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The Best Homemade Southern Tomato Gravy

An old fashioned, southern recipe for Homemade Tomato Gravy. Delicious served over hot buttermilk biscuits and topped with an over-easy egg.

In my opinion, the best recipes are the ones that have been handed down through generations, and this tomato gravy is one of them! Tomato gravy on top of big, hot from the oven, buttermilk biscuits is a staple around here. I’ve made this recipe for who knows how long, and we always enjoy it.

Tomato gravy with an over easy egg on buttermilk biscuits.

Once you read the recipe, you’ll notice that mine is a little bit different from other southern versions. That’s because I add three “secret” ingredients that take plain old tomato gravy from yum to yummy!

The tangy tomatoes mixed with my additions of thyme, butter, and cream produce the richest, most delicious tomato gravy you’ve ever had. Serve it over buttermilk biscuits fresh from the oven, and you won’t know what hit ya!

This recipe for Tomato Gravy is a very old, traditionally Southern recipe that’s good for breakfast, lunch, or supper. We enjoy it on biscuits topped with an over-easy or poached egg and a side of either bacon or ham. It’s also good spooned over fried chicken or on top of country fried steak.

I’ve even drizzled it on top of homemade french fries and topped that with shredded cheese. I hope you’ll give tomato gravy a try. I think you’re going to love it!

❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe


  • The tang of the tomatoes and the creaminess of the gravy bring a flavor punch.
  • Perfect comfort food for starting a long day or ending a long night.
  • Old fashion Southern classic.

🛒Ingredient Notes


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  • Bacon fat (Almost every southern cook always has a jar of bacon fat on hand for seasoning purposes. If you don’t have bacon fat, you can quickly render some from a couple of slices of bacon or just substitute olive oil. You won’t have that wonderful smoky background flavor, but it’ll still be great.
  • Medium onion (I prefer a mild-ish yellow onion for this)
  • Canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice (Any kind of tomato works but I prefer Roma.)
  • Fresh thyme (or dried)

The complete ingredient list with detailed measurements is included in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.

🔪 How to Make Southern Tomato Gravy


Cook the Onion and Garlic

Sauteing onions and garlic in a skillet.
STEPS 1-3.

STEP 1. Heat the bacon fat (or olive oil) in a skillet over medium high heat.

STEP 2. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft.

STEP 3. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring, for an additional minute or two.

👉 PRO TIP: If you don’t always have a jar of bacon fat in your fridge like I do, you can use olive oil. Or you could fry up a few pieces of bacon and use the rendered fat. It’ll taste way better than the olive oil :-)

Add Flour and Tomatoes

STEP 4. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes.

STEP 5. Add the tomatoes along with their juice. Break the tomatoes up with a spoon or potato masher. Bring to a bubble and then reduce the heat to medium low.

Add Remaining Ingredients

STEP 6. Add the thyme leaves, salt, and pepper and continue cooking at a simmer for 5-6 minutes. Stir often so that the gravy doesn’t stick to the pan.

STEP 7. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the butter and milk or cream.

Serve over hot split biscuits topped with an over-easy or poached egg and a side of bacon or ham.

👉 PRO TIP: The thyme, butter, and cream are not really traditional in tomato gravy but are my own additions. I think the thyme adds a lovely flavor, and the butter and cream give a very nice finish. If you want a strictly traditional recipe, just leave those out.

Tomato gravy with an over easy egg on buttermilk biscuits.

⚠️ Troubleshooting Tips


  • Too Thick Gravy: If your gravy turns out too thick, you can easily adjust the consistency by adding a little water. Gradually stir it in until you reach your desired thickness.
  • Too Thin Gravy: On the other hand, if the gravy is too thin, thicken it by making a slurry with a tablespoon of flour and a tablespoon of water. Mix them together until smooth, and then whisk that mixture into the gravy. Cook for a few more minutes until it thickens up.
  • Bitter Taste: If your gravy has a bitter taste, it could be from overcooking the garlic. Be careful not to let it brown or burn. You can balance out the bitterness with a pinch of sugar or a little extra cream.

🔀 Recipe Variations


  • Spicy Tomato Gravy: If you like a bit of heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce to your tomato gravy for a spicy kick.
  • Herb Variations: Experiment with different herbs to change the flavor profile. Basil, oregano, or rosemary could all be interesting additions.
  • Vegetarian Version: Skip the bacon fat and use olive oil for a vegetarian-friendly version of this gravy.

🍽️ How to Serve


  • Traditional Southern Breakfast: Serve this tomato gravy over hot buttermilk biscuits, topped with an over-easy or poached egg, and a side of crispy bacon or ham. It’s a classic Southern breakfast!
  • Lunch or Supper: Tomato gravy isn’t just for breakfast. Spoon it over fried chicken or country-fried steak for a hearty lunch or supper. You can also drizzle it over homemade french fries and top with shredded cheese for an interesting twist.
  • Side Dish: Use it as a side dish for various meals. It pairs well with roasted vegetables, grilled meats, or even as a topping for baked potatoes.

