Chocolate Gravy and Biscuits

by irene on January 8, 2005

Though I was born and raised in Wisconsin, and my heritage and traditions are very German in nature, my family spent quite a bit of time in Arkansas.

My father was born and raised in Hot Springs, AR, until he moved up north looking for work. His family has been in Arkansas since the land grants in the 1800′s. We’ve traced the family back to the 1200′s, with American landfall coming in the 1600′s. They have been a southern family for hundreds of years.

So I shouldn’t have been so surprised to find out that Chocolate Gravy and Biscuits wasn’t just an eccentric family recipe. In fact, it seems to be an old family tradition in some parts of the old south.

My family would go to Arkansas a few times a year when we were kids. The highlight of the trip was staying at my Aunt Nellie’s house. She let kids have the run of the house, which we always took advantage of. And she always made us Chocolate Gravy and Biscuits for breakfast.

Chocolate gravy is exactly that. It’s made like a traditional gravy, starting with a roux and adding milk, cocoa and sugar to form a rich, chocolate flavor. In our family we’d put a bit of butter on the bottom of our plate, pour the gravy over that, and tear up hot biscuits into that. I hear that more refined people actually just pour the gravy over halved butter biscuits.

That’s hardly any fun for kids, if you ask me.

We’d come back up north and none of our friends would have heard of it. At sleep-overs my mom would make it for breakfast, but most of our friends would turn their noses up at it. I never understood that. I mean, come on…. it’s CHOCOLATE!

I never understood that it was a tradition outside my family until I was channel surfing one day and stopped on an interview with a southern race car driver who was confessing that his favorite meal was Chocolate Gravy and Biscuits.

Huh, who knew.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Sherri January 11, 2005 at 8:29 am

Hi, I have the same treasured memories (sans butter LOL) from my Grandmother making ‘biscuits and chocolate’ (from NW Alabama). We sopped of course. We weren’t allowed to have our ‘biscuits and chocolate’ until we’d finished our regular breakfast first.

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Stephanie November 9, 2005 at 1:44 pm

My Grandmother used to make this and never used a recipe (Eastern Oklahoma/Arkansas). I have been searching for a recipe. Anyone have one they are willing to share?

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Sheryl Rider June 29, 2006 at 3:21 pm

I too grew up eating what we called “cocoa and biscuits.” My mother got the recipe from my grandmother who was from Georgia (Savannah to be exact). I recently ran across it being described in the book “Savannah From Savannah” by Denise Hildreth and heard it called chocolate gravy for the first time. Whatever you call it, it’s delicious. We don’t have it often, but when we do, it’s a special meal. Even my health-conscious son can’t resist Maw-Maw’s cocoa and biscuits.

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Crystal Smith August 25, 2006 at 8:35 pm

I was born in Savannah and grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. We had chocolate gravy and biscuits at least once a week for breakfast. It was brought up recently in a conversation with a friend so I am trying to find the recipe. My son should love it!!

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Amy July 2, 2007 at 9:14 pm

I thought we were the only family who ate this! My family is all from OK and AK. My grandmother, however, doesn’t use milk and insists on calling it “syrup” because it doesn’t include milk. I’ve never had the milk-chocolate version, but all the women in my family love dark chocolate, so maybe that’s why!

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Kevin November 18, 2007 at 2:51 am

Reading the posts above brings back memories of my “embarassed mother”, when she would hear of my telling all my school friends what I had for breakfast. – “Chocolate Gravy”, I would proudly say and still do to this day. I do have a recipe for anyone interested. It goes as follows: 4 C. Milk, 1/2 cup Sugar (less if desired), about 1/4 C of Flour, 3 T (heaping) of Cocoa, 1/4 t Salt – I heat the milk (careful not to let it burn or stick to the bottom of the pan), then add the powdered or “dry” ingredients, stirring till the gravy starts to thicken. Once heated to the desired consistancy, I add about an Eighth of a cup of butter. The butter could be added to the bottom of the bowl or plate with the gravy spooned on top of it. Both are equally tasty. Enjoy!! for more discussion, join me on facebook ………………………… the “Chocolate Gravy Lovers” group. See you there. Kevin

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christina November 26, 2007 at 12:02 am

I GREW UP ON CHOCOLATE GRAVY CAUSE I HAD A AUNT THAT USED TO MAKE IT ALL THE TIME AND I FINALLY GOT THE RECIPE AND SO NOW IM GOING TO MAKE IT FOR MY CHILDREN CAUSE IF THEY ARE ANYTHING LIKE ME THEY WILL LOVE IT

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Trina March 28, 2008 at 11:36 am

I am so surprised to see that others also grew up with what I knew as cocoa gravy and biscuits. My great Aunt, “Ma Faye” would make this and I would hop on my bike, race down the street to make sure I got the first serving. I have not had it for about 20 years. When I mention it to anyone they think I am nuts. My mom does not have recipe and I would love to make it. Since I am not a great cook, I don’t even know how to make regular gravy. Anyone willing to share a recipe I would really appreciate it. Thanks for bringing back great childhood memories.

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Debby June 30, 2008 at 9:53 pm

I grew up in AR and have since moved away. Until this week, it had been 20 years since my last visit. Chocolate gravy and biscuits is one of my favorite meals, anytime. No one from the NW has ever heard of it and think it sounds awful.

