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Red Eye Gravy Recipe

User Rating 5 Star Rating (1 Review)


Ham and coffee are the basis for red eye gravy, a Southern favorite. This is not for the faint of heart, but it sure is tasty!

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes


  • Country ham
  • Boiling black coffee


Red-eye gravy, to those unaccustomed to the nobler things in life, requires first a good, well-cured country ham. Smithfield and genuine Virginia hams are ideal for this.

Take a slice of uncooked ham with most or much of the fat left on. Fry the ham in its own fat until nicely browned on both sides. When it is cooked, transfer the ham to a warm platter and add boiling black coffee to the skillet, scraping to dissolve the particles that cling to the bottom and sides.

That is red-eye gravy, which you pour over the ham and serve.

The name "red-eye gravy" (sometimes referred to as "red-ham gravy") derives from the fact that a circle or oval of liquid fat with a slightly reddish cast will form on the surface of the gravy when it is reduced. This is the "eye" of the name.

Recipe Source: Southern Cooking by Craig Claiborne (Times Books)
Reprinted with permission.

User Reviews

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 5 out of 5
, Member DonnieMack

Yep, simple to make and so good. Some people add a bit of brown sugar. When my grandma made it, she always fried some extra ham fat and added only about 1/3 cup of strong coffee. The result had a load of clear ham grease on the top of the gravy in the bowl. Maybe not so healthy, but it surely was good!

111 out of 113 people found this helpful.

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