Perfect Vegetarian Gravy

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

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


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (52 votes, average: 4.37 out of 5)

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

Description

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


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion (1/3 cup minced)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour (for gluten-free, use 1 for 1 gluten free flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  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

Keywords: Vegetarian Gravy, How to Thicken Gravy, Easy Gravy Recipe,

Looking for vegetarian dinner recipes?

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

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

6 Comments

  • Reply
    Brenda
    November 15, 2018 at 9:22 am

    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?

    • Reply
      Sonja
      November 15, 2018 at 2:10 pm

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

  • Reply
    Cindy Klayh
    January 5, 2019 at 12:03 pm

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

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 5, 2019 at 1:06 pm

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

  • Reply
    S N Murthy
    September 2, 2019 at 2:06 am

    can you create vegan version?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      September 3, 2019 at 9:14 am

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

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