Gravy vs. Sauce



Gravy vs Sauce – Can you please solve this dispute for me?

When you make Sunday dinner and use tomatoes and meat – is that called Gravy?  Is anything without meat considered a sauce?  If I am misguided, please let me know.


Answer – Gravy vs Sauce:

Gravy:  Gravy is a sauce made from meat juices, usually combined with a liquid such as chicken or beef broth, wine or milk and thickened with flour, cornstarch, or some other thickening agent.  A gravy may also be the simple juices left in the pan after the meat, poultry, or fish has been cooked.  Learn how to make Perfect Turkey Gravy.


Sauce:  The word “sauce” is a French word that means a relish to make our food more appetizing.  Sauces are liquid or semi-liquid foods devised to make other foods look, smell, and taste better, and hence be more easily digested and more beneficial.  Because of the lack of refrigeration in the early days of cooking, meat, poultry, fish, and seafood didn’t last long.  Sauces and gravies were used to mask the flavor of tainted foods.  Learn about the History of Sauces.


Comments and Reviews

11 Responses to “Gravy vs. Sauce”

  1. Hintzsche

    in French gravy is also called Sauce so your description cant be right. a Sauce is the liquid served with Food. it doesnt matter if it was made from the Juices of meat or not. (its the same in german to)

  2. Joey Cocchairo

    Sauce = no meat. Gravy = meat. Once you put meat in the sauce it’s gravy. Gravy needs a meat. Dripping, fat and pan bits….turkey, beef chicken gravy. No meat is a sauce…tomato, rouxs and derivative sauces…bechamel, bearnaise etc.

  3. Southern Cook

    Gravy does not need meat. I ate milk gravy with biscuits and grits and eggs almost every morning growing up. It’s butter and flour cooked into a very dark (almost burned) roux and milk. You can use bacon or sausage grease to make the roux. You can add crumbled sausage to it. But you certainly don’t have to. Gravy is a type of sauce, but not all sauces are gravies.

  4. Tony S

    Gravy does require meat drippings (fat) your milk gravy used the fat in the milk, cream, butter etc. along with a thickening agent or evaporative method (reduction) to form the “gravy”. IE. BBQ “sauce “ is made of ingredients then added to meat to enhance the flavor of the meat, gravy is a sauce made from meat or meat drippings to enhance the flavor of the gravy. Both sauces and gravies are used to enhance the flavor of the actual protein or carb that is the meal.

  5. Chris Rehm

    To put it simply, a gravy is a subset of sauces. All gravies are sauces, but not all sauces are gravies. An example of this is a Hollandaise Sauce, or a Béarnaise Sauce.

  6. pierusofpella

    Gravy doesn’t need meat. There are gravies that are just flour, shortening, and water. Perhaps some herbs and spices.
    A case in point is the gravy made at KFC. Just their flour with their proprietary 11 herbs and spices (the same that they use to coat their fried chicken, shortening (the same vegetable shortening that they use in their fryers), and water. That’s it. Yet I’ve never heard of anyone saying that it isn’t gravy.
    I would suspect that the gravy vs sauce argument is solved by two things. Usage, and how the culinary artist identifies it.

  7. Larry

    A gravy only becomes a sauce when you’ve added a liaison to it for example egg yolks Or cream

  8. Giovanni

    A gravy is brought to consistency using a thickening agent.
    A sauce is brought to consistency using evaporation
    You thicken a gravy. You cook down a sauce.

  9. Merv

    Giovanni. The best description yet, I totally agree.

  10. Peter Eggers

    Agreed: a gravy is a sauce but a sauce not necessarily a gravy. The difference is in the preparation. Gravy is a byproduct of a cooking process. A sauce is a separately made side not necessarily resulting from subsequent processing of cooking liquids

  11. Espo

    I believe they are interchangeable and a matter of region. Italians often call the spaghetti sauce a “gravy”. Gio, your explanation sounds good at first, but how do you explain the 5 ” Mother Sauces”?

    This could go on forever… 🙂


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