How Long Does Gravy Last? | With Basic Storage Guidelines


Biscuits and Gravy on a Plate next to a Salt and Pepper Shaker

My kids’ absolute favorite dinner that I make is old fashioned fried chicken with rice and gravy. That means that I have been making and storing gravy for over 50 years now. I recently wondered if I had been keeping it correctly all this time, so I checked a few sources, and this is what I found out.

Gravy can last in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Dairy-free gravy can be frozen for 4 to 6 months. Dried gravy mix that is unopened can last for up to 2 years in your pantry. Once prepared, gravy should be placed in an airtight container and refrigerated within 2 hours.

How long gravy lasts:

Gravy TypeRoom TemperatureIn the FridgeIn the Freezer
Dry, UnpreparedUp to 2 yearsN/AN/A
Prepared, DairyUp to 2 hoursUp to 4 daysN/A
Prepared, Non-DairyUp to 2 hoursUp to 4 days4-6 months
Source: USDA

The rest of the article will cover the basic storage guidelines of gravy and the details of how to preserve it properly.

How Long Does Leftover Gravy Last?

The shelf life of gravy depends upon the ingredients that were used and how well you preserve it. Milk or cream-based gravy will last up to 4 days in the refrigerator if stored in an airtight container within 2 hours of cooking. Just make sure the container has a solid silicone seal, like this one, found on Amazon. Otherwise, it may not last as long as you hope.

Also, make sure you use good labels, like these, on any food that you store. Otherwise, it’s easy to forget.

For dairy-free gravy, follow the same rules. You will still need to store it in an airtight container within 2 hours of preparing it. It can last up to 4 days in the refrigerator and 4 to 6 months in the freezer.

Is Gravy Good the Next Day?

Gravy will be good the next day if you have appropriately covered and refrigerated it within 2 hours of making it. Just heat up the amount that you wish to use and put the rest of it back in the fridge. Do not refreeze gravy once it has been thawed.

How Long Does Gravy Last out of the Fridge?

Gravy should only be left out of the fridge for about 2 hours. Treat it the same way you would any other food item that should be put away shortly after eating – especially if you are making a holiday dinner and want to have gravy to serve with all of the leftovers. Bacteria can multiply quickly, and cold temperatures slow that process down. Get it into the fridge promptly!

How Long Will Gravy Last in the Fridge?

Cover the gravy and put it in an airtight container. It will be fine in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. If it looks like it has started to separate during this time, you can boil it for 3 minutes, stir the gravy to smooth out the texture, and still safely eat it.

How Long Does Gravy Last in the Freezer?

If you have correctly put the gravy in the freezer in a freezer-safe airtight container, flour-based gravy should be fine for 4 to 6 months. A gravy made with milk or cream should not be frozen. It will separate during thawing, so plan to use it up or throw it out instead of freezing.

Do not refreeze the gravy once it has been thawed. One way to avoid this problem is to freeze it in serving-sized freezer bags (with the cooking date written on them with a sharpie). That way, you can prioritize which to eat first.

Can You Freeze Gravy Made With Cornstarch?

Many people like to make gravy with cornstarch, and it is an excellent gluten-free substitute for flour. You can freeze with cornstarch made gravy as long as the recipe does not include cream or milk. Treat it the same as you would a flour-based gravy for freezing.

How to Tell If Gravy Has Gone Bad

  • Give it the “sniff test”- Any gravy that smells sour or rancid is a bad sign. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • It looks “funny”- Gravy made with dairy can separate in the fridge and still be safe to eat within 4 days, but if you see any signs of mold whatsoever, throw it out.
  • You left it out for over 2 hours before getting it into the fridge- So you lingered over that holiday dinner and dessert, enjoyed the conversation, and didn’t get the food put away in a timely manner. I recommend just tossing it out. It is much better to “waste” gravy than to make yourself or someone else sick.
  • If you can’t remember when you put it in the freezer- You are probably better off throwing it out. A handy way to avoid this is to store the gravy in a freezer bag and write the date that you prepared it on the bag with a sharpie, or use these handy labels that I recommend. That way, you will still know how old it is.

What Happens If You Eat Bad Gravy?

If you eat bad gravy, you can get food poisoning. To avoid this, it is vital to use meat that has been stored correctly in a refrigerator or freezer before cooking it. That way, both the meat and the meat drippings will be safe to eat. If you are using ready-made gravy from a can or jar or a dried gravy mix, this should have been stored in a cool, dry place. Check the use-by date on the product packaging and ensure that the packaging is still intact (i.e., appropriately sealed with no leaks or spills).

In general, bacteria grow faster in a warm environment, which is why refrigerating or freezing food will help to preserve it. If your gravy has not been adequately preserved, you could end up with symptoms including nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. People who are most vulnerable to food poisoning include the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, and pregnant women.

As always, when in doubt, throw it out!

How to Properly Store Ready-Made Gravy or Dried Gravy Mixes

Ready-made gravy in cans or jars can be great to have on hand (especially if you are pressed for time or don’t care for cooking). Dried gravy mixes can also simplify your meal preparation. Make sure to store them in a cool, dry place. They can last up to 2 years in your pantry, but it is safest to prepare them by the use by date on the manufacturer’s packaging.

If you have already prepared the gravy or opened the can or jar, please refer to the tips in this article on how long gravy will last outside of the fridge, in the refrigerator, or in the freezer.

Final Thoughts

After all this time it turns out that I had been following USDA guidelines perfectly. If there happened to be any gravy left after a meal (a rare occurrence) I have always stored it in an airtight container in the fridge. Unfortunately, I have never found out how long it will last because it is always gobbled up the next day. Maybe one day, I will make some sub-par gravy so that people won’t be eager to eat it so fast. Fat chance!

Thanks for stoppin’ in for a bit!

Long-Term Survival Food

If you are looking for food that lasts a really long time in your pantry, I highly recommend My Patriot Supply. Their food is not only yummy but it lasts up to 25 years!

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

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