I'm on a diet where I can't eat a number of things that I would typically use to make gravy, specifically corn and flour. I'm planning on roasting a chicken tonight and I was thinking it would be great to have some gravy to go along with it.

Is there anything I can use to thicken the drippings besides cornstarch/flour?

Note: I am also not eating potatoes, soy or dairy so I can't substitute with those either.

  • 1
    Besides the things already mentioned, consider the serving the temperature -- many thickeners lose their power at higher temps, so cooling off the gravy will make it thicker. (starches, gelatin, etc.)
    – Joe
    Commented May 21, 2016 at 13:13
  • Just noting that a thickening agent isn't always needed. The first time I cooked kidneys (using the recipe from Joy of Cooking), I was suitably impressed that the liquid thickened as the wine hit it. I can't vouch for why, but I've been assuming it was the result of the wine hitting juices that contained an unusually large amount of blood.
    – keshlam
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 1:53
  • you can serve the chicken drippings as is, as well.
    – njzk2
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 15:25

12 Answers 12


Another thickener that is readily available is gelatin. This has the added advantage that its free of carbohydrate (if you are avoiding that).


Consider the use of gums, which are essentially thickening agents.

Xanthan gum, a bacterial byproduct, can be used to thicken sauces. Here is an example of using xanthan + [pectin] (a plant sugar gelling agent) to thicken a vegan demi-glace.

A traditional demi-glace has gelatin from the breakdown of collagen (from animal bones), which is how it achieves a thicker consistency even when hot.


Tapioca Starch - Add at the very end of cooking, it works quickly and has a pretty neutral flavour. You don't it to spend much/any time over heat. If you can't find it in your typical grocery store, you should be able to find in a typical Asian grocery store/aisle. I use this often when I have Celiac friends over.

Arrrowroot powder - More stable than other thickenners. Apparently doesn't cooperate with milk (which isn't a problem for you). Use the same as Tapioca, add at the end of cooking. Also a pretty neutral flavour.

Others (I don't know much about these, just that they exist). - Glutinous Rice Flour - Lotus Root

More info: - http://www.foodsubs.com/ThickenStarch.html


You can use cooked dry beans. I use baby Lima's, canned or freshly cooked. Do not rinse away the starch after you cook them. Cream them in a blender or food processor, place them in a skillet and add some of the drippings until it reaches the consistency you like then season, simmer and strain.


I'm diabetic so I cannot eat those things either. Often, I will use almond flour for a thickening agent (it's just crushed almonds into flour form). You may want to visit diabetic sites (even if you do not have it), because they have figured out substitutes for a slew of foods. Not all will be perfect substitutes, though.

  • ..and low carb websites
    – Paulb
    Commented May 21, 2016 at 16:30
  • Paulb makes an excellent point that I should expound on. When I said to visit diabetic sites, I meant diabetic forums. I would steer clear of the American Diabetic Association and HealthGrades if you are doing a low carb diet. Neither organization promotes a low carb lifestyle. I'd stick to the groups that have a proven track record of maintaining a low carb diet.
    – jesephuser
    Commented May 21, 2016 at 16:54

Chickpea flour is delicious. Make a slurry with water and whisk it into the juices. It is perfect for savory dishes. Find it at Indian. Grocers, it's called besan or gram flour. Also makes delicious savory crackers.


Onion based sauces can be self thickening to a reasonable extent, here you need to first fry off a good quantity of chopped onions at a fairly high temperature, enough to get a good golden brown colour without burning them and then add a little liquid (a dash of vinegar also helps the process) and then slowly stew them for a good long time adding more liquid as necessary so that they break down almost completely with a bit of seasoning this is a decent sauce in itself, you can strain out any remaining solid onion bits if you wish but this is not essential or if you are not using any other thickener you can also liquidise at this point to add more body. You can then add the meat juices for more flavor, and as mentioned the gelatin in these will also thicken the sauce as it cools.

Also if you cook chicken often you can make a stick by boiling the leftover carcass for a few hours with carrots, celery, onion and herbs, strain the broth and it can be stored for several days in the fridge or it can be frozen and can be used as a base for your next chicken sauce/gravy.

  • Other vegetables can be cooked & blended with the liquid to add body. Besides the obvious (potato), carrots & califlower might work for this use.
    – Joe
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 19:38

One thing not mentioned yet is egg yolk but maybe it would add too much of its own flavour (and also, be careful not to overheat as it will scramble).


By roasting a chicken you already have all the ingredients for a rich and delicious gravy.

The need to create an amazing reduction, which is often my first choice when it comes to a massive impact of flavor, and a heady delight for the pallate.

Once the bird is finished, remove it from the pan and deglaze the pan with a little white wine, in your case vegetable stock will work very nicely.

Over low heat, use a wooden spoon or other implement that will not damage your cookware and gently scrape all the brown bits and caramelised goodies from the pan and work them into the liquid.

The broth can be poured into a saute pan at this point to improve the efficiency and speed of the final process.

Raise the heat to a rapid boil and while frequently stirring, reduce the mixture by two thirds.

Taste along the way for intensiy as the reduction will become quite potent, and do your seasoning at the end.

If you find the flavor too intense, just add (mount with) tiny ammounts of vegetable stock until the taste is to your liking.

If you really must have a Bechamel like texture to your sauce, you might want to look into using a product like Agar Agar however, be careful to use very small amounts lest you end up with pan dripping Jello to serve along side your beautiful bird.

Who knows, it might be a terrific side dish!

Note: I am afraid to lose this post again, so for intel, google... diabetic concerns with agar agar

You will find everything you need to know to put your mind and tummy at ease.

Good eats!



Some powdered spices like mustard and ginger will also act as mild thickeners. Whether the added flavor is a side benefit or an issue depends on the recipe and personal taste.

You could also look at lecithin, which is an emulsifier, which means it will cause the oils and water-based liquids in the gravy to bond together and it can lead to more of a mayonaise consistency if you add too much. It looks like most lecithin is soy-based.


My mother routinely substitutes flour with breadcrumbs (easier on the stomach, handy if you have leftover bread, you can also choose type of bread to match your dietary restrictions). It's not as smooth (more gritty), but it does thicken. Another similar option is roughly blended and simmered squash (zucchini/whatever similar plant). It adds to the taste, and it prevents the gravy from being too runny. However, it's a bit sloshy (consistency of snow/water mixture), which may not be ideal for your taste.

Colagen is also a natural thickener (which is why meat-based gravies such as goulash are somewhat thick without additional thickeners). If you don't plan to use colagen-rich parts of meat, you can just buy gelatin.

  • Regarding using breadcrumbs: bread is made with flour, so if flour is a health issue, that may be something to avoid.
    – jesephuser
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 15:49
  • @josephuser Which is presumably why the answer says "you can also choose type of bread to match your dietary restrictions". But it may indeed be hard if soy and corn are also excluded.
    – Cascabel
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 15:55

You could easily use glucomanan (konjac root) powder. It thickens quickly when either blended, heated, or both. When added to a smoothie or cold liquid, you blend it in a blender with 1/2 tsp of powder to a blender of liquid until it thickens, and for a hot liquid you whisk it with a balloon whisk whilst gently heating until it thickens.

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