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This wonderfully savory vegetarian gravy (with easy vegan option) has been one of our most popular recipes for years. These days, we choose it over meat-based gravies all the time because it tastes even better and can be made in advance.

the best vegetarian gravy poured over mashed potatoes and stuffing on a plate with a fork and cloth napkin
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Why we love this recipe

Let’s start with the facts. Gravy is special. I usually like it even more than the thing it’s poured on top of. And everyone — including vegetarians and vegans — deserves to have this kind of joy in their life.

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 easily 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.

It’s long been one of our most popular recipes of all time, and for good reason. Here’s how to make it.

What is vegetarian gravy made of?

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe. (And also a glance at the weird faces I make on video, a free bonus with your free purchase of this recipe.) With just a few ingredients, opt for good quality ones wherever possible.

  • Dried shiitake mushrooms are an umami powerhouse that infuse this gravy with depth of savory flavor. I don’t think of this recipe as “mushroom gravy” per se, since it’s widely applicable. But technically it is! Dried shiitakes are pretty widely available at your local Asian grocer, Whole Foods, and even World Market. Or grab them online here.
  • My favorite vegetable broth by far is Imagine brand “No Chicken” broth (especially the lower-sodium version). This broth has a great flavor profile and a bit of heft, and it’s as flexible to use in recipes as a really good chicken broth.
  • A touch of the English condiment Marmite adds terrific savoriness to this gravy. You won’t taste it, but it makes all the difference. You can use the same amount of the Australian Vegemite instead if you have that on hand. The two are different, but they serve a similar purpose in this recipe.
  • A good-quality lower-sodium soy sauce adds another layer of savoriness.
  • A minced shallot and dry white wine are optional but excellent.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a savory batch of the best vegetarian gravy. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. The first step is to let the shiitakes infuse their flavor into the vegetable broth. Bring it to a boil and then let is sit for at least 30 minutes. You can do this step well in advance if you like. It only gets better over time. Reserve the broth and use the same pot for the next steps to minimize cleanup.
  2. Then you’ll melt the butter and simmer the minced shallot for a minute if you’re using it.
  3. Make the roux by adding the flour and cooking for a minute or two until it’s thick and foamy.
  4. Add the broth, shiitakes, and flavorings and simmer until it’s nice and thick. The whole thing can be made up to a couple of days in advance if you like and reheated before serving. This can be a big help on busy holidays.
the best vegetarian gravy recipe being poured over mashed potatoes

Expert tips and FAQs

How do you make vegan gravy?

I like to make vegetarian gravy with butter, but it also tastes great when made vegan with a good olive oil or vegan butter. That’s the only change you’ll need to make to this recipe! Both Marmite and Vegemite are vegan.

What gravy can vegetarians eat?


Vegetarian gravy can be a bit of a confusing concept since most traditional gravy recipes are made from the pan drippings when you cook meat. But there’s no reason that vegetarians can’t eat gravy when it’s made instead with flavorful vegetarian ingredients like the ones in this recipe.

It’s a funny thing to say, but over the years I’ve gotten so many messages from readers saying that this vegetarian gravy recipe has changed their lives. That, in turn, brings me great joy.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

Sure can! Since it keeps well and isn’t dependent on meat drippings, this is a great part of the holiday meal to make ahead. It keeps well in an airtight container the fridge for a week. Or freeze it for up to a year.

More favorite vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes

the best vegetarian gravy poured over mashed potatoes and stuffing on a plate with a fork and cloth napkin

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the best vegetarian gravy poured over mashed potatoes and stuffing on a plate with a fork and cloth napkin
4.63 from 131 votes

The Best Vegetarian Gravy

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
This wonderfully savory vegetarian gravy (with easy vegan option) has been one of our most popular recipes for years. These days, we choose it over meat-based gravies all the time because it tastes even better and can be made in advance.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
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Ingredients 

  • 8 cups 1(893 ml) good vegetable stock (or 7 cups stock and 1 cup good, dry white wine)
  • 8 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 8 tablespoons (112 grams) (1 stick) butter (to make it vegan, substitute a good olive oil or Earth Balance)
  • 1 minced shallot, optional
  • ½ cup PLUS 3 tablespoons, (83 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons (22 ml) soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon Marmite
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions 

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Step-by-step video

Notes

  1. Since it keeps well and isn’t dependent on meat drippings, this is a great part of the holiday meal to make ahead. You can make the whole recipe up to a few days in advance if you like and reheat before serving. Or you can do step one in advance and make the rest of the gravy closer to serving time.
  2. 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.
  3. The Australian condiment Vegemite is also fine to use instead of Marmite if that’s what you’ve got. The two are different, but they both do a good job in this recipe.
  4. This recipe is great for meat-eaters’ Thanksgiving leftovers, too, if you’ve run out of turkey gravy.
  5. Adapted from a simple turkey gravy developed by Serious Eats editor J. Kenji López-Alt.

Nutrition

Calories: 105kcal, Carbohydrates: 8.3g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 7.8g, Fiber: 0.5g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Sauces and Condiments
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

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Carolyn Gratzer Cope Bio Photo

About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.63 from 131 votes (131 ratings without comment)

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54 Comments

  1. Yum, I did tweak, added unami porchini sauce instead of marmite. I did add meat juices to the meat eaters gravy, but loved my veggie version. I did also add rosemary stalks when simmering, and just simmered until reduced instead of adding flour, also pureed the mushrooms to hide them, as 1 family member doesn’t like them. On the make again list..

  2. Isa,
    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!

  3. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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!