Brown Onion Gravy

Brown Onion Gravy

A well-seasoned gravy is a welcome addition to a mound of mashed potatoes.

Many years ago I was invited out for dinner.  I was anticipating a lovely meal with turkey, potatoes and vegetables and of course gravy.  Everything was well cooked but I was sorely disappointed with the gravy.  It had as much flavour as a pot of wall paper paste.  That pasty flavourless sauce left an indelible impression on my gravy loving brain.  Some may have lapped up that gravy, thinking it was delicious but coming from my background, living with the "Gravy Queen", and eating the best gravy ever, I knew it was not good.  

Mom made the best gravy anyone could ever wish to eat.  It was wonderfully flavoured and always well seasoned.  It was an integral part of most of the dinners we ate.  To have potatoes without gravy would be like having summer without sun.  

My mother used to tell us the story of the Christmas she dropped the turkey when removing it from the oven.  It slid across the floor and all the pan juices splattered everywhere.  Mom saved the turkey but the pan juices, which the gravy is made from, were gone.  No one knew what happened in the kitchen and we were certainly none the wiser about how the gravy appeared on our plates.  Mom would smile as she told us how she cleaned up the turkey and made an onion gravy to go along with the unfortunate bird.  She'd laugh then because Dad didn't even realize what had happened and how he enjoyed the gravy with his Christmas dinner. 

Mom could eat gravy like soup so it's no wonder I have inherited her love of the savoury sauce.  Since that fateful day of the turkey disaster I have become vegetarian and no longer rely on the pan juices of meat to make gravy.  I, like my mother, can make a great Brown Onion Gravy that is quite delicious on a pile of mashed potatoes and can be enjoyed by both meat eaters and vegetarians.  The key to a successful onion gravy is the caramelization of the onions and flour before adding the liquid.  And don't forget the salt.  Salt is a flavour enhancer which is so often lacking in poorly made homemade gravies.  

I know it's easy to grab a package of gravy mix but sometimes you just need a potful of the good homemade stuff to make your dinner special. It takes only fifteen minutes to make this tasty Brown Onion Gravy.  
Printable recipe at end of post.
Brown Onion Gravy
  • ½ cup finely diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups hot water or vegetable broth or vegetarian "beef" or "chicken" bouillon
  • Few drops gravy browning, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste
How to make it:
Heat the butter and oil together in a medium sauce pan over medium low heat.  Add the onions and sauté until they start to turn a light golden colour.  Season with the salt.  

Add the flour to the onions and stir until well blended.  Continue cooking and stirring over low to medium heat until the flour and onions turn a deeper golden brown colour.  This will take about five minutes.  Be careful not to burn the flour mixture. 

Add the hot liquid of your choice, stirring constantly as you do.  You can use water, a vegetable broth or mix a vegetarian bouillon cube in water for the liquid.  Any of these will work equally well and add different flavours to the gravy.  Continue to stir and bring to a boil until the gravy thickens.  Cook an additional 2 minutes after the mixture comes to a boil to avoid a raw flavour.

Taste the gravy and adjust the seasonings.  If you made your gravy with water it will require more salt to bring out the onion flavour.  Start with an additional ¼ teaspoon salt and add more as needed.  If you used a broth or bouillon add more salt if needed as these can be salty enough.  Do not under season the gravy.  If you like pepper add that now as well.  

If you prefer a deeper coloured gravy, add a few drops of gravy browning.  You can find that near the packaged and canned gravies in your grocery store.  

The gravy is now ready to be served.  Store any left-over gravy in the refrigerator.  Reheat over low heat.  

Makes about 2 cups gravy.  

If you want a vegan gravy, substitute vegan margarine for the butter. 

Heat the oil and butter together and sauté the onions adding the salt to flavour.  

When the onions have turned a light golden colour, add the flour and cook and stir about 5 minutes until the flour and onions have deepened in colour.  Add the hot liquid and stir and cook until the gravy has thickened.

If you prefer a darker colour gravy, add a few drops of gravy browning.  Adjust the seasoning.  If you have used water you will need to add more salt.  If you have used a broth or bouillon make sure you taste before adding the salt as the broth/bouillon is usually salty.  If you like pepper, add that now as well. 

The gravy is now ready to serve. 

I served the Brown Onion Gravy with Dinner Patties, mashed potatoes and vegetables.

A well-seasoned gravy is a welcome addition to a mound of mashed potatoes.

Brown Onion Gravy on a mound of mashed potatoes.
Tasty Brown Onion Gravy perfectly tops your dinner.

To print click on arrow upper right side.⇩           


  1. I just made ghis gravy. It tastes good but did not thicken up too much for me. Maybe I will put 4 tbs of flour? next time because i will make again, i like the flavour. Definitely need gravy browning which i did not have!😁

    1. If you like a thicker gravy definitely add 4 tablespoons flour but increase the fat to a total of 4 tablespoons. Glad you enjoyed the gravy.


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