Caramelized Onion Gravy

Caramelized Onion Gravy Photos by Rikki Snyder

I might be a vegetarian, but I refuse to miss out on gravy come Thanksgiving. Even if that means showing up at the door cradling my very own gravy boat full of Caramelized Onion Gravy.

The fact is, it’s easy to make a vegetarian gravy that everyone loves—and I do always make enough to share. In this version, caramelized onions lend more flavor than traditional drippings could dream to add. I truly believe it so.

I have a favorite, very simple onion gravy recipe that’s been my go-to for a while now. But this year, I decided it was time to up the ante. I wanted bigger, bolder flavor in a smooth, darker brown and traditional-looking gravy. So I tried something crazy. I sliced up a big yellow onion and cooked it on the stove top, low and slow, until rich, sweet and golden. And then I threw it in the blender with a little broth, and I pureed it until silky smooth.

Caramelized Onion Gravy
When added back into a bubbling batch of veggie gravy, the pureed caramelized onions add body, color and flavor. Yep, it totally worked! So, so good. With fresh thyme, a bay leaf and a little Tamari for a bit of umami oomph, the flavor is slightly reminiscent of French onion soup—and it’s insanely good over mashed potatoes.

If you want to save time on Thanksgiving, you can caramelize and puree your onions a day or two in advance. Just store them in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to add them to your gravy. The rest of the gravy comes together in a snap. Or if you really want to do something crazy, you can freeze this gravy. Yep! Make it weeks ahead of time, even, then just thaw and warm it up in a saucepan on the big day.

Caramelized Onion Gravy

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: About 4 cups

Caramelized Onion Gravy

Pureed caramelized onions are the key to this rich golden-brown gravy that everyone - meat-eaters and vegetarians alike - will be sure to gobble up.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth*, divided
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar


  1. Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan over medium-low heat. When hot, add the onion and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are extremely soft, golden brown and caramelized, about 40 minutes. If the onions start to burn when cooking, lower the heat. Once cooked, stir in 2 cups of the vegetable broth, scraping up any flavorful bits that are stuck to the pan. Set the onion and broth mixture aside and allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, pour the onion mixture into the pitcher of a blender or a food processor fitted with the s-blade, or use an immersion blender. Puree until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Set the same saucepan back on the burner, this time over medium heat. Add the butter and heat until melted. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for three minutes. Stir in the thyme. Slowly drizzle in the remaining 2 cups vegetable broth, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in the Tamari, bay leaf and the pureed onion mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to a boil. Let boil, stirring constantly, until it has thickened slightly, about 3-4 more minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf. Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired before serving.


Most of the cooking time is the hands-off process of caramelizing the onions, which can also be done ahead of time.

*You can use regular (not low sodium) vegetable broth. If you do that, I recommend using only 1/4 teaspoon salt in Step 2 to start, then adding more at the end if desired

Kare Raye

About Kare

Kare is a home cook, vegetarian, and mom who coexists with her otherwise carnivorous clan. Her blog, Kitchen Treaty, helps mixed-diet families keep the peace.   Read more from Kare →

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    • Kare RayeKare Raye says

      I promise the meat-eaters won’t care! Though it does have butter – I just find I like the flavor better. You could try with olive oil, I think it will still be good.

  1. says

    Kare I made this yesterday to freeze for thanksgiving – hands down my favorite gravy that I’ve tried. The caramelized onions in there just make it so so good! I’m kinda bummed I have to wait till next week to eat it! haha Even the husband agreed and he is most definitely not a vegetarian 🙂

  2. Laura says

    I made this yesterday for Thanksgiving this week, and the spoonful I tasted was delicious! I did prefer it before adding the balsamic, though. The vinegar was a little strong, and I think I’ll leave it out next year–because this is definitely my go-to gravy recipe from now on!

  3. Sue says

    I made this to go over vegan nut roast for Christmas Day and it was delicious, my husband loved it. We kept the leftover gravy in a Tupperware container in the fridge and had it over the leftover side veggies made into a flan with puff pastry on Boxing Day. I will probably make ahead and freeze next year though. Great recipe!

  4. Amber says

    Holy crap this is amazing! I made it for Thanksgiving and I just made another batch for Christmas dinner prep. I keep going back to the cooling gravy to eat more of it. I could eat it as a soup!

    I followed your directions exactly and used veggie broth that I make from saving and freezing veggie scraps (so I had to add a lot more salt). Perfect! I’ll be making this every year. Thanks!

  5. Emily says

    I’ve made this gravy multiple times in the last year and don’t think I’ll ever use another recipe! Definitely recommend!

    A couple tips/notes:
    –I’m not vegetarian, so to give it a boost of meaty taste, I use beef broth instead of vegetarian.
    — One change of directions I’ve found useful is to first add the caramelized onions to the blender, and then pour in the broth, as it’s less messy/splashy and the butter will later scrap up any good stuck onion pieces.
    — I usually double this recipe and have no problem.
    –Also don’t skip on the balsamic vinegar – such a good finisher!

  6. Maura Glynn says

    Oh. My. Goodness. I have made carmelized onion gravy before basically just off the cuff but this is by far the most delicious recipe I have ever made. It is seriously delicious.

  7. Theresa says

    I’m just wondering about a gluten free option, just substituting the flour for an alternate type. I tried this for Christmas with arrowroot flour, and ended up having to sift out the lumps. But it was amazing, everyone loved it!

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