Southern White Gravy
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Southern White Gravy is made with bacon drippings, milk and flour to create the most delicious country gravy you've ever tasted!
Slather it on homemade biscuits, fried chicken, cube steak or mashed potatoes, and you've got a southern classic. It's smooth, creamy and delicious!
- Why You'll Love It
- What is White Gravy?
- Other Types of Southern Gravy
- Where Did Biscuits and Gravy Originate?
- How to Make Southern White Gravy
- How Do I Fix Lumpy Gravy?
- Recipe FAQs
- Tips and Tricks
- Storage and Freezing
- What to Serve with Southern White Gravy?
- Southern Brunch Recipes
- Recipe Card
Why You'll Love It
- classic southern breakfast staple
- feeds a large crowd
- great recipe that's totally made from scratch
- makes a delicious dipping sauce
- serve it for lunch or dinner too!
What is White Gravy?
White gravy is a classic southern recipe made with milk and heavy cream that has been cooked with bacon grease and flour. It's completely different from brown gravy which is usually made with beef stock.
This easy recipe also has a heavy dose of black pepper, so it's sometimes called White Pepper Gravy, which tastes great over pork chops or chicken fried steak.
Other Types of Southern Gravy
There are as many types of southern gravy as there are stars in the sky! Have you ever heard of Tomato Gravy? It sounds a little different, but tastes amazing when served over hot biscuits and breakfast sausage. Chocolate gravy is also a thing down south if you're looking for something sweet.
White Sausage Gravy is one of the most widely known southern recipes. It's made from cooked sausage, pan drippings and a simple roux.
Sawmill gravy is believed to have acquired its name from the lumber yards in Appalachia. Since there were many hungry sawmill workers at that time, biscuits and gravy filled them up and gave them energy to do hard labor.
Other types include redeye (made with coffee), milk gravy and cream gravy (which are both types of white gravy to be honest). We like to eat bacon for breakfast around these parts, so I make my homemade white gravy recipe with bacon grease and plenty of pepper.
In my opinion, if you're gonna eat Cat Head Biscuits, you gotta top 'em with Southern White Pepper Gravy! Some folks have a hard time making it without lumps, but I'll give you some tips that will nip that problem in the bud.
Equipment You'll Need
Plan on using a cast iron skillet, wooden spoon or whisk, and a set of measuring cups. If you don't have a cast iron skillet, a regular frying pan will do just fine.
Where Did Biscuits and Gravy Originate?
Biscuits and Gravy appeared in the south sometime after the Revolutionary War, according to The Washington Post. Many folks believe this dish was born out of necessity in southern Appalachia in the 1800's. It was inexpensive, hearty, and easy to make over a wood fire or pot belly stove.
Appalachia is where my family originated, which explains why biscuits and white gravy were always a staple on Granny Mac's table. This type of homemade country gravy is a family favorite, and part of our traditional southern breakfast on Sunday mornings.
This country-style gravy is a simple recipe and favorite comfort food down south. With only a few ingredients, it's ready in minutes.
See quantities in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- bacon grease
- all purpose flour
- whole milk
- heavy cream
- table salt
- black pepper
- garlic powder (optional flavor enhancer)
How to Make Southern White Gravy
1 - Start by frying several strips of bacon in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Reserve 4 tablespoons of grease in the skillet.
2 - After removing the bacon, turn the heat down and add 4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour to the grease. Whisk the flour mixture, or use a wooden spoon to stir until the flour is completely absorbed by the bacon fat.
3 - Simmer for about 3 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. This is an important step that avoids lumps and eliminates the raw flour taste. Take care not to burn the flour.
4 - Gradually add 2 cups of milk (a little at a time) to flour mixture and stir or whisk constantly while turning up the heat to medium.
5 - Once everything is mixed together and no lumps have formed, turn down the heat and add cream. Stir until smooth. Add seasonings at this point.
6 - Continue to cook until it is the desired thickness and drips from a wooden spoon without clumping. If desired, crumble a slice of bacon into the skillet for added flavor.
How Do I Fix Lumpy Gravy?
Believe me, I've made some lumpy gravy in my life. But, no worries! Here's how to fix the lumps if they happen. (Remember that tiny lumps are normal. The lumps you don't want are chunky and large.)
You'll need a colander, a spoon and a bowl. Place the colander over the bowl and pour the lumpy gravy into it. Using a spoon, stir until the liquid passes through the colander and leaves the lumps behind.
Why Cook in a Cast Iron Skillet?
There's a good reason why southern cooks like to cook in a cast iron skillet. Cast iron retains heat and cooks more evenly than other skillets. When making gravy, a consistent temperature is important to ensure success.
