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Holiday Recipes/ Recipes/ Sauces & Condiments/ Vegetarian Recipes

Caramelized Onion and Apple Cider Gravy

Caramelized Onion and Apple Cider Gravy

Caramelized Onion and Apple Cider Gravy

Hi! I’m Liz. I’m the new kid on the block here at Oh My Veggies. And I’m so excited to start bringing you all some veggie-licious recipes!

I live in a small seaside New England town with my dog. And I have a food blog called Floating Kitchen. I love creating healthy, beautiful dishes with fresh, seasonal ingredients. But I also have a penchant for chocolate and bourbon. So you’ll find a little bit of everything on my site. I’d be thrilled if you stopped on over at some point to check it out!

But enough about me at the moment. Let’s talk about Thanksgiving. Which is only one week away. Are you feeling prepared? Overwhelmed? Somewhere in between? I’m actually feeling pretty relaxed about the whole situation. My Mom is hosting Thanksgiving dinner at her house this year, so I definitely don’t have as many responsibilities as I’ve had in years past when I’ve been the host. Although she did put me in charge of one very important Thanksgiving staple: the gravy. Which is a dish you definitely don’t want to mess up. Because nobody should be forced to consume naked mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving day. That’s just wrong.

Luckily for me, I’ve got this recipe for Caramelized Onion and Apple Cider Gravy in my back pocket. And the best part is: it’s made almost entirely in the slow cooker!

Caramelized Onion and Apple Cider Gravy

One of my favorite ways to increase the richness of almost any dish is with the addition of caramelized onions. So it’s no surprise that they do wonders to help create a luscious, complex tasting vegetarian gravy as well. But caramelizing onions can be a time consuming process that requires a bit of attention at the stove. Which is the last thing we need to worry about on Thanksgiving day. So when I was creating this recipe, I decided to caramelize the onions overnight in my slow cooker. This was a good decision on my part. Because not only did the onions come out perfectly caramelized with minimal work, but my house smelled AMAZING as well! Once the onions were caramelized, I continued cooking them with some hard apple cider, vegetable stock and herbs. Then I blended everything together for a smooth finish. This whole process couldn’t be any easier. And no one will guess you didn’t use any turkey drippings for this gravy!

Caramelized Onion and Apple Cider Gravy

Caramelized Onion and Apple Cider Gravy

This caramelized onion and apple cider gravy is made almost entirely in the slow cooker. It's the perfect pairing for all your Thanksgiving side dishes.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 13 hours
Total Time: 13 hours 10 minutes


  • 4 cups thinly sliced onions from about 2 medium onions
  • 1 garlic clove peeled
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup hard apple cider
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt to taste


  • Add the sliced onions, garlic, butter, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar to the insert of your slow cooker. Cover and set your slow cooker to low. Cook the onions for at least 8 hours, or up to 12 hours. The onions will be very soft and browned when they are finished cooking.
  • Remove the cover from your slow cooker. Add the cornstarch and stir until the onions are coated. Then stir in the apple cider, vegetable stock, thyme and the bay leaf. Cover, set your slow cooker to high and cook for an additional 1 hour.
  • After an hour, remove the cover from your slow cooker. Using a pair of tongs, remove and discard the thyme sprigs and the bay leaf.
  • Transfer the contents of your slow cooker to your blender and blend on high until the gravy reaches your desired consistency. Depending on the size of your blender, you may have to work in batches, being very careful when transferring and blending hot liquids.
  • Return the gravy to the slow cooker. Taste and add salt, if desired. Keep the gravy warm (set your slow cooker to either the warm or low setting), until you are ready to serve it. Alternately, the gravy can be made 1 to 2 days in advance, refrigerated in an airtight container and then reheated before serving.
Craving more veg-friendly recipes? Shop our collection of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks!

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  • Reply
    November 19, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOMNOMNOMNOMNOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m a recent vegetarian (since March) and I wasn’t TOO worried about missing the turkey but I definitely was A LITTLE sad about gravy. I wonder if this would freeze well so I could have it on hand for lentil shepherd’s pie. . . . . .

    • Reply
      November 19, 2015 at 6:22 pm

      I haven’t tried freezing this, Cheyanne. But most gravy recipes can be frozen and re-heated. If you try it, please come back and let me know! I’d love to hear your findings!

