In this report
Overview
November 2009 Ratings

Talking turkey (gravy, that is)

Last reviewed: November 2009
Illustration of Thanksgiving dinner
Illustration by Alison Seiffer

If you're simultaneously roasting a turkey and baking, sautéing, boiling, or frying all the trimmings, making gravy from scratch may be too much trouble. But can a store-bought gravy be tasty? To find out, our trained tasters tried 10 products—four dry mixes (add water, stir, and heat) and six canned or jarred gravies (just heat).

Taste

Knorr is very good; in fact, guests might think it's homemade. It has a big roasted-turkey taste, a fresh impression, and slightly sweet, caramelized flavors nicely blended with herbs.

In our Ratings (available to subscribers), the top "good" gravies have only slight flaws—the McCormick actually tastes freshly prepared, though it's a bit starchy—and meat or potatoes could mask those. But flaws increase as gravies fall lower on the list. Fair products have even more drawbacks. The Franco-American is gelatinous; Simply Organic is also bitter; Serv-A-Gravy has little flavor, period.

Neither packaging nor price was related to quality: The best and worst gravies were dry mixes, and that low-rated Franco-American was relatively pricey.

Nutrition

Per serving, most of the gravies have 20 to 25 calories, very little fat, and 260 to 360 milligrams of sodium. (The exception, Serv-A-Gravy, has 15 calories and 210 mg of sodium.) Many include a little fat, stock, or broth from chicken or turkey, plus a dairy product. Those without meat flavor, fat, or dairy—Simply Organic and Serv-A-Gravy—were lowest-rated.

Bottom line

Try Knorr, and consider adding pan drippings (minus fat) to a store-bought gravy. Some tested products made that suggestion, and drippings did improve their flavor.