How to Make Onion Gravy: A Comforting Condiment for Any Dish

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Onion gravy, with its rich, savoury goodness, has the remarkable ability to turn an ordinary meal into a culinary delight. Whether it’s drizzled over a pile of creamy mashed potatoes or accompanying a Sunday roast, onion gravy is the quintessential comfort condiment. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the art of crafting this delectable sauce from scratch.

Introduction to How to make onion gravy

Onion gravy, a beloved staple of British cuisine, embodies the essence of comfort food. It’s the secret sauce that can turn a simple dinner into a sumptuous feast—the kind that warms your heart and nourishes your soul. But what makes onion gravy so captivating? It’s the alchemy of transforming humble onions, broth, and seasonings into a velvety, aromatic masterpiece. In this guide, we will demystify the art of making onion gravy from scratch, allowing you to bring a touch of homely comfort to your own kitchen.

But before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how to make onion gravy, let’s pause for a moment to appreciate the magic it brings to our plates. Picture a Sunday roast, golden and crispy, accompanied by a boat of rich onion gravy. Or perhaps imagine fluffy mashed potatoes, their creamy surface glistening under a generous pour of this savoury elixir. The allure of onion gravy lies not only in its taste but in the cherished memories and traditions it represents.

Ingredients: The Building Blocks of Flavor


  • 4 large red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups beef or vegetable broth
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • A pinch of sugar (optional, for caramelization)

Onions: The Stars of the Show

diced onion for how to make onion gravy

Before we embark on the journey of creating the perfect onion gravy, let’s talk about the star ingredient: onions. The type of onion you choose can significantly impact the flavour of your gravy. While yellow onions are the most common choice, you can experiment with red or white onions to add subtle variations in taste.

Yellow onions have a robust, slightly sweet flavour when caramelised, making them the classic choice for onion gravy. They strike the perfect balance between sweetness and savoury notes. Red onions, on the other hand, impart a mild, sweet flavour, while white onions offer a slightly more pungent taste. Whichever variety you select, remember that fresh, high-quality onions are essential for achieving the best results.

Broth: The Flavorful Elixir

beaf broth for making onion gravy

A good broth is the backbone of any great gravy. It not only provides a liquid base but also infuses your gravy with depth and complexity. You have the option of using either beef or vegetable broth, depending on your dietary preferences.

  • Beef Broth: Beef broth adds a rich, meaty flavour to your onion gravy. It’s perfect for accompanying roast meats, but it can also elevate vegetarian dishes.
  • Vegetable Broth: If you prefer a vegetarian or vegan onion gravy, vegetable broth is an excellent choice. It imparts a lighter, herbaceous flavour that complements a wide range of dishes.

When selecting your broth, opt for low-sodium versions, as this gives you better control over the saltiness of your gravy. If you’re using store-bought broth, be sure to taste it before adding any extra salt. You can always adjust the seasoning later.

Flour: Your Thickening Ally

The third crucial component of onion gravy is the thickening agent. This is where flour comes into play. It helps to create the desired consistency and texture, giving your gravy that wonderful smoothness.

To use flour as a thickening agent, create a roux by combining it with the onions and butter during the cooking process. This not only thickens the gravy but also adds a pleasant, nutty flavour. If you need to make your gravy gluten-free, corn flour is a suitable substitute for flour.

By mastering the art of using these key ingredients, you’re well on your way to crafting a sumptuous onion gravy that will enhance your meals with its delicious, savoury embrace.

Preparation of How to Make Onion Gravy

sliced onion for making onion gravy

To make onion gravy, start with finely chopped onions. The technique you use to cut your onions can influence the texture of your gravy. Here’s a simple guide to mastering the art of slicing and dicing onions for your gravy:

  1. Peel and Trim: Begin by peeling the onions and cutting off the ends. A sharp knife is your best friend in this process.
  2. Slice Horizontally: Cut the onion in half horizontally. This helps in keeping the slices even and uniform.
  3. Thin Slices: With the flat side of the onion down, make thin slices vertically. The thinner your slices, the faster and more evenly the onions will caramelise.
  4. Dice Finely: Once you’ve sliced your onions, gather them into a pile and dice them finely for a uniform texture in your gravy.

Caramelization: Transforming Onions into Liquid Gold

caramelised onion for making onion gravy

Caramelization is the magical process where the natural sugars in onions turn into a rich, brown, and flavorful delight. It’s the cornerstone of any great onion gravy. Here’s how you can achieve it:

  1. Low and Slow: To caramelise onions effectively, cook them over low to medium-low heat. Rushing this step will lead to uneven caramelization and a less flavorful result.
  2. Butter or Oil: Use a combination of butter and oil in the skillet. Butter adds flavour, and oil prevents it from burning.
  3. Stir Frequently: Stir the onions occasionally to prevent sticking and ensure even browning.
  4. Patience: Caramelization can take around 25–30 minutes, so be patient. The onions will gradually change from white to yellow, then to golden brown.
  5. Adjust heat: If the onions are browning too quickly, reduce the heat. If they’re not browning at all, increase the heat slightly. Finding the right balance is key.

