Gravy noodles are a comforting, delicious dish that can take on many regional flavors and inspire fierce loyalty among those whose family heritage includes cooking them. In this step-by-step post, I’m going to teach you how to make them from scratch just like Grandma did, using simple pantry ingredients. Based on my family’s recipe from the Midwestern United States, I’ll share my method for tender noodles bathed in a savory, robust gravy that makes this classic stick-to-your-ribs fare.
The Origins of Gravy Noodles
Gravy noodles are thought to have originated in European immigrant communities in the Midwest region of the United States sometime in the late 19th century. Using simple ingredients they likely had on hand including eggs, flour, and meat drippings from roasts or poultry, frugal home cooks improvised what is now considered a niche regional dish.
The most traditional gravy for the noodles starts with meat pan drippings leftover from roasting beef, chicken, or turkey. Combining the rich meat juices with a roux made of butter and flour results in a thick, delicious gravy that coats each strand of tender homemade egg noodles. Vegetables like onions, garlic, carrots and celery are also common flavor-builders for gravy noodles.
Creating excellent gravy noodles centers around two key components – the noodles and the gravy.
For the noodles:
- All-purpose flour
- Milk or water
For the gravy:
- Meat drippings (beef or poultry)
- All-purpose flour
- Broth (beef or chicken)
- Onion, carrots, garlic etc.
- Herbs and seasonings like thyme, black pepper, parsley
Now let’s get cooking! Follow my detailed instructions for perfect gravy noodles every time.
Step-By-Step Gravy Noodles Recipe
Part 1 – Preparing the Noodle Dough
First, we’ll make the noodle dough from scratch.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 cup milk or water
Mix everything together until a shaggy dough forms, then knead briefly until smooth, about 1 minute. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes before rolling.
Part 2 – Rolling and Cutting the Noodles
Lightly flour a clean work surface and divide the rested dough into 4 equal pieces. Take one piece and flatten it slightly with your hands, then use a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick, lightly flouring as needed.
Cut into noodles using a knife, pizza cutter or pasta cutter, making noodles approximately 1⁄2 inch wide. Repeat the process with the remaining dough pieces.
Transfer cut noodles to a parchment-lined baking sheet and set aside until needed for cooking, up to a few hours. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel so they don’t dry out if resting for more than 10-15 minutes.
Tip: For fun pasta shapes use cookie cutters or cutting wheels instead.
Part 3 – Preparing the Gravy
Now for the namesake gravy – brick roux gravy made with meat drippings is traditional but vegetarian versions subbing olive oil exist too.
In a large skillet or saucepan, melt 4 Tbsp butter over medium heat.
Whisk in 1/4 cup all-purpose flour until a thick, smooth paste forms and cook for 2 minutes to remove raw flour taste, stirring constantly.
Pour in 2 cups broth (beef or chicken depending on meat drippings used) and continue whisking to fully incorporate roux.
Add reserved meat drippings, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the pan and continue whisking until there are no lumps.
Bring gravy to a gentle boil then reduce heat and let simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until nicely thickened.
Add in sautéed vegetables if using – onions, carrots, garlic etc. along with any preferred herbs or seasonings. Simmer gravy gently for 10 more minutes.
Taste and adjust seasoning as needed with salt, pepper, more herbs etc.
You now have a rich, glossy gravy ready to coat some handmade noodles.
Part 4 – Cooking the Noodles
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook fresh noodles in batches for 2-3 minutes until they float and are just tender but still have some bite (al dente). Drain well and set aside.
Tip: Don’t overcook or noodles will get gummy.
Part 5 – Serving Up Gravy Noodles
Once all noodles are cooked, return them to the pot along with several ladlefuls of hot gravy and gently toss together until noodles are evenly coated.
Serve gravy noodles garnished with a bit more gravy, a sprinkling of chopped parsley and with garlic bread on the side. Hearty and satisfying.
Add Some Southern Charm
To give my gravy noodles recipe even deeper, richer flavor – I love to add a couple of teaspoons of bacon grease in with the meat drippings. Crispy crumbled bacon also makes a delicious topping in place of or along with the parsley.
Tip: Bacon drippings work great if you don’t have other meat pan drippings on hand.
Making it Meatless
To keep this dish vegetarian, simply leave out the meat drippings and substitute olive oil or butter when making the roux gravy base. Vegetable broth adds plenty of flavor to the liquid. Beyond that, follow the recipe the same way. Sautéed mushrooms would pair nicely.
Freezing & Reheating Tips
You can prepare a double batch of gravy noodles to freeze one for later. Simply cool portioned leftovers completely before freezing in airtight containers for 2-3 months. To reheat, thaw overnight in the fridge and rewarm in a saucepan over medium-low heat, adding extra broth or water if needed to loosen up the gravy again. Garnish and serve.
Enjoy Comforting Gravy Noodles Soon
I hope this post has inspired you to cook up a batch of hearty gravy noodles for your family. They aren’t difficult, just follow my step-by-step and soon you’ll have a nostalgic, crave-worthy dish everyone will love. The flavor pays off any effort! Let me know in the comments if you give this recipe a try or if you have your own special gravy noodles recipe to share. Either way, enjoy a warm, comforting bowl of this classic comfort food soon.