Tomato Gravy Recipe

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Southern Tomato Gravy is an old fashioned recipe made with tomatoes, bacon drippings and chicken broth. It tastes amazing over homemade biscuits and is still a favorite breakfast staple in the south!

tomato gravy spread over biscuits on a white plate.
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Why You'll Love This Recipe

  • BUDGET FRIENDLY - most of the ingredients can already be found in your pantry or refrigerator at home.
  • GREAT FLAVOR - tomatoes, garlic and bacon drippings are a match made in heaven!
  • VERSATILE - change the flavor by adding fresh herbs or other vegetables.
  • EASY - simple to make for breakfast, brunch, or breakfast for dinner.

What is Tomato Gravy?

If you've never tasted homemade tomato gravy, you're definitely missing out on southern comfort food at its finest. This is a totally different gravy recipe that gets its extra flavor from meat drippings like sausage, country ham or bacon.

If it's your first time trying this southern recipe, you'll find it tastes like a cross between tomato sauce and Grandma's cream gravy. But, it's nothing like the Italian sauce that you eat with pasta. The bacon grease adds a smoky flavor that is definitely not Italian!

Grandma added a touch of cream to thicken her gravy and give it a smooth finish. But you can leave it out if you like. No matter how you make it, this recipe will take you back to the good old days with one bite!

skillet with a spoon stirring tomato gravy.

Ingredients

This tomato gravy recipe is rich, savory and flavorful. It's one of those vintage recipes that sticks to your ribs, especially when served over homemade biscuits or rice.

See recipe card for quantities.

  • fresh tomatoes - substitute canned tomatoes if desired
  • minced garlic - or use garlic powder
  • onion powder - or chop up a small onion
  • salt - only need a small amount
  • black pepper - gives the sauce great flavor
  • bacon fat - fry 6 slices of bacon, or use butter
  • all purpose flour - to bind the gravy together
  • chicken broth - can use chicken stock or water if preferred
  • heavy cream - just a splash of cream or whole milk will do
large red tomatoes on a colorful cloth.

What Readers Say:

"This recipe takes me back to my Grandma's kitchen! She used to make tomato gravy in a big cast iron skillet that would sit on the stove all day. Whenever we got hungry, she'd ladle a big spoonful of gravy over buttermilk biscuits and make it a meal."

Kara simpson

How to Make Tomato Gravy

If you've made sausage or bacon gravy, you'll be using the same method in this recipe. But, first it's time to chop and cook the tomatoes.

tomatoes cut in wedges on a cutting board.

Cook Tomatoes

Slice fresh tomatoes and add to a food processor or blender. Pulse a few times until they are still chunky, or just chop them up if you like. Add to a skillet or saucepan with salt, black pepper, onion powder and garlic.

tomatoes after being chopped in a food processor.

Simmer for at least 15 minutes until cooked down, but still full of liquid. Set aside while you make a roux.

tomatoes being cooked down in a skillet.

Make a Roux

Add 3 tablespoons of bacon or sausage grease to a cast iron skillet (ad). Stir in 2 tablespoons of flour.

flour being added to baking grease.

Cook flour over medium heat for 1 minute until absorbed by the drippings. Stir constantly.

stirring flour into bacon grease.

Pour chicken broth into the skillet and turn up the temperature to medium-high heat.

chicken broth being poured into skillet.

Stir constantly until all lumps are gone and gravy begins to thicken.

spoon stirring gravy.

Making the Gravy

Turn heat down and add stewed tomatoes. Stir well until recipe is thick enough to spread over biscuits.

stewed tomatoes added to gravy.

Add a dash of cream and mix well.

cream added to skillet.

Taste the gravy and add a dash of salt and pepper if needed. Spoon over hot buttermilk biscuits, rice or mashed potatoes.

biscuits with tomato gravy on top.

Recipe FAQS

Is tomato gravy a southern food?

Absolutely! Its origins are in the deep south where folks found a way to make use of garden tomatoes that were over-ripe. It also used bacon grease and flour that southern cooks already had on hand. It was an inexpensive way to create a hearty meal that could be served with fried okra and boiled squash from the garden.

Is tomato gravy the same as tomato sauce?

