Southern-Style Tomato Gravy

published Jul 10, 2022
Tomato Gravy Recipe

A creamy, rich tomato gravy for the Southern breakfast table.

Makesabout 2 cups

Prep5 minutes

Cook12 minutes to 16 minutes

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A photo of a black, round skillet with a thick, red tomato gravy in it and a spoon lifting some up.
Credit: Maria Do

Tomato gravy is savory and tangy, forgiving and uncomplicated. It’s the answer to all our Southern breakfast prayers. Southern-style tomato gravy is a thick sauce made with canned or fresh tomatoes, a blonde roux (bacon fat or butter and flour), chicken broth, and the occasional splash of cream. It pairs perfectly with buttery biscuits, eggs, grits, or meatloaf. 

In the summertime, this gravy is a perfect way to use up the season’s tomatoes, although canned tomatoes definitely do the job, too. I personally prefer the taste of canned tomatoes in this tomato gravy because of their rich flavor and ease. If you do choose canned, I recommend splurging on organic canned tomatoes for the best quality.

What Is Tomato Gravy Made Of?

  • Diced tomatoes
  • Bacon fat or butter
  • All-purpose flour
  • Chicken broth
  • Cream

Where Did Tomato Gravy Come From?

The ingredient list alone tells us that tomato gravy has Southern origins — tomatoes and a blonde roux (bacon fat and flour), for example. Tomatoes grow in abundance during Southern summers, often outpacing consumption, so tomato gravy evolved as another way to enjoy the season’s bounty. Tomato gravy is often associated with Southern breakfast foods like biscuits, eggs, and grits. 

What Should I Serve Tomato Gravy With?

Tomato gravy is most commonly served with biscuits, meatloaf, or eggs. It also goes well with grits, mashed potatoes, toast, pasta, and rice. 

Tomato Gravy Recipe

A creamy, rich tomato gravy for the Southern breakfast table.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 12 minutes to 16 minutes

Makes about 2 cups

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 3 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can

    diced or crushed tomatoes

  • 1 cup

    low-sodium chicken broth

  • 1/4 cup

    half-and-half or heavy cream

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

Instructions

  1. Melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium cast iron skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and stir continuously until the roux is light brown or the color of peanut butter, about 1 minute.

  2. Add 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced or crushed tomatoes, 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, and 1/4 cup half-and-half or heavy cream. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 8 to 12 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and stir to combine. Taste and season with more black pepper as needed. Serve over biscuits, eggs, meatloaf or any of your favorite Southern breakfast foods.

Recipe Notes

Fresh tomato substitution: 2 large fresh tomatoes can be used in place of the can of tomatoes. Peel, core, and dice before using.

Bacon grease substitution: 3 tablespoons bacon grease can be used in place of the unsalted butter. Since bacon grease is salty, taste before seasoning with salt as needed.

Storage: Leftover gravy can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat in a saucepan over medium heat.