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What Is Red-Eye Gravy? (With Recipe)


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.

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How to Make Red-Eye Gravy

  • ½ cup strong, hot coffee (or water)
  • Uncooked ham slices
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Biscuits (optional)
  • Coffee brewing equipment
  • Whisk
  • Stove top
  • Pan for frying

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!

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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)

If you like a cup of coffee with your biscuits and gravy, why not add coffee to your breakfast special? It's so easy to make red-eye gravy with just a few simple ingredients that you'll probably already have to make your meal.
5 star average
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American


  • Coffee making equipment
  • Whisk
  • Pan for frying
  • Stove-top


  • 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!
Keyword simple red-eye gravy recipe (with or without coffee)

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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



If there's a pencil and paper on her desk, Brooke Bundy has a cup of coffee (or tea) in her hand. Brooke worked in a coffee shop for three years while she finished her Bachelor's degree in Media Studies, and studied to be a writer. She met her future husband in the coffee shop where he lingered too long over deep conversations and dark roast coffee. Now they're happily married in New Orleans, LA, where they spend their free time exploring parks and cafes with their dog Tuggles.

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