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Classically Southern red eye gravy combines country ham drippings with bold, black coffee and creamy butter for a rich gravy that perfectly compliments biscuits and grits.

Red eye gravy poured over country ham on an oval platter with fluffy biscuits.

☕️ What Makes This Recipe So Good

  • Unlike a thick gravy that starts with a flour roux, red eye gravy uses the fatty drippings from country ham combined with bold black coffee to form a rich, au-jus-like liquid. That makes it naturally gluten free and keto-friendly.
  • A classic Southern recipe, red eye gravy goes really well with biscuits and grits! Serve it on the side and dip your ham and biscuits in the gravy, or spoon it on top over the biscuits or grits. You could also cut the biscuits in half, then dip the cut sides in the gravy to keep the inside of your biscuits and gravy nice and moist.
  • Why is it called “red eye gravy”? The name comes from the red, eye-shaped layer of grease that forms when the coffee and chicken broth are added to the ham drippings.

There’s a definite difference between country ham and ham, so be sure to use the right one! Country ham is dry-cured with salt and then smoked. It’s not as juicy as a wet-cured ham, and its flavor is a little stronger.

If you’re using really fatty pieces of ham, you may not need a full tablespoon of butter.

👩🏼‍🍳 Chef’s Tips

  • If the country ham is too salty for your liking, soak it in water for at least an hour prior to cooking it. The water will remove some of the salt, making it a little more palatable. Just dry the ham well before cooking!
  • Some versions of red eye gravy use sugar to cut the bitterness of the coffee. That’s totally up to you! White or brown sugar would both work. Make sure to dissolve it completely so the gravy doesn’t have a gritty texture. Honey would also work well!
  • Don’t overcook the ham. Country ham is a little dryer to begin with, but you can really tell when you’ve overcooked it. The pieces will be dry and really tough.
Red eye gravy poured over country ham on an oval platter with fluffy biscuits.

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Recipe By: Cheryl Malik
5 from 5 votes

Red Eye Gravy with Country Ham

Prep 10 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 25 minutes
Country ham gravy drippings mixed with brewed black coffee for a bold, rich gravy with a kick.
2 servings


  • Large skillet
  • Large plate
  • Fork or spatula
  • whisk or silicone spatula


For the Country Ham

  • ½ tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces country ham

For the Red Eye Gravy

  • ½ cup freshly-brewed black coffee
  • ¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ tablespoon unsalted butter


For the Country Ham

  • Place large skillet on stovetop over medium-high heat. When pan is warm, add ½ tablespoon unsalted butter. Continue warming pan until butter has melted, swirling and tilting pan occasionally to distribute butter across surface of pan.
  • When butter has melted, place 6 ounces country ham in skillet. Sear ham approximately 3 minutes or until browned, then flip ham over. Sear other side approximately 3 minutes or until browned.
  • Once country ham is browned on both sides, transfer ham to large plate and set aside. Do not drain skillet.

For the Red Eye Gravy

  • Pour ½ cup freshly-brewed black coffee into skillet and stir to combine coffee and ham drippings. Use whisk or silicone spatula to scrape up any browned bits of ham that may have stuck to bottom of skillet.
  • Once pan is deglazed, add ¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth and stir gently to incorporate. Reduce heat under skillet to low and simmer mixture 4 to 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  • When mixture has thickened, add ½ tablespoon unsalted butter and whisk mixture gently until butter is completely melted and gravy has thickened.

To Serve

  • Once butter is melted and gravy has thickened, spoon warm gravy over browned ham. Serve immediately with biscuits if desired.
  • Use an unflavored, freshly brewed black coffee for the best flavor and results.
  • Make it Lactose Free: Use ghee instead of dairy.
  • Make it Dairy Free: Use a dairy-free butter.

Approximate Information for One Serving

Serving Size: 1serving ham and gravyCalories: 260calProtein: 19gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 1.075mgPotassium: 294mgTotal Carbs: 0.1gVitamin A: 175IUCalcium: 10mgIron: 1mg
Nutrition Disclaimers
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.

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  1. PLEASE indicate the number of servings, or how many biscuits to serve. This lovely recipe is one I like to use for company, the number of guests can range from 2 to 16!

    1. Hey, Martha. We did include that information above. The number of servings is shown on the recipe card. We show the ham and gravy served on 2 biscuits in the final image on the recipe card, but of course, how many servings you get out of it will just depend on your preferred portion sizes. You might only need 1 biscuit for this recipe as written, or you might need 3 or 4. We recommend preparing the recipe as written at least once and deciding from there how you might need to scale it to feed your desired number of guests.

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