May 29, 2024


Than a Food Fitter

Cracker Barrel Sawmill Gravy – CopyKat Recipes

4 min read


Cracker Barrel Sawmill Gravy is delicious over biscuits and chicken fried steak. White sawmill gravy made with bacon grease and seasoned with black pepper is soul-satisfying southern comfort food.

copycat Cracker Barrel sawmill gravy over biscuits and in a bowl.

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What Is Sawmill Gravy? 

Sawmill Gravy is a traditional Southern variation of a Béchamel sauce that folks often serve on top of country fried steak or biscuits. It consists of milk or cream, meat grease, flour, salt, and plenty of pepper. It can be either a white or light brown gravy, depending on the fat used (butter or meat drippings).

Why Is It Called Sawmill Gravy?

As a hearty and cheap meal, Sawmill Gravy was a popular meal for cooks to serve at logging camps and old-time sawmills during the 1800s. It was commonly made with cornmeal, bacon drippings, milk, and seasonings. Because it was gritty gravy, the workers would accuse the cooks of using sawdust when making it.

What Makes This Sawmill Gravy So Good 

This version of Sawmill Gravy uses bacon grease instead of the more common sausage drippings. Depending on the bacon you choose to use, that minor change can impart a lot of smokiness and other flavors to the sauce. 

Cracker Barrel Sawmill Gravy Ingredients 

To make Sawmill Gravy, you’ll need:

  • Bacon grease 
  • AP flour
  • Whole milk
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
Cracker Barrel Sawmill Gravy ingredients.

Ingredient Notes

Change up the flavor of the gravy by using the grease from different types of bacon. Bacon smoked with hickory wood will give offer the strongest smokiness, while sugar-cured bacon will add a little sweetness. 

Always use the best and freshest black pepper you can find for this recipe. Many people prefer large flakes of coarse ground pepper to finely ground pepper. 

How To Make Sawmill Gravy From Scratch 

To cook Sawmill Gravy:

  1. Warm the bacon grease in a heavy skillet over medium heat. A cast-iron skillet is best because it distributes the heat evenly, but any good skillet will do.
  2. Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour into the skillet, and use a wooden spoon to mix the flour with the bacon drippings. 
bacon grease and flour in a cast iron skillet.
  1. Cook for about a minute until the flour turns a pale tan and gives off the scent of cooked pie crust.
  2. Slowly pour and whisk in 1 3/4 cups milk to avoid lumps. 
sawmill gravy in a cast iron skillet.
  1. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and let the gravy thicken while stirring from time to time. Remember that the gravy will thicken once it cools to serving temperature. If you reduce the gravy too much, add a little milk for a liquid to thin it out.
  2. Stir in salt and ground pepper and serve. 
copycat Cracker Barrel sawmill gravy in a bowl and pver biscuits.

Variations You Will Want to Try

Everyone has a favorite version of this recipe, but White Sawmill Gravy and the famous Sausage Gravy are some of the more common varieties.

White Sawmill Gravy uses the same general recipe but substitutes butter for bacon drippings. Replacing the drippings with butter makes a white gravy that’s not as heavy and much milder than the standard recipe.

To compensate, you may also want to add some spices like cayenne pepper, English mustard, or garlic powder for more flavor. 

Sausage Gravy over biscuits may not be the healthiest way to start the morning, but it sure is delicious. As a bonus, it is super easy to make. Just cook a pound of bulk sausage in a pan until browned. After that, follow the recipe above, starting from Step 2. 

What To Serve With Sawmill Gravy 

Sawmill Gravy is most commonly served over Country Fried Steak or buttermilk biscuits. But it is also excellent on fried pork chops or even french-fried potatoes.

How To Store Sawmill Gravy 

The best way to keep leftover Sawmill Gravy is in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. 

How to Reheat Sawmill Gravy 

Warm the gravy on the stove over low heat with a splash or two of milk to help thin it out. 

overhead view of copycat Cracker Barrel sawmill gravy and biscuits on a plate.

Favorite Cracker Barrel Recipes

Check out more of my easy sauce recipes and the best Cracker Barrel recipes here on CopyKat!

copycat Cracker Barrel sawmill gravy over biscuits and in a bowl.

Cracker Barrel Sawmill Gravy

Homemade Cracker Barrel sawmill gravy is great over biscuits and chicken fried steak.

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Course: Sauces

Cuisine: American

Keyword: Cracker Barrel Sawmill Gravy, Sawmill Gravy

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4

Calories: 219kcal


  • 4 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cup whole milk or heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Melt the bacon grease in an iron skillet over medium heat.

  • When the bacon grease is melted, add the flour and whisk to combine.

  • Cook the flour and bacon grease for approximately 1 minute, or until it becomes fragrant like pie dough.

  • Add milk or heavy cream, and whisk until the gravy thickens.

  • Season with salt and black pepper.


Calories: 219kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 352mg | Potassium: 172mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 174IU | Calcium: 134mg | Iron: 1mg


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