Restaurant Style Southern White Gravy Recipe


(Note: if you’re looking for traditional, made with bacon grease southern Gravy, then check out this post for real-deal, Southern White Gravy made with bacon grease, as it was intended to be made.)

White gravy is a staple of Southern cooking. In the South and Southwest we use it to top everything from biscuits to French-Fries. Every family has its own unique method of making Gravy, and most families will tell you theirs is the best gravy ever made. (They’re all right, by the way. It’s a family thing.)

Then of course, there’s the stuff you get in restaurants across the country. In the South and Southwest it’s pretty close to what’s made in homes all across the area but once you start moving North, the story changes. The gravy starts turning into a floury-tasting ooze with all the culinary soul of preschool paste. This affront to gravy is usually made from a pouch or bag by someone who has never had real Southern gravy and has probably never cooked anything for themselves at home.

Some companies have obviously noted that this foul mix needs more attention. I’ve seen it labeled as “Southern style with ham” in which tiny bits of processed ham are added in an attempt to mask the utter blandness of it all, and I’ve seen the same done with bacon and sausage.

It doesn’t help, it’s still awful and there’s no getting away from that. It’s usually too thin. It sets up like mortar if not eaten promptly, and is usually used to hide even worse attempts at biscuits or other southern staples.

So restaurant owners, listen up and let me tell you how to do it right! I was raised on white gravy, and I just can’t take it any more!

You may wonder why I call this restaurant style gravy. Well, I’ll tell you. True southern gravy is a pan gravy, usually made with grease, fat or lard. This recipe uses butter, which can be done but is not – in my opinion – home style gravy. I’ll instruct Y’all in that delicacy on another day.

If you’re from the North or Northwest, try this first, it will get you prepared for the real goodness of home style gravy that is to come.

This version is based on the classic béchamel, but with distinct differences, so pay attention class!

Restaurant Style Southern White Gravy Recipe
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • Approximately 2 cups milk (vitamin D milk, not skim, fat-free, fat-less, or other, and nothing heavier, it won’t work.)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Melt butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Add flour and combine. Add ¼ tsp salt and around 10 grinds pepper.
  2. Stir until the flour is about the color of peanut butter and smells nutty. Add ½ of the milk and increase heat to medium.
  3. Allow to come to a simmer, stirring constantly to avoid sticking. On the first run, the gravy is likely to nearly seize, be ready with more milk.
  4. Add milk by quarter or half cups until gravy has thickened considerably. If using a whisk you’ll know the gravy is ready when drawing the whisk through the gravy leaves “tracks” from the wires that remain visible for at least 5 seconds.
  5. Add at least 10 more grinds pepper and another pinch of salt, to taste.
If you like your gravy with a kick, feel free to add a dash of cayenne powder or ground chili. You may also add cooked sausage, cooked bacon or ham if desired.

Enjoy. This is the good stuff.



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  1. says

    Just came across your blog – loving it!

    The gravy looks great! As I have become fairly settled down here now – I am always looking to learn true southern cooking/recipes.

  2. Jerry says


    The best way to learn the recipes in your region is to make friends and hang out and Cook! My family moved from Oklahoma and Arkansas in the early 1900’s. White gravy was a staple in my household growing up. It was the first thing my mother ever taught me to cook, actually.

  3. Restaurant Cheam says

    I know how to make the chicken – deep fried chicken that is – but never seen the gravy before, going to give it a try.

  4. Heather says

    Well it is about time! I’ve known for years not to order biscuits and gravy too far from home, but any time I’ve said something about it people look at me like I’m nuts (now living father north). I have fought the urge to take over the kitchen in more than a few restaurants.

  5. Sarah says

    this is great….but can you now give me a great bisquit recipe?? Ive tried so many and looked for a great one for bisquits and gravy and just cant seem to find the perfect one…

    • april says

      biscuits can be tricky. the problem with most people is that they knead the dough to much. if you dont like to get your hands messy, mix your ingredients in a bowl til they are just blended, then turn out your dough onto a floured surfaced and knead it just a few times. then roll it out and cut it with a cutter or small non GLASS material. or do it the old fashioned way and pinch a little off and roll in your palms. it really doesnt matter the receipe just what you do with it.

