Every holiday season families all around the globe will pull out their family gravy recipe. Every family makes their gravy differently, but for the most part, gravy has the same ingredients. It is usually made from meat drippings mixed with water and flour to create a thick, savory sauce that can be poured over the top of meat and vegetables.
Although it is delicious, gravy is also known for being one of the more unhealthy holiday foods which place it out of limits for many. Fortunately, nowadays there are many healthy gravy substitutes.
Some great healthy substitutes for gravy include seasoned yogurt and purees. There are also ways to make your regular gravy recipe healthier by using low-sodium seasonings and low-carb thickeners.
The rest of this article will go over the best healthy substitutes for gravy that way you can have a healthy alternative at your next holiday gathering.
What is Gravy Mix?
Gravy mix is a powdered mix that is made from various types of thickening agents, yeast, and vegetable and meat flavorings. They also contain large amounts of salt.
Gravy mix is frequently used when someone does not have the time or ingredients to make a regular brown gravy. To make a gravy mix typically all you have to do is mix in water and heat it on the stovetop.
What is Brown Gravy Made From?
Brown gravy is traditionally made from the drippings of meat mixed with flour and water.
To make brown gravy you would take a pan that had cooked roasted meat and add water to it then scrape all the dripping and small pieces of meat off the bottom of the pan. Once the water was mixed with the drippings you would add small amounts of flour and keep heating the mixture until it reached your desired consistency.
The 5 Best Substitutes for Gravy
There are many reasons why someone may want a substitute for gravy, including food preferences, allergies, and difficulty to acquire ingredients.
If someone does not eat red meat, it can be difficult to make a true brown gravy as brown gravy is usually made from roasted red meats. If someone is allergic to any of the common ingredients in gravy it can also prove challenging to find options.
Here are 5 of the best substitutes for gravy. Each has its own unique flavor but can be used to fill the role of gravy in a meal.
1. Browning Sauce
Browning sauce is a good substitute for gravy on its own, or when prepared. This sauce is usually made from a mix of brown sugar and water and is added to roasted meats or stews to enhance their flavor.
If you don’t have the time to prepare the sauce, you can pour browning sauce directly on your food and it can make a good gravy substitute. However, it is an even better substitute if you heat it in the pan with the meat drippings to add even more of that classic gravy flavor.
2. Bragg Liquid Aminos
Although liquid aminos are not a thick sauce like gravy, they still offer plenty of that satisfying salty gravy flavor that we expect from brown gravies.
Bragg liquid aminos is also gluten-free and lower in sodium than most gravies. This makes it a good choice for those with allergies or those who need to watch their sodium intake.
3. Kitchen Bouquet
Another easy gravy substitute is Kitchen Bouquet. This sauce is intended to be used as a browning sauce to enhance the flavor of and give color to different dishes.
Like regular browning sauce, you can use Kitchen Bouquet directly on your food or mix it with meat drippings to create an even more gravy-like flavor.
4. Japanese Teriyaki Sauce
Japanese teriyaki sauce has a slightly sweet flavor with enough acidity to balance the sweetness out. It is a thicker sauce, making it similar to gravy, and can be used as a topping or a marinade on vegetables and meats.
5. Maggi Seasoning
Maggi Seasoning is a popular brand that sells bagged seasoning mixes, some of which closely mimic the flavor of a regular brown gravy.
You can mix Maggi Seasoning with water and a small amount of flour to create a thick, salty sauce that can be used to top vegetables and meats. This makes it another great substitute for gravy.
Healthy Gravy Ideas
Not everyone is interested in substitutes and a lot of people are determined to eat regular gravy during the holiday season. However, gravy is notorious for being a very unhealthy food. It contains large amounts of sodium and fat and is high in calories.
In this section, you will find several great ways to take your regular gravy recipe and make it healthier without having to compromise on the fantastic gravy flavor that you’re accustomed to.
If you would like to make a traditional brown gravy with meat drippings from your other dishes but would like to avoid carbs, using a low-carb thickener could be a good solution.
Traditionally, gravy is made with thickeners like flour or cornstarch however, these greatly increase the carbohydrate content of the gravy. Using a low-carb thickener like oat or barley flour can help to decrease the total amount of carbs in the gravy. If you’d like to avoid flour altogether, you can also use ground flaxseed to thicken the gravy.
If you are preparing a creamy gravy as opposed to a brown sauce, one of your health concerns may be the fat content of the gravy. Creamy gravy is traditionally prepared with full-fat milk or cream to give it its classic creamy texture.
To reduce some of the fat you can try using skim milk to make the gravy instead of full-fat milk. This will result in a gravy that isn’t quite as thick, but this can be remedied through the addition of extra thickeners such as flour or a low-carb option like flaxseed.
Low Sodium and Sugar
Packaged gravy mixes are notorious for being filled with salt and sugar, something which many people would rather avoid. The best way to make a low-sodium gravy without sacrificing the flavor is to include lots of extra spices. This will allow you to still make a tasty gravy without having to use excessive amounts of salt.
If you’d like to make a gravy that is lower in fat then the best thing you can do is omit the meat drippings that are traditionally used to flavor the gravy. Instead, you can use chicken or vegetable broth to create the base for the gravy. You’ll want to heat the broth and allow some of the water to evaporate to intensify the flavor before mixing in your other ingredients.
Healthy Substitutes for Gravy
While the previous substitutes are good alternatives for gravy that will closely mimic its flavor, none of them would be considered particularly healthy.
Regular brown gravy is full of fat and sodium, neither of which is good for us when consumed regularly.
Fortunately, over the years many professional and home cooks have come up with fantastic healthy gravy substitutes that will satisfy your craving for gravy without negatively impacting your health.
A great alternative to gravy that is much healthier is seasoned yogurt. Seasoned yogurt is traditionally used as a sauce in many countries in Asia and the Middle East.
To make seasoned yogurt you’ll want to start with completely unflavored, unsweetened yogurt like Greek yogurt. Then you can add whichever seasonings you’d normally like in your gravy to mimic its flavor.
Another healthy alternative to gravy is a puree made from vegetables and a stock base. This will give you the same creamy texture as gravy but with lower calories and lower sodium.
This is also a great alternative for vegetarians that do not want to consume meat or other animal-derived products. You can even make this alternative totally vegan if you use plant-based broth and vegetables without any animal-based flavorings.
Gravy is a delicious holiday food that is used to top meat and vegetables. However, it is not a healthy food and its nutritional content can pose health concerns for many.
Fortunately, nowadays there are many fantastic gravy substitutes such as seasoned yogurt and vegetable-pureed sauces that are flavored like gravy.
There are also several techniques that you can use to make your regular gravy recipe healthier. Some of these include limiting fat by cutting using skim milk instead of whole-fat milk and using a low-carb thickener instead of regular flour.