The Best Vegetarian Gravy

The Best Vegetarian GravyI
am a gravy drinker. WOW, that feels good to get off my chest. On my hips, maybe — but off my chest. I should probably be a little bit sorry, but I’m not. Remember in elementary school, how some of the kids who went on to peak in high school used to say, “Your mama’s so fat she thinks gravy is a beverage?” Well, that offended me. Not because my mama was fat or because I was. We weren’t, thanks. Not even because it is an empirically offensive thing to say. But because gravy is a beverage, and anyone who didn’t realize that should really have shut their gravy hole and stopped wasting my time.

I wasn’t that popular in high school.

I’m not saying that I would suck down a big-gulp size cup of gravy (or anything, for that matter) with a straw. But gravy is special. I usually like it more than the thing it’s poured on top of. So sometimes, especially now that I have a kitchen with doors that close to the rest of the house, I might skip the thing it’s supposed to be poured on and just sort of elegantly tip the spout of a personal-size gravy pitcher into my mouth. I figure it’s society’s problem that this isn’t considered an acceptable practice. Someday we’ll have a Constitutional amendment, and then our social and moral obligations will finally be aligned.

As you can see, gravy is important to me. That’s why I think you should trust me when I say that this vegetarian gravy (which you can make vegan, if you like) meets and even exceeds the standard for excellent gravy, period. It uses three different vegetable-based umami powerhouses — shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, and marmite (trust me on this last one, you won’t taste it at all) — to make it every bit as savory and deeply delicious as a meat-based gravy.

You might think that the day after Thanksgiving is a strange time to post a recipe for gravy. And maybe it is. But let’s say you pitched in at your aunt’s house or wherever and took home your share of turkey (or not), stuffing, and mashed potato leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner. Probably you didn’t take any gravy. Even I would have been too shy in that situation to ask for a glass of gravy to take home on the plane or the train or the car. Well, why not whip up a quick batch of this lovely beverage…I mean proper topping for use sparingly as a sauce and sauce only? You could do it for the taste, or — you know — to fulfill your future Constitutional obligation. Whatever floats your gravy boat.

P.S. Links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links. If you click on them and buy something, I’ll earn a small percentage of the sale, which helps keep Umami Girl up and running. Thank you! 

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Serves 12
This recipe is adapted from a simple turkey gravy developed by Serious Eats editor J. Kenji López-Alt. I prefer the flavor when a bit of butter shines through from the roux, but it also tastes great when made vegan with a good olive oil. Since it keeps well and isn’t dependent on meat drippings, this is a great part of the holiday meal to make ahead. It will keep in the fridge for up to five days or in the freezer for a few months. Reheat gently before serving.
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Total Time
45 min
Total Time
45 min
  1. 8 cups good vegetable stock (or 7 cups stock and 1 cup good, dry white wine)
  2. 8 dried shiitake mushrooms
  3. 1/2 cup butter (to make it vegan, substitute a good olive oil or Earth Balance)
  4. 1 minced shallot, optional
  5. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  6. 1 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  7. 1/2 teaspoon Marmite
  8. Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Pour the vegetable stock into a medium pot and drop in the shiitakes. Bring stock to a boil over high heat, then remove from heat and let mushrooms steep for 30 minutes. Pour stock and mushrooms into large spouted measuring cup or bowl, and wipe out the pot with a paper towel.
  2. Add the butter to the empty pot and melt over medium-high heat. If using the shallot, add and cook for a minute or so, whisking once or twice. Add the flour and cook, whisking, until it turns very lightly golden, about two minutes. Pour in the stock with the mushrooms in a stream, whisking the whole time. Add soy sauce, marmite, and a few grinds of pepper.
  3. Bring stock back to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until gravy is reduced by almost half, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and additional pepper if desired. Remove mushrooms before serving.
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  • henry Doll

    Who knew you held such a dark secret!

    You sure went through quite an exercise to justify your gravy consumption addiction. Vegetarian gravy sure sounds incongruent on face, but I think you can simply, and guiltlessly dive into your passion by simply ceasing to call it gravy, and simply refer to it as ‘soup’.

    Just think about it, you could even start a trend – souping your foods!

    OK, you’ve given me the strength to also come out;
    Hi, my name is Henry, and I’m a gravy-aoholic!

