What Is The Difference Between Complete, Cooked, And Instant Gravies?


In the world of dry mixes, finding which product will suit your needs may seem complicated. Looking at labels, you will notice that some gravies are called “complete”, others are “instant”, and others are regular “cook style” gravies. What is the difference, and why would someone prefer one over the other?

Complete Gravies

In fact, the name “complete” is from an antiquated naming convention. Years ago, there were “gravy bases” in the dry mix market which contained no starch or thickener. Manufacturers then started adding thickeners and named these newer products “complete” gravies as a way to differentiate them from the starch-less gravy bases. Today, as there are almost no gravy bases without thickeners in the market anymore, the name “complete” does not mean anything to a modern user, but the labeling persists.

Cook Style Gravies

Gravies named “complete” are the same as regular “cook style” gravies and have the same preparation instructions. For best results, make a paste with the mix and cold water; then, add the paste to boiling water, stirring with a whisk; bring back to boil and let simmer 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. The step of mixing the powder in cold water before heating is important to avoid lumps, as it activates the starches. Also, the simmering step is important to cook the starches and avoid a starchy aftertaste. Most of the products in the LUDA ED and LUDA Original lines are good examples of cook style gravies, with a variety of traditional Québécois and classic flavours.

Instant Gravies

In comparison, instant gravies are very easy to prepare with any temperature water, adding the mix gradually to the water while stirring and then heating to serving temperature. Instant gravies can be prepared by any employee in no time, because they contain quick thickening starches. This type of gravy is also much more stable and can be frozen, thawed, and reheated without breaking. The products in the LUDA Inspiration and LUDA H lines are great examples of instant gravies, offering a variety of features from gluten free, to low sodium, to no added MSG, artificial colour or flavour.

Which Product Should You Choose?

This being said, why would one choose a cook style product over an instant one, and vice versa? Choosing the right product depends on the restaurant or food service operation’s needs, such as the skill level of staff and their availability, the type of kitchen and production mode, food budget, type of clientele, and end usage. For example, if the sauce is to be prepared ahead of time, chilled, and reheated, or if the sauce is to be held in the steam table for a while, an instant mix would give better results as it is more stable. As instant mixes tend to be pricier, operations with a smaller food budget may prefer cook style mixes. Also, according to some, the advantage of cook style mixes is that their flavour and texture is closer to homemade than instant mixes. As you can see, choosing the right product depends on your specific needs and can make a big difference in easing your operations.

Do you wonder which type of product would be best suited to your restaurant or food service operation? Contact us if you need help finding the right fit.

By Marilyne Petitclerc, MHSc, P.Dt.
Culinary Marketing Specialist at Aliments LUDA Foods