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Chocolate gravy is a classic Southern treat! Served over warm buttermilk biscuits for breakfast, or drizzled on pound cake and ice cream for dessert, this easy recipe has been delighting both kids and adults for generations. Best of all, it only requires a handful of basic ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen — and it’s ready in about 15 minutes!

Pouring southern chocolate gravy over three buttermilk biscuits

Simple Chocolate Gravy Recipe

Not all gravy recipes start with a savory base of meat drippings! Instead, the term “chocolate gravy” comes from an old Southern practice of using the word “gravy” to describe any roux-thickened sauce made in a skillet, whether sweet or savory. This rich, buttery, chocolate sauce (also called “soppin’ chocolate”) dates back generations, and is most commonly served over hot biscuits.

Some versions start with butter (as shown here), while others rely on the pan drippings from cooking bacon to create the roux. Regardless of your preference, the sweet treat comes together easily with common ingredients that most home cooks always have on hand. It’s an easy way to turn a simple biscuit into a special experience, and is therefore a go-to recipe in the repertoire of many mamas and grandmas throughout the South.

Biscuits in a cast iron skillet

Chocolate Gravy Origin

Nobody knows exactly when the first chocolate gravy was created; however, many believe that the tradition started in the Mountain South of Appalachia, and slowly spread throughout the region. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America theorizes that chocolate gravy may have been an offshoot of a trading network between Spanish Louisiana and the Tennessee Valley, bringing “Mexican-style breakfast chocolate to the Appalachians.” Alternatively, it could have been preserved from Spanish colonies on the East Coast in the 16th and 17th centuries by the mixed-race ethnic group known as the Melungeons. Needless to say, this cultural staple is here to stay!

Whisking dry ingredients in a small white bowl

Ingredients for Grandma’s Chocolate Gravy

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a simple chocolate gravy recipe. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Sugar: for just the right amount of sweetness. This gravy isn’t overly sweet, but it’s nicely balanced to highlight the rich flavor of the cocoa.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder: I just use Hershey’s cocoa powder, but any similar brand will work. This gives the gravy its chocolate flavor.
  • All-purpose flour: combines with the butter to make the roux that thickens the gravy.
  • Salted butter: I like salted butter here, since the salt balances the sweetness in the gravy and brings out the chocolate flavor. If you only have unsalted butter, that’s fine — just add a little bit of salt to taste.
  • Milk: use whole milk for the best texture and the richest flavor. In a pinch, 2% milk will also work.
  • Vanilla extract: for even more warm, rich flavor.
Whisking chocolate gravy in a cast iron skillet

How to Make Chocolate Gravy

Just like making a sausage gravy or any other savory gravy, this simple recipe starts with a roux, gradually adding the liquid, and then simmering and whisking until the gravy bubbles and thickens. It’s perfect for any chocolate lover!

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
  3. Whisk in the dry ingredients, and stir for about 1 minute. This creates the thick paste-like roux.
  4. Gradually whisk in the milk and vanilla extract.
  5. Simmer, whisking constantly, until the gravy thickens — about 4-5 minutes.
  6. Pour gravy over split, hot biscuits.
Square side shot of a plate of biscuits and chocolate gravy

Why is my Chocolate Gravy Not Thickening?

If your chocolate gravy isn’t thick enough, you might just need to simmer it for a little bit longer. The process takes time, and can vary depending on your specific stovetop and skillet. If it’s still too thin, you can gradually whisk in some additional flour until the gravy thickens. Just make sure to continue simmering the sauce after adding extra flour, so that you fully cook the flour.

Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy

Chocolate gravy and biscuits is a classic combination! I typically prepare my 3-ingredient buttermilk biscuits, which are the best of both worlds: light and flaky layers, with the ease of just 3 ingredients. You might also like my classic Southern buttermilk biscuits or my flaky biscuits. If you’re looking for a shortcut, try these drop biscuits, these 4-ingredient butter swim biscuits, 7UP biscuits (which start with Bisquick), or even a can of store-bought biscuits!

Front shot of a table of biscuits and chocolate gravy

Additional Serving Suggestions

If you’re looking for an alternative to biscuits, try serving the chocolate gravy over pancakes, waffles, or scones at breakfast, or over pound cake, angel food cake, strawberry shortcake, ice cream, or fresh fruit for dessert. Anything that you would use with chocolate sauce or hot fudge sauce, you can use with this recipe, too.

Square side shot of a biscuit cut in half and drizzled with chocolate gravy

Storage

Chocolate gravy is best enjoyed immediately, while it’s still warm in the skillet. If you have leftovers, store the extra gravy in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Reheat the gravy in a skillet or saucepan over low heat, just until the chocolate melts again and the sauce is smooth. You can add a small amount of extra milk or cream to thin the gravy, if necessary. You can also reheat the gravy in the microwave in 15-30 second increments until warm.

Can you freeze chocolate gravy?

Yes, you can freeze the chocolate gravy and the biscuits in airtight containers for up to 3 months. Thaw the gravy in the refrigerator overnight, and then reheat it gently on the stovetop.

Split biscuit with chocolate gravy on top

Tips for the Best Old Time Chocolate Gravy Recipe

  • Bake your biscuits before preparing the gravy. The gravy comes together quickly, and is best when served warm — straight from the skillet.
  • Use whole milk for the best flavor and texture. If necessary, 2% milk will also work. I don’t recommend skim milk.
  • Gradually add the liquid to the skillet in small amounts, whisking constantly. This gives the flour mixture time to absorb the liquid slowly, preventing a lumpy gravy.
  • Use a cast iron skillet (or other heavy pan), and whisk constantly. This helps to avoid scorching on the bottom of the skillet.
Drizzling chocolate gravy over a stack of biscuits
Square side shot of a plate of biscuits and chocolate gravy

Southern Chocolate Gravy

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 102 kcal
This old-fashioned chocolate gravy is a classic Southern treat!

Ingredients
  

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, sift or whisk together sugar, cocoa powder, and flour. Set aside.
  • In a heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in the dry ingredients, cooking and stirring for about 1 minute.
  • Gradually whisk in the milk and vanilla extract. Simmer, whisking constantly, until the gravy thickens, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Serve over hot biscuits.

Notes

  • This recipe yields about 3 cups of gravy.
  • Bake your biscuits before preparing the gravy. The gravy comes together quickly, and is best when served warm — straight from the skillet.
  • Use whole milk for the best flavor and texture. If necessary, 2% milk will also work. I don’t recommend skim milk.
  • Gradually add the liquid to the skillet in small amounts, whisking constantly. This gives the flour mixture time to absorb the liquid slowly, preventing a lumpy gravy.
  • Use a cast iron skillet (or other heavy pan), and whisk constantly. This helps to avoid scorching in the bottom of the skillet.
  • Recipe adapted from Taste of the South magazine.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 cupCalories: 102kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 2gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 54mgPotassium: 108mgFiber: 1gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 168IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 64mgIron: 0.4mg
Keyword: biscuits and chocolate gravy, chocolate gravy, chocolate gravy and biscuits, chocolate gravy recipe
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. I grew up in a town in RI where there were many Italians. My friends’ moms always referred to spaghetti sauce as gravy. I found a jar of sauce once in the spaghetti sauce section of a grocery store and the label said Tomato Gravy.

    1. That’s awesome, Ann! If it’s something that folks aren’t familiar with, they often think it sounds crazy. 🙂 Chocolate gravy is definitely a childhood classic!

  2. Thank you for this recipe this brings back old memories from when I would visit my cousins in Kentucky but nobody in Texas would believe me when I would tell them about chocolate gravy thanks again