A red-eye typically refers to a cup of coffee with an added espresso shot, but the word gravy gives us an image of a farmhouse table loaded with homemade biscuits and salted ham. Understandably, you might be wondering what on earth does gravy have to do with red-eye coffee?
Red-eye gravy is a coffee and meat-lover’s dream! It’s a coffee-infused sauce that’s made with ham drippings. Our simple recipe uses ham drippings, flour, butter, and your choice of coffee or water as a liquid base. It whips up quickly and uses ingredients you’ll already find in your kitchen—especially if you’re making a batch of buttermilk biscuits to go along with the meal.
How to Make Red-Eye Gravy
1. Put on a pot of coffee.
Brew a small pot of coffee using more grounds than you usually would. Skip this step if you’re using hot water instead.
2. Fry your ham.
While your coffee brews, pan-fry your ham slices. Try to select fatty slices that will give you the best drippings. Once the meat is cooked, transfer the ham to a plate to eat later and leave the fat drippings in the pan.
3. Melt the butter and whisk in the flour.
Melt 1 tbsp. of butter in the frying pan. Whisk in 1 tbsp. flour, stirring until it forms a bubbly sauce that’s free of lumps.
4. Add the drippings and coffee/hot water
Once your sauce looks good to go, stir in the coffee/hot water. Keep stirring until the mixture is thick, bubbly, and consistent throughout. Pour over freshly made buttermilk biscuits and enjoy your breakfast!
What are the Different Variations of Red-Eye Gravy?
Like all types of gravy, red-eye gravy is considered a breakfast tradition in the American South. It differs from sawmill gravy because it uses hot water or coffee as the liquid base instead of milk. Some people like red-eye gravy without coffee, just using water and ham drippings for flavor. Some red-eye gravy recipes add beef broth or other seasonings to give it extra flavor, but we decided to keep our recipe simple.
Simple Red-Eye Gravy Recipe (with or without coffee)
- Coffee making equipment
- Pan for frying
- ½ cup strong, hot coffee (or water)
- Uncooked ham slices
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- Biscuits optional
- Brew a cup of coffee according to your favorite brewing method, using more coffee grounds than usual. Skip this step if you're using water instead.
- While the coffee is brewing, pan fry the ham in a skillet. Transfer the ham to a plate for eating later and save the drippings in the pan.
- Melt 1 TBSP butter in the pan with the drippings. Whisk in 1 TBSP flour until the mixture is bubbly and smooth.
- Add the hot coffee or water. Stir for a couple minutes until the mixture is thick and well-blended. Pour over the cooked ham and biscuits. Enjoy!
This simple red-eye gravy recipe uses a few basic ingredients, and it will be done by the time your biscuits are browned. Red-eye gravy is the perfect topping for a Southern breakfast experience you can share with others or savor by yourself.
Featured Image Credit: studio presence, Shutterstock
Table of Contents