How to Make Smoked Turkey Gravy

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A smoked turkey gravy is the final ingredient in a Thanksgiving feast your guests will never forget.

What makes my smoked turkey gravy unique is the Asian-style homemade stock I use for the base. The drippings from the turkey splashing into the gravy and the subtle wood-fired smoke swirling over the gravy expand and enrich the flavor of the gravy, redefining everything you thought you knew about gravy!

Instructions for Smoked Turkey Gravy

  • Pour several quarts of homemade chicken stock into a pan with 2–3" sides and large enough to catch all the drippings while the turkey is smoking. Do not use a copper pan, as it might react to the acids and the salt in the stock and drippings. If you don’t have time to make stock, use a store-bought unsalted chicken stock or broth. You will sacrifice the exceptional flavor of a homemade stock, but the outcome will still be delicious.
  • If the stock has solidified, liquify it by warming it slightly.
  • Add several bay leaves to the pan and set it into the smoker. 
  • If you’re smoking the turkey on a smoker with multiple cooking grates, set the pan on a grate beneath the grate holding the turkey (make sure the grate holding the turkey is cleaned well before starting to prevent black grease from dripping into the pan). If your smoker only has one cooking grate, set a V-rack in the pan and put the turkey in the V-rack.
  • If the level of liquid in the drip pan drops below 50%, add several cups of hot water. Do not use cool water, as it will temporarily reduce the smoker temperature.
  • When the turkey is within 10 degrees of its target internal temperature, carefully pour all of the drippings inside the turkey into the drip pan and remove the drip pan from the smoker. 
  • If you used a V-rack, transfer the turkey directly onto the cooking grate. Keep cooking the turkey until it’s done. 
  • Strain the contents of the drip pan into a saucepan and sample it. The gravy should have a rich and savory taste. If it’s too thin, bring it to a boil, stirring it briskly to keep it from burning. When it reaches the thickness you want, reduce the heat to low, and skim the fat. 
  • Add salt and pepper to taste, stirring it well. Be careful not to over-season it!
  • Keep the gravy over low heat, stirring it occasionally, until serving time.

Should you thicken a turkey gravy?

I never thicken a gravy with flour or cornstarch. Thickening a smoked turkey gravy like this muddies the incredible flavor profile you’ve worked hard to create. Besides, a thin gravy will soak into the turkey meat a bit, but a thickened, starchy gravy just sits on top of the meat.

If your gravy is too thin for your preference, you can boil it down as explained above.

Check out my step-by-step instructions for making a homemade Asian-style stock with a depth of flavor that will amaze you:

Still have questions? Visit our store at 140 W Main Street in New Holland, PA or call us at (717) 355-0779 for help with your outdoor cooking questions. We carry everything you need to cook outdoors, but more importantly, we have personal experience in smoking and grilling and are happy to help you overcome your cooking challenges free of charge.

About the author: Matt Miller is an employee at Meadow Creek Barbecue Supply and avid student of all things barbecue. He enjoys developing recipes, trying new seasonings, and helping customers with their smoking and grilling questions.

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