Cheese Grits – This deliciously creamy, rich, and cheesy Southern delicacy is the perfect breakfast or side dish. Butter, cheddar cheese, and smoked Gouda make this the best ever cheesy grits recipe you’ll ever have. Silky smooth grits literally melt in your mouth!
Now speaking of a satisfyingly good breakfast, nothing compares to the thought of waking up to a lovely morning with a big warm bowl of Cheese Grits!
I have to admit; it’s one of my favorite indulgences. Whenever I visit my family, they always make these silky smooth, rich, and cheesy grits just for me. How can something as simple as this be so good? Well, the secret is in the ingredients!😅
What are Cheese Grits?
Grits have been a Southern staple for eons. They are corn that has been ground into a coarse meal. Once ground, the meal is sifted to separate the finer bits for cornmeal, and the coarser bits become grits.
You can then boil them and mix them with just about anything. Some people go for the simple route of just butter and milk, while others load them up with bacon, shrimp, ham, sausage, or egg. Have you ever tried Fish and Grits? Heavenly! And yes, you can always go the sweeter route, like this Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge.
- Milk – This delicious liquid adds creaminess to the cheese grits. Buttermilk will add an extra tang if that’s what you like, and chicken broth or water will also go well with this recipe.
- Grits – When choosing which grits to use (you’ll usually find them in the hot cereal aisle), you can go with old-fashioned, quick, or regular grits. I used quick grits for this recipe, but you can use stone-ground (longer cooking time) or regular grits. You could use coarsely ground polenta in a pinch, but the texture won’t be quite the same.
- Sharp Cheddar and Gouda Cheese – The cheddar gives your grits a robust and tangy flavor, while Gouda adds creaminess, nuttiness, and smokiness.
How to Make Cheese Grits
- Bring Liquid to a Boil – Start by adding water, milk, bay leaf, and salt to a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil. (Photos 1-2)
- Slowly Whisk in Grits – Gradually whisk in the grits a little at a time until you have added them all to the pot. (Photo 3)
- Remove Lumps – Keep stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps. (You may have to remove the saucepan from heat while trying to get rid of any lumps.) (Photo 4)
- Patiently cook at a low simmer while stirring. Reduce heat and cook grits at a bare simmer, covered, frequently stirring, until water is fully absorbed and grits thickened. It will take 10-15 minutes. (Photo 5)
- Finish cooking. Remove grits from heat, add the butter and cheese, stirring with a whisk until cheese melts. (Photos 6-7)
- Adjust the cheese grits consistency. If your grits get too thick, just add more milk.
- Serve – Enjoy piping hot! Top with more cheese and butter, if desired. (Photo 8)
- Mushrooms and Onions – These go really well with cheese grits. Simply saute them, then spoon them on your grits when serving. The mushroom flavor combines deliciously with cheesy grits.
- Herbs and Spices – Aside from bay leaf, you can also use thyme and rosemary for savory grits. These herbs also go well with cheese.
- Other Cheeses – Goat cheese, pepper Jack, Monterey Jack, and white cheddar go really well with this recipe.
Tips and Tricks
- A combination of water and milk makes the creamiest grits. The silky, melt-in-your-mouth texture and incredible flavor are unbeatable.
- If you need to adjust the recipe for a larger or smaller amount, the uncooked grits and liquid ratio is 1:4. That’s one cup of grits to 4 cups of liquid.
- Heavy cream makes grits even richer and creamier. However, they don’t cook so well together. So if you want heavy cream in your grits, add it at the same time you add the cheese. Oh, so good!
- Quick or regular grits are finely ground, and it only takes 5-10 minutes to cook them. They’re perfect for those mornings that have you rushing but still want a comforting and filling meal.
In a nutshell, yes, you can, but it will give you a smoother texture because cornmeal is ground much finer than grits. I happen to prefer grits’ texture.
Cook your grits low and slow for a silky, melt-in-your-mouth texture. If you constantly stir them for the first few minutes, you’ll stop lumps from forming. Then continuing to stir frequently will ensure your grits cook more evenly.
That may depend on who you ask. Honestly, both have excellent but different nutritional values. But I say a balanced diet that includes both is the healthiest option.
Grits are a great make-ahead dish. And that’s great because we don’t always have the luxury to make fresh food every time we get hungry. You can make grits a day or two in advance, then reheat them on the stove (preferably in a non-stick pan). More detailed instructions follow.
Serving and Storage
Whether it’s breakfast or taking the back seat as a side dish at dinnertime, you can pair these easy cheesy grits with just about anything. They also make the perfect stand-alone when you want something lighter. I love it with a simple poached or boiled egg on top for breakfast. Of course, bacon is a no-brainer. For a dinner specialty, blackened salmon on top is a real treat.
Storage – Store leftover cheese grits in an airtight container for up to three days. The longer they’ve been in the fridge, the drier they’ll be.
Reheat – Add water, milk, or broth to a saucepan (preferably non-stick) and add the grits. Heat on low, constantly stirring so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. If they’re still lumpy, add more liquid. Simmer until heated through and creamy.
What to Serve with Cheese Grits
More Southern Comfort Food
- 2 cup (473 ml) water
- 3 cup (732 ml) milk, sub with water (see notes)
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup (159 g) quick-cooking grits
- 3-4 tablespoon (42.53 – 56.70 g) unsalted butter
- 1-2 cup (113 – 226 g) sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup (113 g) smoked Gouda
- Start by adding water, milk, bay leaf, and salt to a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil.
- Gradually whisk in the grits a little at a time until you have added them all to the pot. Keep stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps. (You may have to remove the saucepan from heat while trying to get rid of any lumps.)
- Reduce heat and cook grits at barely a simmer, covered, frequently stirring, until water is fully absorbed and grits thickened. It will take 10-15 minutes.
- Remove grits from heat, add the butter and cheese, stirring with a whisk until cheese melts.
- If your grits get too thick, just add more milk.
- Enjoy piping hot! Top with more cheese and butter, if desired.
Tips & Notes:
- Water and milk combination – Best when making grits. It yields a silky texture and melt-in-your-mouth unbeatable flavor.
- Cook it at a low temperature – The best way to cook grits is to keep stirring while simmering. You might overcook the grits if you rush cooking it at high heat.
- Cook it longer. This will help you achieve a creamier and softer texture aside from adding the cheese and butter.
- Use flavorful liquid. The milk and broth are great additions to grits because they infuse a lot of flavors and help make it soft and creamy.
- Measure the liquid ingredients correctly. In some instances, you might have used random equipment in measuring. However, the amount of liquid to grits ratio can significantly affect the consistency, resulting in your grits being too thin or thick.
- Give it a rest. Right after cooking might look like the best time to serve it. But you actually need to give it a few minutes to thicken it up. It takes up to 15 minutes, covered.
- Cook it ahead of time. If you are making breakfast and need to cook other stuff, make the cheese grits first. That will help you focus on making the grits and avoid overcooking them, and your grits have the needed resting time.
- Please keep in mind that the nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used in the recipe.