  6. Chris says

    I grew up in Seattle with white gravy as a staple to feed five of us kids. The only one who really liked it was Dad. Just the look of him enjoying his gravy made us kids WANT to like it, but never really grabbed us. Now in 2009, my teenage daughter craves white gravy and I found your recipe,thankfully, and was able to make it for her!

    • says

      Glad o know your husband liked it!

      i use Bisquick drop biscuits for my biscuits and gravy. I haven’t really sat down and tried to perfect my own recipe as of yet… perhaps over the Holidays?

      I’m glad that it made someone in your family happy… i’m kind of the same way with Spaghetti, btw…

      Red Pepper is a completely acceptable addition! In some homes it is a requirement

  7. Jim Sanders says

    It seems to be easier to make this great tasting gravy in this relatively small quantity, but on occasion I’ve tried to make five (5) quarts of this gravy at once stepping up the ingredients in the proportions of this published recipe. However, it never seems to turn out correctly. DOES ANYONE OUT THERE KNOW THE SECRET OF MAKING LARGE QUANTITIES ALL AT ONE TIME. SAY FIVE (5) QUARTS AT A TIME? IF SO I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. THANKS. JIM SANDERS, SCOTTSDALE, AZ

    • says

      Southern gravy is basically a thick béchamel. To get the taste right on a large batch, switch from butter to bacon fat, lard/shortening or sausage drippings. Be sure to take the flour to a deeper color than you normally would (I’d say a touch on the blonde side.) Amounts of milk will not be proportional, it will probably take a bit less liquid to make a large batch than it would for a family serving.

      Hope this helps.

  8. RavenWuzHere says

    I was born and raised in the south and that is totally how it’s done. Except* substitute the butter for bacon grease, sausage grease or pan drippings from your chicken fried meat of choice. I add a pat of butter (REAL butter, not that fake yellow junk that comes in a tub) at the end.

    • says

      That’s why this is called “Restaurant Style.” At home it’s drippings only and I don’t bother with butter. It’s not necessary at all ;)

  9. clifdwllr says

    I made this gravy and have two questions.

    1. I followed your directions and yet, from the moment the flour/butter turned the colour of peanutbutter, it STAYED brown, and never went white. I thought this might happen if I used pan drippings, but not with butter [unsalted, of course].
    What went wrong?

    2. Again, maybe it was because I used butter, but it seemed just a little too ‘sweet’. I added sausage and couldn’t even taste it.
    What can I do, aside from adding something with a ‘kick’ to lessen the sweet factor?

    • says

      The roux (flour and butter mixture) will never turn white on its own. enough milk needs to be added to turn the gravy a rich cream color. Also, the pan may have been a bit too warm. It is impossible to gauge the heat of other people’s cooktops, so remember that burner settings are always an approximation based on the equipment the writer was using.

      I’ve never had an issue with this gravy being overly sweet. If your butter was English or Irish style, this might explain it. If using sausage, I always cook the gravy witha bit of the drippings as well (in the initial step). You might try a bit more pepper and a dash more salt to lessen the sweet factor as well.

      I hope you give this recipe another try, or perhaps my sausage gravy recipe, which can be found here.

  10. Lisa says

    I made this white gravy for the first time ever. The recipe was easy, and it came out great, good flavor and all. My husband really liked the gravy. I recommend this recipe to everyone who enjoys white gravy

  11. Joseph says

    That’s how I’ve always made it. I use the shorting or oil from whatever I fried say chicken. Never tried the butter though.

    • Liz says

      Exactly Jospeh. That’s how my grand-momma, momma, and I always made it. We only used butter if we didn’t have anything else.

  12. C. Rodriguez says

    This is a fast and easy gravy recipe but in typical southern cooking I changed it up a bit. First, this recipe doesn’t make a whole lot of gravy so I double the recipe. Then in a different pan I cooked up sausage. When the sausage was done I added it and a tablespoon of the dripping into the gravy. My picky family loved it.

