Red Eye Gravy Recipe (2024)

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by Mike Hultquist · · 19 Comments · Jump to Recipe

This red eye gravy recipe is a favorite in the southern U.S., with strong black coffee simmered in the juices of cured country ham. Great with ham, biscuits and grits!

Red Eye Gravy Recipe (1)

Red Eye Gravy Recipe

We're making Red Eye Gravy in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen today, my friends! If you've never had red eye gravy, you're missing out. Red eye gravy is a staple in southern cooking.

What is Red Eye Gravy?

Red eye gravy is a thin gravy made by simmering country ham drippings with black coffee and a few other simple ingredients, typically served over ham with buttermilk biscuits and creamy grits.

You may know it by other names such as red ham gravy, poor man's gravy or bottom sop.

There are slight variations of the recipe, depending on the region and the cook, but the basic combination includes cured ham drippings and strong black coffee.

I like to include a touch of extra butter in my gravy for richness, along with a teaspoon or 2 of honey for a touch of sweet, cracked black pepper for a complimentary flavor, and red chili flake for a touch of spice.

It's very easy to customize and also easy to make, and so perfect for a quick southern breakfast.

Let's talk about how to make red eye gravy, shall we?

Red Eye Gravy Ingredients

  • FOR THE COUNTRY HAM
  • Butter.
  • Country Ham Slices.
  • FOR THE RED EYE GRAVY
  • Black Coffee.
  • Water.
  • Butter. Or you can use bacon grease.
  • Honey. Or you can use sugar, brown sugar, or molasses.
  • Salt and Cracked Black Pepper.

How to Make Red Eye Gravy - the Recipe Method

Warm the Country Ham. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a pan over medium heat and add the country ham slices. Heat a few minutes per side at medium-high heat to cook ham, flipping once.

A cast iron skillet is great here. I love a good pan fry. Remove the ham slices and add to a serving platter.

Red Eye Gravy Recipe (2)

Add the Coffee, Water and Butter. To the hot pan, add the black coffee, water and extra butter. Bring to a boil and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any flavorful browned bits.

Simmer the Red Eye Gravy. Reduce the heat and simmer 8-10 minutes, to thicken and reduce the red eye gravy by half or more. Stir in honey and cracked black pepper to taste.

Red Eye Gravy Recipe (3)

Serve It Up! Serve over the ham. I like to serve pan fried country ham with red eye gravy with creamy grits and/or buttermilk biscuits.

Red Eye Gravy Recipe (4)

Boom! Done! Red eye gravy is pretty easy to make, isn't it? Super simple, and huge on flavor. I like to sprinkle on some spicy red chili flakes because, hey, I like everything with a touch of heat and spice. Give it a go!

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • Country Ham. You can find country ham steaks in most grocery stores in the southern U.S. They may be a bit harder to find in the northern regions.
  • The Coffee. Strong black brewed coffee is traditional for making red eye gravy, though you can use your favorite coffee blend. I would avoid a highly flavored coffee. Go with black for the best results.
  • The Gravy. Red eye gravy is a thin sauce, not like a traditional gravy. I like to adjust mine a bit with extra butter and honey. You can thicken your gravy with flour if you'd like, but this is not traditional. To do so, simply mix a few tablespoons of the gravy in a small cup or bowl and add flour (1 teaspoon). Whisk it until there are no lumps, then simmer the mixture with the gravy in the pan, whisking constantly, until the gravy thickens up to your liking.

That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy your red eye gravy recipe. Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. Great stuff!

Red Eye Gravy Recipe (5)

Cookbook Recommendation

If you're interested in southern cooking and cuisine, check out these cookbooks for some great southern recipes and history. I'm learning quite a lot about southern food and barbecue from them. Definitely some great eating!

Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes

  • Homemade Cheddar-Jalapeno Biscuits
  • Hot Honey Recipe
  • Black Eye Peas
  • Cajun Red Beans and Rice
  • Southern Cornbread
  • Cajun Maque Choux
  • Fried Green Tomatoes
  • Johnny Cakes (Cornmeal Pancakes)
  • How to Make a Roux
  • Low Country Boil
  • Tomato Gravy
Red Eye Gravy Recipe (6)

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Red Eye Gravy Recipe (7)

Print

Red Eye Gravy Recipe

Red eye gravy is a classic southern recipe of strong black coffee simmered in the pan juices of cured country ham, salty and delicious, great with ham, biscuits and grits!

Save Recipe

Course: Breakfast

Cuisine: American

Keyword: coffee, gravy, southern

Prep Time: 5 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes minutes

Calories: 56kcal

Author: Mike Hultquist

Servings: 4

Tap or hover to scale

4.59 from 12 votes

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Ingredients

FOR THE COUNTRY HAM

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Country Ham Slices 12 ounces or more as desired

FOR THE RED EYE GRAVY

  • 1/2 cup black coffee
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter or more as desired - you can also use bacon grease.
  • 1 teaspoon honey optional, for a touch of sweetness - you can also use sugar, brown sugar or molasses.
  • Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large pan and add the country ham slices. Heat a few minutes to warm them through, flipping once. Remove and add to a serving platter.

