Food and Drink

American Gravy vs. British Gravy: Ingredients, Instructions & Pairings

american gravy vs british gravy

Picture it, a Sunday afternoon and you’re tucking into a delicious Sunday roast. Most likely accompanied by gravy, or if you’re feeling a bit darish some mint sauce. But what if that gravy, isn’t the only gravy?

Turns out America also has gravy, but not quite as know it in the UK. In this article, we look into American gravy in comparison to British gravy and just where the similarities stop. 

What is British Gravy?

In the UK, there’s only one type of gravy that we know of. It’s brown or black in colour, depending on the mixture of ingredients and strength used. It’s great for any type of Sunday dinner, fish and chips, pie, and basically anything with mashed potato.

A classic gravy in England is normally a combination of meat juices, roux (a mixture of flour and fat used for thickening), and extended with stock. Some opt for a smoother and runnier consistency, while others prefer a thick gravy.

British Gravy Ingredients

If you’re looking to make British gravy for yourself, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Chicken (and/or beef) stock cubes – or meat drippings;
  • Hot water – to dissolve the cubes;
  • Flour and butter – to thicken the gravy;
  • Chopped onions – for texture and taste;
  • Salt and pepper – for taste;
  • Wine – this is optional.

How to Make British Gravy

There are several different ways to make British gravy. Relying solely on stock cubes, adding meat drippings, thickening with roux, adding wine, you name it. But here is the easiest way to make British gravy in under five minutes.

  1. Dissolve stock cubes in boiling water;
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan and add the flour to mix;
  3. Pour in the stock water while whisking for a minute and a half.

You can also substitute stock cubes or meat drippings, add onions, or make it thicker/thinner for your taste. But here is a good base to get you started.

What to Use British Gravy For

Gravy, in nature, is versatile and therefore can be used with a multitude of meals. But here are some staples that gravy is a must:

  • (Any) roast;
  • Fish and chips – or battered sausage;
  • Steak – or any sort of meat chop;
  • Pie – chicken and mushroom, beef, all of it;
  • Vegetables.

That’s by no means an exhaustive list. As a good rule of thumb, gravy is great with warm, cosy meals such as roast dinners, pies, and chops.

What is American Gravy?

In America, there are two types of gravy. The first not being miles away from what we have in the UK, and the second is more of a white colour and includes milk.

American gravy is often used as a condiment for biscuits, mashed potatoes, and other comfort foods. It’s also a popular ingredient in dishes like chicken fried steak and biscuits and gravy.

american white gravy on a biscuit

American Gravy Ingredients

If you’re looking to make American gravy, as well as British, there are two types to look out for.

American White Gravy Ingredients 

To create white gravy for fried chicken, country-fried steak, or biscuits, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Butter and flour – for thickening;
  • Sausage links;
  • Strips of bacon – sliced crosswise;
  • Chopped green onions;
  • Cayenne pepper – optional for taste;
  • Salt and pepper – for taste;
  • Cold milk – to combine.

American Brown Gravy Ingredients

Now the more well-known gravy in the States is not too far from what we have in the UK. Here’s what you’ll need to make the sauce:

  • Butter and flour – for thickening;
  • Can beef broth;
  • Ketchup;
  • Worcestershire sauce;
  • Dijon mustard;
  • Onion powder and garlic powder;
  • Salt and pepper – for taste.

How to Make American Gravy

As we’ve just discussed there are two types of American gravy, so we’ll show you how to make both. 

American White Gravy Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet or saucepan over a medium heat;
  2. Proceed to cook the bacon and sausages in the butter – stirring to break up the sausages into smaller pieces, until both are browned;
  3. Mix half a cup of green onions and saute until soft;
  4. Stir the flour into the mixture – a bit at a time and until fully mixed in;
  5. Whisk milk into the mixture – whisk until combined;
  6. Combine to whisk for another five minutes until thickened;
  7. Turn up the heat to medium-high to bring gravy to a simmer;
  8. Season with salt and pepper;
  9. Reduce heat to medium-low;
  10. Continue simmering gravy until blended and thick, stirring occasionally;
  11. Sprinkle with green onion and cayenne pepper for garnish.

American Brown Gravy Instructions

  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat;
  2. Whisk in flour until the mixture thickens;
  3. Proceed to whisk in beef broth – cooking and stirring until there are no lumps;
  4. Add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and black pepper – for taste;
  5. Cook for five more minutes – whisking until gravy thickens.

What to Use American Gravy For

American gravy can make up just about any sauce, so the possibilities are pretty endless. Of course, the brown and white gravies are better suited for different meals.

The white gravy is perfect for fried chicken, steak and biscuits. While brown gravy is more suited for Thanksgiving, for example, turkey, mashed potato and stuffing. 

Final Thoughts from UK vs. USA

Whether you’re looking to tuck into a nice Sunday dinner with traditional gravy or have a cheeky side of biscuits and gravy, there’s something for every occasion. Hopefully, this guide details all the differences (and similarities) between British and American gravy.

If you liked our guide to UK vs. US gravy, why not check out our article about the differences between American cheddar and British mustard?

American Gravy vs. British Gravy FAQ:

What is American gravy called?

Traditional brown American gravy is just called gravy. Whereas, the gravy with more of a white colour and lumpy consistency is called country gravy, sawmill gravy, or white gravy.

Why is American gravy lumpy?

American gravy is lumpy, particularly country gravy, because of the pieces of small sausage cooked into the mixture.

Why is American gravy white?

American gravy (country gravy) is white in colour, because of the addition of milk or cream in the mixture.

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