substitute for flour in gravy

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If you’re making a gravy recipe and you want to find ways to substitute for flour in gravy, then this post is for you.

substitute for flour in gravy

Gravy is usually thickened with a roux made from flour and butter. The main reason for using flour in gravy is so that the gravy becomes more substantial and thickens up nicely.

However, if you do not have any flour, do not want to use it or you’re following a keto, low carb or gluten-free lifestyle, then these flour replacements for gravy are going to come in handy.

Best substitutes for flour in gravy

The best alternatives for flour in gravy are:

  • Cornstarch
  • Arrowroot
  • Tapioca
  • Guar gum
  • Rice starch
  • Potato starch
  • Xanthan gum
  • Heavy cream
  • Whey protein

Each flour substitute for gravy will be discussed below.



Cornstarch is a very popular substitute for flour in gravy. Cornstarch is a carbohydrate extracted from the endosperm of corn. It will work well in a gravy recipe if you are gluten-free or vegan. Cornstarch can be used to thicken up any gravy recipe in the absence of flour at a 1:1 ratio. Here’s how:

  • Make a cornstarch slurry and add it to your gravy slowly to thicken it. You should note that making a gravy with cornstarch slurry results in a clear gravy.
  • Make a cornstarch and butter roux for your gravy. When you thicken a gravy with cornstarch roux it tends to be more opaque and also thicker. This method does however require you to cook the gravy for a while longer.

Note: And ideal flour to cornstarch ratio for gravy is 1:1. Meaning that if a gravy recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of flour, you can replace the flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.


Arrowroot powder

Arrowroot powder also called arrowroot flour or arrowroot starch is another easy way to replace flour in a gravy recipe. Arrowroot powder is a starchy substance that is extracted from the root of the Maranta arundinacea plant. 

You can thicken gravies with either an arrowroot slurry or an arrowroot roux. Like cornstarch, a gravy that is thickened with an arrowroot slurry is more translucent than a gravy thickened with an arrowroot roux which is more opaque.

Note: And ideal flour to arrowroot ratio for gravy is 2:1. Meaning that if a gravy recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of flour, you can replace the flour with 1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder.


Tapioca starch or tapioca flour is a tasteless and odorless powder extracted from cassava root that can be used to thicken gravy in place of flour. 

An ideal substitution ratio for flour to tapioca starch is 1:1. This means for every 2 tablespoons of flour needed for a gravy recipe, replace it with 2 tablespoons of tapioca.

Agar agar powder

Agar agar powder makes another great substitute for flour in gravy. This is so because agar agar is a gelatinous powder made from red algae that makes an excellent gravy thickener.

Rice flour

If you happen to have rice flour available, then you can use some rice flour as an alternative for wheat flour in gravy. Rice flour is made from finely milled raw rice and it thus makes a great gluten-free and vegan alternative for flour as a gravy thickener.

Rice flour can be used as a slurry to thicken gravies. Simply mix in some rice flour and cold water and pour into the gravy. It has to come to a good boil before it starts to thicken up in a gravy and because it is actual flour, rice flour makes a more opaque gravy compared to gravies made with slurries.

A rice flour roux made of rice flour and butter can also be used to add substance to a gravy. The right flour to rice flour conversion ratio is 1:1.

Potato starch

Potato starch

Another substitute for flour in a gravy recipe is potato starch. Potato starch can help thicken a gravy both as a slurry and as a roux. Also, potato starch is tasteless which means it would affect the flavor of your gravy at all.

A great flour to potato starch ratio is 1:1. This means that for a gravy recipe that calls for 2 tablespoons of flour, simply replace it with 2 tablespoons of potato starch. Also, feel free to see a gravy recipe made with potato starch here. 

Keto substitutes for flour in gravy

Xanthan gum

Xanthan gum can be used as an alternative for flour in gravy as well.

To use xanthan gum as a flour substitute to thicken gravy, add your gravy ingredients to a pot (this may include 3-4 tablespoons of butter, 2 cups of broth, spices, pan drippings, salt, and pepper and bring to a simmer.) Then add about ½  a teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum, stir well to dissolve, and simmer for 5 more minutes until you have a thick low carb gravy.

I also show you exactly how to make a xanthan gum gravy recipe here. 

Heavy cream as a flour substitute for gravy

Another way to replace flour in gravy is with some heavy cream. Using heavy cream in a gravy recipe results in a delicious, thick low carb gravy recipe that anyone can enjoy.

To make a thick gravy with heavy cream, you will need some butter, broth, your favorite spices, salt and black pepper, and about ¼ of a cup of heavy cream.

Cook all of these ingredients down in a saucepan until a thick, whitish gravy is achieved and serve.

Unflavored whey protein powder

Unflavored whey protein powder

Another easy way to substitute for flour in gravy is with a unflavored whey protein powder. Also whey protein is low in carbs which makes it a low carb substitute for flour in gravy.

To make a gravy with whey protein powder, first make a roux with 4 tablespoons of butter and 2-3 tablespoons of whey protein. Once the roux is made, add your other keto gravy ingredients and simmer until it reaches your desired consistency.

Common questions about flour substitutes for gravy

Can you thicken gravy with baking powder?

Baking powder contains some cornstarch, but, it does not contain enough cornstarch to make it a good substitute for flour or even cornstarch in a gravy recipe. Since baking so does not have enough cornstarch, it will not effectively thicken a gravy recipe.

Can you use baking soda to thicken gravy? 

Baking soda cannot thicken a gravy as it’s primarily a chemical leavening agent that reacts to acid rather than a thickening agent. 

Can I use almond flour to replace flour in gravy?

If you’re following a keto, gluten free or low carb lifestyle, almond flour is also a good thickener for gravy. Generally, a flour to almond flour ratio is about 1:1. However, to ensure that your gravy turns out well, start by adding a very small amount of almond flour at a time as you cook the gravy to prevent the gravy from becoming heavy and you’ll have a great almond flour gravy!

Final thoughts

The best substitute for flour in gravy is cornstarch in my opinion, However, if you’re making a gravy recipe for thanksgiving and you have no flour or con starch, there are 8 other easy ways to thicken up the gravy recipe as shown here.

More flour substitutes for specific recipes

One thought on “9 Best Ways To Substitute For Flour In Gravy

  1. I have to say that I’m a big fan of using arrowroot as a flour substitute in gravy. It gives the gravy a really nice, thick consistency.

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