The RenalTracker Team
November 23, 2023

Embarking on a renal diet may leave many kidney disease patients wondering if they must give up their favorite dishes, like the comforting and flavorful gravy. At Renaltracker's Avoid Dialysis Meal Planning Coaching Program, we understand your concerns and want to assure you that navigating a kidney-friendly diet doesn't mean sacrificing taste. 

A bowl of soup on a white plate.

In this blog, we will explore the question: Can you enjoy gravy on a renal diet? Let's uncover the facts and options that can help you savor the goodness while prioritizing your kidney health.

Understanding Gravy on a Renal Diet:

Gravy often contains ingredients like pan drippings, meat broth, or bouillon, which may be high in sodium and phosphorus - two key nutrients that need to be carefully managed on a renal diet. However, there are several alternatives and modifications that can allow you to indulge in the delectable flavor of gravy while adhering to your dietary goals.

Kidney-Friendly Renal Diet Low-Sodium Brown Gravy Options

Navigating a renal diet can be challenging, especially when it comes to finding flavorful options like brown gravy that are also kidney-friendly. Let's explore some low-sodium alternatives that can satisfy your cravings for brown gravy while remaining kidney-friendly. Get ready to savor the goodness guilt-free!

Understanding the Importance of Low Sodium on a Renal Diet:

Sodium is a mineral found in many foods, and while it is necessary for our body's functioning, excess sodium intake can burden the kidneys. For individuals with kidney disease, it is crucial to limit sodium intake to help manage blood pressure and fluid balance.

Here are some kidney-friendly low-sodium brown gravy options that can add a burst of flavor to your meals:

  • Homemade Low-Sodium Brown Gravy:

Start with a low-sodium beef, chicken, or vegetable broth as the base. Look for options with reduced sodium content or consider making your own broth using fresh ingredients.

Utilize herbs and spices to enhance flavor, such as thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, or onion powder. These add depth to the gravy without adding sodium.

  • Modified Thickening Agents:

To achieve the desired thickness of brown gravy without increasing sodium intake, consider using alternatives such as arrowroot powder or xanthan gum as thickening agents. These options are lower in sodium compared to traditional flour or cornstarch.

  • Prepared Low-Sodium Brown Gravy Mixes:

Keep an eye out for specialized brands offering low-sodium brown gravy mixes. These options are designed specifically for individuals following a renal diet and help you save time in the kitchen without compromising on flavor.

Prepared Gravy Alternatives:

Sometimes, convenience is key. When opting for prepared gravy, make sure to read the nutrition labels carefully and prioritize options that are low in sodium, phosphorus, and potassium. Renal-friendly brands are available in many grocery stores and can be a suitable option for those looking to save time without compromising their kidney health.

What Makes Brown Gravy Low Sodium?

Brown gravy is a staple in many dishes and can add a burst of flavor to any meal. However, for individuals with chronic kidney disease (CKD) who need to follow a low-sodium diet, the traditional brown gravy might not be the best option. Let's discuss what makes brown gravy low sodium and provide tips for incorporating this delicious condiment into your renal-friendly diet.

Understanding Sodium in Brown Gravy:

Traditional brown gravy is often made with pan drippings, meat broth, or bouillon, all of which contain high levels of sodium. For individuals with CKD, consumption of excess sodium can lead to complications like hypertension and fluid retention, putting extra pressure on the kidneys. Therefore, it is essential to limit sodium intake to manage these symptoms.

What Makes Brown Gravy Low Sodium?

Brown gravy can be low sodium if the ingredients are modified to reduce sodium content. Here are some tips to keep in mind when making or selecting a low-sodium brown gravy:

Use Low-Sodium Ingredients:

  •  Opt for low-sodium broths or bouillon when making the base of the gravy.
  • Choose meats with lower sodium content, such as chicken or lean beef, which can help reduce overall sodium intake.

Modify the Recipe:

  • Instead of adding salt or high-sodium seasonings to the gravy, incorporate herbs and spices like rosemary, thyme, and black pepper.
  • Use alternative thickening agents like arrowroot powder or xanthan gum, which contain less sodium compared to traditional options like flour or cornstarch.

Look for Low-Sodium Options:

  • Many grocery stores now offer specialized kidney-friendly options, including low-sodium brown gravy mixes.
  • Make sure to read labels carefully and prioritize options with the least amount of sodium.

Kidney-Friendly Gravy from Scratch

Peanut sauce in a white pitcher on a wooden table.

Gravy is a beloved condiment that adds a burst of flavor to any dish. However, individuals with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) need to curb their sodium intake to maintain their kidney health. That's where homemade kidney-friendly gravy comes in, allowing you to indulge in delicious flavors without compromising your dietary needs.


  • 1/4 cup of unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour or arrowroot powder
  • 2 cups of low-sodium chicken or beef broth
  • Salt-free herb and spice blend (like rosemary, thyme, and black pepper)
  • Optional: low-sodium Worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar for added flavor.


