Mashed potatoes, fried chicken steak, biscuits, and turkey.
What do they all have in common?
I’ll tell you.
They all taste better with a heaping helping of gravy!
While most of us love the heartwarming taste of it, what’s probably less well known is that there are many types of gravy you can try.
Gravy has a long history in the United States, and around the world, and the passage of time has created some wonderful and delicious variations, each of them carrying a bit of local charm in the recipe.
We’ve scoured the country from coast to coast and uncovered all the most popular kinds so get your ladles ready and dig in to our big list of gravy!
Table of Contents
Brown gravy is probably the most recognizable and common example of gravy. While there are many ways to make it, the basic ingredients for it usually include beef broth, flour (or cornstarch), and fat. The fat for the gravy comes from the drippings of cooked meat or roasted meats but when meat or fowl isn’t used, butter, heavy cream or vegetable oil can be used as a substitute.
Chili gravy is a staple of Tex-Mex cuisine and if you’ve ever enjoyed a plate of enchiladas, you’ve probably tasted it. Rich and spicy, it usually has a base of lard that is mixed with cornstarch or flour roux. Most recipes for chili gravy will contain ingredients like chili powder (obviously), paprika, garlic powder, cumin, Mexican oregano and salt. Before being served, it’s often thinned with chicken broth.
Cream Gravy (White Gravy or Milk Gravy)
There are many variations of cream gravy, which change slightly depending on the region. No matter what part of the country you live in, chances are there’s a creamy gravy close to home!
Chicken gravy is a tradition in certain parts of the United States, especially the South where it served along staple foods like biscuits or fried chicken. The gravy’s color comes from the use of milk or cream which is added to a roux of drippings or bits of cooked meat and flour. Sometimes pepper is used to add extra seasoning.
Cornmeal gravy is another shining example of the simple deliciousness of Southern cuisine. It’s believed that cornmeal gravy came to be out of necessity since it wasn’t always easy to come by ingredients. The good news is that traditional cornmeal gravy doesn’t require many. In fact, most recipes call for little more than whatever drippings are available before adding buttermilk or milk and then thickening all of it with cornmeal.
Milk gravy is believed to have its roots in New England, where it too was born out of necessity rather than luxury. It’s thought that the earliest versions of milk gravy (also known as salt pork gravy), were produced using preserved pork fat that were rendered down, producing drippings. From there, simply adding milk produced an easy and delicious gravy that is still being used today.
Early Appalachian lumberjacks earned their money the hard way laboring in remote locations in difficult terrain and sometimes brutal weather. But despite all the trying conditions, they contributed more than just timber to the American way of life. It’s to them we owe the creation of sawmill gravy which food historians believe originated as sort of a “catchall” gravy recipe. Early versions were thought to be made of drippings from whatever meat or scrapings remained at the campsite before being combined with flour and milk.
Egg (or rich man’s) gravy is the only one on our list that features the use of eggs as an ingredient. Traditionally, bacon drippings were used before being combined with flour. From there, a mix of broth and milk is added and the ingredients are brought to a boil and seasoned to taste. Once the desired taste is achieved, the egg is added. Well-beaten, it’s gently added to the gravy while it’s being whisked. This has the effect of cooking the egg and when combined with beating the mixture, separates the eggs into tiny slivers or fragments.
Giblet gravy uses the giblets from certain types of fowl – mostly chickens and turkeys. While it’s eaten throughout the year, turkey giblet gravy is especially popular around the holidays where, besides the giblets, drippings from the fowl meat are used along with flour, broth and other spices.
Hamburger gravy is a Midwestern creation that is as easy as it is delicious. Drippings from browned hamburger meat are combined with milk and flour before the addition of bouillon and steak sauce. It makes a perfect topping for everything from mashed potatoes to pasta.
If you love mushrooms as much as I do, then mushroom gravy is something you need to try – and soon! What makes mushroom gravy so delicious are all the ways you can make it. While beef broth, drippings, and flour are the most common, almost anything goes including balsamic, red wine, olive oil, rosemary and more. Basically, if it tastes good with mushrooms, it’ll taste even better with mushroom gravy.
Red Eye Gravy
Steeped in mystery, the origins of Redeye gravy (or Redeye ham gravy) are not entirely known. One of the most popular yarns about its creation tie it to American patriot and later President, Andrew Jackson.
It’s said that Jackson requested that the cook at his battle encampment prepare him a breakfast of ham and gravy, but to be sure that the red in the gravy matched the redness in the cook’s eyes. Whether that’s true, no one knows but what is known is that Redeye gravy is beloved in the South to this day.
Made from the ham drippings, they’re added to a frying pan deglazed with coffee. Unlike other types of gravy, it doesn’t make use of a thickening agent like flour.
A staple industry in South Carolina is shrimp harvesting, so it only makes sense that a gravy featuring shrimp would hail from this Southeastern state. While there are variations in the recipe, the most common uses bacon drippings, Worcestershire sauce, beef stock and fresh shrimp. The mixture produces a silky smooth brown gravy that’s commonly served with another Southern staple, grits.
Vegetable Gravy (Vegetarian Gravy)
For those that don’t eat meat, there’s no reason to miss out on the delicious and soul-warming flavor that only gravy can provide.
Vegetarians are a creative bunch and in order to satisfy their desire to eat gravy without compromising on their principles, they’ve had to get creative.
Most styles of vegetarian gravy make use of a vegetable stock with flour and in place of drippings, butter or oils are used. Other ingredients typically added to vegetarian gravy are bouillon cubes, cornstarch (for thickening), and yeast extracts like Vegemite to add hints of savory flavor.
Oh yes, it’s hard to find an article anywhere on our website that doesn’t mention chocolate but I bet you never thought you’d see it in an article about gravy!
While it’s called gravy, I think most of us would see it as a sauce since it’s not at all savory but sweet and specifically made as a topping for dessert.
Most chocolate gravy recipes use cocoa, sugar, flour and butter for fat.
Hiya! I’m Kimberly, a contributing writer here at Miss Buttercup. I was born and raised in the UP, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for those who don’t know, the land of beautiful, beach-filled sunny summer days and bone-chilling long winters. Growing up there made me appreciate all the little things about life, especially the way a delicious meal can bring people closer together. I try and put that same feeling into each article I write and I hope it comes across that way!