❓ Questions About Tomato Gravy


How do I store leftover tomato gravy?

Any leftover tomato gravy can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days. Be sure to keep it in an airtight container or ziplock type bag.

Can tomato gravy be frozen?

Sure can. If you plan on freezing tomato gravy, cook it up through the last step of adding in the butter and cream. Let it cool to room temperature, and then transfer to a freezer-safe container. When you’re ready to use it, let it thaw, reheat it on the stovetop, add the cream and butter, and serve.

Can I use fresh tomatoes?

Of course, you can use fresh tomatoes to make tomato gravy. Just be sure to peel the tomatoes. You’d use about 4 or 5 fresh tomatoes (depending on size) in place of the canned.

Is this the same as red-eye gravy?

No. Red-eye gravy is made with coffee and the drippings from cooking country ham.

Lana Stuart.

Questions? I’m happy to help!

If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

📖 Recipe

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Tomato gravy with an over easy egg on buttermilk biscuits.

Tomato Gravy

An old southern recipe for Tomato Gravy. Served over hot biscuits for a delicious breakfast or supper.
5 from 12 votes
Print It Rate It
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Southern, Vintage
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 125kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 14.5 ounces canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • ¼ cup milk or cream

Instructions

  • Heat the bacon fat in a skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft.
  • Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring, for an additional minute or two.
  • Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes with their juice. Break the tomatoes up with a spoon or potato masher. Bring to a bubble, reduce the heat to medium low.
  • Add the thyme leaves, salt, and pepper and continue cooking at a simmer for 5-6 minutes.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the butter and milk or cream.
  • Serve over hot split biscuits topped with an over easy or poached egg and a side of bacon or ham.

Notes

  • Thyme, butter, and cream are not traditional in tomato gravy. If you want a strictly traditional recipe, just leave those out.
  • To use fresh tomatoes, substitute about 4 or 5 peeled, fresh tomatoes (depending on size) in place of the canned.
  • Leftovers may be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days in an airtight container.
  • To freeze, cook the recipe through the last step but don’t add the butter and cream. Let it cool to room temperature and then transfer to a freezer safe container. When you’re ready to use it, let it thaw, reheat it on the stovetop, add the cream and butter, and serve.

Nutrition Information

Serving 1 | Calories 125kcal | Carbohydrates 11g | Protein 2g | Fat 9g | Saturated Fat 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat 1g | Monounsaturated Fat 4g | Trans Fat 1g | Cholesterol 11mg | Sodium 320mg | Potassium 267mg | Fiber 2g | Sugar 4g | Vitamin A 213IU | Vitamin C 13mg | Calcium 61mg | Iron 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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5 from 12 votes (11 ratings without comment)

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48 Comments

  1. Mary Margaret Stepleton-Hitt says:

    Although I consider Texas “southern,” I have never had tomato gravy. I will try this.

  2. 5 stars
    Tweaked it a little, left out the thyme,added worcestershire sauce, and used ketchup instead of canned tomatoes. We use it for cubed steak!! Amazing.

  3. I grew up in the country on a dusty dirt road. I have eaten a lot of gravy growing up gravy at almost every meal. But tomato gravy is a new one for me. We always cut tomatoes up in our gravy. Seems like we had gravy at every meal. Sometimes we only had hot biscuits and gravy with fried eggs. We had more than most people but my fathers relatives lived in Winston Salem,n.c. They worked at Reynolds tobacco company. They always had new cars and fine homes.

  4. Kimberley Baker says:

    My family love tomato gravy. We are in the south we add bacon to ours it adds to the flavor and have it over biscuits. I have had it with rice and just toasted bread. Thank you for this recipe. My kids wanted to make gravy for dinner with no help and they used your recipe.

  5. In my family we use a bottle of favorite hot sauce and serve it on tacos The elderly couple I sit for asked for tomato gravy which I had never made (so I thought) I never realized they were basically the same recipe!!! I will be making for him in the am thank you so much this was not the first recipe I looked up but it was the first one that I recognized the rest seem to explain it in a difficult way when I knew better thank you so much we’re making a easy delicious recipe easy to read and still look delicious

  6. Candycane says:

    I love tomatoe gravy! I always put chopped celery in mine and use Italian seasoning in place of the thyme. I add a couple spoonfuls of sugar and serve over rice, mac and cheese, toast or baked potatoes. I will be trying your recipe and love the addition of an egg! Sounds delicious!

  7. Kirsten/ComfortablyDomestic says:

    Gravy is one thing that I love about southerners! This northern girl has never heard of tomato gravy, but I’m loving the look of it over hot biscuits with a soft fried egg. I will definitely be trying this one.

