Authentic Red Eye Gravy Recipe for Southern Food Lovers

Imagine waking up to the aroma of sizzling country ham and bacon, and sipping on a steaming cup of strong black coffee. Now, put those two together and you’ve got one of the most delicious and beloved Southern dishes: Red Eye Gravy. But what is Red Eye Gravy?

Red Eye Gravy, also known as “eye gravy,” is a simple yet flavorful sauce made with ham drippings, sweet paprika, brown sugar, soy sauce, and, of course, strong black coffee. It’s an easy-to-make recipe that has been a staple in Southern cuisine for generations. It may seem odd to pour coffee on top of your ham, but trust me when I say that it’s a match made in heaven.

As a culinary explorer, I’ve tried countless recipes from around the world, but there’s something special about Southern comfort food. And this Red Eye Gravy recipe is no exception. Whether you want to impress your guests at a brunch party or simply treat yourself on a lazy Sunday morning, Red Eye Gravy is the way to go.

So grab your apron and let’s get started!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Red Eye Gravy
Red Eye Gravy

Have you ever tasted a dish that takes your taste buds on an adventure? Well, you’re about to experience one with this red eye gravy recipe!

First off, who doesn’t love a good southern-style breakfast? Picture a crispy fried country ham served with fluffy biscuits or grits. But what makes this dish special is the “red eye” gravy made with black coffee and ham drippings. It’s simple yet flavorful, and it truly elevates the taste of the entire meal.

But there’s more to this recipe than just the traditional flavors. The addition of soy sauce provides a hint of umami that balances out the sweetness from brown sugar and the smokiness from sweet paprika. And let’s not forget the name! “Red eye” gravy is also known as “eye gravy,” and it’s named after how the coffee infuses reddish hues to the sauce.

Not only does this recipe have unique flavors and history, but it’s also easy to make. You only need six ingredients, one pan, and less than 10 minutes to whip it up. Plus, you can easily adjust the recipe to your liking by making substitutions or variations.

In conclusion, you’ll love this red eye gravy recipe because it brings together traditional southern flavors with unexpected twists, has a fun name with a fascinating backstory, and can be made in no time at all. So why not give it a try and taste for yourself why this gravy is truly a gem in southern cuisine.

Ingredient List

Sure, here are 11 unique photo captions for the Red Eye Gravy recipe:
Sure, here are 11 unique photo captions for the Red Eye Gravy recipe:

For this Red Eye Gravy Recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound country ham, fried until crisp and set aside
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings or ham drippings
  • 1-2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

These ingredients perfectly complement one another to make the best gravy that tastes like nothing else. The country ham is the main ingredient which when combined with strong brewed coffee, brings out that classic Red Eye Gravy taste. The addition of brown sugar adds a hint of sweetness, soy sauce provides a savory flavor while sweet paprika gives it an incredible smoky aroma.

The Recipe How-To

Now, let’s get down to business and start cooking this delicious Red Eye Gravy. This recipe may seem simple, but trust me, it’s a southern delicacy worth mastering!


  • 1/4 pound of country ham
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce


  1. Fry the Country Ham: Start by frying your country ham in a skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes on each side until it’s crispy and golden brown. Once done, remove the ham from the skillet and set it aside.

  2. Make the Red Eye Gravy: In the same skillet with the ham drippings, add 1 cup of strong black coffee along with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, ½ teaspoon of sweet paprika, and 2 teaspoons of soy sauce.

  3. Reduce and Simmer: Stir everything together and bring it to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 to 7 minutes until it thickens into a gravy-like consistency.

  4. Combine with Ham: Once done, place the fried country ham back into the skillet with the red eye gravy mixture for a couple of minutes allowing all the flavors to combine together.

  5. Serve Hot: Remove from heat and serve hot over biscuits, grits or even as a sauce for bacon.

This classic southern recipe is so easy to make but will leave an unforgettable taste in your mouth that will have you craving more. Remember that perfection takes practice, so keep trying until you master this quintessential dish!

Substitutions and Variations

 The perfect symphony of bold flavors and tender meat.
The perfect symphony of bold flavors and tender meat.

