Using a turkey neck and other giblets is a simple way to make turkey gravy, especially when you’re grilling or smoking a turkey and don’t have any pan drippings. Even when you’re roasting a turkey and have drippings, this recipe is worth making since the robust flavors in the stock are more consistent than what comes from the bottom of the pan when a bird is roasted.
This recipe is all about creating a smooth, flavorful turkey giblet gravy without drippings that embodies the turkey’s flavor and is simple to make during the holidays.
In this piece
We’ve divided this recipe into two parts to help answer the eternal question of what to do with that turkey neck and the rest of the giblets.
The first part of the recipe makes stock from the giblets that can be used to make an incredibly delicious gravy, as the base for soups and stews, or to help flavor side dishes that call for stock – think wild rice or mashed potatoes.
The second part makes one of the best gravies you’ve ever had, assuming you prefer gravy that will never be mistaken for paste and has a bit of a kick. The recipe can also be made with regular chicken or Turkey Stock but is its best self when the stock is made with the giblets.
One of our favorite things about making this easy giblet gravy is there’s not a lot of recipes for giblets, which means they often get tossed in the garbage even though they’re loaded with flavor and can easily be turned into something delicious.
How to Make Giblet Gravy
There are some real advantages to using a stock made this way as the base for your gravy, rather than trying to make it using pan drippings.
The main advantage is that this classic turkey giblet gravy has the same great flavors as a pan sauce without ever coming out too greasy or overly salty, which is easy to do with drippings, especially if the turkey has been brined.
Also, the gravy can be made a couple of days ahead of time, and if you use the technique in this recipe, it will never end up lumpy or pasty.
To make the gravy, start by making a rich stock from the giblets. We recommend leaving out the liver, which can have a strong flavor that can overpower the other ingredients. Once the stock is ready, combine it with a seasoned roux.
The gravy’s rich flavor comes from the stock’s long simmer. We’ve timed the recipe, so the time it takes to make the stock easily fits within the cooking time for an average smoked or grilled turkey. Just think of the stock as something to start when the turkey goes in and forget about it until it is all done cooking and goes down for a quick nap before being served.
To make the gravy more interesting, because there’s no reason gravy has to be boring, we’ve added some hot sauce, fresh thyme, and smoked paprika that make it perfect for slathering over slices of juicy turkey or dunking buttermilk biscuits.
Cooking Turkey Giblets
Giblets are the neck, heart, gizzard, and liver in turkeys and chickens and are often found in a small bundle inside the bird’s cavity. There are a lot of ways to use giblets to enhance the flavor of dishes.
A few of our favorites include sauteeing the liver and heart in a small pan with butter, seasoned with salt and pepper until they’re cooked through. They make perfect little chef treats when you’re spending the whole day cooking a big meal. In addition to making stock, braised turkey necks are often used to flavor greens or beans.
Tips for Turkey Neck Gravy
Here are a few tips for making better gravy. For more tips and a simple recipe for a delicious homemade gravy that can be made with chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, read A Better Gravy Recipe.
The most important tip with any gravy is to make a roux and then add the cooking liquid or stock to the roux. This prevents clumping and that horrible over-floured taste that comes from adding flour straight to the liquid.
In recipes where you’re making your own stock reducing the cooking liquid concentrates the stock’s flavors improving the sauce’s flavor. Make sure not to season the stock too much before reducing it, or it can end up salty and overpowering.
Use spices and herbs to build layers of flavor. People count on the gravy to hide the boring, bland taste of the other dishes, so don’t disappoint them with something tepid and restrained.
The goal should be to make a gravy so good that when people run out of rolls and biscuits they start using their fingers and spoons to sop up the last of it.
This gravy will last in the fridge for 4 to 5 days and is best reheated on the stove over low heat. If the gravy needs to be thinned, just add a couple of tablespoons of stock or water while reheating it.
Delicious Holiday Dishes
Here are a few dishes to serve alongside this sauce. The best way we’ve found to bring out the flavor in turkey is to use this Smoked Turkey or Grilled Turkey with Fresh Herbs recipe. Both of these techniques give the turkey a robust fall flavor that is perfect for Thanksgiving or the holidays.
- 1 giblets, neck, heart, gizzard
- 1 cup white onion, roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 tsp thyme, minced
- 2 cups stock
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tsp hot sauce
- 1/2 smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- In a good sized pot, brown the giblets in a little bit of butter. Add in the onions, celery, and garlic and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes.1 giblets, 1 cup white onion, 1 clove garlic, 1 stalk celery, 1 tbsp butter
- Add in 8 cups of water, bay leaf, and sprigs of thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 3 to 4 hours. The stock is ready to use after a couple of hours but does benefit from a longer simmer.1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs thyme
- Once the stock has finished cooking, strain everything out, put the stock back on the stove, and continue letting the liquid reduce until there are approximately 2 to 3 cups of liquid.
- In a saucepan, make a roux by whisking the butter and flour together over medium-low heat. Once the roux has turned golden brown, slowly pour in two cups of stock while whisking.1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup flour, 2 cups stock
- Add the smoked paprika, minced thyme, hot sauce, salt, and pepper, and continue stirring until the gravy has reached the desired consistency.1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp hot sauce, 1/2 smoked paprika, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper
- The gravy will continue to thicken as it cools.
Editors Note – The title of this piece used to be Turkey Neck Gravy. It was updated and expanded to include additional information on using giblets.