Southern Cream Gravy

Learn how to make Southern Cream Gravy from scratch with 3-ingredients and in 5-minutes! Some folks call this “country gravy,” “white gravy,” “pepper gravy” or “milk gravy,” but no matter what you call it, it’s simple to make!

Southerner’s use cream gravy with chicken, chicken fried steak, biscuits, pan fried pork chops and even on scrambled eggs! 

Cream gravy being spooned over chicken fried steak

There’s nothing better than homemade country gravy on a warm biscuit, over chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes or on a fried pork chop. 

Homemade cream gravy isn’t something we eat every day, but when we do, we make it from scratch. Those packages like Pioneer™ Cream Gravy mix are loaded with additives, preservatives and colorants. 

I mean, really…do we need DISODIUM GUANYLATE AND INOSINATE in our food? I don’t think so. And homemade gravy is so much better than the cream gravy at Texas Roadhouse™!

Difference between brown gravy and cream gravy

Southern cream gravy consists of a roux (equal parts fat and flour) and dairy (typically milk), where a brown gravy consists of a roux, beef broth (from cooked beef), and may or may not include dairy.

You’ll find brown gravy served with Southern dishes like Beef Tips and Gravy or sometimes included as a sauce for classic Southern meatloaf with old fashioned tomato sauce.

Why you’ll love this recipe!

This recipe is a Southern classic, along with fried catfish, skillet cornbread, fried potato cakes and meatloaf with old fashioned tomato sauce.

  • All-natural ingredients– no additives, colorants, fillers or “flavor enhancers”
  • Quick and easy – you can have sausage, bacon or cream gravy in about 5-minutes!
  • Simple ingredients – all you need is fat, flour and milk; then season it with salt and pepper
  • Flavorful – the best gravy from scratch is seasoned with bacon or sausage fat, salt and pepper; nothing fancy

This is one of those scratch recipes you learn to make over time– it’s all about the balance between the ingredients and the temperature of the stove and the constant whisking motion.

The secret is the roux – a combination of equal parts fat and flour. The fat used in white gravy is typically bacon grease, reserved after frying some bacon.

Then a little all-purpose flour is whisked in and stirred constantly, then milk is added gradually until your cream gravy reaches the right consistency.

What you’ll need

  • Fat – which can be bacon grease, sausage grease, butter or oil; most Southerners use bacon or sausage for their gravy
  • Flour – use all-purpose
  • Milk – for the best flavor, us 2% or whole  
  • Salt & Pepper – generally speaking, most Southern cooks add salt to taste and a generous amount of ground black pepper…that’s why it’s often called “pepper cream gravy.”

How to make it

The secret to making a really good cream gravy is cooking it on a low heat. 

  • Heat a skillet on low heat; get the milk out of the fridge and let it sit a few minutes (if you add cold milk to the hot roux, it will clump up so badly you’ll have to start over. Don’t ask me how I know this:)
  • Add fat and let it get warm; then sprinkle in an equal amount of all-purpose flour
  • Whisk together constantly
  • Gradually add room temperature milk; keep whisking; if it starts to clump, add a little more milk
  • Continue to cook 4-minutes adding more milk along the way
  • Season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper

Yield/Calories/Carbs

This recipe makes one cup of homemade cream gravy. It’s highly unlikely someone would consume one cup, so let’s look at the calories and carbs for 1/2 cup.

Granted, homemade gravy is not something you eat every day because it is high in calories and carbs! A 1/2 cup of gravy is about 415 calories and 20 grams of carbohydrates…if you’re counting.

How to make cream gravy without fat drippings

If you don’t have any fat dripping from cooked sausage or bacon, you can use butter. I recommend using unsalted butter and remember, you’ll use equal parts of butter and flour. 

If you use ½ stick of butter (which is 4 tablespoons), then whisk in 4 tablespoons of flour.

