Gravy can or cannot be dairy-free, depending on the recipe. Traditional gravies often use pan drippings, which may contain animal fats, but dairy is not typically required. Many dairy-free gravies use vegetable or meat broth thickened with flour or cornstarch and seasoned with herbs and spices. It’s important to check the specific ingredients and preparation methods to ensure a dairy-free gravy.
Common Types of Gravy
- Brown Gravy: Made from the drippings of roasted meats, it is typically thickened with flour or cornstarch. Brown gravy is rich and savory, perfect for roast beef or mashed potatoes.
- White Gravy: Also known as country gravy, it is made from a mixture of fat, such as butter or oil, and flour, cooked together to form a roux. Milk or cream is then added to create a creamy and smooth texture. White gravy is commonly served with biscuits, fried chicken, or country-fried steak.
- Onion Gravy: This type of gravy is made by caramelizing onions, combining them with a liquid, such as broth and thickening them with flour or cornstarch. It has a sweet and savory taste and is often served with sausages, meatloaf, or mashed potatoes.
- Mushroom Gravy: Prepared by sautéing mushrooms and combining them with broth or stock, mushroom gravy offers a rich and earthy flavor. It can be thickened with flour or cornstarch and commonly paired with roasted chicken, steak, or vegetarian meals.
- Vegetarian or Vegan Gravy: Made without meat drippings, vegetarian or vegan gravy typically uses vegetable broth or stock as a base. It can be thickened with flour or plant-based alternatives and flavored with herbs, spices, or nutritional yeast. This type of gravy is suitable for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
These are just a few examples, and there are numerous variations and regional types of gravies, each with unique flavors and ingredients.
Ingredients of Dairy-Free Gravy
- Vegetable or Meat Broth/Stock: A flavorful liquid base that provides the foundation for the gravy. Vegetable broth or stock suits vegan or vegetarian gravies, while meat broth or stock can be used for non-vegetarian options.
- Flour or Cornstarch: These are commonly used as thickeners in gravy recipes. They help give the gravy a smooth and thick consistency. Gluten-free alternatives like rice flour or tapioca starch can be used for gluten-free diets.
- Onion and Garlic: These aromatics add depth and flavor to the gravy. They can be sautéed before adding the broth or stock.
- Herbs and Spices: Various herbs and spices can be used to enhance the taste of the gravy, such as thyme, rosemary, sage, black pepper, or paprika. Choosing herbs and spices depends on personal preference and the desired flavor profile.
- Dairy-free Oil or Dairy-Free Margarine: These fats are used to sauté onions and garlic or to create a roux with flour or cornstarch. They help in achieving a smooth texture and add richness to the gravy.
Dairy-Free Gravy Recipe
- 2 tablespoons oil or dairy-free margarine
- 2 tablespoons flour or cornstarch (or gluten-free alternative)
- 2 cups vegetable broth or stock
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari (gluten-free if needed)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: herbs, spices, or flavor enhancers of your choice
- Heat the oil or dairy-free margarine in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the chopped onion, minced garlic, and sauté until soft and translucent.
- Sprinkle the flour or cornstarch into the pan and stir continuously for about a minute to create a roux.
- Gradually whisk in the vegetable broth or stock, ensuring no lumps remain.
- Add the soy sauce or tamari and any desired herbs, spices, or flavor enhancers.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the gravy thickens to your desired consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Strain the gravy through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any lumps or solids.
- Serve the dairy-free gravy hot with your favorite dishes, such as roasted meats, mashed potatoes, or vegetables.
Tips to Ensure That Your Gravy-Mix Is Dairy-Free
Read Ingredient Labels: When selecting pre-packaged gravy mixes, carefully read the ingredient labels to ensure they do not contain any dairy or milk derivatives. Look for terms such as whey, casein, or lactose, which indicate the presence of dairy.
Make Homemade Gravy: To fully control the ingredients, consider making your gravy from scratch using dairy-free alternatives like vegetable broth, non-dairy milk, and oil or dairy-free margarine. This allows you to customize the flavors and ensure it remains dairy-free.
Use Non-Dairy Thickeners: Instead of relying on traditional dairy-based thickeners like butter or cream, opt for non-dairy thickeners like flour, cornstarch, or arrowroot powder. These alternatives can help achieve a smooth and thick consistency without the need for dairy.
Avoid Cross-Contamination: If preparing dairy-free gravy in a shared kitchen, ensure that all utensils, pots, and pans are thoroughly cleaned to avoid cross-contamination with dairy products. This helps prevent unintentional dairy exposure and maintains the integrity of the dairy-free gravy.
Dairy-Free Gravy Mix Brands
McCormick Gluten-Free Brown Gravy Mix
This brand offers a gluten-free and dairy-free gravy mix that is easy to prepare. It is made with natural flavors and can be a convenient option for those with dietary restrictions.
Simply Organic Vegetarian Brown Gravy Seasoning Mix
This organic and vegetarian-friendly gravy mix is dairy-free and made with high-quality ingredients. It provides a rich and savory flavor without the need for dairy products.
Road’s End Organics Shiitake Mushroom Gravy Mix
Made with organic ingredients, this dairy-free gravy mix features the earthy flavors of shiitake mushrooms. It is gluten-free and suitable for vegans, providing a delicious option for those seeking a dairy-free alternative.
Orrington Farms Brown Gravy Mix
This brand offers a gluten- and dairy-free brown gravy mix made with a blend of spices and seasonings. It can be easily prepared with water and provides a flavorful dairy-free option.
Edward & Sons Not-Beef Bouillon Cubes
While not specifically a gravy mix, these dairy-free bouillon cubes can be used as a base for homemade dairy-free gravy. They add depth of flavor and can be dissolved in water to create a savory broth for your gravy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Dairy-Free Gravy Healthy?
Dairy-free gravy can be a healthier option for individuals who are lactose intolerant, have dairy allergies, or follow a vegan or plant-based diet. However, the overall healthiness of the gravy depends on the specific ingredients used and the cooking method employed.
Is Gravy Vegan?
Gravy can be made vegan using plant-based ingredients such as vegetable broth, non-dairy milk, and vegetable oils instead of animal-derived products. With the right choice of ingredients, gravy can be a delicious vegan addition to meals.
Is Gravy Vegetarian?
Gravy can be vegetarian when prepared without meat drippings or meat-based broth. Instead, vegetable broth or vegetable-based seasonings are used to create the flavor. Vegetarian gravies often rely on herbs, spices, and plant-based thickeners for a rich taste and texture.
Is Gravy Lactose-Free?
Gravy can be lactose-free without dairy products such as milk, butter, or cream. Instead, dairy-free alternatives like vegetable broth, non-dairy milk, and dairy-free margarine are used to create lactose-free gravy.
Is Gravy Gluten-Free?
Gravy can be gluten-free if gluten-free thickeners, such as cornstarch, rice flour, or arrowroot powder, are used instead of wheat-based flour. Additionally, ensuring that all other ingredients, such as broth and seasonings, are gluten-free is important to maintain a gluten-free gravy option.