Traditional-style Brown Gravy for Vegetarians

Introduction: Traditional-style Brown Gravy for Vegetarians

About: My name is Niki, I am a mum of three amazing grown up kids as well as a Grandma. I am a keen hobbyist and a full time carer for someone with a disability. In my spare time I indulge in my eclectic craftin...

Tired of the gravy from granules on your Sunday lunch just because you're a vegetarian / vegan?

Here is my slant on the traditional brown, thick and tasty gravy - almost like my Dad used to make. From scratch and not a granule in sight.

When growing up, it was traditional that the whole family would congregate for Sunday lunch, when I became a mother and the family started growing, I maintained the tradition for my two sons and my daughter. My youngest son and I were vegetarians, but I still cooked for the beloved meat-eaters and made them their meaty gravy.

As my vegetarian son no longer lives at home, I made this for him to follow so he can maintain or start his own traditions.

I hope you find it useful

Step 1: You Will Need ...

  • Vegetable oil
  • Herbs (dried, fresh or frozen)
  • Flavourings, a choice of either or more than one of the following:
    • Vegetable stock cubes / liquid
    • Bullion cubes
    • Marmite
    • Soy Sauce
  • Saucepan
  • Flour
  • Cornflour (optional)
  • Boiling water
  • Gravy browning

Gravy Browning:

Even if I say so myself, gravy browning is becoming hard to find in the shops these days, many supermarkets have stopped stocking it. You can still find it once in a while, labelled as "browning" and it's easily more available online. But, if all else fails, you can make your own.

I have added a recipe for home made gravy browning at the end

Do not confuse gravy browning with gravy granules

Step 2: It All Starts With the Oils

There are two ways you can do this, you can either:

  1. Use your oils straight out of the bottle and season with your herbs, or,
  2. If cooking a Sunday lunch, use this opportunity to flavour some oils when roasting your seasonal veg.

Don't worry if you're not roasting veggies, add flavours directly to the oils or to the sauce at the end

Let's start with the veggies (this is how I enjoy mine, you might have your own preferences)

On a baking tray, lay your onions, your par-cooked potatoes, carrots, swede (rutabaga) and any other veggies you will be roasting.

If you are boiling / steaming veggies to accompany your gravy, keep all the water from the pans.

If you're not, don't worry, we can make allowances for this at the end

Step 3: Flavouring Your Oil Using Dried Herbs

I grow and dry many of my own herbs, so at this point, I make every effort to use my own produce.

As i am using onions in my seasonal roast veggies, I'm using mainly Sage here.

When using a pestle and mortar with dried ingredients, I suggest adding some salt at this stage - it gives something for the dried leaves to grind onto.

Grind into a fine powder.

At this point, if not using for the roast veggies, add straight to your oils, if you have roast veggies, go to next step

Step 4: Oil Your Veggies

If roasting veggies, add a generous amount of oil to the pan. Toss vegetables if they are not all covered

Step 5: Flavour Your Veggies

For your roast veggies, sprinkle the ground herbs over them, you can add a garlic clove or two at this point if you wish

Step 6: Strain Flavoured Oils From Veggies

As your veggies are cooking, about half way through, turn the veggies over and return to the oven

Cook a little more then strain the oils from the pan

Return veggies to the oven to crisp up a little

Step 7: Add Oil to Pan and Bring to the Boil

If you have roasted veggies - add the strained, flavoured oils to your pan

If you do not have roasted veggies - add oils and herbs to the pan

From this stage on, it matters not if you have roasted veggies or not, the steps are the same

The ratio of oil to flour for the "standard" sauce would be about half and half

  • 4 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of flour
  • 1 pint of water

Step 8: Add Flour

Take the pan off the heat and add flour.

The mixture is about equal parts oil to flour.

Mix to a paste

(Do not return to heat just yet)

Step 9: Add Boiling Water - Return to Heat

Use the boiling water from your veggies, if you haven't cooked veggies, add boiling water from the kettle.

Add a little at a time and stir well between each time.

If you get lumps, start using a whisk, don't lose hope! We can fix this

Keep adding until the mixture becomes thinner and the consistency of a custard then a little weaker

Return to heat and do not stop stirring (with your whisk if necessary) until boiling

Step 10: Chose Your Flavourings

Vegetarian gravy, at this stage, tastes bland. Give it a try

I've heard other vegetarians say they use liquid flavours, soy sauce, Oxo, etc

Step 11: Start Adding Flavours

At this point, I add an Oxo cube

Check flavour

Don't stop stirring (you can take pan off the heat)

Step 12: Check Flavours and Add More If Required

Love it or hate is - I add Marmite to mine at this stage

Step 13: Return to Heat

Return to heat and bring to boil, add the gravy browning, a little at a time

Check flavour and correct it to your own taste

Simmer gently, if it's too thick, add more water

Step 14: Enjoy!

I love gravy nice a thick so it sticks to everything, but you can have it as thin or as thick as you prefer

if you don't enjoy your gravy the first try, keep trying with different flavourings until you find the one you like

Step 15: Recipe for Homemade Gravy Browning


• 2 cups of sugar
• 1 cup of water
• 2tsp Himalayan / Sea salt


1. Add sugar to the pan and place on a medium heat
2. Using a wooden spoon, begin to slowly stir the sugar. It should start to dissolve and turn into the thick syrup whilst darkening
3. If it begins to smoke, reduce heat or take off the heat and continue stirring whilst is cooks / darkens
4. Once it is very dark brown, almost black, carefully add water
• Warning: The mixture will throw out plenty of steam and splutter. This is normal, keep stirring but protect yourself from splashes
5. Once the gravy browning has formed, allow to cool before adding your salt and pouring it into a bottle.

The best bottle will have a shaker top, like a vinegar bottle or a hot sauce bottle

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