  8. Renee - Kudos Kitchen says:

    I’m glad you posted this one Lana. It sounds delicious and like one I’ll definitely be trying. I’m the same with you about my blog. I kind of lost the fun of it but am trying to be more relaxed about it going forward.

  9. Like another poster, I’m think tomato gravy with meatloaf along with a splash over my favorite comfort food – mashed potatoes.

  10. I was so excited to try this that I actually forgot to add the cream and butter at the end and it still turned out fantastic. I served it over meatloaf and the whole family loved it. It has been added to my rotation..thanks for sharing!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Carrie!

  11. Colleen (Souffle Bombay) says:

    Yum! Love the addition of thyme! making quick sauces like this are a weekly occurrence in our house (and now the job of my 10 year old…she loves it).

  12. You know, I never really liked the whole slices of tomato that would sometimes come on brunch or lunch plates. I think tomato gravy would be much more up my alley!

  13. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    My whole family is from the south but I have never seen tomato gravy! I need to try this immediately!

  14. That is just luscious looking. I love the egg on top. Never thought to do that before. Brilliant!

  15. Heather // girlichef says:

    I post whatever suits my fancy, too – my focus is FOOD! ;) This tomato gravy sounds fantastic, I’d love to give it a try.

  16. Paula - bell'alimento says:

    All I need now is a batch of homemade biscuits to go with!

  17. Marjory @ Dinner-Mom says:

    I’m a tomato soup fanatic…so this is right up my alley! I bet it would be wonderful over pasta too!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      I’m not sure about putting it over pasta, Marjory, since it’s fairly thick. I think it’s really best on buttermilk biscuits :-)

  18. Cookin Canuck says:

    I can think of about 20 things I’d like to smother in this gravy, but I do love that you served it with a fried egg!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      With a fried egg is my favorite, too, Dara.

  19. Lora @cakeduchess says:

    I’ve been having same dilemma with my blog, especially when I post a soup and not a cake or something sweet. But you do a great job here mixing up Southern recipes and other type of recipes, like this traditional tomato gravy (which I never heard of). I like that you added butter and cream to finish it, so rich and so tempting!!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      I’m just going to keep posting whatever I want to post, Lora, and hope you’ll do the same! My blog is simply for sharing recipes no matter what their style or genre and I’m happy with that. As for the butter and cream – those are my personal additions to this old recipe, but I think they really enhance the flavor and mouthfeel of the gravy.

  20. Nancy Buchanan says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post Lana – but I was cracking up because you were saying it’s an old, traditional recipe and then listed all the ways to serve it, and I was thinking – ” I never had any of those dishes growing up and I bet my mum had no idea what they were!” A definite testament to how truly diverse American cuisine is – and by the sound of it, I was a deprived child!!!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      It’s kind of a pity that our regional cuisines are becoming so blurred now, Nancy. I grew up enjoying foods that I’m sure you’ve never heard of and vice-versa. I so enjoy learning about other cuisines and obscure recipes but I do cringe when I see a classic (i.e., pimento cheese) twisted and changed until it’s unrecognizable. One of the reasons why I enjoy so much sharing the very old southern recipes :-)

  21. I’m such a rookie in the kitchen. I’ve never made this, but it sure does look and sound delicious! xo

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Well, I’m a terrible rookie in the craft room, so that makes us even :-)

  22. Barbara @ Barbara Bakes says:

    My mom always had a jar of bacon fat. It adds so much flavor. What a great recipe.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      I can’t remember ever not having bacon fat in the fridge. Southern cooks use it for flavoring vegetables, too.

  23. This is new to me, but I have a feeling I’d be an instant fan! Signed, your northern friend :)

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Most people who try it are immediate fans, Liz. Even my “northern friends.” :-)

  24. Whoa this whole dish looks awesome for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!!!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Great weekend brunch, too, Sues.

  25. Onisha Ellis says:

    I love tomato gravy! One of my mom’s friends makes meatloaf with tomato gravy and it is beyond delicious

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Tomato gravy with meatloaf sounds delicious! Thanks for the idea, Onisha!

  26. Looks great! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      You’re welcome!

  27. Brenda@Sugar-Free Mom says:

    I love the fresh thyme in there and the aroma of cooking sauce from scratch on the stove. Reminds me of my grandmother growing up!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Thanks, Brenda. The fresh thyme gives it a very distinct taste.

  28. Stephanie @ Back for Seconds says:

    Oh my, does this ever look tasty!! Yum!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Thanks, Stephanie.

  29. Sylvia Nightingale says:

    Hi
    I have a question: I have some dried corn purchased in the Latino section of the grocery store; can I make grits out of it or cornmeal for cornbread by using the food processor?

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      It’s very hard for me to say, Sylvia. I have no idea how the corn was processed so wouldn’t know whether it’s suitable for grits or cornbread. Even if it is, you’d need a mill or something similar to grind it, not a food processor.

  30. The Food Hunter says:

    I’m with you…it is your blog…post what you like

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Thanks! That’s exactly what I’ve always done.