Cracker Barrel Sawmill Gravy

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 delicious comfort food dish with 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 (butter or meat drippings).

Why Is It Called Sawmill Gravy?

As a hearty and cheap meal, Sawmill Gravy was popular 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 because it looks like a somewhat gritty gravy.

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 offers the strongest smokiness, while sugar-cured bacon adds a little sweetness. 

Always use the best and freshest black pepper 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 large 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, giving off the scent of cooked pie crust.
  2. Slowly pour and whisk in 1 3/4 cups of 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 occasionally. 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.
5 from 24 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
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 a cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
  • When it melts, add the flour and cook for approximately 1 minute, until it becomes fragrant like pie dough.
  • Add the milk or heavy cream, and whisk until the gravy thickens.
  • Season with salt and black pepper, and serve with biscuits or chicken-fried steak.



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

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Joan

    This cannot be their complete recipe – This is my homemade gravy exactly and theirs has a smoky flavor that tells me they are adding some smoke salt or flavoring – We cannot stand to eat their gravy due to the “Fake Smoky” flavor

    • Barbara

      5 stars
      I agree with you, they are using liquid smoke in their gravy. it was so strong I could not eat it. and I make bacon gravy all the time. My gravy is nothing like theirs.

    • Mitch

      Add 1-2 Tsp. of liquid smoke to get a slightly smoky flavor without overdoing it. Otherwise I’d recommend getting the smoky flavor from the bacon you use to get the grease from. Personally, I like the recipe as is, but if your bacon grease isn’t particularly “smoky”, you can sub it in. I also agree that the real deal “smoky” flavor is just too much. Cheers!

5 from 24 votes (22 ratings without comment)

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