  • Reply
    November 19, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    PS it seems like your pin button isn’t working, FYI! 🙂

    • Reply
      November 19, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      Hi Cheyanne, I just checked the “pin” buttons and they seem to be working fine. Maybe refresh your browser history and try again?

  • Reply
    November 19, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Hi, even though we don’t do Thanksgiving in NewZealand I am SOOO going to make this gravy for my family. It sounds delicious. I have just one question … what is HARD apple cider please? Apple Cider isn’t too common in NZ for a start so am going to have to try and hunt some down, but I have never heard of HARD apple cider and wondering if regular will do if I can’t find the HARD? type.

    • Reply
      November 19, 2015 at 6:27 pm

      Hi Lisa! Hard apple cider is an alcoholic beverage (it’s the fermented juice of apples). So you can look for it wherever you would normally buy wine and beer. If you can’t find hard apple cider and you can only find regular apple cider (i.e. non-alcoholic), I would suggest using just 1/2 cup of regular apple cider and then adding 1/2 cup of white wine. Regular apple cider will be very sweet, and if you use the full cup, I think your resulting gravy will be more sweet than savory. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    November 19, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    Woah! I usually don’t like gravy (for gibbletty reasons, ugh) but this. This is the kind of thing that starts arguments at the dinner table because everyone’s worried there won’t be enough to go around. Better make several batches.

  • Reply
    November 20, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    I’m not a big mushroom gravy person, but caramelized onion gravy might win me over. If so, my husband will be PSYCHED. The idea of having this cooking all day and then having half a hard cider to finish sounds pretty appealing, too.

  • Reply
    November 21, 2015 at 10:29 am

    What kind of balsamic did you use for this gravy? Was it the thick, aged type or the thinner type that you can find in the grocery store?

    • Reply
      November 21, 2015 at 10:31 am

      Hi CJ, I used the thinner kind (like that I would use to make salad dressing with) that you can get at any regular grocery store.

  • Reply
    November 23, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Great recipe. My problem is I won’t have access to a slow cooker where I’ll be. How would you suggest I cook the onions? Thanks

    • Reply
      November 23, 2015 at 10:47 am

      Hi Nancy! You can check out this post here (, which has step-by-step instructions for caramelizing onions on the stovetop.

      • Reply
        December 12, 2015 at 6:23 pm

        So … if one uses the stovetop caramelizing method, how does that affect the rest of the recipe? Particularly the ingredients, like the sugar, that go in the slow cooker in step 1.


        • Reply
          December 12, 2015 at 7:05 pm

          Hi Triz. Since I haven’t tried doing this EXACT recipe on the stovetop, I can’t say for sure. I would maybe wait to add the sugar until the onions are almost caramelized, or else it could burn.

          • Triz
            December 13, 2015 at 10:52 am

            Thanks Liz!

  • Reply
    karen baer
    November 27, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    I tried this gravy a yesterday for Thanksgiving — it was outstanding! Even the non-GF guests preferred it over the traditional gravy. Thank you sooooo much. I plan to make it regularly (when needed, of course). For me, I will cut back on the “sweet”. BUT it is outstanding as-is !!! THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Reply
      December 4, 2015 at 11:59 pm

      So happy you all loved it, Karen! That’s great to hear!

  • Reply
    November 18, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    Oh my goodness…my prayer shave been answered. I have been searching for a yummy gravy that I can make from scratch for our turkey and this one sound delicious and healthy. Love the idea of adding cider! YUM and Thanks!

  • Reply
    November 18, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    This looks AMAZING! Do you think I could do it with dairy free butter? I’ve made other vegan gravies and they work just fine, but wanted to get your opinion on this one in particular. Thanks!

  • Reply
    November 21, 2017 at 8:10 am

    I am a recovering alcoholic I am NOT going to be buying hard cider OR wine,(can’t get booze here on the Reservation anyway). But I desperately need carmelized onion gravy. Help?????

    • Reply
      Katie Trant
      November 22, 2017 at 4:51 am

      Hey Traci, you could try a non-alcoholic apple cider in its place. Good luck!

  • Reply
    November 23, 2018 at 9:03 am

    5 stars
    I have made this a few times and it is always a big hit. Most recently, I subbed Miyoko vegan butter for regular butter and it was still amazing! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Reply
    Nancy Pepper
    October 31, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    Has anyone tried freezing the gravy?

  • Reply
    Sid Wilson
    December 20, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    4 stars
    Yummy but too sweet. I’ll try leaving out the brown sugar next time.

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