Remember that caramelization is where the magic happens. As the onions cook, they release their natural sugars, transforming into a sweet, savoury, and fragrant base for your gravy. This is a crucial step, and taking the time to do it right will reward you with a flavour that is second to none.

Bringing it All Together

Once your onions have achieved that beautiful golden-brown hue through caramelization, it’s time to introduce the broth. This is where the flavour of your onion gravy truly blossoms.

  1. Gradual Addition: Pour the broth slowly into the skillet with the caramelised onions. Stir gently to combine the two, ensuring a consistent blend.
  2. Deglazing: Scrape the bottom of the skillet with a spatula or wooden spoon to release any flavorful bits stuck to the surface. This process, known as deglazing, adds an extra layer of taste to your gravy.
  3. Simmering: Allow the mixture to come to a gentle simmer. This simmering phase allows the flavours to meld and intensify.
salt and pepper for making onion gravy

Seasoning is the soul of any gravy, and onion gravy is no exception. Here’s how to season it to perfection:

  1. Salt and Pepper: Season with a pinch of salt and a generous twist of black pepper. Remember that you can always add more later, so start conservatively.
  2. Herbs and Spices: Depending on your preference, you can add herbs and spices like thyme, rosemary, or a bay leaf to infuse additional complexity into your gravy.
  3. Taste and Adjust: Always taste your gravy before serving. This is your opportunity to adjust the seasoning to your liking. If it’s too sweet, a pinch more salt can balance it. If it’s too salty, a dash of water can help.

Remember that seasoning is a highly personal aspect of cooking. Some enjoy their onion gravy with a subtle, sweet undertone, while others prefer a more savoury profile. It all comes down to figuring out what balance best matches your taste.

Thickening and Texture

Thickening your onion gravy is the next crucial step. The most common agents used for thickening are flour or cornflour. Here’s how to use each:

  1. Flour: To use flour, sprinkle it over the simmering gravy while whisking constantly. Simmer for a little while longer to achieve the required thickness.
  2. Cornflour: To use cornflour, create a slurry by mixing it with cold water. Gradually add the slurry to the simmering gravy, stirring until it thickens. Cornflour provides a slightly glossier finish compared to flour.

Achieving Perfect Consistency

Whether you choose flour or cornflour, the goal is to achieve the perfect consistency for your onion gravy. The ideal thickness is somewhat subjective and can vary based on personal preference and intended use. Here are a few tips:

  1. Patience is key. Regardless of your thickening agent, remember that it might take a few minutes to reach the desired thickness. Have patience and let things happen organically.
  2. Adjusting Texture: If your gravy becomes too thick, you can add a bit more broth or water to thin it out. If it’s too thin, whisk in a bit more flour or cornflour.
  3. Smoothness Matters: Ensure that your gravy is smooth and free from lumps. If lumps do form, you can strain the gravy to remove them.
  4. Keep it Warm: Once your onion gravy reaches the desired consistency, keep it warm but not boiling until you’re ready to serve. If it thickens too much while sitting, you can always add a splash of broth to loosen it up.

Serving and Enjoying Your Onion Gravy

serving onion gravy with beef

Onion gravy is an incredibly versatile condiment. It pairs well with a wide range of dishes, elevating their flavours and adding a delightful richness. Here are a few well-liked serving suggestions:

  1. Roast Meats: It’s a classic accompaniment for roast meats like beef, pork, and lamb. Pour it over your meat for an infusion of flavour.
  2. Mashed Potatoes: Onion gravy can turn a simple plate of mashed potatoes into a gourmet side dish. Drizzle it generously for a tasty upgrade.
  3. Sausages: Bangers and mash wouldn’t be complete without a generous ladle of onion gravy. It’s a quintessential pairing.
  4. Vegetarian and Vegan Dishes: Don’t let the word “gravy” fool you. Onion gravy is a fantastic addition to vegetarian and vegan meals. It complements vegetable pies, nut roasts, and more.
  5. Hot Sandwiches: Use it as a condiment for hot sandwiches, especially if they contain grilled vegetables or tofu.

Storage and Reheating

If you find yourself with leftover onion gravy, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. Reheat it gently on the stovetop, adding a little water or broth to achieve the desired consistency.


In this journey to discover how to make onion gravy, we’ve delved into the art of caramelising onions, choosing the right ingredients, mastering the thickening process, and seasoning to perfection. The result is a luscious, flavorful gravy that can elevate a wide range of dishes.

So, whether you’re preparing a Sunday roast, a hearty weekday dinner, or a special holiday feast, don’t forget the magic of homemade onion gravy. It’s the finishing touch that transforms an ordinary meal into an extraordinary one.

With these insights and a little practise, you’re well on your way to becoming an onion gravy maestro. Happy cooking, and may your meals be forever enriched by the warm embrace of this delectable condiment.

Now, go ahead and delight your taste buds with the sumptuous goodness of homemade onion gravy. Enjoy!

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