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

Essential Kitchen Supplies


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    • Lisa on November 26, 2014 at 11:47 pm
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    Thank you so much for your posting! I can’t find my separator and will definitely try your idea. Thank you again!

    • Ellen Lebsock on November 28, 2014 at 1:31 pm
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    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. 🙂

    • vickie on December 31, 2014 at 10:10 pm
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    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

    • T on February 15, 2015 at 7:36 am
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    This was easy and it worked great. Thank you for sharing!

    • Wayne Daugherty on March 11, 2015 at 3:26 pm
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    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….)


      • Michael on March 4, 2018 at 10:32 am
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      The rule of thumb I use for a roux is equal parts by WEIGHT, flour and fat. You do have a kitchen scale, right? ?

        • gg on May 10, 2019 at 10:54 am
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        I dont understand either

    • carol on May 13, 2015 at 6:07 pm
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    Best tip EVER! Thanks.

    1. You’re welcome 🙂

    • jessica brewster on November 27, 2015 at 9:38 am
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    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

    • Nancy McCoy on November 15, 2016 at 8:56 am
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    Can you put the fat munch mixture in the ziplock bag when it’s hot?

    • Vanessa Baggio on July 1, 2018 at 3:18 am
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    Wow, thank you so much for this tip! I spend $$ on a fat separator which cracked and leaked after I poured the juices into same.
    Your idea is simple, and amazing. I currently have the jug in the freezer trying to solify the fat from the top.. next time I’ll be doing this – and sharing with my foodie friends !

    • Jennifer Outlaw on July 1, 2018 at 3:00 pm
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    Awesome!! I had a separator and it never really worked so it was Goodwilled in a move. Love this idea…I had been pouring the mixture into a bowl or cup and freezing it so I could scoop off the fat but this way I can use it right away!

    • Denise Davis on July 28, 2018 at 11:09 pm
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    OMG ! How come I never thought of this??? It worked great. Thank you so much for such an easy solution for a messy job.

    • Myra on November 22, 2018 at 9:27 am
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    So it’s 7:25am Thanksgiving Day 2018 and YOU, my friend, are a life saver!
    Thanks a million and have a wonderful life.

    • Marybeth on November 22, 2018 at 11:55 am
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    You are a genuis!! Thank you so much for this awesome tip.

    • Angel on December 31, 2018 at 7:58 pm
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    This was so helpful!!! Thank you soo much!!!

    • Lisa on February 14, 2019 at 6:56 pm
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    This is just genius!!! Who would have known that I’ve had all the supplies to do this in my kitchen already. Thank you for the pro tip ot worked flawlessly today while braising my short ribs and making the gravey.

    • Cheryl-anne Marie Clark on April 5, 2019 at 10:52 pm
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    Thank you very much, now I don’t have to buy any unnecessary equipment that I just don’t have the room for.

    • Larry Gray on July 27, 2020 at 7:25 pm
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    Thanks for the kitchen hack. I’m going to try it.

    • Mick on March 13, 2021 at 7:24 pm
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    This is an amazing hack! My partner refused to eat my soup because of all the fat floating on top. All gone now!

    • Joanne on November 25, 2021 at 1:21 pm
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    Thank you! This really works! You just saved my Turkey gravy!

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