Tomato Gravy Recipe


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Whether you serve this delicious homemade tomato gravy over biscuits, cornbread, rice, or grits, you’ll love the hearty, creamy texture and delicious smoky, savory flavor. It’s the best old fashioned breakfast, and your family will love it.

Tomato Gravy

This tomato gravy is incredibly delicious! If you love thick saucy gravies and always look forward to soup season so you can have a big bowl of tomato soup, you’ll love this tomato gravy.

The combination of diced and crushed tomatoes make a velvety smooth gravy that has delicious chunks of tomatoes for the perfect texture variation. Don’t forget that little bit of sugar – it adds a super subtle sweetness that cuts through the acidity of the tomatoes.

The cream and bacon drippings are what takes this easy Southern tomato gravy recipe over the top. The cream makes the flavor rich, and the bacon drippings add a smoky depth to the gravy that is hard to resist. When it’s served for breakfast over buttermilk biscuits it’s truly the epitome of homemade old fashioned comfort food.

This recipe is perfect for any meal of the day, whether it’s breakfast with copycat Popeyes biscuits, lunch over seasoned rice or the best Jiffy cornbread, or dinner alongside Lipton onion soup meatloaf. The best part? It’s easy to whip up, even on your busiest days.

This recipe really is like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket on a chilly day. It’s a dish that always brings a smile to my face! I’m sure it will quickly become a family favorite and that everyone will ask for seconds. Trust me, one taste and you’ll be hooked!

If you love gravies, be sure to check out my Grandma’s recipe for white gravy. It’s a super popular recipe on the site, and one of my favorite easy recipes.


Bacon Drippings: Bacon drippings are the secret to creating a smoky, rich flavored gravy. If you don’t have bacon drippings on hand, a good quality butter is a great substitute.

Onion: Onions add the sweet and savory flavor that blends perfectly with tomatoes and bacon drippings. A medium-sized yellow or white onion is perfect. Look for onions that are firm and have a crisp, dry outer skin.

Flour: Our gravy’s thickness comes from flour. It acts as the thickening agent, giving the gravy that creamy consistency we all love. All-purpose flour works best for this recipe.

Crushed Tomatoes: Crushed tomatoes are key to giving our gravy its rich tomato flavor. When shopping, look for canned crushed tomatoes that have no added flavors or seasonings. 

Diced Tomatoes: Diced tomatoes add a delicious texture variation to our gravy. Use canned diced tomatoes that don’t have any additional ingredients.

Chicken Broth: Chicken broth helps to balance the richness of the bacon drippings and the acidity of the tomatoes. Choose a good quality, flavorful broth.

Brown Sugar: Brown sugar enhances the natural sweetness of the tomatoes. I prefer light brown sugar because it has a milder molasses flavor compared to dark brown sugar.

Salt & Pepper: These enhance the flavors of the other ingredients. Freshly ground black pepper is always best, and for salt, a fine sea salt or kosher salt works well.

Heavy Cream or Half and Half: This ingredient makes our gravy extra creamy and indulgent. You can choose between heavy cream for a richer gravy or half-and-half for a lighter version.

Fresh Basil: Fresh basil, though optional, is an amazing addition. It adds a pop of color and an aromatic, slightly sweet, slightly peppery flavor. Always look for fresh basil leaves that are bright green and don’t have dark spots.

The labeled ingredients for tomato gravy recipe.

Alternative Ingredients

If you’re looking for a vegetarian version, you can substitute the bacon drippings with olive oil and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Coconut cream can also replace the heavy cream, but it will add a subtle coconut flavor to the gravy.

How To Make Tomato Gravy

Prepare the Saucepan: Begin by heating the bacon drippings in your saucepan. (See the recipe card below for the full printable instructions.)

Sauté the Onions: Next, add the onions to the saucepan and cook until they become translucent.

Create the Roux: Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir constantly, creating your roux.

Heating the bacon drippings in a hot sauce pan, and then sauteing onions before adding in the flour.

Combine the Ingredients: Slowly add the diced and crushed tomatoes, along with the chicken broth to the pan. Stir until the mixture is combined.

Adding tomatoes and chicken broth to the roux and mixing together until fully combined.

Add Seasonings: After that, stir in the brown sugar, salt, and pepper, allowing it to dissolve into the rest of the mixture.

Simmer: Bring your gravy to a simmer, stirring occasionally until everything is well combined.

Finish with Cream: Pour in the cream, stirring to combine. 

Adding sugar, salt, and pepper to the tomato mixture and simmering before adding the cream.

Serve: Once everything is heated through, remove from heat. Serve hot and garnish with fresh basil if desired. See the recipe card below for the full written instructions, including ingredient amounts, and helpful tips, etc.

Simmering the gravy in a large sauce pan until the sauce is thick, and then adding fresh basil.

Pro Tips

  • Save Your Bacon Drippings: Next time you cook bacon, save the drippings. They can be stored in the fridge and used to add a smoky flavor to dishes like this gravy.
  • Choose Quality Canned Tomatoes: The better the quality of your canned tomatoes, the better your gravy will taste. Look for ones without added flavors or seasonings.
  • Adjust to Taste: More sugar will make it sweeter, while extra salt and pepper can boost the savory notes.
  • Stir Constantly: When adding the flour and liquids, make sure to stir constantly. This will help prevent lumps and make sure you get a smooth, creamy gravy.
  • Garnish with Fresh Basil: Garnishing with fresh basil really elevates this dish. It adds a pop of color and a fresh, aromatic flavor that pairs with the tomatoes perfectly.

