Southern Tomato Gravy

Photo Credit: The Southern Lady Cooks

If you have an abundance of tomatoes in your garden, this southern tomato gravy recipe will be an excellent way to use some of them up. This gravy recipe combines robust summer tomatoes with a roux and spices until a thickened sauce is formed. The sauce can be served in a variety of ways, but one of the most popular is to serve it over fresh homemade biscuits. Judy, the writer of the Southern Lady Cooks recipe blog, insists this would be delicious over mashed potatoes, rice or pasta as well. Either way, you will love this tomato gravy recipe and want to drizzle it over everything.

Although you may want to stew the tomatoes for a long time to achieve a smooth texture, a characteristic of traditional tomato gravy recipes is a slightly lumpy texture. As a result, Judy adds the tomatoes towards the end of cooking and just simmers the mixture until very thick. A combination of rich bacon fat, garlic powder, sugar and salt balances the sauce so that it is perfect for pouring over everything. Judy grants the option of using canned tomatoes in this tomato gravy, but the secret to the best taste is fresh sun-ripened tomatoes from the garden. The tomatoes add both acidity and sweetness, which makes this gravy recipe completely addictive. Making this sauce recipe will help you use up a lot of your garden tomatoes too and get the best out of summer. If preparing this sauce in a cooler climate where you have to rely on tomatoes that have been shipped, the canned version would be preferable though. The reason is that tomatoes that have been shipped long distances are usually harvested under ripe, and so they don’t have as rich of flavour as fully sun ripened tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are usually harvested and processed at their prime, and therefore, have great flavour.

Since this makes a generous amount of sauce, you can use leftovers in a variety of ways. Leftovers may be served with homemade meatballs for an easy meatball recipe, and served over pasta, on bread for a sandwich or on their own with a green vegetable and potatoes. This sauce would be excellent poured over the meatballs and baked in the oven or as an alternative to canned spaghetti sauce. Part of what gives this sauce its distinct taste and thickness is a roux, which is a combination of butter and flour, which are cooked on the stove into a paste. In the case of this sauce recipe, bacon fat and flour are used. The bacon fat is a traditional ingredient southern tomato gravies, and while you could replace it with butter if desired, you wouldn’t achieve the same taste without it. The gentle toasting of the flour adds to the taste of this sauce too; a roux should be cooked for at least three minutes on the stove or else the sauce will end up tasting starchy. If you are on a gluten free diet, the all-purpose flour won’t be an ideal choice for you. Instead, you can use a gluten-free flour like chickpea flour or potato starch to thicken.

Next time you whip up a batch of fluffy, homemade biscuits, mashed potatoes, pasta or rice, remember this southern tomato gravy recipe. This dish is a simple matter of making a roux and then stewing the tomatoes into a thick sauce. The process can be done during the time it takes to prepare the other components of dinner. Thank you to Judy, the author of The Southern Lady Cooks recipe blog, for sharing her southern tomato gravy recipe with us.

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