Grits and Tomato Gravy

I will readily admit that we eat some strange things here in the South.  Today’s dish just might stump every single one of my Southern friends.  It’s different.  It’s tasty.  It’s probably not all that good for you, so proceed with caution if you are watching your cholesterol.  I might need to have a disclaimer on my blog about not being responsible for food that could be hazardous to your health.  🙂

If you eat at Cracker Barrel, you will be fine with this one.  I’m just not sure how many Southerners have had anything like it.

Grits and tomato gravy.

Oh yeah, we do sawmill gravy too.  That white gravy with sausage or bacon grease.  This one is totally different.

Ever hear of it?

It might be a one and only family dish for us.  My parents BOTH grew up on this stuff, but then again, they are both from Florida, so someone out there just may have had this too.  Another one I grew up on.  I love this stuff.  Served over grits is my favorite way to eat tomato gravy, but we have also been known to have it over biscuits or rice.

OK, so get ready for a weird one.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  🙂


First, my mom browns up some sausage in one of her black skillets.  Leave the sausage drippings in the skillet.  I warned you!   I’m sure this is pork sausage.  Bacon also works just as well.  Bacon drippings do the same thing.


Add a tablespoon or 2 of flour into the sausage grease and stir in well.


It makes a roux and will thicken the gravy.  Are you salivating yet?  OK, maybe not yet.


She uses her quart jars of tomatoes and depending on how much she wants to make, she will pour 1/2 jar or less into the skillet.  One whole quart jar would make a ton of gravy.  So, if you don’t have homemade canned tomatoes, then just use a small 15 oz. can of diced or chopped from the store canned tomatoes, it should work well too.


Stir it all together and simmer a few minutes.  She adds a little salt and pepper and even adds a pinch of sugar sometimes to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.  That’s it, just simmer for about 10 min. or so, until it thickens up.  That sausage grease is what gives it so much flavor.

tomato gravy

It will look like this.

grits tomato gravy

Spoon out some cooked grits and ladle a healthy serving of tomato gravy and it’s a delish meal. It’s great for breakfast, but we are known to eat it for dinner sometimes. I have to admit, I love it!


I mix it up really well with the grits and add an English muffin with homemade strawberry jam.

So, what do you think?  Have we lost our minds on this one or have ANY of you ever heard of tomato gravy??

My parents both grew up with their mother’s making it for the family and so did we.

Yum, it’s good!

Anyone brave enough to try this one?? 🙂

- Rhoda


  1. Erin Carpenter says

    Oh my Gosh! I have heard of this and tried to find the recipe for years! My husband and I lived in Nashville years ago and our neighbor, who was a fabulous southern cook, made this gravy almost every day. I don’t know why I never thought of getting the recipe. We have since moved and I lost touch. =( When I try to explain tomato gravy to people I get some strange looks. Thank-you! Can’t wait to make this for dinner tonight!

  2. My husband and I both grew up eating tomato gravy—mostly on rice. Don’t know that I’ve ever eaten it on grits but it would have to be good!

  3. I’m from NC and have eaten a lot of grits but I’ve never heard of tomato gravy. It looks really good though and I plan to try it the next time I get to cook. My husband and I are on the mission field building houses for some of the April tornado victims. We normally have someone here that cooks us three meals a day (except for Sunday). It is good that I’m not responsible for the meals but some days I do miss cooking, especially when I see all these great recipes on the internet.

  4. VintageBeachgirl says

    Oh my, you’re never to old to learn new things!! I learned how good our version of tomato gravy was in the early seventies…….but…….it was served on top of collard greens!! Talk about weird….we don’t use flour, just cook the canned or fresh tomatoes down till they are a bit thick. Simmer with salt, lots of fresh ground pepper, a bit of sugar and smoked ham chunks or ham hocks. It is really good on any kind of greens but especially collards!! Mmmm it’s about the time of year when fresh collards are available……we’ve actually had some cold nights (I live in Southeatern corner of AL)!! Guess I know what I’ll be buying next trip to the grocery. I am going to try your recipe with grits though as it sounds really yummy too! Thanks so much for sharing it. Hugs, VBg

  5. i cannot believe it.. finally someone who knows what tomato gravy is… just love it. the last time i had it done well was my grannies. she made it with bacon drippings and her own jarred tomatoes. over rice usually. i have asked many people and they never know what it is, and here you have a real recipe for it. bless you. my granny died last year. what wonderful memories. thank you for your site. its wonderful.

