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Guide to Making the Best Vegan Gravy

You’ve come to the right place for the ULTIMATE guide on preparing vegan gravy! This dish will be a hit on any holiday table, and is ready in just 20 minutes. It’s made with pantry staples and totally meatless. Perfect with mashed potatoes!

overhead shot of thanksgiving table with stuffing, potatoes, and gravy

What is vegan gravy?

Traditional gravy is a creamy sauce made from cooked meat juices, stock, vegetables, and aromatics. It is used to add additional flavor and moisture to a variety of dishes, and is a staple ingredient in Thanksgiving celebrations. Vegan gravy is a creamy, flavorful sauce made from mushrooms, vegetable stock, herbs and aromatics. It contains many of the same elements and serves the same purpose as traditional gravy, but is free of animal products.

Why should I try it?

Even if you are not vegan or vegetarian, this gravy is a versatile recipe to have on hand.

  • It can be more convenient. It does not require cooking any sort of bird (for juice).
  • It is inexpensive to prepare.  is ready completely on the stovetop with many pantry staple ingredients.
  • Finally, it is incredibly flavorful. More on that below!

How To Add Flavor to Gravy Without Meat

Gravy (meatless or otherwise) is very popular as it is a perfect mixture of savory and salty flavors. You may have heard the term “umami.” This refers to the fifth type of taste in food (other tastes including sweet, sour, salt, and bitter). Umami indicates the presence of glutamates, especially monosodium glutamate. It is found in many meat dishes, cheeses, and fermented products. Common vegan sources of umami include nutritional yeast, mushroom paste, and miso. 

By using ingredients with umami, we are able to pack this vegan gravy recipe full of addictively savory flavor.

cast iron skillet with vegan gravy with mushrooms on a striped wooden board
Lentil Mushroom Vegan Gravy

Ingredients Needed

  • 2 large shallots
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 5 button mushrooms
  • 1 TBS fresh thyme (or other hearty herb)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • TBS soy sauce
  • 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • One half tsp salt
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 TBS nutritional yeast
  • 2 TBS corn starch + 4 TBS water
  • 3 TBS butter, optional
  • One third cup brown lentils, optional

Mushrooms, soy sauce, vegetable broth, and nutritional yeast all lend that umami helping hand!

Substitution Options and Ideas

If you do not have some of these ingredients accessible, no need to worry! There are certainly modifications that will help. Be sure to taste as you go to really nail down your favorite flavor profile.

  • Any kind of mushroom can be used in place of button (though this is usually cheapest). Dried mushrooms also work well!
  • If you do not have thyme, feel free to substitute (fresh or dried) sage or rosemary.
  • Soy sauce can be substituted with coconut aminos or tamari.
  • Arrowroot powder can be substituted directly for cornstarch. Alternatively, feel free to use a few TBS of mashed potatoes to thicken in its place.
  • I like adding cooked brown lentils for more texture and protein, but any kind of lentil can be cooked and added here. Or, feel free to just leave those out!

How do you make it?

1. Heat a cast iron or other large skillet (at least 2 inches deep) over medium heat and add olive oil. Once hot, add grated shallots and cook for 4-5 minutes, until slightly golden. Add mushrooms and let sit for 2 minutes undisturbed, then stir the entire mixture together. Add thyme/herb and garlic, stirring once more. Let the mushrooms and shallots take on color for about 1-2 more minutes, then deglaze the pan by adding soy sauce and balsamic vinegars. Stir to combine and add 1/2 tsp salt.

2. Carefully add your vegetable broth and bring the mixture to a moderate boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for around 5 minutes, to let flavors meld and have the mixture thicken slightly. Add optional nutritional yeast. Remove gravy from heat and stir in cornstarch thickener. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding balsamic vinegar for sweetness and tang and soy sauce or nutritional yeast for extra umami.

3. Add butter if you’d like a richer flavor. Sometimes I like blending a portion of the gravy base to really thicken it. I hope you enjoy!

