Old-Fashioned Southern Tomato Gravy

Old-fashioned thick and creamy southern tomato gravy in a bowl

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 12 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 27 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
123 Calories
8g Fat
10g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 123
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 11%
Saturated Fat 5g 26%
Cholesterol 23mg 8%
Sodium 168mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 11mg 56%
Calcium 53mg 4%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 316mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This Southern tomato gravy is incredibly delicious, and it is amazing on split, buttered biscuits. Tomato gravy is also an excellent way to use a glut of garden-fresh tomatoes.

Bacon drippings or butter, and flour, make the roux for this simple tomato gravy. A few tablespoons of tomato paste are included in the sauce, but if you are using garden-fresh, in-season tomatoes, the extra flavor boost might not be necessary. Some milk or cream makes for a creamy sauce, but stock or water may be used for a lighter sauce.

Serve the tomato gravy over freshly baked biscuits, mashed potatoes, rice, or pasta. The sauce would be delicious with cooked green beans or slices of meatloaf as well. It's a versatile sauce with lots of possible flavor additions.

"This is such an easy alternative to pasta sauce, and great for dishes that need a boost of tomato but would do best without the Italian flair of pasta sauce. It’s particularly delicious spooned over meatloaf. I added the optional tomato paste and was glad I did." —Danielle Centoni

Old Fashioned Southern Tomato Gravy Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled, cored, and chopped

  • 1 cup low-sodium or unsalted chicken stock

  • 1/4 cup bacon drippings, or unsalted butter, or a combination

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 to 3/4 cup milk, cream, water, or chicken stock

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste, optional

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for old-fashioned southern tomato gravy recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Put the chopped tomatoes in a saucepan with 1 cup of the chicken stock. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.

    Tomatoes and chicken stock in a saucepan on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer the tomatoes while you prepare the roux.

    Thickened tomato and stock mixture in the saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Put the bacon drippings or butter in a medium saucepan and place it over medium-low heat.

    Bacon drippings in a small saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. When the fat has melted and the foaming subsides, add the flour.

    Flour added to bacon drippings in the saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Cook, whisking constantly until the roux is just light brown. It should be about the color of peanut butter. Don't let it burn.

    Smoot light brown roux being stirred with a wooden spoon in a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the simmering tomato and broth mixture.

    Thick tomato mixture being stirred with a wooden spoon off the heat

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  8. Return the tomato mixture to the heat and stir in 1/4 cup of milk, cream, water, or stock.

    Creamy thick tomato mixture with milk added being stirred with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  9. Whisk in tomato paste, if using, along with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring until hot and bubbling. If too thick, add more liquid (milk, cream, water or stock) as needed.

    Creamy thick tomato gravy

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  10. Garnish the sauce with a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley and serve.

    Parsley sprinkled on tomato gravy in saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga


  • Serve the gravy over hot baked and buttered biscuits or use it as a sauce for pasta, rice, meatloaf, grits, or potatoes and garnish with a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley and more pepper, if desired.
  • Try making Louisiana-style roux if you would like to learn more about roux preparation.

Recipe Variations

  • Substitute 1 can of good-quality diced tomatoes or stewed tomatoes (finely chopped) for the fresh tomatoes.
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder or a few tablespoons of finely chopped onion to the simmering tomatoes and chicken broth.
  • Add a few tablespoons of finely chopped bell pepper to the simmering tomatoes and chicken broth.
  • Add 1 small clove of finely minced garlic or 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder to the simmering tomatoes.
  • Chop a rib of celery and add it to the simmering tomatoes.

How to Store

Leftover gravy can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and used within 5 days. Reheat gently in a saucepan over medium heat.

How do you peel a tomato?

To peel and core a tomato, the standard process starts with bringing a pot of water to a boil, blanching the tomatoes, and then shocking them in ice water. It is possible to peel a tomato without boiling it first if you have a serrated peeler or a very sharp knife, though there is the possibility of wasting some of the flesh with the peel.