  6. I know this is a little late comment, but my dad recently had down in Florida something that he says was the best thing he’s ever eaten. He and my two uncles were on their yearly fishing trip to Lake Panasoffkee and the neighbor couple cooked them dinner. He says she made tomato gravy and cheese grits and mixed them together before serving with the fish. I had never heard of that, but I will definitely have to try your recipe for tomato gravy and see what I can come up with. Have you ever heard of that? Thanks! Great site!

  7. I’ve been telling people for years about tomatoes and grits. Everyone thinks I’m crazy when I mention it.

    My mom use to make grits in the morning and she would use home canned tomatoes and season them with fried fatback (I know, but it was a Southern thing and they tasted soooo good). Anyway, she would just serve a large spoonful over the grits. Just add a little black pepper and it’s perfect.

    Another twist to this (if you don’t want grits) is to add a few flour dumplings and it makes a nice tomato and dumpling soup. We use to even make it and add seashell pasta to it and it’s a great bowl of goodness to sit and eat. One of my favorite things as a kid.

  8. John McClancy says

    Oh yes, sister, I remember having grits and tomato gravy. Usually we split open a leftover biscuit, put a pat of butter on each half, then put the grits and tomato gravy on top of the biscuit. A common low-cost meal during the Depression I expect. Very good stuff.

  9. Im a California girl but my Grandmother is from Mobile, Alabama and my family loovveesss this. It’s our favorite. I’ve never heard of anybody else eating this so now that we’re in the 20 th century I decided to google it. Happy to see somebody else know who good this dish is, I suggest everyone try it. It’s the ultimate comfort food.

  10. I grew up in Florida. My grandmother made this for us on a regular basis. It’s traditional in Florida with smoked mullet.

  11. Bobbie Robinson says

    Try cooking with smoked sausage or polish sausage links over rice with cornbread hoe cakes. My family also had tomatoe gravy with salmon patties. Boy I am getting hungry for some right now, but this sore throat I am fightin would have a fit..

  12. I love old fashioned southern recipes. We definitely didn’t have this growing up in Texas, but I’m sure my grandmother would have made this had she known about it.

    I made this for dinner last night, but when the gravy was done I added some shrimp and served the whole thing over our grits. It was delicious and our family wants me make it often. Thanks for sharing your mom’s recipes.

  13. My mother has been telling me how my paternal grandmother would make tomato gravy and how much she loved it. My grandmother was born and raised in SC. I will try your recipe for my mother. Thank you for sharing!

  14. I am from Florala, Al. I have been eating this all my life! We loved it over giant buttermilk biscuits!

  15. Biscuits and tomato gravy are what i knew…but ill be trying this!!!! It looks like your moms canned tomatos will be hard to match though!

  16. I had shrimp & grits with tomato bacon gravy at the Early Bird Diner in Charleston, SC that was to die for !
    Going to try to replicate – it was divine!!!

  17. Becky Eaton says

    I grew up on this, as did my mother, in Ganado, TX, southwest of Houston. My sister and I still cook this delicious dish and have introduced it to our friends!

  18. Deep Southern roots. SC. Grits with tomatoes are a staple. Sometimes made up like a gravy, but mostly just bacon/sausage grease and canned or very ripe fresh tomatoes. Sometimes my pa-pa would put an egg in them. So good. Think I will eat some now!

  19. Noogaland USA says

    Wow, this recipe is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Years ago, a friend from Shelby County, AL made tomato gravy with sausage and ladled it over homemade biscuits. She made it for me several times, and it was the best gravy I’d ever tasted. Sometimes she’d use canned tomatoes, sometimes fresh. Sadly, I never got the recipe, but this looks practically identical. Many thanks!

  20. I first had this at The Front Porch restaurant in Dunnellon Florida about 30 years ago. Oh my I’m salivating now. The restaurant is still here but they no longer make. Thanks for the recip. Can u guess what I’m having for Breakfast?

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