What is Tomato Gravy Made Of?

Tomato gravy is made of simple ingredients that come together to create a flavorful and comforting dish. The main components are tomatoes, onions, bacon drippings or butter, flour for thickening, and a splash of cream. Seasonings like brown sugar, salt, and pepper are added to enhance the flavors, and fresh basil is the perfect garnish.

What Is Another Name For Tomato Gravy?

Tomato gravy can also be called tomato sauce in some parts of the world. Adding flour and cream makes it thicker and creamier than your typical tomato sauce though.

An overhead image of the finished tomato gravy garnished with fresh basil in a large sauce pan.

Where Did Tomato Gravy Originate?

Tomato gravy is a traditional Southern dish that’s been passed down through generations and is a staple in many Southern households.

What’s The Difference Between Tomato Sauce, Marinara, And Tomato Gravy?

All three are tomato based, the difference is in their texture and flavor. Tomato sauce is usually thinner and is often used as a base for other dishes. Marinara is a type of tomato sauce that’s seasoned with herbs and spices. Tomato gravy, on the other hand, is thicker and creamier from the addition of flour and cream.

How Do You Take The Bitterness Out Of Tomato Gravy?

If your tomato gravy tastes a bit bitter, a small amount of sugar can help. The sugar balances out the acidity of the tomatoes and mellows out any bitterness.

A serving of tomato gravy in a shallow white bowl with fresh tomatoes in the background.

Do You Put Sugar In Tomato Gravy?

Yes, a little bit of sugar is commonly added to tomato gravy. It cuts through the acidity of the tomatoes, which helps balance the flavors.

How Do You Make Tomato Gravy Thicker?

The gravy is thickened by adding flour to form a roux. If you want it even thicker, you can add more flour or let it simmer for a longer time, which will help reduce the liquid and thicken the sauce.

Can You Freeze Tomato Gravy?

Absolutely, you can freeze tomato gravy! Just be sure to freeze it before you add the cream. Once it’s cooled completely, transfer it into a freezer safe container. It will keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use it, simply defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat on the stove, stirring occasionally, then stir in the cream before serving.

An overhead image of a serving of tomato gravy in a white bowl on top of a napkin.

What Can You Serve With Tomato Gravy?

This pairs well over fresh, hot biscuits or creamy mashed potatoes. It also works perfectly on grilled meats like chicken or pork. For a different take, try serving it over rice or pasta for a hearty and satisfying meal.

Can You Use Fresh Tomatoes Instead of Canned?

Absolutely! If you want to use fresh tomatoes, you’ll need to adjust the cooking time. Fresh tomatoes take longer to break down properly. Just keep in mind that the texture might be a bit different than when using canned, but it will still be delicious!

What If I Don’t Have Bacon Drippings?

No problem! If you don’t have bacon drippings, you can substitute with butter, other animal fats, or a good quality cooking oil. You’ll miss out on the smoky flavor that bacon drippings provide, but your gravy will still be creamy and delicious.

A serving of tomato gravy in a large bowl next to a couple of biscuits with gravy on top.

Keep In Touch

I’d love to hear what you thought of this recipe in the comments or on Instagram! @KeyToMyLime #KeyToMyLime

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A Pinterest pin image with a picture of tomato gravy with title text at the top.

Dinner Recipes

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out all of our other dinner recipes. Some reader favorites are:

Yield: 6 servings

Grandma’s BEST Tomato Gravy Recipe

The best tomato gravy recipe.

Serve tomato gravy over biscuits, cornbread, rice, or grits. You’ll love the creamy texture and savory flavor of this old fashioned breakfast.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 3 Tablespoons bacon drippings (or butter)
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup half-and-half or heavy cream (depending on how creamy you'd like it)
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped (optional, for garnish)


  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the bacon drippings (or butter) over medium heat. Add the finely diced onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle the flour over the sautéed onions, stirring constantly to combine. Continue cooking and stirring for about 2-3 minutes to form the roux.
  3. Slowly add the can of diced tomatoes (with the juice), the can of crushed tomatoes, and the chicken broth to the pan. Stir continuously until it’s a smooth texture.
  4. Stir in the brown sugar, salt, and pepper, allowing it to dissolve into the mixture.
  5. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer gently for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Taste the gravy and season again with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  7. Pour in the half-and-half or heavy cream, stirring to combine. Continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes, until everything is heated through and combined well.
  8. Remove from the heat. If desired, for a smoother gravy, you can use an immersion blender to blend the mixture in the pan. Alternatively, leave it as is for a chunkier texture.
  9. Serve hot and garnish with fresh basil if desired.


  • Serve this tomato gravy over biscuits or mashed potatoes. You can also serve it alongside meats like grilled chicken or pork.
  • Storage: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Reheating: Warm gently in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  • For added smokiness, consider saving some crumbled bacon from the drippings and sprinkling it on top as a garnish.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 206Total Fat: 14.1gCarbohydrates: 17.4gFiber: 2.9gSugar: 8.4gProtein: 3.8g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.


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The next time you’re looking to use up some bacon drippings, try making this tomato gravy!

The best tomato gravy recipe.

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