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This easy vegetarian gravy recipe uses simple ingredients and comes together in just 15 minutes! Use it over meatballs or with biscuits and gravy.

Easy vegetarian gravy recipe | How to thicken gravy | Vegetarian white gravy
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If you eat a lot of vegetarian meals like we do, you might find yourself craving that silky, savory sauce that is gravy. Perhaps you only eat it as a Thanksgiving side dish, or maybe it’s a staple that you love with biscuits and gravy. Whatever the case, Alex and I just created a Norwegian vegetarian meatballs recipe and needed a savory vegetarian white gravy to slather over those “meatballs.” Alex came up with this idea for killer easy vegetarian gravy: it’s super savory and delicious with an unexpected undertone of fennel. Keep reading for the recipe and a few keys to making vegetarian “copycat” foods taste good.

Related: 10 Vegetarian Comfort Food Recipes

Easy vegetarian gravy recipe | How to thicken gravy | Vegetarian white gravy

What makes a vegetarian gravy, anyway?

Vegetarian gravy is a bit of a conundrum. Because gravy is all about meat, right? It was born because someone saw those delicious juices that run out of meat while cooking it and said: “I could make a sauce out of that.” So by default, a vegetarian gravy recipe isn’t by definition gravy. But, making a sauce with no meat can still be savory and delicious if you put the right flavors together.

Alex and I created this easy vegetarian gravy recipe to use common ingredients but still maintain an integrity of flavor. It has to taste really, really good to be worth making. So, this one uses:

  • Butter and milk to help bring in a rich, creamy flavor,
  • Vegetable broth as the base.
  • Flour as a thickener, for the right consistency
  • Onion to bring a savory undertone
  • Thyme and fennel seeds for a meaty body.

The magic ingredient here is the fennel seeds. Because they’re often used in sausage, our brains associate a meaty flavor with this spice. Fennel seeds are the only ingredient in this recipe that you might not already have in your pantry, but it’s absolutely worth it for the meaty flavor.

How to make vegetarian gravy

This white gravy recipe couldn’t be easier! Here are the main steps:

  • Simply sauté the diced onion in a little butter, then add in fennel, thyme, and cayenne and continue cooking until fragrant.
  • Whisk in some flour and cook until the mixture turns a lovely golden brown color (you’re making a roux here).
  • Drizzle in some vegetable broth and milk and whisk constantly to avoid lumps in the gravy. Season with salt to your liking, and continue cooking until the gravy thickens. Once you remove the vegetarian gravy from the stove, it will continue to thicken as it cools.
Easy vegetarian gravy recipe | How to thicken gravy | Vegetarian white gravy

How to thicken gravy

How to thicken gravy? For this easy vegetarian gravy recipe, we’ve used a “roux.” A roux is flour and fat (usually butter) that are cooked together, which is used to thicken gravy and other sauces. We first learned to make a roux from watching cooking shows, and then used this concept in our vegetarian gumbo recipe.

In gumbo, you cook the roux and watch as the color changes from white to golden to medium brown to a dark, reddish brown. It’s actually fascinating to watch! And it brings a nice color to the gravy. In this recipe, we cook the roux until it is a medium brown color. We then add milk and the gravy turns out as a light golden color.

How to reheat gravy

Vegetarian gravy has a tendency to thicken up even further as it cools. If you have gravy leftovers that seem too thick to reheat properly, I recommend warming the gravy in a saucepan over low heat to loosen it up a bit. If the gravy is still too thick once it’s heated through, stir in a little milk or broth (and I mean a little! You don’t want it to become too runny).

Vegan Gravy
Quick & Easy Vegan Gravy

Do you have a vegan gravy recipe?

This recipe is a vegetarian gravy recipe, so it contains dairy. Are you interested in a vegan gravy recipe? Here’s our Quick and Easy Vegan Brown Gravy.

This vegetarian gravy recipe is…

Vegetarian. For vegan, check out the vegan alternatives above. For gluten-free, use Gluten Free 1 for 1 Flour.

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Norwegian Vegetarian Meatballs | vegetarian gravy | chickpea meatballs | Norwegian meatballs

Perfect Vegetarian Gravy

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  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 13 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: About 3 cups 1x


This easy vegetarian gravy recipe uses simple ingredients and comes together in just 15 minutes! Use it over meatballs or with biscuits and gravy.


  • 1 small onion (⅓ cup minced)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ teaspoons whole fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup flour (for gluten-free, use 1 for 1 gluten free flour)
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Finely mince the onion.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then saute onion for 3 minutes until tender. Add the fennel, thyme, and cayenne and saute for 1 minute over medium heat until fragrant.
  3. Add the flour and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until the color turns to golden and then to a medium brown (this is called a roux).
  4. Reduce the heat to medium low. Add the vegetable broth and stir until smooth and thickened. Drizzle in the milk, stirring constantly, making sure each bit is incorporated before adding more. Then stir in the salt. Stir until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat; the gravy will continue to thicken as it cools. Taste and add an additional pinch or two of salt as necessary.
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Looking for vegetarian dinner recipes?

To pair with this easy vegetarian gravy recipe, here are a few of our vegetarian dinner recipes:

Looking for vegetarian side dishes?

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Sarah M says:

    This is my favorite vegetarian gravy! I have used a variety of non dairy milks as well as dairy depending on what i have in the fridge or the dietary restrictions of my company. Earth balance butter and soymilk works great to veganize it. I’m trying to do some meal prep, and I’m wondering if this recipe freezes well?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      We haven’t tried it, sorry! I think it would freeze fine. Let us know if you try it.

  2. Rachel says:

    This is absolutely made vegan with Miyoko’s vegan butter and unsweetened almond milk! I am making the gravy to serve over mashed potatoes and I tweaked the seasonings a little to use 1/2 teaspoon fennel and a 1/2-1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus the thyme, dried red pepper, and salt. It’s very flavorful!

  3. Katie says:

    This was perfect! I’ve never made a gravy before and it came out way better than I thought it would. I used gluten free flour and used the 1:1 ratio and had no problems. Savin this recipe fasho!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

  4. S N Murthy says:

    can you create vegan version?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Hi! You could replace the butter with olive oil, or try one of the vegan recipes linked above!

  5. Cindy Klayh says:

    Hi this looks delicious!! Do you think it would be ok to sub out the butter for olive oil?

    1. Sonja says:

      Yes, you could use olive oil! It might not taste quite as good, but you could definitely use it!

  6. Brenda says:

    I like that this doesn’t have mushrooms in it – it sounds delicious! To make it vegan, could I substitute Earth butter and non-dairy milk?

    1. Sonja says:

      Absolutely! That’s a great idea. Let us know how it turns out!