The Best Vegetarian Gravy Recipe - Umami Girl (2024)

/ Updated May 20, 2022 / by Carolyn Gratzer Cope / 54 Comments / This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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 condimentMarmiteadds 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.

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  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.
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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

  • A big, perfect batch of mashed potatoes
  • Classic stuffing
  • Cornbread stuffing
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Yield: Serves 12

The Best Vegetarian Gravy

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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.

Prep Time10 minutes

Cook Time30 minutes

Additional Time30 minutes

Total Time1 hour 10 minutes


  • 8 cups (1893 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


  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.
  3. Pour in the stock with the mushrooms in a stream, whisking the whole time. Add soy sauce, marmite, and a few grinds of pepper.
  4. 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.


  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.

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Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 105Total Fat: 7.8gCarbohydrates: 8.3gFiber: 0.5gProtein: 1g

Did you make this recipe?

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More Sauces and Condiments

  • Easy Raita Recipe
  • Marsala Mushrooms
  • Bagna Cauda Piedmontese
  • Cashew Cream and Variations
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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. More about me.

Reader Interactions


  1. Barbara says

    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.


  2. Joan says

    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!


  3. Lauren says

    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!


  4. Allison says

    I'm obsessed with this gravy.


  5. Christina says

    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!


  6. Pam says

    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!


  7. Carolyn says

    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.


    • Palak says

      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?


  8. Carolyn says

    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!


  9. cath says

    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,



  10. Marian Wagner says

    Can I make this 2 days ahead of time?


  11. Vanessa says

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


  12. Morgan says

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


  13. Mary says

    Isn't Marmite basically just MSG?


  14. Vegetarian says

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


  15. xiaokang says

    will have to try this great recipe!


  16. Leah says

    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?


    • Carolyn says

      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!


      • Leah says

        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!

  17. Liz @ Perfect Meatloaf says

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


  18. Justine says

    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!


    • Carolyn says

      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.


  19. henry Doll says

    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?"


    • Carolyn says

      Henry! Soup! Yes! I'm in. Glug, glug.


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