Made with stone-ground grits, butter, cream, and cheese, this recipe for creamy, cheesy grits is the ultimate recipe for homemade grits.
What are Grits?
Grits are a classic southern dish that is often served for breakfast as a porridge, much like oatmeal, or as a side dish alongside shrimp.
Grits, much like polenta, are made from ground-up corn or hominy kernels that are softened by simmering in liquid. Unlike polenta, grits have a finer consistency and smoother texture after being cooked.
And let me just say, when prepared correctly, grits are heavenly!
The Best Grits Recipe
My recipe for grits, which has been perfected after living in the south for nearly 2 decades, is made with stone-ground corn grits that are simmered in chicken stock until tender and then finished with butter, cheese, and cream to create luscious, cheesy, creamy grits.
These homemade grits are everything good grits should be. They are a bit sweet from the natural flavor of the corn, perfectly tender and creamy, and super decadent thanks to the addition of cheese, butter, and cream.
Notes on Ingredients
- Grits: There is a wide variety of grits sold at most grocery stores. For this recipe, you can use white or yellow stone-ground grits, not products labeled cornmeal, polenta, quick-cooking grits, or instant grits. I have found it easier to find yellow corn grits at most grocery stores.
- Cooking Liquid: Instead of simmering the grits in water, I love using either low-sodium storebought or homemade chicken stock or vegetable broth. If you are planning to top your grits with sugar or fruit, I would use water instead of broth.
- Garlic: Minced garlic is an optional addition, but if you are serving savory cheese grits, I highly recommend adding it for flavor.
- Butter: I recommend using unsalted butter so that you can control the added salt. If you only have salted butter on hand, omit adding salt, or salt to taste after cooking.
- Cream: Heavy cream makes the creamiest grits. However, feel free to use whole milk or half and half in place of the heavy cream.
- Cheese: Use white or yellow sharp cheddar, as the sharp cheese will give these grits a super cheesy, rich taste. And if you can, grate the cheese yourself. It will melt more evenly into the grits.
How to Make Creamy Homemade Grits
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Once the liquid is boiling, whisk in the garlic, if using.
- Then add the grits slowly, whisking constantly, this will help to prevent lumps from forming.
- Reduce the heat to low and place a tight-fitting lid on the pan.
- Every 3 to 4 minutes, remove the lid and whisk the grits vigorously. This is really important to keep the grits super creamy--no one wants lumps in their grits!
- Cook the grits for 20-25 minutes, or until the grits are tender and have absorbed most of the liquid.
- Once tender, remove the grits from the heat and stir in the butter, cheese, and cream.
- Give everything a good stir to combine the cheese, butter, and cream into the grits. The residual heat should easily melt the cheese and butter into your grits.
- Serve the grits immediately, with additional cream or butter, if desired.
How to Store Grits
Grits are best served immediately after preparation, as they become stiff and thick as they sit.
However, if you happen to have leftovers, allow them to cool and store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. To reheat, place the leftover grits in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with a splash of milk, stock, or water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently, adding more liquid as needed, to allow the grits to loosen up and warm through.
How to Flavor Grits
This recipe as written is for cheese grits. You can certainly omit the cheese for plain, creamy grits. Or you can change it up to make sweet grits as well.
- Classic Southern Grits: Instead of simmering the grits in broth, use water and omit the cheese. Finish with salt, pepper, and a splash of cream.
- Creamy Grits: Use 2 cups of milk and 2 cups of broth to simmer the grits. Keep in mind that the milk can easily scald, so keep a close eye on the grits as they simmer and whisk frequently. Season with cheese, heavy cream, and salt and pepper as this recipe directs.
- Sweet Grits: Instead of broth, use water to simmer the grits. Once the grits are tender, stir in ¼ to ⅓ cup maple syrup or brown sugar, 4 tablespoons of butter, and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream.
Grits are naturally gluten-free. However, you MUST check your package to guarantee that they are labeled gluten-free, as some brands are manufactured in a way that has cross-contamination with gluten. You also want to ensure your stock/broth is gluten-free.
Absolutely! This recipe makes 8 small servings, so if you are only looking for 4 servings, cut the recipe in half, with no change to cooking time.
Washing grits refers to the process of soaking uncooked grits in water for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. The hull will separate from the meal and float to the top of the water. Then you skim off the hull that floats on the surface of the water and discard it. The remaining meal needs to be strained over a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth and then cooked as directed. With most store-bought stone-ground grits on the market today, I personally find this step produces a lot of work for little change in texture.
How to Serve Grits
Grits are a classic southern dish served at breakfast or as a side dish. I have shared a few of my favorite combinations below.
- Pair Instant Pot Pork Chops or Rotisserie Chicken with a side of cheesy grits and some steamed vegetables for a comforting family dinner.
- Serve these creamy grits on the side of biscuits, scrambled eggs, baked bacon, and/or breakfast sausage for a hearty, breakfast feast.
- Serve grilled shrimp on top of these cheesy grits for a quick version of Shrimp and Grits.
- Instead of serving Instant Pot Short Ribs over mashed potatoes or polenta, use these cheesy grits as the base--delicious!
- Serve homemade cheese grits with any dish that has a lot of juices to soak up. Just like rice or mashed potatoes, grits pair well with saucy dishes.
If you enjoyed this recipe for homemade cheesy grits, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
Homemade Cheese Grits
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock, vegetable broth, or water *see notes
- 1 cup stone-ground white or yellow grits not polenta or instant grits
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic optional
- 1 cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2-4 tablespoons heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium saucepan, bring the liquid of your choice to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Once boiling, add the garlic and slowly whisk in the grits. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid. Remove the lid every couple of minutes to give the mixture a good whisk, which will prevent lumps from forming. Cook until the grits are tender and the liquid is mostly evaporated. This will take about 20-25 minutes. If your liquid evaporates before your grits are tender, add in ¼ cup more liquid if needed.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cheese, butter, and cream. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.