  • Begin by melting the unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the all-purpose flour or arrowroot powder to the pan and whisk for 2-3 minutes until it turns into a smooth paste.
  • Add slowly low-sodium chicken or beef broth to the mixture, whisking continuously to create a smooth consistency without lumps.
  • Add your desired herb and spice blend and whisk to infuse the flavors.
  • Add a teaspoon of low-sodium Worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar for extra flavor (optional)
  • Let the mixture cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until it thickens and reaches your desired consistency.
  • Remove the gravy from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

Making kidney-friendly gravy from scratch is a straightforward and tasty way to add depth to your meals without sacrificing your renal health. Making your gravy means you can control the sodium content, ensuring that your meal stays in line with your dietary needs.

Renal-Friendly Substitutes for Brown Gravy:

As a Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) patient, finding renal-friendly substitutes for brown gravy can be challenging. Traditional brown gravy frequently contains high amounts of sodium, which can lead to fluid retention and other health complications. 

Here are some healthy substitutes for brown gravy that will satisfy your cravings without negatively impacting your kidney health.


Mushroom soup in a skillet with a wooden spoon.

Mushroom Gravy:

Mushroom gravy is a delicious and kidney-friendly alternative to traditional brown gravy. This savory and hearty gravy can be made by sautéing mushrooms with onions and garlic and simmering with low-sodium vegetable broth.

It pairs well with roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, and even meatloaf. Mushroom gravy is an excellent source of vitamin D and iron and is low in sodium, making it a perfect addition to your renal-friendly diet.

Beef Consommé:

Beef consommé is another tasty and kidney-friendly substitute for brown gravy. It contains less sodium than traditional gravy and can be served slightly thickened by simmering with a small amount of flour.

A cup of tea sitting on a wooden table.

This flavorful substitute can be used in dishes like beef stroganoff, Salisbury steak, and even French onion soup.

A bowl of red sauce on a black table.

Tomato-Based Gravy:

Tomato-based gravy can be an excellent substitute for brown gravy, and it's easy to make too. Start by simmering fresh or canned tomatoes with onions, garlic, and a variety of herbs like basil and oregano.

This tasty kidney-friendly gravy pairs well with pasta, meat, or vegetarian dishes, and the added bonus of lycopene found in tomatoes can help manage inflammation and oxidative stress.

Guide to Delicious Dishes to Put Gravy On

Below are some delicious ideas on dishes to put gravy on while keeping your renal health in mind.

Baked/roasted chicken or turkey:

  • A classic pairing, gravy and poultry can be a delicious and nourishing combination that's low in sodium and high in protein. Whether you prefer roasted, grilled, or baked chicken or turkey, a generous ladle of mushroom gravy or tomato basil gravy can elevate the flavor and juiciness of the meat.
A sauce is being poured over a piece of meat on a plate.

Mashed potatoes:

  • A staple side dish, mashed potatoes and gravy are a timeless comfort food. However, traditional gravy typically contains high amounts of sodium that are not recommended for CKD patients. Instead, opt for homemade or low-sodium mushroom gravy or turkey gravy to liven up your mashed potato without compromising your dietary needs.
Gravy being poured over mashed potatoes.


  • Meatloaf and gravy make a comforting and filling meal that's perfect for those chilly evenings. Instead of using traditional brown gravy, try a homemade mushroom and onion gravy or a red wine tomato gravy, both of which are low-sodium, flavorful, and kidney-friendly.
Meatloaf with gravy and vegetables on a white plate.

Working with Your Renal Dietitian:

By following the above tips, you can enjoy the delicious flavor of brown gravy without compromising your kidney health. At Renaltracker's Avoid Dialysis Meal Planning Coaching Program, we are committed to helping individuals with CKD navigate their renal-friendly diets.

Our expert guidance and meal planning coaching can help you create personalized meal plans that support your kidney health while still satisfying your taste buds.

Remember, every person's nutritional requirements are unique. What may be suitable for one individual may not work for another. That is why personalized guidance from a renal dietitian is essential to help you make informed decisions that support your kidney health.


Good news! With careful consideration and modifications, you can still enjoy the rich and satisfying flavor of gravy on a renal diet. By opting for low-sodium options, modifying thickening agents, and working closely with your renal dietitian, you can indulge in this culinary delight while taking care of your kidneys.

Renaltracker's Avoid Dialysis Meal Planning Coaching Program is here to support you in creating a kidney-friendly meal plan that includes delicious, kidney-friendly gravy options. Together, we can explore a variety of alternatives and ensure that your meals are both flavorful and tailored to your specific needs.

Remember, you're not alone in your journey to better kidney health. Trust in our program's credibility and join the many success stories of patients who have successfully navigated the challenges of a renal diet. With Renaltracker's support, you can embrace a kidney-friendly lifestyle without compromising on taste and enjoyment.