Let’s talk about vegan gravy for a minute. (Because like with many things, I have… some opinions).
Like its non-vegan counterpart, vegan gravy is great on mashed potatoes, stuffing, biscuits, veggie roasts, and even rice. Unlike its non-vegan counterpart, vegan gravy needs a little bit of love in the flavor department to bring the kind of umami punch that makes it worthy of this purpose. Luckily, we’re up for the challenge!
If you’re making a traditional gravy it’s going to have some natural savory flavor, plus the flavors of whatever the original dish was cooked with. Vegan food doesn’t really work like that, so we’re building our flavors from the ground up. A huge plus of this approach is that you get a consistently delicious vegan gravy every time.
There is another thing that’s “weird’ about my vegan gravy and that’s the way it is thickened. In this space I often discuss my aversion to making a roux. Hey, I think I’m a pretty good cook by now, but something about trying to almost-burn flour without burning it, is just unnecessarily stressful for me. This roux skepticism led to my beloved one pot vegan alfredo pasta and it led to my vegan gravy recipe, which I think is equally worthy of love.
As longtime readers will know, I had a WFPB phase years ago, in which I avoided refined flour and added oils. In the present day, I reject many of the cooking notions from those times, but I did learn a few tricks that stuck with me, and one of them is thickening sauces and dressings with cannellini beans.
Phew, I said it. This vegan gravy is thickened with beans instead of flour and I’m not sorry about it. I know it sounds weird, but you have to trust me. You cannot in any way taste the beans. I tested this on multiple people. Not only do they sneak in some extra nutrition, but white beans provide the perfect creamy, starchy thickener for your vegan or vegetarian gravy, making it robust fresh or in leftovers form. They also make this gluten-free, without the sad gloopiness you’ll see in cornstarch gravies.
Now that we’ve gotten past the bean thing, the flavor stars of this super umami vegetarian gravy are nutritional yeast, miso, and soy sauce. Perhaps things you don’t already have in your fridge if you’re just having plant-based dinner guests over, but if you plan to be cooking more vegan dishes, all three of these ingredients are staples. (Use tamari if you need the dish to be strictly gluten-free).
The rest of the seasoning comes from fresh garlic and onion, poultry seasoning, vegetable broth (use vegan chicken- or beef-style broth if you have it handy), and olive oil. Yup, this gravy is made with heart-healthy olive oil, no saturated fat in sight! Win to the win. Oh, and no, this doesn’t have any mushrooms, nor does it need them. I stand by that statement.
Some readers will recognize this as a version of the same beloved vegan gravy shared with my roasted garlic mashed potatoes. I found that readers liked the gravy even MORE than the potatoes, but it wasn’t getting a lot of attention because it was tucked away in a corner there. So, I’ve revised it with new photos and its own recipe page, to make sure it gets consideration for your meatless Thanksgiving or Christmas table this year. Bon appetit!
Easy Vegan Gravy
I've fed this delicious, savory vegan gravy to many people, and so far nobody has been aware that they were eating beans. They thicken the gravy beautifully and sneak in some nutrition too!
- 1 tbsp olive oil (increase to 2 tbsp for a richer flavor and texture)
- 1 yellow or white onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning (see note)
- 1 tbsp miso (dark miso is best, but you can use any kind)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (I use all-natural vegan "chicken" flavored broth)
- 1 and 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans (1 standard can) rinsed and drained (or use other white beans such as great northern)
Heat the oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion when the oil is hot. Cook the onion, stirring intermittently, until the onion is well-browned. (This adds color and flavor to the gravy!)
Add the garlic and poultry seasoning and stir to combine. Add the miso and nutritional yeast and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the soy sauce, vegetable broth, and cooked beans to the pan, stir, and bring to a gentle boil, taking care to scrape any solids from the bottom of the pan.
Remove from the heat, transfer to a blender, and blend until smooth. You can also use a food processor or immersion blender, but may need to blend for more time to get the beans fully processed.
Serve warm, with mashed potatoes, biscuits, or whatever dishes you desire!
POULTRY SEASONING: Poultry seasoning is a mix of ground dried herbs, pepper, and sometimes a hint of nutmeg. You can usually buy it pre-mixed at the store. It's great in savory recipes to get a savory, herbaceous flavor. Poultry seasoning does not contain animal products. If you can't find any, you can substitute dried or fresh thyme and some ground pepper.
GRAVY TEXTURE: This gravy is thick, smooth, and starchy. If you want a flawless glossy smooth texture, and don't have a blender, I recommend peeling the white beans first.
P.S. I’m not sure if this would be considered a vegan white gravy or brown gravy. Definitions seem to vary. But you can definitely use it in any dish that would call for either type of gravy.
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