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Best Old Fashioned Southern Tomato Gravy Recipe

The Best Old Fashioned Southern Tomato Gravy Recipe is a ridiculously good sauce for all kinds of wonderful southern recipe s. It’s so creamy, tasty, smooth and it smells heavenly! It’s basically impossible not to like it.

plate of southern tomato gravy.

Southern Tomato Gravy

No, I did not grow up eating homemade tomato gravy. I sure wish that I had though. It is an extremely addicting forever favorite of most southern homes. I dare you to tell me otherwise after the first time you’ve tried it.

This  awesome southern comfort food is a breakfast staple but can be used on

  • homemade biscuits,
  • steaks,
  • pork chops,
  • Country Ham
  • eggs,
  • asparagus 
  • a piece of rubber.

Seriously, Tomato Gravy is that good! and is southern food of the best kind! 

I showed you how to make my famous Sausage Gravy some time ago and it’s time for another gravy recipe. Now we also have Sawmill Gravy! Yum! 

Why This Recipe Works

  • You can use canned tomatoes and therefore, it’s good all year long.
  • If you have fresh tomatoes, that works too. 
  • Its simple and comes together in minutes. 

Here’s What You’ll Need

  • Oil – Butter and Bacon Fat (from pan drippings)
  • Tomato – Canned Diced Tomatoes
  • Spices – salt, pepper, garlic, brown sugar, 
  • Dairy – Parmesan Cheese and Heavy Cream

Here’s How It’s Done

frying pan of tomato gravy.
STEP 1. saute the garlic, add the tomatoes.
spatula and pan of tomato gravy.
STEP 2. Smash the tomatoes and mix while simmering.
Add ingredients to tomato gravy.
STEP 3. Mix in other ingredients.
STEP 4. Stir and simmer.
STEP 4. Stir and simmer.

Where Did Tomato Gravy Come From

Since I first posted this recipe back in 2015, many readers have written in to tell me that their relatives made this recipe because of an overabundance of summer tomatoes that needed to be used.

Makes sense to me!

I’ve also read that tomato gravy dates back to the early 1800’s and was made with tomato sauce or tomato juice, chicken broth, a little all purpose flour, black pepper and heated over medium heat and then served over hot biscuits. 

How Do You Use Tomato Gravy

Tomato gravy is good on EVERYTHING!

I have tried Tomato Gravy as a sauce for a steak, to go with green beans, over creamy grits, accompanying asparagus, on top of eggs and simply slathered on a good old fashioned Buttermilk Biscuit!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Is Tomato Gravy and Red Gravy the Same Thing 

Nope, tomato gravy is made from tomatoes and red gravy is also called red eye gravy and is made from coffee. They are completely different.

How Can I Change Up Tomato Gravy

Tomato gravy works perfectly with…

  1. Bacon crumbled up in it.
  2. Served over rice.
  3. A little extra milk added for more creaminess
  4. Make it using Rotel tomatoes for extra spice
  5. Leave off the onions if you want
  6. Serve over pasta!
  7. Yummy over shrimp and grits! 
  8. Eat with chicken or sausage!
  9. How about a meatball? 
  10. Serve with fried chicken
  11. Serve over homemade buttermilk biscuits

Can I Freeze Tomato Gravy? 

Leftover Tomato gravy can be frozen, but the when you thaw it the consistency is quite different and is unappetizing so I don’t recommend it.

Much better to take a few minutes and make some fresh. 

How Long is Tomato Gravy Good For 

Tomato gravy can stay out on the counter for about 2 hours.

The cooled gravy needs to be wrappped up tightly or place in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator. It will be good for reheating for about 5 days.

How Can I Reheat My Tomato Gravy

Just pour it into a saucepan or a frying pan, add a little milk, cream, stock or water and gently stir and heat until it is heated through. 

How Can I Thicken Tomato Gravy

You thicken your tomato gravy just like you would thicken any gravy. 

In a separate cup whisk together 1 Tbs corn starch with 1 Tbs cold water. It will begin to look like milk. 

Add this to your hot gravy and stir and then wait for 2 minutes because it takes a minute for the thickener to develop. Repeat until your gravy is as thick as you like.

You can also add a few tablespoons of flour to the mix and let it cook down and thicken.

How Do I Make Restaurant Quality Tomato Gravy

The secret to tomato gravy that is just like a fancy restaurant is during step three,  stop before adding the cheese and final butter and press through a small kitchen sieve (or even through a slotted spoon) to remove the bits of tomato, shallot and garlic that remain and THEN add the butter and parmesan.

However,  I LIKE little chunks of tomato, shallot and garlic.

I mean I REALLY LIKE those. Besides, it seems a waste to throw those out when they taste so good. So, I left them in. In your kitchen, you be the boss. Try it both ways and see what you think.

Tips and Tricks

  • This recipe for Southern Tomato gravy is pretty loose, for example, you can sub out ½ an saute onion for the shallot. You could use another type of diced tomato from plain to another flavored one.
  • Be careful taste testing because it is EASY to burn your tongue. Ask me how I know. 🙂
  • When you add salt and taste, make sure to stir the gravy and cook for a little bit to allow the salt time to melt.
  • You’ll want to make this recipe is a large skillet just not a cast iron skillet because the acidity of the tomatoes can take the seasoning off the skillet. 
  • You can substitute olive oil for vegetable oil or butter. 
  • Thin with a little water or chicken stock if needed. 
  • If you need more sauce but don’t need to double the recipe, simply add a little tomato paste and heat over medium-high heat.
  • Thicken with cornstarch or a flour mixture. 
  • The fire roasted diced tomatoes ads a smoky flavor
  • Enjoy some garlic powder to give some extra flavor

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Can Ya’ll Help Me Out?

