Basic Grits Recipe: Creamy Southern-Style Grits Have Stood the Test of Time by Ann Marie Patitucci

Basic Grits Recipe: Creamy Southern-Style Grits Have Stood the Test of Time

Grits are a quintessential Southern dish. I’m a New Yorker who has lived in Virginia for a decade and is still adjusting to the differences between the two states. One of those differences is the cuisine. There are some traditional recipes in the south that you wouldn’t see in New York or other northern states, such as grits. Grits are coarsely ground grain, originally eaten by Indigenous people. These days grits are made with either hominy or stone-ground corn. This grits recipe uses quick grits; they come together very quickly. Most grocery stores sell both stone-ground grits and quick-cooking grits. The latter have a smaller grain and faster cook time.

I’ve found that grits are a versatile food. They can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. The dish has transitioned from a simple breakfast food to the base of a seafood entrée, shrimp and grits, featured on southern restaurant menus. From what I’ve learned, grits tend to taste like whatever you mix with them. While you can mix them with a number of sweet or savory ingredients, they seem to be made often with salt, butter and cheese.

Once you’ve cooked your grits, you can flavor them either savory or sweet ingredients. For instance, some yummy toppings for a sweet breakfast include fruit, maple sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, honey, nuts and seeds. Savory ingredients include garlic powder, onion powder, caramelized onion, cheese, bacon, hot sauce, sausage, peppers and tomatoes.

Inside scoop: If you’d like to make your grits with cheese, add it when they’re done cooking but still hot. For creamy grits, cook longer than stated on the package.

Cuisine: American 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 to 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Servings:  4


  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups quick grits
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (optional)

Here’s how to make it:

  1. In a large saucepot, add water, milk, butter and salt. Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat, stir frequently. Pour in the grits slowly while stirring constantly with a whisk. Turn heat to low and continue to whisk for about 1 minute.
  2. Cover the pot with a lid and stir every 4 or 5 minutes. Scrape along the bottom of the pot to prevent grits from burning or sticking. Total cooking time should be around 25 to 30 minutes. You’ll know grits are done when they reach a thick and creamy consistency. 
  3. If using, stir in the grated cheese. 
  4. While still hot, pour grits into a serving bowl and top with a pat of butter. Top with more cheese, if desired.

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I love grits with cheese. So good.
Melissa Vickers
Nothing better than grits and just plain old butter. Cheese is good, too! When we moved from TN to CT when I was little, we had a hard time finding things like grits and turnip greens and okra in small tender pods (as opposed to the big ones folks used for decoration). Mom finally discovered a guy who worked at Penneys with an obvious accent and he'd bring her turnip greens. And she discovered a "soul food" store in New Haven that sold some of what she was looking for!
Melissa Vickers
This also reminds me of the political cartoon back in the days when Walter Mondale (from Minnesota) was Jimmy Carter's Vice President. The cartoon showed him sitting at the breakfast table saying, "I'm not very hungry this morning. I think I'll just have one grit..." :-)
Ann Marie Patitucci
I've never heard that before. Thanks for sharing, Melissa Vickers!

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