    I’ve always been the Saucier to my friends and family, and always seem to arrive at just that moment when they look at the roasting pan and say, “hey, you want to make the gravy?”ReplyCancel

  • Justine

    Want to make it even better?? Sautee shallots or a bit of onion & garlic in that butter and add nutritional yeast in with that flour. Many of my family members prefer mine to the traditional giblet gravy my dad makes. Even the meat eaters!ReplyCancel

    • Justine, I definitely thought about adding a bit of shallot or onion, but wanted to keep it on the smoother side for Thanksgiving. I’m sure that (and the nutritional yeast — good idea!) would make it even more savory.ReplyCancel

  • This sounds like a delicious gravy recipe to try out. Thanks for making it available.ReplyCancel

  • Oh yes, you made me want to drink this.
    I’m making a late Friendsgiving dinner for a bunch of Australians this week and we’ve got a couple of vegos, so this is perfect!
    Do you think Vegemite might work in place of the Marmite or is that aggressive?ReplyCancel

    • Hi Leah, sorry to take so long to reply to your question. To be honest, I’ve never actually tried Vegemite. I’ve heard it has a stronger flavor, so I’m not sure, but I bet it would be okay. If you make it, would you mind reporting back? enjoy your Friendsgiving!ReplyCancel

      • I definitely think Vegemite is a little stronger and slightly funkier. I’m making it as I type and just added a tiny bit of Vegemite, maybe a 1/4 or a 1/3 of a teaspoon and it tastes pretty good! Still reducing, but we’ll see how it goes over later. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • will have to try this great recipe!ReplyCancel

  • looks delicious and yummy! thanks for the great recipe! need to try this!ReplyCancel

  • […] – Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]ReplyCancel

  • Mary

    Isn’t Marmite basically just MSG?ReplyCancel

  • Morgan

    Thanks so much for the wonderful recipe- I can’t wait to try it. Is this something you can make ahead of time??ReplyCancel

  • […] Image & Recipe via Umami Girl […]ReplyCancel

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  • Vanessa

    Is it possible to use fresh mushrooms instead of dried ones?ReplyCancel

  • […] Vegan mushroom gravy (normally I don’t like gravy, but this stuff is amazing! We halved the recipe and it worked great for the two of us) […]ReplyCancel

  • […] not cooked inside the turkey), pies, cake… The list goes on. It’s easy to make vegetarian gravy if you want that. And if you’re really needing a meat alternative, try a vegetarian meatloaf […]ReplyCancel

  • Marian Wagner

    Can I make this 2 days ahead of time?ReplyCancel

  • […] Dried shiitakes give a seriously intense flavor that rivals any meat-based gravy. Recipe here. […]ReplyCancel

  • cath

    Sounds and looks scrumptious! I have 2 vegan nieces coming to Christmas dinner, so I’m definitely going to try this out.
    What do you think of blending in the mushrooms instead of taking them out after soaking them? Can I make it in advance and freeze?

    One more…any suggestions for a delicious vegan main course?

    Warm Regards,


  • Hi Cath, I’m sorry, I just saw this now! I don’t think I’d blend in the mushrooms because they don’t get particularly soft even after all that soaking and simmering. Freezing should work out great, or just keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days and reheat gently.

    For a vegan main, how about something like Gena Hemshaw’s Vegan Lentil Shepherds Pie ( or Umami Girl’s Farro with Shiitakes and Broccoli (just omit the parmesan cheese) ( or Winter Squash with Quinoa and Spinach ( Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • And to all who have asked, YES, you can absolutely make this in advance. Will keep in the fridge for about 5 days or in the freezer for several months. Just reheat gently. I’ll add this information to the recipe notes.ReplyCancel

    • Palak

      I love this recipe and am going to try it for Friendsgiving that I’m hosting this weekend. I wanted to ask about making it in advance and keeping it in the fridge. You mention to reheat gently, what does that mean? Also, have you done it? Does the flavor change?ReplyCancel

  • Pam

    Found this today and made a half recipe. It is a terrific gravy, can’t wait to serve it tomorrow. I’ll be making the turkey, and traditional gravy, but we have a few vegetarians in the party, and I’m staying away from gluten. I used rice flour, and it worked fine. Thanks for a recipe I will use for years to come!ReplyCancel

  • Christina

    I just want to say that I made a variation of this for Thanksgiving dinner tonight and it’s the only gravy I’ve enjoyed since I gave up meat 5 years ago.

    I had to make a couple changes due to missing some ingredients (I omitted the mushrooms and yeast. Sauted some garlic and added a swanson flavor boost) but if I hadn’t found this recipe I would have been completely without gravy again this year.