As a culinary explorer, I am always experimenting with different flavors and ingredients to see what new and exciting tastes I can discover. With this Red Eye Gravy recipe, there are plenty of opportunities to switch things up if you feel like taking a walk on the wild side.

Let’s start with the country ham. If you can’t find it, don’t fret – bacon is an excellent substitute. While it won’t produce exactly the same flavor as country ham, it will add a deliciously smoky flavor that pairs wonderfully with the sweet and savory notes in the gravy.

If you don’t fancy using soy sauce or brown sugar in your cooking, then try substituting these two ingredients for something else. Worcestershire sauce can be a tasty replacement for soy sauce, while honey or maple syrup could work well as an alternative sweetener to brown sugar.

When it comes to the coffee, strong brewed coffee is essential for the recipe. But if you’re not a fan of black coffee, try making your own variations with flavored coffee beans, such as hazelnut or vanilla.

Finally, if you want to experiment with serving options, try pairing the gravy with something other than biscuits or grits. The slightly bitter taste of Red Eye Gravy makes it perfect for spooning over roasted vegetables or grilled chicken breasts for a unique taste sensation and an enjoyable culinary experience.

Don’t be afraid to get creative in your kitchen – by doing so, you never know what tasty new creation may come from your culinary exploration!

Serving and Pairing

 Wafting aromas of hot coffee and salty bacon fill the air.
Wafting aromas of hot coffee and salty bacon fill the air.

Red Eye Gravy is a breakfast staple in the Southern United States. The rich and savory flavors are perfect for pairing with other classic Southern breakfast dishes like biscuits, grits, and fried eggs. For a comforting and hearty meal, consider serving your Red Eye Gravy drizzled over fluffy biscuits or spooned over a steamy bowl of grits.

For a twist on the classic breakfast pairing, try serving your gravy with crispy bacon or country ham alongside scrambled or fried eggs. The bold flavors of the soy sauce and sweet paprika will complement the smoky, salty taste of these meats to perfection.

If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, consider serving your Red Eye Gravy with crispy hash brown potatoes or roasted vegetables like brunch-appropriate asparagus or roasted mushrooms.

To round out the meal and add some sweetness to balance out the richness of the gravy, serve with fresh fruit salad or sliced melon. Or for an indulgent treat, whip up some cinnamon rolls or French toast to go alongside your Red Eye Gravy dish.

No matter how you choose to serve your Red Eye Gravy, remember to share this delicious and easy-to-make Southern recipe with all your friends and family. You won’t regret it!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Savor each bite of this classic Southern dish.
Savor each bite of this classic Southern dish.

Let me tell you, my dear friends, that this Red Eye Gravy recipe is perfect for prepping ahead and storing for future meals. If you have leftovers or are planning on making extra for meal prep, it’s important to know how to store and reheat the gravy properly so it doesn’t lose its flavor or texture.

Firstly, let me start by saying you can make the gravy a day or two ahead and store it in an airtight container in your fridge. It can be reheated at breakfast time with ease. Simply heat it up in a pan over a low heat, adding water or additional coffee if it has thickened up in the fridge.

If you plan on freezing the gravy, I would recommend waiting until after it has been reheated to do so. Once you’ve heated up the gravy, let it cool down before transferring it into a sealable freezer-friendly container. Freeze for up to one month. To reheat out of the freezer, transfer the container from the freezer to your fridge overnight, then heat it up over a low heat once more.

Now, an important thing to keep in mind is that like many gravies and sauces, Red Eye Gravy can thicken up as it cools down. To bring back its original consistency after storage and reheating, simply add some warm water or brewed coffee while you stir it constantly. This should help loosen it back up.

This Red Eye Gravy recipe is a southern classic that only tastes better with time as the flavors deepen and meld together. Keep this delicious gravy on hand throughout the week by reheating and storing correctly so you can enjoy its savory goodness anytime you want!

Tips for Perfect Results

 An irresistible blend of sweet, salty, and savory.
An irresistible blend of sweet, salty, and savory.