Please leave me a 5 star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟  comment below in the comment section, all right? I would LOVE to know if you made this recipe or even if you are planning to! Of course, head on over to Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram and tag me with some photos of your creation!

I LOVE to hear from you and will respond to any comment left as soon as humanly possible!

I can’t wait!

Ya’ll know I love your comments!! ❤

close up photo of Southern Tomato Gravy

Southern Tomato Gravy

To read about this recipe such as recipe tips and information about recipe inspiration or for more great recipes, visit
4.92 from 25 votes
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: Side
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Tomato gravy, southern tomato gravy
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 220kcal


  • 2 Tbs sweet cream unsalted butter divided
  • 1 tbs bacon grease
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt divided
  • 1 Tbs all purpose flour
  • 1 14.5 oz can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes with garlic
  • 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • ½ tsp brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup grated fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • Fresh cracked black pepper


  • In a stainless steel frying pan melt 1 Tbs butter on the stove top over medium heat and add the 1 Tbs bacon grease. When melted add the shallot and garlic and cook until fragrant and starting to brown (about 3 minutes or so).
  • Add ½ tsp salt to the frying pan. Add 1 Tbs flour to the pan and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes (this allows the raw flour taste to cook out of the flour).
  • Add the can of tomatoes all at once with the water from the can. Use a potato masher and smash and crush the tomatoes some until the sauce is the desired “lumpiness” that you will like. Stir and heat until thickened and bubbly. Add the cream. Add brown sugar and return to bubble. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the burner and add the other tbs of butter as well as the grated cheese. Stir to melt. As soon as melted, serve. Garnish with fresh cracked black pepper.


  • If using fresh tomato, smash the tomatoes and then strain off the seeds. 
  • Use the best canned tomatoes you can for this recipe, it really makes a difference. 
  • It is fine to substitute a 1/2 onion for the shallot. 
  • Use milk if you need to instead of cream. 
  • It is ok to use chicken stock instead of milk or cream if you do not want creamy tomato gravy
  • Always use real butter
  • For restaurant quality tomato gravy, strain the gravy through a fine sieve kitchen strainer before adding the final butter and cream.  This will remove any tiny bits of tomato and shallot, etc.  and leave a thin fine liquid for your gravy. 
  • If you want to thicken your gravy more,in a separate cup whisk together 1 Tbs corn starch with 1 Tbs cold water.  It will begin to look like milk.  Add this to your hot gravy and stir.  Repeat until your gravy is as thick as you like.


Nutrition Facts
Southern Tomato Gravy
Amount Per Serving
Calories 220
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @loavesanddishes or tag #loavesanddishes!

***This post has been revamped to add more information from it’s original post on 12/29/15***   


How will you know the antichr*** when he appears on the scene?

Revelations 13:5
And the beast was given the power of speech, uttering boastful and blasphemous words, and he was given freedom to exert his authority and to exercise his will during forty-two months (three and a half years)

Wendi is the writer, CEO and dishwasher at Loaves and Dishes! When not in the kitchen or behind the computer, you can find Wendi serving on International Food Conference Boards, Speaking at various conferences, Leading and Cooking for the local Arts Council's "Taste of Stokes" events or donating home cooked goodies to various local non profits such as the Danbury Songwriters and Stokes Partnership for Children. Wendi is also a Registered Nurse with a Master's Degree and serves on her town's board of councilmen.

Recipe Rating


Thursday 9th of September 2021

I would give this a 10!! We had it for breakfast this morning... sausage, eggs and tomato gravy over grits. Yummm!

Wendi Spraker

Saturday 11th of September 2021

oh man! tomato gravy for breakfast is just the best! I might have to have some today myself!


Thursday 14th of January 2021

i tried the recipe and it is great with biscuits in louisiana red gravy and red eye gravy are two totally different gravies

Wendi Spraker

Wednesday 20th of January 2021

Hi Roy, I'm glad you enjoyed it!


Saturday 9th of January 2021

Oh my gosh, made it and had it over chewy dumplings. It was the best ever. Will definitely have it again.

Wendi Spraker

Monday 11th of January 2021

OOooo! That sounds delicious!

Tobee Gooodro

Sunday 3rd of January 2021

Such a tasty breakfast treat! My hubby & I a loved it. Thank you for a great recipe & for something new to try for breakfast! Will be making again & again...

Wendi Spraker

Monday 4th of January 2021

Awwwww, you are so welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Michele Moore

Thursday 19th of November 2020

It's been 30 yrs since this sounded good as my "ex" mother-in-law used to pour a can of tom. soup over EVERYTHING! and called it tom, gravy! Also my mom used to make Red eye gravy from ham broth, w/brn sug,pineapple and cherries on ham and good bourbon(her secret ingredient), hence she called it Red Eye gravy! Lol nice to know real recipes, But moms is still to one for Easter ham! Try it!

Wendi Spraker

Thursday 19th of November 2020

Tomato soup? Oh! lol. Your mom's Red Eye gravy sounds good too. Thanks for visiting!


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