    Of course, I have to say I won’t be saving it strictly for Thanksgiving! It’s SOOOOOOOOOOO good!

    I will definitely be acquiring the correct ingredients and trying it that way as well.

    Thank you so much!ReplyCancel

  • Allison

    I’m obsessed with this gravy.ReplyCancel

  • […] Here are some photos from the feast.   Oh and the vegetarian gravy was incredible – recipe from Umami Girl here. […]ReplyCancel

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  • Lauren

    Holy crap was this gravy good! I subbed nutritional yeast for the marmite based on some other recipes I’d seen – everyone (all meat eaters, myself included) loved it. I will 100% make again!ReplyCancel

  • […] perusing many recipes, I settled on Umami Girl’s ‘best vegetarian gravy.’ It called for Marmite, which they didn’t have at my local shop, so I substituted a […]ReplyCancel

  • Joan

    Carolyn, I can’t tell you how much this recipe has helped me! It is SOOOOOO delicious. I had just eliminated meat and dairy from my diet right before Thanksgiving. Being able to still have gravy that tastes THIS GOOD w/o meat is going to be a big factor in helping me stay on this path.

    Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

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  • I love this recipe, it’s worked out beautifully for me. I’ve played with it a bit, substituting ground porcini mushrooms for the shiitake, and it still tasted delicious.ReplyCancel

  • HO. LY. CRAP.

    This was amazing! I used it to make vegetarian Poutine and DEAR LORD. I used vegemite instead of marmite, though, and also chucked in a little bit of nutritional yeast flakes. I left the mushrooms in, as I could only find sliced shiitake, but they were delicious and didn’t detract from the recipe.

    Thank you so much!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie

    Had to omit the mushrooms and yeast because my boyfriend refuses to go near fungi, and I didn’t have the marmite on hand. I really want to try it with those ingredients because it was so delicious without them! I baked pastry buns filled with mashed potatoes and veggie ground beef substitute and the gravy made the perfect dipping sauce. I wanted to drink it. @-@ Thank you for the recipe!ReplyCancel

    • Rob

      Can you please give me the recipe for the mashed potato stuffed pastry buns with veggie ground beef? It sounds delicious!ReplyCancel

  • […] like gravy. Most gravies call for flour to help thicken them. Try a gluten-free gravy, or a vegetarian or vegan […]ReplyCancel

  • DangerCat

    Why does every vegan gravy recipe include soy sauce?ReplyCancel

  • […] me when I did eat meat as a kid, never mind now. My favorite is mushroom gravy. You can also make veggie gravy, which is also delicious. If you don’t want to do homemade, just make to read the ingredients […]ReplyCancel

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  • […] potatoes and wish that I had. This year is going to be different. In fact, I already made this vegetarian gravy from Umami Girl last night. And oh my goodness, I”m on this gravy train for life. While I […]ReplyCancel

  • Genesis

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

    Making this right now, but the vegan version!! So excited!!

    Will let you know how it turns out!

    Some tweaks: fresh shiitake and no marmiteReplyCancel

  • Erin

    Made this for our Friendsgiving for my veggie friends. Halved the recipe, though I still used the full amount of dried mushrooms for extra oomph. Sauted the shallots until slightly caramelized and don’t have marmite, so used white miso. Turned out great!ReplyCancel

  • Doreen Bracken

    My daughter and her partner are vegetarian and coming for Christmas dinner. Never made veg gravy before , so here goes! Hope its as nice as you say! Thanks. DoreenReplyCancel

  • […] this umami-rich loaf of love with simple mashed potatoes, The Best Vegetarian Gravy, and an old-school vegetable like a tangle of springy green beans. Maybe watch an episode of Mad […]ReplyCancel

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  • […] Mel’s Kitchen Cafe incorporates the gravy along with the turkey in the crock pot to create a fuss-free dueling combo. Make ahead gravy recipes can alleviate the anxiety of failing to produce the perfect gravy on Thanksgiving Day. Try this Make Ahead Gravy by Noble Pig. This rich Sherry Mushroom Gravy works well over poultry, stuffing, and especially those classic mashed potatoes. Make Thanksgiving a little healthier with this almost-fat free, no butter skinny gravy by The Yummy Life. Get into the spirit of Thanksgiving with a festive and fruity Cranberry Gravy! This gravy has all the flavors of tart and sweet cranberries with the richness and oaky flavors of red wine. Perfect for drizzling over turkey breast and mashed potatoes! Turkey drippings create flavor as they are whisked into Mom’s Famous Turkey Gravy by Favorite Family Recipes. Vegetarian Gravy doesn’t have to be boring, like this one from Umami Girl. […]ReplyCancel