Yes and no. This gravy recipe is a sauce, but it's definitely not the same as an Italian tomato sauce that's eaten with spaghetti. Since it contains flour, it's thicker and more dense than other tomato sauce recipes.

Why is my gravy too thin?

Make sure you add 2 tablespoons of flour to 3 tablespoons of bacon fat. Cook over medium heat and stir in 1 cup of stock. Allow this mixture to cook until it is bubbly and it will thicken while cooking. If it's still too thin, make a slurry of 1 tablespoon of flour mixed with 1 tablespoon of water and add it to the gravy. Continue to cook until thickened.

What to Serve with Tomato Gravy

Tomato gravy is delicious over white rice, pasta or giant cathead biscuits! Here are a few other dishes to serve alongside this southern treat...

Variations

Keep in mind that any changes will be a deviation from the simple tomato gravy recipe that's authentic. But, it's fun to make it your own!

  • Include fresh herbs like rosemary, parsley and thyme to change the flavor.
  • Add green peppers or onions to the tomatoes while they are cooking.
  • Use canned tomatoes instead of fresh if desired.
  • If bacon grease is not available, butter is a great substitute.
a bite of biscuit with tomato gravy.

Tips & Tricks

  • Make sure to cook the flour and bacon grease at least 1 minute before adding chicken broth. This gets rid of the raw flour taste.
  • Stir constantly while making gravy for best results.
  • Season the tomatoes while they are cooking. Chicken broth contains salt, so be careful not to add too much sodium.

Storage & Freezing

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container. To freeze, pour into an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.

When ready to eat, defrost gravy in the microwave or place frozen container in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Heat in a skillet until bubbly.

More Tomato Recipes

Sometimes an old-fashioned recipe is exactly what you need to bring back memories of days gone by. Try these other vintage dishes that are sure to please!

Recipe Card

cream splashed into tomato gravy recipe.

Tomato Gravy Recipe

Southern Tomato Gravy is an old fashioned recipe made with tomatoes, bacon drippings and chicken broth. It tastes amazing over hot buttermilk biscuits!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Gravy, Sauces
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 104kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.

Ingredients

TOMATOES

  • 2 large red ripe tomatoes (or 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic (optional)

ROUX

  • 3 Tablespoons bacon grease
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream (or milk)

Instructions

TOMATOES

  • Slice fresh tomatoes (unpeeled) and add to a food processor or blender.
  • Pulse a few times until tomatoes are still chunky, or just chop up them up if you don't have a blender or food processor.
  • Add tomatoes to a skillet or saucepan with salt, black pepper, onion powder and garlic.
  • Stir and simmer for at least 15 minutes until cooked down, but still full of liquid. Set aside while you make a roux.

ROUX

  • Add bacon or sausage grease to a cast iron skillet.
  • Stir in flour. Cook flour over medium heat for 1 minute until absorbed by the drippings. Stir constantly.
  • Pour chicken broth into the skillet and turn up the temperature to medium-high heat.
  • Stir constantly until all lumps are gone and gravy begins to thicken.
  • Turn heat down and add stewed tomatoes. Stir well until recipe is thick enough to spread over biscuits.
  • Add a dash of cream and mix well.
  • Taste the gravy and add a dash of salt and pepper if needed. Spoon over hot buttermilk biscuits, rice or mashed potatoes.

Notes

  • Make sure to cook the flour and bacon grease at least 1 minute before adding chicken broth. This gets rid of the raw flour taste.
  • Stir constantly while making gravy for best results.
  • Season the tomatoes while they are cooking. Chicken broth contains extra salt, so be careful not to add too much sodium.
*Authentic tomato gravy does not contain garlic, onion powder or cream. Those additions are optional, but add great flavor. 

Nutrition

Calories: 104kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 257mg | Potassium: 164mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 0.3mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe takes me back to my Grandma’s kitchen! She used to make tomato gravy in a big cast iron skillet that would sit on the stove all day. Whenever we got hungry, she’d ladle a big spoonful of gravy over buttermilk biscuits and make it a meal.

  2. 5 stars
    I made this for the first time with some fresh East Texas tomatoes and it was to die for! Absolutely delicious! I was afraid it would taste like tomato sauce for spaghetti, but the bacon flavor really makes this super delish! I served mine over biscuits, too! Thank you!

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