Nov 04

MacGyver’s Fat Separator, Simple Way to Make Homemade Gravy

Whether it is for turkey on Thanksgiving or Christmas, a roasted chicken or a crock pot beef roast for Sunday dinner there is nothing better than homemade gravy made from the giblets, drippings or the au jus. The problem is that many of us do not own a fat separator and if we do, because it is used so infrequently, when it is needed, the fat separator can never be found in the kitchen cupboards.

I personally do not own a fat separator. There is no particular reason why and because of it I have struggled with separating the fat (drippings) from the au jus (broth). My work around is to either carefully spoon off the fat or to make my roux for the gravy from butter. Neither option is optimal, yet I do not intend to purchase a fat separator. I was explaining my stubbornness / frugality to Stuart a few weeks ago and he explained to me a conversation that he had with a friend on an alternative means for separating the fat from the broth.

The concept is amazingly simple and follows the same principles that are used in a fat separator. All you need is a Ziploc bag, a pair of scissors and two measuring cups or bowls.

  1. Strain the drippings / broth from any remaining solids in the pan or pot into the large measuring cup with a spout.

    Fat for the Roux on top of the Broth to make Homemade Gravy

  2. Pour the entire contents into a Ziploc bag and allow the fat to separate (rise to the surface).

    Fat separated from the Broth in a Ziploc Bag for Homemade Gravy

  3. Seal the Ziploc bag and over the same large measuring cup hold the bag so that one of the corners is facing down.

    Preparing to separate the Broth from the Fat for Homemade Gravy

  4. With a pair of scissors, make a small cut at the corner. The broth will flow through the cut made into the bag and into the large measuring cup. I really wish I had been able to take a picture of this process happening, but it did happen fast.
  5. Once the majority of the broth has poured from the bag, pinch the opening in the Ziploc bag and then place the bag over the second measuring cup.
  6. Remove your fingers from the opening in the bag and allow the remaining fat to pour into the second measuring cup.

    Fat separated from the Broth to make Homemade Gravy using a Ziploc Bag

You have now successfully separated the fat from the broth without looking for that elusive fat separator and you are now ready to make your homemade gravy.

The rule of thumb that I use is that for every cup of broth / au jus that I have, I use one tablespoon of flour to make the roux. In a large sauce pan I heat the separated fat and then add the flour mixing them well.

Making Roux from Drippings

Once the mixture begins to boil I slowly add the broth to the roux, whisking the two together. Once all of the broth has been added and the gravy has come to a full boil for a minute, lower the heat to low. In a few minutes you will have the perfect gravy with no lumps or clumps ready to be served with your meal.

Homemade Gravy

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  1. Lisa

    Thank you so much for your posting! I can’t find my separator and will definitely try your idea. Thank you again!

  2. Ellen Lebsock

    Cool! So now I’m throwing away that separator cup I just had to have that’s taking up space I don’t have, ’cause I only use the thing once or twice a year anyway. Thanks. 🙂

  3. vickie

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  4. T

    This was easy and it worked great. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Wayne Daugherty

    If you use one tablespoon of flour for each cup of broth, how much fat do you use? 1 fat to 1 flour or….?

    But mostly, great idea on the Ziploc! I have a couple of separators and my daughter has one or two; I can’t wait to impress her with doing it this way. She’ll freak out and love it. (But I’ll give you the credit. Eventuallly….)


  6. carol

    Best tip EVER! Thanks.

    1. Stuart

      You’re welcome 🙂

  7. jessica brewster

    OMG … This worked so awesome. best trick ever. I was nervous to try it but what did I have to lose . I did it and it worked and it was so simply. tad messy cause im a messy cook but other than that It worked wonders. thanks so much for the help

  8. Nancy McCoy

    Can you put the fat munch mixture in the ziplock bag when it’s hot?

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