  13. melissa says

    I literally just made this, its absolutely delicious! and so super easy to make, and costs very little. thank you so so much! <3

  14. Leila says

    @ Cheryl- He is an angel from heaven for sure!lol Thank you for sharing this recipe with us ! This is how I was thought it ought be made from scratch, just never had the gumption to do it on my own. Will be incorporating it in every holiday meal from now on!

  15. Margot Haas says

    I was raised on brown gravy so this is new to me.And what I like most about this recipe instead of using lard they used butter..

    Margot Haas

    • says

      You can use lard, butter, bacon grease or whatever you happen to have around. Southern recipes are like that. We adapt and so does our cooking.

  16. Dennis says

    I grew up eating biscuits and white gravy on the weekends passed down recipe from the early 1800’s from my dad’s side of family. Many of people in southern Missouri town used to stop in for breakfast at my 4th great grandma’s home on the weekends and bring eggs and meats and ingredients so she wouldn’t run out, just so they could eat her famous white gravy and biscuits. Everyone’s white gravy is different in taste and texture. My Gr. Grandma only revealed the recipe to her first son and so on and I am first son in my family and luckily got the recipe at age 12 and learned and swore the oath that goes back to my 4th great grandma’s era. The recipe dies in the family which is so awesome to carry the responsibility and taste so freaking great! Some things are meant to carry on and cherish only in the family way’s and this is one of them.

  17. Brittany says

    Thank you so much for this recipe! My entire family loves this so much. Will continue to be our gravy recipe for years!!!!

    • says

      There’s a reason that I labeled this as “restaurant Style” Hence the butter. My home version always uses bacon or sausage drippings

  18. says

    Finally! How simple and wonderful this gravy recipe is!! My country fried (or chicken fried…whatever you prefer) steaks are going to be delightful! Thank you so much!

  19. HIBA says

    Very simple recipe,loved it,I added half tbs of corn starch and it turned out little yellowish but tasted great and worked fine,thank you for the recipe.

  20. Hunniedust says

    I am always browsing recipes. I love biscuits and gravy, I relocated to to northern Maine (from California to 1 mile from the Canadian border) it has taken me a few years to even find chorizo here, I have had it sent to me of if I get a visit from Texas or something I say “Bring chorizo”

    Jerry, I love your opening narrative, how you describe the southern food culture, when also I find to describe the southern culture period. (Well from my inept understand and experience with southerners.) I find the best way to get to know people is to experience who they are is to eat what they eat as best possible. Last night I was telling my internet friend, of 5 years,born and raised in Texas, how I was craving biscuits and gravy …… now it was on lol he told me “Your talking to a southern boy here, I make the best biscuits and gravy” I make a fair biscuits and gravy, however I decided to find something more authentic to the south, I read several southern recipes,however, by far I was most impressed with you and your recipe.

    Well sir, I could not wait to reply, however I had to actually finish cooking and eating this wonderful gravy. Well now I am back, and what makes this nice is I have a friend visiting from the south. I followed you directions, came up with a gravy with great consistency, unfortunately I had no sausage, so I used ends and pieces of bacon, then I could not find my cayenne pepper or my chili powder :-( (yes this gravy needs something like that) however I did find a Cajun spice, it came out GREAT. My friend enjoyed it, he said it had a robust southern type flavor, I think we would both have enjoyed it more with sausage. I personally have not experienced southern food, but was glad to know I could please a southern palate.

    Than you so much, sorry for the long winded post :-P

  21. Anna M. says

    Howdy: I don’t suppose we can use margarine? I needed a lil sumthin for my cornbread biscuits and really want to make this but I have no butter. Will margarine work?

  22. Charlie says

    Thanks so much for this recipe! I live in California and that’s about as far from biscuit and gravy territory you can get. Needless to say I’ve been living in a state of constant withdrawal.

  23. LaSondra Alvizo says

    I noticed I didn’t pick up any package gravy from the store so I decided it’s time to learn to make gravy from scratch and I came across your blog. I have to say it came out great especially for a first time gravy maker, I’m from the south so I ate gravy with everything but I never knew how to make it. Now that I know I will never go back to the package stuff.


  1. […] widely in other culinary styles as well, though perhaps under different names. (The ever popular Southern Gravy could be said to be a version of the same […]

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