What’s The Difference Between Brown Gravy And Beef Gravy?

It seems like there are so many different types of gravy these days – surely there’s a limit to how much gravy can change from one batch to another?

Well, it may surprise you to learn that certain factors can have a big effect on what your gravy looks and tastes like, and each gravy is named accordingly. 

Brown gravy and beef gravy are two types that you may have come across. It is easy enough to make your own from scratch, which is often the best way to get delicious gravy.

What's The Difference Between Brown Gravy And Beef Gravy

You can also buy granules for both in your local grocery store, along with various other gravy products that are available. Here, we discuss these two gravies and what sets them apart, so you can make an informed decision on which one to use.

We also explain how it is often not that simple to label your gravy one or the other, because there can be a certain amount of overlap between them.

What Is Brown Gravy?

Brown gravy is the name given to any gravy that is made from a meat stock. This mainly consists of the drippings that fall away from the meat while it is cooking, which tend to have an appealingly succulent flavor.

The juices are often combined with other ingredients such as onion, vegetables or herbs – you can experiment to achieve the perfect mix to suit your tastes. 

Gravy can be made from any meat that you are roasting, including beef, pork, turkey, lamb or chicken. You can also get fish gravy,  although this is less common and goes with a limited selection of dishes.

The darker the meat, the darker the gravy is likely to be, which means that beef gravy will be a darker brown than pork or chicken. All these will produce gravy that is some shade of brown, but chicken gravy will be significantly nearer to yellow.

Pork gravy is usually somewhere in between the two. 

You can get vegetarian gravy that isn’t made from any meat drippings, but can nevertheless be referred to as brown gravy. This is because it still has the same brown color, even though it isn’t made in the traditional way.

Vegetarian gravy will often consist of mushrooms, onions and other root vegetables that are boiled long enough to form a paste – the process is similar to making soup, but the end product has a thinner consistency. 

What Is Beef Gravy?

As the name suggests, beef gravy is gravy that specifically uses beef drippings. Beef gravy is also known as beef stock, because it is a broth made by cooking beef in water.

The main difference is that beef stock tends to be used as an ingredient in stews and soups etc., whereas beef gravy is used on its own as a sauce. 

Beef gravy granules are easy to find in a grocery store – these are small pellets that you mix with boiling water to recreate the same consistency as fresh beef gravy.

You can add more water to make a thinner gravy, or less than the recommended measurement to keep it thick – if you’re unsure, start off by adding small amounts and increasing the water until you reach the desired thickness.

Most gravy granules will be made from dehydrated beef stock, so this is likely to be the case unless otherwise specified on the packaging. 

What Other Gravies Are There?

Brown gravy, including beef gravy, isn’t the only kind of gravy that exists in the culinary world. Another popular gravy is white gravy, which is a type of bechamel sauce. It isn’t technically white, but is more of a cream color.

White gravy is also made of meat drippings that form a roux, although bechamel sauce itself is often made from just flour, butter and milk.

We have already talked about vegetarian gravy and how it can be made, and it is a delicious gravy in its own right. It allows everyone to enjoy a hearty gravy to pour on their food, even if they don’t eat meat.

Vegetarian gravy is actually a pretty large category and includes various types of gravy, such as onion gravy and mushroom gravy.

Gravy

With onion gravy, the onions can be chopped however big or small you like – some people prefer large slices of onion, while others like to mince or dice their onions.

Egg gravy is an interesting one that isn’t seen as often as many others. It is still made with meat drippings, although these mostly come from bacon rather than beef or chicken.

Once the roux is made and the liquid of choice has been added, an egg is stirred into the mixture. This forms into tiny particles that float around in the gravy, giving it a unique texture and taste.

While most gravy contains meat in some capacity, giblet gravy goes slightly further and includes the giblets as well as stock.

This is used for serving with poultry such as chicken or turkey, and the giblets are from the same animal whose meat you’re about to eat.

Adding the giblets to the gravy produces a richer flavor, as well as allowing you to use every part of the animal, cutting down on food waste.

How Do I Know Which Gravy To Use?

Which gravy you use depends on what you’re serving it with: with meat cuts, you will generally have a gravy made from the drippings of that meat. This is because it will have the same taste as the meat, so will complement it perfectly.

That said, beef gravy is delicious with other dishes such as sausages and mashed potatoes.

It also isn’t a disaster if you only have gravy granules of one type and you’re eating a different meat, but again this is best if it is beef gravy, since it is the most versatile. If in doubt, refer to the recipe you’re following.

Conclusion

The same gravy may be described as being both beef gravy and brown gravy, as beef gravy is basically just one specific type of brown gravy.

Not all brown gravy is beef gravy, though, so it is best to be careful and check the ingredients if you’re unsure what a certain pot of gravy granules contains.

You can make brown gravy out of other meats that aren’t beef – chicken and pork gravy are also popular. The main thing to remember is that you should mostly make your gravy out of the same meat that forms the basis of your dish.

Jess Smith
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