Why Is My Gravy Not Thickening? (Explained)

Gravy may not thicken if there’s insufficient flour or cornstarch, or too much liquid. Correct ratios are essential: two tablespoons of flour or cornstarch for every cup of liquid. For a roux, mix equal parts flour and fat before adding liquid. For instant thickening, use a cornstarch slurry.

Gravy can be fickle. It took me many years to get it just right. 

It was either too thick, too thin, or had those pesky lumps. My husband prefers his gravy a little on the thick side whereas I prefer mine just a little thinner. 

It took many tries to get where we were both satisfied. Many have difficulty with gravy not thickening. 

Read on to find out why.

Making gravy

Why Is My Gravy Not Thickening?

Gravy not thickening comes down to two main reasons. You are not using enough flour or cornstarch.

Both of these ingredients are thickening agents. Or you are using too much liquid.  

If the liquid-to-flour or cornstarch ratio is too low your gravy will be thin. 

Cornstarch and flour

Flour vs. Cornstarch

Flour and cornstarch are thickening bases for gravy. When they are added to liquid the starches expand helping to thicken whatever you are adding it to. 

If you are on a gluten-free diet then your best bet is to use cornstarch.  Cornstarch does have more thickening power than flour because it is pure starch whereas flour has some protein in it. 

You will need less cornstarch than flour for equal thickening and it will not clump when added to liquid. It will thicken very quickly and if you add too much you will end up with a gel-style gravy.  

Flour tends to clump. And then you end up with those ugly lumps in your gravy. 

The trick is to whisk the flour in and constantly stir the gravy after all the flour is added. You may still have a few lumps but hey, that’s ok. 

I don’t mind a few small lumps, I’m only human after all!


Sausage gravy is a perfect example of using a roux. Not sure what a roux is?  

Check this out. I have to admit that I don’t do any measuring when making sausage gravy. 

I don’t drain my grease from the sausage either. Too much work!

I add my flour slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time, and stir until the sausage and the grease have absorbed the flour and I get a roux. It is important to cook your flour for a few minutes to cook out that raw flour taste.

Then I slowly add my liquid (milk) 1 cup at a time until the gravy is at the thickness I want. My dad always told me that once the gravy begins to bubble, it is as thick as it’s gonna be.

So when the gravy begins to bubble and the mixture is too thick I just add a little more milk. I do this process over and over again until I get the gravy to the thickness I want.

But for the ones who want measurements. Drain your sausage and set it aside. 

Measure the grease back into your skillet. To make the roux, the ratio is 2 tablespoons flour for every 2 tablespoons of sausage grease. 

Cook for a few minutes then start adding your milk,1 cup at a time, stirring constantly. Keep adding your milk a little at a time until you achieve the thickness you want.


A slurry is most commonly made with cornstarch added to water and mixed. Then add to the mixture you want to thicken.

This method is mainly used to thicken soups and stews. But I use this method to make gravy with the broth from my roast.

Why is cornstarch used instead of flour? Because it does not clump as bad as flour when added to the water. 

The usual ratio is for every cup of liquid or broth you will need to make a slurry of 2 tablespoons of flour or cornstarch in a 1/4 cup of water. Watch the video below on how to make a slurry.

A Fix for Gravy Not Thickening

A great way to thicken your gravy is to take equal parts of softened butter and flour or cornstarch and mash this into a paste. Then slowly whisk this into your gravy. 

gravy ot thickening

Make sure to whisk or stir constantly. If you are using cornstarch make sure and add a little at a time. If your gravy ends up too thick, no problem. 

Just add more liquid. 

My Final Thoughts

  • Gravy thickness is influenced by the ratio of flour or cornstarch to liquid; too little thickener or too much liquid can result in thin gravy.
  • Flour and cornstarch are common thickeners, with cornstarch having higher thickening power and less clumping.
  • Roux, made from flour and fat, serves as a base for thickening gravy.
  • Slurries, mixtures of cornstarch and water, can also thicken gravies and sauces effectively.
  • To avoid lumps and achieve desired consistency, constant stirring and gradual addition of thickeners are recommended.

Everyone has their own preference for the thickness of their gravy. Some like it more on the thick side and then there are the ones who like it just a bit thinner.

But no one wants a runny gravy. Gravy not thickening is a problem for many.  

The reason? You are either not using enough flour or cornstarch or too much liquid.

The ratio to remember is: when using a roux for the base of your gravy, for each cup of gravy it is 2 tablespoons of flour to 2 tablespoons of fat or drippings and 1 cup of liquid.

When using a slurry, the ratio is 2 tablespoons of flour or cornstarch in 1/4 cup of cold water for each 1 cup of liquid. Be aware that corn starch has more thickening power than flour so you may need less for equal thickening.  

A great way to fix gravy not thickening is to take equal parts of flour and butter made into a paste and slowly whisked into your gravy. To keep your gravy free of lumps just remember to stir it constantly. 

Movement and heat will help to break up those lumps. I hope you found this article helpful when it comes to making gravy.

Please leave me a comment below with your thoughts. I love hearing from you.

And as always, have a wonderful day!

FAQ: Why Is My Gravy Not Thickening?

1. What are common reasons why gravy doesn’t thicken as expected?

  • The most common reason for gravy not thickening is the improper ratio of thickening agent (like flour or cornstarch) to liquid. Too little of these agents compared to the liquid can result in a runny gravy.
  • Another factor could be the cooking temperature; gravy needs to be simmered gently to allow the thickening agents to activate and thicken the mixture properly.

2. How can I fix gravy that isn’t thickening?

  • If your gravy isn’t thickening, you can try whisking in a small amount of a cornstarch slurry (a mixture of cornstarch and cold water) to the gravy as it simmers. This can help thicken it without altering the flavor significantly.
  • Alternatively, allowing the gravy to simmer for a longer period can help reduce the liquid and naturally thicken the sauce through evaporation.

3. Are there different methods to thicken gravy?

  • Yes, you can use either a roux (a cooked mixture of equal parts fat and flour) at the beginning of making the gravy or a slurry added towards the end of cooking. Both methods are effective but can affect the texture and flavor of the gravy differently.
  • Some cooks prefer using a beurre manié, which is a paste of equal parts butter and flour kneaded together and then whisked into the simmering gravy, offering a last-minute thickening solution.

4. Does the type of thickener affect the outcome of the gravy?

  • The choice of thickener can impact both the texture and clarity of the gravy. For example, flour can make the gravy cloudy and requires longer cooking to remove the raw flour taste, whereas cornstarch offers a clearer appearance and requires less cooking time but can impart a slightly glossy finish.

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