mustard)
To keep it authentically English I would use mustard powder. That is what my Gran and my Mum used to use and what Delia Smith uses (and she is pretty much the queen if English cooking)
Hope that helps
Sharon davis says
I haven’t tried this yet, but plan to one night this week. Having family over for dinner. They love mashed potatoes so I know this will add extra flavor to the potatoes. So glad I checked your recipe for this gravy. Sounds fairly simple. I’ll let you know how much they (and me) love it.
Melanie Browning says
We purchased Bangers from a local farm. Found your recipe for onion gravy and decided to try it as other recipes took an hour or more.
Forget the bangers & mash, just wanted to drink the gravy-so good!
This will be my go to onion gravy from now on.
Claire McEwen says
Oh this just makes me smile!!
I love a sneaky spoonful of the leftover gravy with a small amount of mash! I'm with you gravy should so be a drink 😉
Thank you for taking the time to come back and comment!
Easy and delicious! Also really appreciate how the measurements for the ingredients are listed below the instructions steps. That makes it so much easier to follow when making the recipe I don’t have to scroll back up to read how much of what.
Claire McEwen says
Thank you so much for the feedback. I am so glad it was helpful, it was actually my son who first suggested it. He was following one of my cookie recipes and said the scrolling back and forth was annoying and made it hard from him to follow the recipe. So the quantities below the instructions came into being. I am so pleased they are helpful to other people too 🙂
Also so pleased you loved the gravy! It is a fav in our house, especially with sausage or chopped steak!
Thank you for taking the time to come back and comment.
I have spent years making awesome gravies, BUT this tops it! I am hooked. Thanksgiving became an event for me this year. My daughter and my son-in-law wanted to come to our place for a week for a peaceful Thanksgiving. They live near most of the family and are tired of the drama. We agreed and spent a wonderful time. They brought the turkey fryer. Which is their favorite way to cook turkey. Banned from that by the rest of the family because "how can you make gravy from 3 gallons of peanut oil?" I found this and ended up making 4 batches for 4 people over 3 days of eating turkey! I sent your recipe home with them and have made it 2 times since. I made beef flavor last night for a roast. WOW It is our best go-to gravy now. Thank you for sharing this!
Claire McEwen says
Your Thanksgiving sounds perfect!!!
So happy you had a fabulous time with your daughter and son-in-law....I am so far from my parents now, but I used to love going to their house for the holidays. It was always so relaxing and comforting and we would all work together in the kitchen and sit down to a feast.
I am excited that my gravy could be a part of your special time as a family, that makes me smile so much.
I am so happy you found my website and that I could play a tiny part in your happy celebrations.