  • Kim

    I found this by chance and am so glad I did. Subbed Bragg’s liquid aminos for the soy sauce and gluten free Cup 4 Cup for the flour and it was the best gravy I’ve ever had. Thank you SO much!ReplyCancel

  • […] Lentil Loaf, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli with Mushroom/Onion Gravy […]ReplyCancel

  • Kayla

    Hahaha! The introduction is hilarious.
    (Thanks for the veganization, too.)ReplyCancel

  • […] First off, Mushroom Gravy […]ReplyCancel

  • So, I was going to serve winter squash soup shooters tomorrow, but now I’m thinking I might switch that to gravy shooters. This stuff is awesome. Can’t wait to see how it does after a night in the fridge. Made it with the wine and shallots for flavor, but strained it all. Omitted the marmite. Perfect 6 cups. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Well, that’s brilliant. I might just do some gravy shooters after everyone goes to bed. :) So glad you like it!ReplyCancel

  • Lynn Dreyer

    Oh my god, that’s good! Used mirapoix and crimini mushrooms and sauteed them first. Used a stick mixer to puree the mushrooms but still wound up straining some out. And I discovered I’m a fan of Marmite. Awesome!ReplyCancel

    • Lynn, I’m so glad you like it. And that’s a nice twist to blend in sautéed mushrooms. Happy Thanksgiving!ReplyCancel

  • Shoni

    I made this tonight for chicken bowls (KFC style—we ban KFC but husband loves their bowls) I halved the recipe for two and we’ve got a bit of leftovers, thank goodness, because it is SO FREAKING DELICIOUS!!! Meat eating husband sat over it as it thickened with a spoon, he loved it. Now I know why you’d consider this a drink! I’ve never had meat gravy other than KFC, and though I love that gravy this beats it easily. The only things I changed were red onion for shallot and nutritional yeast for marmite (I didn’t have either one) and I added minced garlic to the mix, taking advice with additional white wine for water.
    My goodness, this is beyond yummy…thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Paula

    I just made this to bring to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow and it is so delicious!!! I probably ate 20 spoonfuls before I forced myself to put it in the fridge and save it for tomorrow. I used fresh shitake mushrooms rather than dry and they still gave it a nice flavor. I also added the shallots and minced them very finely so they give a little bit of texture and a huge amount of flavor to the finished product. I also added more Marmite than the recipe called for (about double!) just because I love the flavor it adds. This will most definitely be my go to gravy always and forever.ReplyCancel

  • Dan Han

    You just saved thanksgiving for two new vegetarians!!! This gravy just blew our socks off! My dad, who is not a vegetarian and is picky about his gravy, also gave it two thumbs up!ReplyCancel

  • Thanks to each of you for the feedback. I’m so happy that this recipe has made Thanksgiving day (and all gravy days!) better for so many vegheads. :)ReplyCancel

  • […] Adapted from The Best Vegetarian Gravy by Umamigirl […]ReplyCancel

  • Frances

    This is GORGEOUS! Making ahead for Christmas dinner and not sure it’ll last that long. Also made the original Kenji recipe for the meat-eaters, this is easily as good. Everyone knows Christmas rests on the gravy #nailedit
    Also super easy and all ingredients I had in the cupboard. Thank you so much!ReplyCancel

  • Isa from Iceland

    Hi there!

    The recipe sounds amazing and I am exciting to try it BUT I live in Iceland and we don’t really get Marmite here. Is there an alternative for that? Just some kind of nutritional yeast?

    I would be so grateful if you replied.

    Thanks :)ReplyCancel

    • Hi, Isa! I agree with Shoni that it’s fine to leave out the Marmite. You could replace it with a little bit of miso paste if you like, but I wouldn’t worry about it. If you’re in Reykjavik and really want to find Marmite I’m sure you could — but why stress?

      Lucky you living in Iceland. We spent a week there over the summer and thought it was wonderful.ReplyCancel

  • Shoni

    I’ve made this three times now without marmite, subbing for nutritional yeast (to taste) and it’s so delicious! My husband and son are both meat eaters and neither one can believe this is vegetarian. I make it up ahead just to have on hand, it’s really that good!ReplyCancel

  • France

    Can I freeze the leftovers?ReplyCancel

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