This section is for all of those sassy folks who like to branch out and try new things. If you want to stay true and authentic, skip any variations.
I like to add salt, lots of pepper, garlic powder and herbs to the flour and grease in the skillet. Sometimes I use fresh herbs, and other times I add whatever I have in my spice cabinet. But trust me, most southerners would never do such a thing! Salt and pepper is the authentic seasoning.
However, I've been know to add dried oregano, rosemary and thyme because it's truly delicious. Lots of fancy restaurants make it this way. You can go hog wild and create your own special concoction with fresh or dried herbs. If you do, add it slowly because the flavor can get intense in a hurry.
The real secret is to never leave your gravy unattended. Whisk or stir it constantly, and add liquid gradually to avoid forming lumps.
Yes, water works great. Sometimes the milk sets before you have a chance to stir in the flour, so water is a good option. Water works well if you want a non-dairy substitute too.
The ratio of grease to flour needs to be equal for it to thicken. If you use too much grease and not enough flour, it won't thicken properly. If this happens, add a slurry of 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water into the skillet. Stir well.
This is a tough one because once it's over-salted, it's hard to change the flavor. Try adding more milk. If that doesn't work, try adding 1 cup of hot coffee to the mix. This will basically turn it into Redeye Gravy, but that's not a bad thing!
Tips and Tricks
- Never stop stirring. Whisking or stirring constantly is the secret to success.
- Use milk or water before adding cream. Adding cream first will cause it to curdle.
- Add a slice of crumbled bacon to the final product to enhance the flavor.
- Use a cast iron skillet (the authentic skillet of choice).
- Make sure you use equal parts of grease and flour to avoid creating lumps.
Storage and Freezing
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop in a pot over medium heat.
- Unfortunately, gravy does not freeze well because the cream will curdle.
What to Serve with Southern White Gravy?
Pile a big scoop of this creamy goodness over a southern biscuit and all your cares will fade away. But, it's not just for breakfast!
Southerners have been known to eat white cream gravy for lunch and dinner too. Here are just a few of the recipes we like to use as a dipper...
Southern Brunch Recipes
Brunch is a big deal in the south. Try these recipes if you want to serve an authentic southern brunch any time of the day.
Southern White Gravy
*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.
- 8 slices bacon
- 4 Tablespoons bacon grease
- 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk (can use whole or 2 percent)
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- ⅛ tsp. garlic powder (optional)
- Fry bacon in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Reserve 4 tablespoons of grease in the skillet.
- Remove the bacon. Turn the heat down to medium low. Add 4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour to the grease.
- Whisk the flour mixture constantly, or use a wooden spoon to stir until the flour is completely absorbed by the bacon fat.
- Simmer for about 3 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. This is an important step that avoids lumps and eliminates the raw flour taste. Take care not to burn the flour.
- Gradually add 2 cups of milk (a little at a time) to flour mixture and stir or whisk constantly while turning up the heat to medium.
- Once everything is mixed together and no lumps have formed, turn down the heat and add cream. Stir until smooth.
- Add salt, pepper and garlic powder if desired.
- Continue to cook and stir the gravy until it is the desired thickness and drips from the spoon without clumping. If desired, crumble a slice of bacon into the gravy for added flavor.
- Add more milk if gravy gets too thick. Continue to cook if gravy is thin.
- When adding flour to the grease, stir until completely incorporated to avoid lumpy gravy.
- Add milk in increments and whisk as you go. Pouring milk it all at once will cause lumps to form.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave.
- Unfortunately, gravy does not freeze well or it may curdle.
- View the Google Web Story for Southern White Gravy!
Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.
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I love the pictures!!
Thanks Becky! I hope it helps!
My biggest issue is knowing how much grease I need to make 3 or 4 cups of gravy. Also, how much flour to add to that. My mother-in-law made the best gravy in the universe and I used to stand beside her at her stove to learn. I seemed to have forgotten everything she taught me😢
It definitely takes some practice, that's for sure. But, this recipe always works for me! You can double this recipe and get 4 cups of gravy.
Great gravy! Thanks for sharing.
PS- There’s a small typo in step 6....thicken.
Thanks LeeAnne! I appreciate that! Fixed and ready to go now. 🙂
I tried this recipe the other day and it turned out perfectly. So creamy and good on hot biscuits!
Thanks, Kara. It's my go-to recipe on weekends! 🙂
This recipe is spot on. You've done a great job of showing exactly how to make southern white gravy! My grandmother whipped this up for us on a regular basis when we lived down south. I miss those days, and this recipe brought me right back to her kitchen. Thank you.
How very kind, Marie! You made my day!