My kids, who are grown, love it.

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Jim Curry August 24, 2008 at 12:24 am

My Aunts and GrandMother would make it every moring as is the case with those who know what it is also know’s it’s at it’s best with the butter milk cow head type biscuits lolol and if your in Middle Tenn you would have ripped your biscuit in half and pulled it down though that morning chocolate when you biscuit was done you pulled it over you egg’s no matter how they where cooked then dip you links or bacon into it. Thats just how we did it in middle Tenn.

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Mark September 1, 2008 at 1:49 pm

Much like others I have read about, my family from NE Okla. would have it at Breakfast while visiting from CA. It was a highlight of our vacations as a kid. My grandmother taught my mother and some of my aunts to make it but the only one that can truly make it like my granny is my wife. She won’t make it to often because it might lose it’s mystic. So here I sit trying to find a recipe to try and make it on my own. help. I remember hers was made with oil, butter, sugar and cocoa, does this ring true to anybody else?

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cindy September 29, 2008 at 3:51 pm

Anyone that has never had it, always tells me it sounds gross and cant imagine choclate gravy for breakfast. I simply tell them they have no clue what they are missing. I had never had it until i married a guy from AR.

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Christy November 2, 2008 at 9:51 pm

I am from North GA and Chocolate Gravy and Biscuits was our special Christmas morning breakfast. My mother would also make it for us on special occasions ( or if we begged enough). None of my friends had ever heard of it, even the ones that were raised in my area, but my mother was originally from North AL, so I guess her family picked it up there. I was shocked when my husband told me that his Aunt always made it on Christmas as well, but hers is never as good as my mothers:) I do not have a “recipe” since my mother never measures anything, but over the years I have almost repilcated hers and here is how I do it.

1 stick butter
1-1/4 c. sugar
4 tbls. cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. flour
1/2 cup milk.

Melt butter in med saucepan over med heat. Add cocoa and flour and stir until all lumps are gone. Add sugar, vanilla, and milk and cook, stirring, until it bubbles up. If it is too thick add more milk. Serve over hot, split buttermilk biscuits.

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BeauEvil October 17, 2009 at 8:45 pm

This food seems to be very specific, perhaps even to particular families. My wife and I are from North Central Alabama, from adjacent counties. (Her county being more “hillbilly”.) Her entire family (on her mom’s side) made chocolate gravy for breakfast.

I found no one in my county who had ever even heard of it. I found that not everyone in her county knows of it either. Because part of that family is olive-skinned and dark-eyed, I was working on a theory of an unrecognized Mexican heritage. (I understand that Mexican’s eat this.)

Now, because of the references here to North Alabama, North Georgia, Savannah, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Middle Tennessee, and North Carolina, it appears to be a narrow swath approximating the path of Scots-Irish and rohtic speech (heavy “r”), except for Savannah.

I looked here because of her term, “chocolate gravy”. I think that the name puts people off because you are used to gravy being made from lard or oil, not butter.

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mike massey December 17, 2009 at 1:58 am

My family also growed up having chocolate gravy and biscuits for breakfast. I am from north central Kentucky and i thought (still do) that was the best breakfast ever. My mother would make it nearly every weekend we would chow down then go milk the cows, what memories.

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Richard February 27, 2010 at 10:20 am

I grew up in Mo. and also was raised eating chocolate gravy and biscuits. My mother was born in Arkansas, and her mother made it for her brothers and sisters. My grandma made it from scratch, but my mother made it for us using a pudding mix fresh off the oven. This is the way I make it today! Just cook regular chocolate pudding until it comes to a boil and thickens, then pour it over your biscuits of choice! Wow, just like grandma’s!!!

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Tom P September 25, 2010 at 7:29 pm

It’s amazing how many people turn their noses up…..until they try it! My parents and grandparents were all from the same part of Arkansas. My grandmother on my fathers side made it for special occasions. On my mothers side, they had never heard of it. I have been working on the recipe for 30 years and think it’s pretty good, but never as good as Mom and Granny made it. If I may say so, I think it’s the memories of those special occasions where family gets together that make it taste so good. When I want to get the family together all I have to do is say “chocolate gravy and biscuits on Sunday morning” and I know they’ll be here.

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Donna Sue November 13, 2010 at 1:28 am

All the stories just made my day. My mom (born in Arkansas) made it when we were growing up. She died when we were young. My sister (Linda Diane) and cousin (Karen Ella) makes it but I’ve never had theirs. I can’t wait to try my hand at it. Your stories brought me back to my youth. Linda and Karen this one’s for you!

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Stephanie McMullen May 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, but all of my family is from the Louisville area of Kentucky. My Grandmother used to make this as a dessert. She would use biscuits from the night before and break them up to use for dessert. I would come home from school and see her making it, and would want to dive in right away. My husband thinks that my Mom and I are crazy for eating concoctions like this. Thought it was some family recipe that Grandma came up with.

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Wilma July 21, 2012 at 11:22 am

I was born in Nashville but grew up in Ohio and my Mom made chocolate gravy all the time and now I have 8 grandkids and they enjoy chocolate gravy just as much as I did. Its great. Don’t knock it until you try it, you don’t know what you are missing!!

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