  • To the hot pan, add the black coffee, water and extra butter. Bring to a boil and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any flavorful bits.

  • Reduce the heat and simmer 8-10 minutes, to thicken and reduce the red eye gravy by half or more. Stir in honey and cracked black pepper to taste.

  • Serve over the ham. I like to serve country ham with red eye gravy with creamy grits and/or buttermilk biscuits.

Video

Notes

Serves 4.

Country ham is quite salty, so keep that in mind when seasoning your red eye gravy.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 56kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 51mgPotassium: 15mgSugar: 1gVitamin A: 175IU

Red Eye Gravy Recipe (8)

Did You Enjoy This Recipe?I love hearing how you like it and how you made it your own. Leave a comment below and tag @ChiliPepperMadness on social media.

NOTE: This recipe was updated on 10/13/23 to include new photos, video and information. It was originally published on 8/24/20.

Reader Interactions

Comments

    Leave a Reply

  1. Victor Calautti says

    Red Eye Gravy Recipe (9)
    I also like to add soy sauce to it, not a lot, but a little the recipe comes from a Graupmann Southern Louisiana.

    Reply

    • Mike Hultquist says

      Red Eye Gravy Recipe (10)
      A 5-Star variation for sure. Enjoy, Victor.

      Reply

  2. baltisraul says

    Many people and eateries in the Deep South will replace that 1/4 cup of water with a Coca-Cola.

    Reply

    • Mike Hultquist says

      Awesome! I'll have to try that!

      Reply

      • baltisraul says

        It does make a difference. Be sure to use regular co*ke not diet.

        Reply

  3. Max says

    Red Eye Gravy Recipe (11)
    You left out an essential, in my opinion. Pour the gravy in a glass see through container and let it set a while. The grease will separate and rise , dip your serving ladle to the bottom to get the red gravy. Bring it slowly to the top and it will not mix with the fat. Ladle it over your opened hot biscuit and enjoy !

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Red Eye Gravy Recipe (12)
      An excellent tip, Max. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply

  4. Jamie Lowe says

    Red Eye Gravy Recipe (13)
    Just like Grandma used to make!

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Red Eye Gravy Recipe (14)
      Awesome! Thanks, Jamie!

      Reply

  5. David Clements says

    Red Eye Gravy Recipe (15)
    My dads family always used 1/3 to 1/2 tsp chili powder along with everything you mentioned. I've had it without chili powder but it's not as good to me. My dad preferred Chimayo red.
    DustyDave

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Red Eye Gravy Recipe (16)
      So many ways to make red eye gravy your own, Dusty Dave, as I'm sure you are well aware. Red Eye Gravy sure inspires a lot of extreme opinions, like "How DARE you use butter?!" to "Ain't red eye gravy without flour", to "never heard of flour in MY red eye gravy!" Crazy recipe that many, many people love. Best.

      Reply

  6. David C Fowler says

    I've heard of this for years and have never had it. Looks pretty simple. Anxious to give it a try. My buttermilk isn't fresh so I gotta make a market run.

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Enjoy, David! It's very good.

      Reply

  7. Damien C. says

    Red Eye Gravy Recipe (17)
    Just how my grandmother makes it! We've always loved red eye gravy. I love it with butter.

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Thanks, Damien! Yes, I really enjoy it this way.

      Reply

  8. Terry Hale says

    Red Eye Gravy Recipe (18)
    I grew up in the south and red eye gravy is one of my absolute favorite treats. My mother made the BEST red eye gravy along with scrumptious buttermilk biscuits at least weekly and though I make it from time to time, nostalgia makes me think hers was so much better. Her recipe doesn't use butter. Instead, use a cast iron skillet to brown the ham and include some of the fat to create the oil. Remove the ham to a plate and pour off all but a tablespoon or so of the oil. Return to the heat and add a half cup or so (she eyeballed her traditional recipes) of strong, black coffee. Heat the mixture and stir a bit, allowing any yummy bits stuck to the skillet to join the mix. Serve over hot biscuits. I cannot imagine honey or flour to thicken the gravy - it's savory and awesome as it is! I will be trying the addition of crushed red peppers, though, as I add that to a lot of my recipes.

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Thanks, Terry! Sounds wonderful.

      Reply

  9. Ann W says

    Red Eye Gravy Recipe (19)
    Oh my....the wonderful memories came flooding back....I was born and raised in Alabama, then transplanted to NY. I can actually smell this breakfast from my grandmother’s kitchen! I cannot wait to make this. I am a lover of grits and needed an excuse to make my grandmother’s buttermilk biscuits! Thank you so much for these wonderful memories! Off to go buy me that country ham! ❤️

    UPDATE.....WONDERFUL recipe! After the first bite, I knew this was it! Oh the memories! My grandpa would always cut up a small amount of a Serrano chili on his.....so I did this also. PERFECTION! We now have a new Sunday breakfast! Thank you!

    Reply

    • Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says

      Awesome, Ann! I love it! Serrano chilies! I would have gotten along great with your grandpa.

      Reply

Red Eye Gravy Recipe (2024)
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