4. If desired, you can make some lentils to serve alongside or in the gravy. To prepare, rinse 1/3 cup uncooked lentils until the water runs clear. Then, add to a small saucepan with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed and lentils are soft.

overhead shot of mashed potatoes and gravy on a wooden board

How to Easily Thicken Gravy & Other FAQs

As mentioned above, a slurry of cornstarch and water, stirred into your gravy at the end of cooking, will help it thicken evenly. Cooked mashed potatoes will also help, as can flour (as long as it is heat-treated).

More Gravy QuestionsAnswers
Can this gravy be gluten-free?Yes! To make gluten-free, use coconut aminos in place of soy sauce.
How long does it last?This gravy will last for 5-7 days in a covered and sealed container in the refrigerator.
Can I make it in advance?Yes! Gravy can be stored in the freezer for up to one month and then reheated prior to serving.
How can I thicken it even more?After gravy cooks, remove some of the mushrooms. Using an immersion blender or stand mixer, blend a portion of the base to make it thicker.

What to Serve with this Recipe

This gravy is of course most at home on your Thanksgiving table. Here are some dishes it really pairs well with.

Uncomplicated Mashed Potatoes

Herbed Croissant Stuffing

Vegan Colcannon with Leeks

Print
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cast iron skillet with vegan gravy with mushrooms on a striped wooden board

Easy Vegan Gravy


  • Author: Emily
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 cups gravy 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Without needing animal products, this easy vegan gravy recipe comes together very quickly (in about 20 minutes total). It’s also easily frozen for quick prep! A time-saving, delicious, and vegetarian/vegan Thanksgiving recipe.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 large shallots, grated
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 5 button mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 1 TBS fresh thyme, or other hearty herb
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • One half tsp salt
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 TBS nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 2 TBS corn starch + 4 TBS water, mixed in a small bowl and set aside to act as a thickener
  • 3 TBS butter, optional
  • One third cup brown lentils, optional

Instructions

  1. Heat a cast iron or other large skillet (at least 2 inches deep) over medium heat and add olive oil. Once hot, add grated shallots and cook for 4-5 minutes, until slightly golden. Add mushrooms and let sit for 2 minutes undisturbed, then stir the entire mixture together. Add thyme/herb and garlic, stirring once more. Let the mushrooms and shallots take on color for about 1-2 more minutes, then deglaze the pan by adding soy sauce and balsamic vinegars. Stir to combine and add 1/2 tsp salt.
  2. Carefully add your vegetable broth and bring the mixture to a moderate boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for around 5 minutes, to let flavors meld and have the mixture thicken slightly. Add optional nutritional yeast. Remove gravy from heat and stir in cornstarch thickener. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding balsamic vinegar for sweetness and tang and soy sauce or nutritional yeast for extra umami.
  3. Add butter if you’d like a richer flavor (a friend suggested this and I think it’s a great idea). Sometimes I like blending a portion of the gravy base to really thicken it. I hope you enjoy!
  4. If desired, you can make some lentils to serve alongside or in the gravy. To prepare, rinse 1/3 cup uncooked lentils until the water runs clear. Then, add to a small saucepan with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed and lentils are soft.

Notes

Gravy can be stored in the freezer for up to one month and then reheated before eating.

If you do not have cornstarch, you can also add 2 TBS mashed potatoes to thicken the gravy.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: One eighth of recipe
  • Calories: 46.4 calories
  • Sugar: 2.6 grams
  • Sodium: 164.3 milligrams
  • Fat: 1.9 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 0.3 grams
  • Unsaturated Fat: 1.6 grams
  • Trans Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 5.7 grams
  • Fiber: 1.3 grams
  • Protein: 2.3 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 milligrams

Keywords: mushrooms, gravy, thanksgiving, sauce

Portrait of Emily, founder of Garlic Head

About the Author

Hi, I'm Emily! Garlic Head is a plant-based recipe website for all eaters who want to easily, affordably, and sustainably incorporate more vegetables into their diets. My recipes focus on entertaining-style cuisine, perfect for celebrating all of life's little moments! Meet me here.

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Garlic Head is a plant-based community founded by me, Emily. I focus on providing affordable, simple, & healthy recipes for entertaining.

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