Last Updated on October 16, 2023 by Shari Mason
Gravy is a favorite at many dinners, including mine. But how do we make it thick and tasty? Some people use flour, while others prefer cornstarch.
Both can make your gravy smooth and delicious. Yet, they work in different ways.
So, is gravy better with flour or cornstarch? Here’s my answer!
What To Use for Gravy – Flour or Cornstarch?
It depends on your preference. The main difference between flour  and cornstarch is their origins and thickening powers.
Flour is made from ground wheat and has a slightly nutty taste, while cornstarch is a pure starch derived from corn with a neutral flavor.
“The most I ever ate? In one sitting? Maybe four big plates of fried chicken, biscuits, chitlins, gravy. Then dessert. Apple pie, sweet potato pie. My mother cooked that stuff, good Southern food, and when I was 300 pounds, I never missed a meal.”– Bruce Smith, American Footballer
When used as a thickener, cornstarch produces a clear, glossy sauce or gravy, and flour results in a more opaque and slightly textured mixture.
Moreover, cornstarch has double the thickening power of flour, so you generally need less of it to achieve the same thickness.
How Do They Make Gravy Thick?
Gravy is thickened primarily using agents like flour or cornstarch. To do this, a roux is often made by cooking flour with butter or fat to eliminate the raw taste of the flour.
Once the roux is formed, liquid, such as broth or milk, is gradually added while stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Alternatively, cornstarch can be mixed with a cold liquid to add a slurry to the hot gravy base.
As the mixture heats, the flour or cornstarch particles absorb the liquid, swell, and cause the gravy to thicken, creating a smooth and velvety texture.
Which One Tastes Better In Gravy – Cornstarch or Flour?
The taste preference between flour and cornstarch in gravy is subjective and can vary from person to person.
Flour-based gravies tend to have a more prosperous and slightly “roux-like” taste, as they often involve cooking the flour in fat, which can impart a nutty flavor.
“In the dance of flavors, whether flour or cornstarch leads, it’s the harmony of gravy that delights the feast.”– Eat Pallet Restaurant & Food Advice
On the other hand, cornstarch-based gravies are usually more translucent and have a glossier finish, with a neutral taste that allows the primary flavors of the gravy’s other ingredients to shine through.
Ultimately, the “better” taste depends on individual preferences and the specific flavors one aims to achieve in the gravy.
Is One Easier To Use Than The Other?
Yes, between flour and cornstarch, many cooks find cornstarch easier to use for thickening gravies and sauces. This is because cornstarch doesn’t form lumps as readily as flour might.
When using cornstarch, one typically mixes it with a cold liquid to create a slurry before adding it to the hot sauce or gravy, resulting in a smooth consistency.
Flour is often used to make a roux with fat before adding liquid, which can require more careful attention to prevent lumping or burning.
However, with practice, both can be mastered for ideal consistency and texture in dishes.
Can I Use Both In My Gravy?
Yes. Some cooks blend both flour and cornstarch  when making gravy. Combining can offer the flour-based roux’s rich flavor while capitalizing on cornstarch’s powerful thickening ability.
To do this, create a roux with flour and then introduce a cornstarch slurry towards the end of cooking if you desire a thicker consistency.
It’s essential to whisk continuously to ensure a lump-free gravy. By incorporating both, you can achieve a balanced texture and flavor that fits your dish.
What is the secret to good gravy?
The secret to good gravy lies in its foundation: the drippings from roasted meat. These drippings, rich in flavor, serve as the base.
To elevate the gravy, scrape all the flavorful bits from the bottom of the roasting pan.
Consistent whisking is critical to avoid lumps, whether you use flour or cornstarch as a thickener.
Lastly, seasoning is crucial. Taste as you go, and adjust the salt, pepper, herbs, or spices to achieve a well-rounded flavor that complements your main dish.
Will gravy thicken without flour or cornstarch?
Gravy can thicken without flour or cornstarch by reducing it over heat, but it will be less dense than when thickeners are used.
The choice between flour and cornstarch for gravy boils down to personal preference.
Flour offers a robust and hearty flavor, while cornstarch gives a clearer, glossier appearance with a neutral taste.
The best pick depends on the desired consistency and flavor of your gravy. Some enjoy the traditional taste flour provides, while others prefer the silkiness cornstarch imparts.
Experimenting with both can help determine which suits your palate best.
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