Recipes » Breakfast Recipes » The Best Homemade Southern Tomato Gravy

The Best Homemade Southern Tomato Gravy

| | | | | |
5 from 6 votes
An old southern recipe for Tomato Gravy. Served over hot biscuits for a delicious breakfast or supper.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Tomato gravy with an over easy egg on buttermilk biscuits.

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 my tomato gravy 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!

As you all know, I post all kinds of things here – southern comfort food, traditional recipes, vintage recipes, even classical cuisine. Even though the main theme of the blog is southern traditional, I basically post whatever I feel like cooking and sounds good to eat!

Lots of people say that’s a big mistake, that a blog should have a very strict focus, but that’s never been my intention. I just enjoy sharing recipes of all kinds and that’s what I do, but it always makes me happiest when I share something really old.

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!


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

Ingredient Notes

  • 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)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

How to Make Southern Tomato Gravy

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

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.

COOK’S 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.

COOK’S 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.

FAQs

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 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.

Have you tried this recipe? I’d really appreciate you giving it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card or in the comments section.
AND REMEMBER TO SIGN UP FOR MY FACEBOOK GROUP.
If you’d like to hang out with me and lots of other online Southern Comfort Food lovers, make sure to join my FREE PRIVATE Facebook group.

Recipe

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 6 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

The thyme, butter, and cream in this recipe are not 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.
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 good.
Any kind of canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice may be used. I prefer Roma.
To use fresh tomatoes, substitute about 4 or 5 peeled, fresh tomatoes (depending on size) in place of the canned.
Storage and Freezing
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. 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 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 health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

Share on Facebook Pin Recipe
Tried this recipe? Pin it for Later!Follow @LanasCookingBlog or tag #LanasCooking!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




46 Comments

  1. 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).

  2. 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!

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

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

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

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

  6. 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!

  7. 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. 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.

  8. 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. 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 :-)

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

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

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

  11. 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. 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.