I’m a big fan of French press coffee. I realize that there is a backlash of sorts in the coffee world these days about how it’s not a consistent or reliable way to make a cup of joe, but I still like it. I make one almost every single day.

That said, I almost never make it through the entire pot. There’s always a cup or two extra hanging out in the bottom of my French press. Sometimes I’ll toss it on ice in the afternoon, but frequently it just ends up down the drain so I have room for a fresh pot the next day!

But this dish… this Biscuits and Red Eye Gravy was made for that leftover little bit of coffee. Red eye gravy, you see, is a classic Southern gravy that uses coffee instead of milk as a base. This gives the gravy an entirely different flavor profile. It has some bite to it!

I mixed up a batch of the stuff this week and served it over some fresh biscuits and seared ham. Biscuits and gravy is a traditional Southern dish by nature, but this is even a more Southern take on the classic.

Red Eye Biscuits and Gravy

5 from 2 votes
Author: Nick Evans
Servings: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Classic southern red eye gravy thickened a bit and served over seared ham and homemade buttermilk biscuits.


Buttermilk Biscuits:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 2 cups buttermilk

Red Eye Gravy:

  • 4 ounces bacon
  • 1 pound ham steak, cut into 2 oz. slices
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup coffee
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ¼ cup cream
  • Pinch of sugar, salt, and pepper
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • Fresh chives, garnish


  • Start biscuits by mixing flour with salt and baking soda and baking powder in a large bowl.
  • Cut in cold butter using your fingers until it resembles small pea-sized pieces in the flour.
  • Add buttermilk and mix until the mixture forms a loose dough. Don’t over-mix the dough.
  • Scoop the dough out onto a floured surface and roll it out in a rectangle shape. Fold it into thirds over itself. Then roll it out gently and do it again. Finally roll it out until it’s about 1 inch thick.
  • Cut the biscuits out of the dough. You can either cut out circles or just slice the dough into rectangles.
  • Add biscuits to an ungreased baking sheet and brush them with some extra buttermilk. Then bake them at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes until they are golden brown.
  • To start gravy, add bacon to a cold cast iron skillet over medium heat. Let the bacon cook slowly so the fat renders out. After about 10 minutes, most the fat should be rendered out.
  • Add ham steaks to the pan and sear them until browned, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Remove ham and bacon. Pour off any extra pork fat, but leave 2-3 tablespoons in the pan. Add chopped onion and turn heat up to medium.
  • Cook onions until they are lightly browned, 3-4 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Whisk in flour and continue to cook for a minute. Then slowly whisk in coffee and stock until the mixture forms a thin gravy. Cook and the gravy should thicken a bit.
  • Stir in cream, a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper, and a dash of hot sauce. Taste the gravy and adjust flavors to your liking. It might need more salt or sugar depending on how strong your coffee is. Keep warm until serving time. Optionally, you can also chop up bacon and add it back into the gravy.
  • To make a plate, split open a biscuit, add a ham steak to each biscuit and slather with gravy. Top each biscuit with chives and serve immediately!


Serving: 1Biscuit | Calories: 1286kcal | Carbohydrates: 109g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 73g | Saturated Fat: 41g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 22g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 224mg | Sodium: 3590mg | Potassium: 851mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1850IU | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 369mg | Iron: 8mg
Course: Breakfast & Brunch, Main Dishes
Cuisine: American

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Biscuits and Red Eye Gravy

Making the Biscuits!

This is my basic buttermilk biscuit recipe. It produces a really sturdy, but flaky biscuit that holds up nicely to gravy.

Start by adding the dry stuff to a bowl and then cutting the butter into the flour mixture until it’s in pea-sized pieces. I just use my clean hands to mix the butter into the flour.

Starting the biscuits for Biscuits and Red Eye Gravy
Starting the biscuits.

Then stir in the buttermilk until the dough comes together, but try not to over-work the dough.

Then turn the dough out onto a floured surface.

Don't overwork the dough! - Biscuits and Red Eye Gravy
Don’t overwork the dough!

I like to just pat the dough out into a large rectangle and then cut the biscuits into about 3 inch squares. Some biscuits are round, but I like square ones because then you don’t have any leftover dough!

Rolled and cut - Biscuits and Red Eye Gravy
Rolled and cut.

Transfer the biscuits to an ungreased baking sheet and brush them with some extra buttermilk.

Ready to bake! - Biscuits and Red Eye Gravy
Ready to bake!

Bake these suckers at 375 degrees F. until they are puffed and golden brown. They will need to bake for about 28-30 minutes.

Look at these beauties!

Good just like this! - Biscuits and Red Eye Gravy
Good just like this!

Now let’s talk about the gravy which you can work on while the biscuits bake.

Caffeinated Gravy!

Any good gravy starts with some fat. This can be butter or oil, but I decided to stick with a pork theme for this version and render some fat out of a few thick pieces of bacon. To do this, add the bacon to a cold cast iron skillet and cook them over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. The slow, low heat will gently render out the fat from the bacon.

Then you can add your ham slices and sear them for about 3 minutes per side.

Ham plus some bacon - Biscuits and Red Eye Gravy
Ham plus some bacon.

Once the ham is seared and the bacon is crispy, remove the pork from the pan and pour off any extra fat. You want to leave 2-3 tablespoons of it in the pan and then add in the onions. The onions will brown pretty quickly and pick up lots of the stuck bits on the pan.

Onions are key.
Onions are key.

Once the onions are browned, whisk in the flour and cook the flour mixture for a minute or two.

Then it’s time to add the liquid. I stirred my coffee into my chicken stock and then slowly whisked it into the roux and onions.

Go slow! - Biscuits and Red Eye Gravy
Go slow!

Whisking slowly will make sure the gravy doesn’t get lumpy. Then stir in the cream and season the gravy with salt, pepper, sugar, and a dash of hot sauce. Let this continue to thicken for a bit over medium heat. Optionally, you can also chop up the bacon you have from earlier and stir it into the gravy.

The thing about making gravy with coffee is that it can be a bit bitter. That’s why a pinch of sugar is important. It chills out the gravy a bit and counter-acts some of the coffee bitterness.

Finished deal - Biscuits and Red Eye Gravy
Finished deal.

Finishing this Biscuits and Red Eye Gravy dish isn’t rocket science.

Split open a biscuit, toss on some seared ham, and ladle some hot gravy over the whole deal. A big handful of chives is the way to garnish this sucker.

Biscuits and Red Eye Gravy - Macheesmo

This was my first time making Biscuits and Red Eye Gravy and it was better than I was expecting.

To be honest, I’m not positive that I like it more than a traditional milk-based gravy, especially for biscuits and gravy, but it’s definitely different and worth a shot!

Has anyone made or had red eye gravy? Leave a comment!