Gravy is a big deal in my house, when it comes to holiday meals, so I usually make extra. A day or two ahead of time, I roast some extra turkey parts (drumsticks, wings, backs, and/or necks), then boil the heck out of them (2-4 hours). The idea here is to create a flavorful turkey stock, which would be full of gelatin.

When I try turning this turkey stock (and pan drippings from the roasted bird) in gravy, I had to add 3 to 4 times the amount of cornstarch to get a good gravy consistency. The cornstartch wasn't "Bad", since I ran through this procedure three times with two different containers of cornstarch. I've used cornstarch in the past to thicken other things, and I know it continues to thicken as it cools, but I still think I used an increadible amount.

Does cornstarch work less well in the presence of gelatin?

  • 4
    Why use cornstarch at all? Just make a roux with flour and butter like normal...am I missing something?
    – rfusca
    Commented Dec 8, 2011 at 19:46
  • 7
    "Boiling the heck out of them" isn't the way to get a good stock with lots of gelatin - all it does is churn the fat and make the stock cloudier. You'll get much better results with a long slow slimmer (maybe slightly above usual heat if you want to reduce it into a demi-glace consistency). It's quite possibly the extra fat content that's messing up your gravy. You're also only getting the tiniest amount of gelatin from a stock; most of what you're adding is water.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Dec 8, 2011 at 20:09
  • @rfusca - I guess I forgot to mention that I'm gluten-free, so a roux won't cut it in my house
    – Macromika
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 20:01
  • @Aaronut -- You have a very good point. When I said "boiling the heck out of them", I meant that they simmered (gently) for a REALLY LONG time (several hours, probably more than originally estimated). It wasn't a full rolling (violent) boil. At the end, I strained all the bits out and set it in the fridge overnight. The following day, I skimmed the fat off the top. I was left with a really solid (when cold) lump of turkey stock (or Turkey "Squeezin's" as we call them in my house).
    – Macromika
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 20:06

2 Answers 2


Cornstarch can be a bit temperamental. You can weaken the strength if you cook it too long and it doesn’t do well if you reheat it. If you use a lot, it could weep. There is a much better alternative. ARROWROOT! (not to be used with dairy products) Arrowroot doesn’t cloud your gravy, doesn't alter the flavor like cornstarch can. For me, it's just a better thickener. I use it all the time in my pot-roast gravy that has tons of gelatin and a spot of vinegar. It doesn’t interfere with the silky texture you are seeking.

  • You could also use something like Ultrasperse 3 which is heat stable and can be added directly to the gravy without making a slurry.
    – Stefano
    Commented May 1, 2012 at 10:28

OK I dont have any problems with the previous post SO i will try to add rather than repeat, the amount of gelatin you get depends upon what part of the bird the bones come from, it you could use a whole bird carcus with an onion a couple of sticks of celery a dozen black peppercorns a sprig of parsley a chopped carrot couple of ba leaves and a few sprigs of thyme then totally don't boil it, the gentlest of simmers blooop bloouuup really gentle take away any scum that forms and give it a couple of hours at least. If your hob is too aggressive use a gentle oven with the lid on a stock pot.Do not use too much water, make sure you get all the condensate from the sides of the pot before washing up. You can always add more water to the stock but taking it away is fraught with danger and the temptation to boil it away.

Corn flour is fine, so is arrow root also you can roast a few veg carrots onion and celery with the meat or dry and then blitz them into the gravy for a natural tasty thickening. other thickeners pureed onion, potato starch ( don't ever let it boil) if you are using corn flour i mix equal amounts off lour and onion and dry ( barely a hint of olive oil but only enough to get the corn flour to stick to the onion) and i stand over it stirring constantly until it takes colour but doesn't burn) this then makes a great thickener to the stock and because the flour is cooked out you can bring it together fast at the last minute and not get tempted to over heat it

  • The answer about roasting carrots or other veggies to thicken the gravy seems so brilliant I can't believe I didn't think of it myself. I've made a delicious curried carrot bisque and think that carrot and a bit of sweet potato would not ruin a gravy, but in fact make it tastier!!! Going to try this for sure.
    – Steeniroo
    Commented May 4, 2015 at 20:39

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