Expert tips for making perfect Southern Cream Gravy

  • Always start with equal amounts of fat and flour
  • Make sure the milk is not too cold – let it sit out a few minutes before you add it to the hot roux
  • Start with low heat and increase it if you need to after you’ve added the milk. 
  • Flour thickens at low heat…so, adjust your skillet heat accordingly 
  • Add milk in 1/2 cup increments until you get the desired consistency
  • If you add too much milk at once, you run the risk of having a watery, thin gravy; in this case, you’ll have to add more flour
  • Use a wire whisk to remove lumps
  • Keep an eye on the stove– if the heat is too high, you’ll burn the flour, in which case you have to start over (don’t ask me how I know this)
  • Once the gravy starts to thicken, turn the heat down and add a little more milk or lift the saucepan off the heat 
  • Season with a teaspoon of salt for starters; combine, taste, then add a generous amount of black pepper

Substitutions for milk

No milk? No problem…

Substitute milk with half-n-half, light cream or heavy cream (also known as heavy whipping cream) – note that any of these will make the gravy slightly sweeter than when using straight milk. You can also just add water instead of milk. Believe it or not, it turns out pretty good!

You can also use powdered milk or a 50/50 blend of water and evaporated milk (you may have to use more flour)

Make in advance and reheating

White cream gravy thickens as it cools. If you make it ahead of time or if you need to reheat it, you will have to add a little more milk. For best results, reheat in a saucepan, not the microwave.

Troubleshooting homemade Southern cream gravy

  • Too salty – yes, this happens frequently; the best way to remedy over-salted gravy is to add a little water or, add more milk and flour. Do this by adding 1/2 cup milk first, whisk, then add 1/4 cup flour; keep adding milk and flour until the flavor is balanced and the consistency is right
  • Too thick – add more milk and increase the heat on the stove a little
  • Too thin– add more flour and decrease the heat on the stove
  • Too bland – add more salt and pepper
  • Clumpy – if your homemade gravy starts to look like glue, use a wire whisk and add milk – whisking constantly- and turn the heat up a little
  • Flour thickens at low heat…so, adjust your skillet heat accordingly 

Serve homemade country cream gravy with chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, eggs or over warm biscuits! It also pairs well with fried chicken, homemade Dairy Queen steak fingers and easy pan fried pork chops!

 

Homemade white cream gravy being spooned over chicken fried steak

Southern Cream Gravy is an easy recipe that takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll know exactly how to make perfect cream gravy every time!

♥ If you make this recipe, please scroll down and leave a comment and rating below! Thank you!

Cream gravy being spooned over chicken fried steak

Southern Cream Gravy Recipe

White cream gravy made with fat, flour and milk. A Southern favorite!
5 from 22 votes
Print Text Recipe Rate
Course: Gravy
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 0 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 1 cup
Author: Anecia Hero

Equipment

  • Cast iron skillet
  • Wire whisk

Ingredients 

  • ¼ cup oil , bacon or sausage grease, butter or vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup flour , all-purpose
  • cups milk , 2% or whole
  • salt and pepper , to taste

Instructions 

  • Heat skillet on medium
  • Add oil and wait till it gets warm (about 1 minute)
    ¼ cup oil
  • Sprinkle in flour; whisk for 30-seconds
    ¼ cup flour
  • Add milk in ½ cup increments while continually whisking
    1½ cups milk
  • Taste for seasonings; add salt & pepper; serve
    salt and pepper

Notes

Let the milk sit out a few minutes before you make the roux; if you add really cold milk to hot roux, it clumps
Can I use heavy cream instead of milk?
  • You can substitute milk with half-n-half, light cream or heavy cream
  • Cream will make the gravy slightly sweeter than milk
Troubleshooting homemade gravy:
  • Too salty - yes, this happens frequently; the best way to remedy over-salted gravy is to add a little water or add more milk and flour. Do this by adding 1/2 cup milk first, whisk, then add 1/4 cup flour; keep adding milk and flour until the flavor is balanced and the consistency is right
  • Too thick - add more milk
  • Too thin- add more flour
  • Too bland - add more salt and pepper
  • Clumpy - if your homemade gravy starts to look like glue, use a wire whisk and add milk - whisking constantly

Nutrition Estimate

Serving: 1cupCalories: 832kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 15gFat: 68gSaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 158mgPotassium: 483mgFiber: 1gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 593IUCalcium: 414mgIron: 1mg
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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My grandma always put this on our scrambled eggs growing up!

    Thank you for this recipe tastes just like hers and brought back good memories ❤️

  2. 5 stars
    Mama always called it “Sawmill Gravy”. She is 89 now. We always love it poured over biscuit halves & country fried steak & mashed taters. Thanks for sharing good ole Southern Favorites!😊