When it comes to making the perfect Red Eye Gravy, a few tips and tricks can make all the difference. Here are some ways to ensure success every time:

First and foremost, be sure to use the best quality country ham you can find. The flavor of the ham is what makes this dish truly shine, so don’t skimp on this key ingredient! Opt for a cured ham with plenty of fat and depth of flavor for the best possible results.

Another important tip is to use strong black coffee that is brewed fresh. While you can use pre-made coffee, freshly brewed coffee will give your gravy a richer, more complex flavor that is well worth the extra effort.

It’s also essential to reserve the ham drippings while cooking your ham. This liquid gold is full of flavor and is the base of your gravy. Be careful not to burn or overcook your ham drippings as this can result in a bitter or overly salty gravy.

Adding a touch of brown sugar or sweet paprika can help balance out the saltiness of the country ham and add depth of flavor to your gravy. A splash of soy sauce also adds umami richness to the mix.

Finally, be sure to stir frequently while making your Red Eye Gravy to prevent it from sticking or scorching on the bottom of your pot. The thick gravy may take some patience, but you’ll be rewarded with an incredibly tasty Southern classic that’s perfect served over fried country ham, grits, or biscuits.

With these tips in mind, you’re sure to make delicious Red Eye Gravy time after time!


As I’ve shared this recipe with many people, I have received a lot of questions about it. In this section, I’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions. So, let’s dive in!

What is red eye gravy made of?

Red eye gravy is a classic recipe that involves sizzling a thick cut of country ham until crispy and golden brown. Next, the ham drippings are combined with freshly brewed strong black coffee to create a flavorful liquid that is used to deglaze the pan. This concoction is then simmered for a few minutes until it transforms into a rich and dark brown gravy. It’s a simple yet delicious dish that will surely impress your taste buds.

What does red eye gravy taste like?

Red eye gravy is a delicious condiment that is usually paired with country ham, shredded potatoes or biscuits to enhance their flavor. Thanks to the brewed coffee and the salty taste of the ham, this gravy has a rich and dark texture that will tantalize your taste buds. If you’re looking for a unique way to spice up your breakfast or brunch, red eye gravy is a perfect addition that will add an extra zing to your dishes. With the right ingredients and techniques, you can easily make a mouthwatering red eye gravy that is sure to impress your family and friends.

Why is it called red eye gravy?

Red eye gravy gets its name from the way it looks when served. As the gravy settles, the darker coffee and meat sediments sink to the bottom while a layer of grease floats to the top, giving the impression of a human eye. This unique appearance has made red eye gravy a popular and interesting dish.

Where did red eye gravy originate?

Red-eye gravy is a gravy commonly found in the American South, with its roots traced back to states like Alabama and Louisiana. This type of gravy is usually made by combining coffee with rendered pork fat and pan drippings. The origin of the name, however, remains a bit of a mystery surrounded by tales and hearsay. The dish is said to have a distinctly bold and robust flavor that pairs well with Southern-style breakfast dishes.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, I highly recommend trying this delicious Red Eye Gravy recipe for an authentic Southern culinary experience that’ll have you coming back for more. The combination of salty country ham and sweet, coffee-infused gravy is truly a match made in heaven. Plus, with its simple ingredient list and easy-to-follow instructions, you can whip up this dish in no time.

Don’t be afraid to experiment a little with variations and substitutions to make this recipe your own. Whether you’re serving it over biscuits, grits or even bacon, the taste will always be just as savory and satisfying.

So, why not give it a try? Impress your friends and family with this classic Southern recipe and taste the name Red Eye Gravy for yourself. You won’t regret it!

Red Eye Gravy

Red Eye Gravy Recipe

An Atlanta favorite. This gravy really hams up your ham steaks.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Southern American
Servings 7 cups
Calories 213.9 kcal


  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 cups Coke
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 2 cups cold strong coffee
  • 2 cups ham stock


  • Mix in a med pot at low temp until the sugar melts. Serve hot as a side gravy.
  • Allow the gravy to cool then you can use as a marinade for hams steaks.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 347gCalories: 213.9kcalCarbohydrates: 46.5gProtein: 8.8gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.2gSodium: 4041.6mgFiber: 3gSugar: 39.6g
Keyword < 15 Mins, Easy, Sauces
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Recommended Recipes Just For You