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Southern Grits Recipe

cheese grits with bacon
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2.88 from 25 votes
Like a blank canvas, cooked grits are just waiting for you to get creative. But beware: They set up like concrete in a hurry, so do them at the last minute. If they get dry and thick, whisk in some milk and heat in the microwave.
If you are adding shrimp or bacon or ham, cook them separately and add them just as you serve as a garnish. I like to grill the shrimp.

Main Course
Side Dish


Servings: 2 servings


Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes


  • 2 cups water (or use half stock and half milk)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup grits or polenta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
About the grits. Instant grits just don't have the flavor. Use them only in an emergency. Quaker Quick Grits are not the same as instant and they will do in a pinch.
About the water. You can swap out some of the water for stock, milk, cream, or a combination. Try 1 cup (236.6 ml) water and 1 cup (236.6 ml) milk.
About the butter. You can substitute other flavorful fats if you wish. Bacon fat, lard, and extra virgin olive oil are good.
To make cheese grits. To make cheesy grits, add 2 ounces (57 g) (by weight) of shredded cheddar cheese. You can try other cheeses, but not all will work. Beware of stringy cheeses like mozzarella. For a thrill try homemade boursin.
To make shrimp grits. In South Carolina, shrimp grits are big. Leave out the cheese. Get 1/2 pound (226.8 g) of shrimp and grill it or sauté it in a pan. Toss it on top with some finely diced peppers and or tomato. I use sweet red bell peppers, but it is fun with jalapeño.
Add herbs. You can flavor grits with 1 tablespoon of herbs such as thyme, chives, or green onions if you wish. I am especially fond of rosemary in my grits. If you are adding herbs, add them at the last minute, just before the cheese. Bron's favorite is chopped fresh spring onions.
Other toppings. Chopped bacon, ham, and sausage are great in grits. Some folks like to add brown gravy, sugar, molasses, maple syrup, and ketchup. Go ahead if you must, but know you are in violation of the 10 Commandments of Grits.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page


  • Boil water. Pour the liquid into a 2 quart (1.9 l) saucepan with high sides and add the baking soda. I know this is a huge pan, but it can foam up with the baking soda so the high sides will keep it from foaming over and spattering. Be careful that you don't use more baking soda than the recipe calls for. Bring to a boil and keep an eye on it.
  • Add grits. The moment it boils, pour in the grits slowly so each grain gets "shocked" to prevent clumping. As soon as it comes to a boil again, turn the temp down to the lowest possible temp and stir down the foam. When it is no longer foaming, put on the lid. Let it sit for 20 minutes, stirring or whisking every 5 minutes or so to keep it from clumping or sticking to the bottom. A wooden spoon is best for this task so you can get down into the corners of the pan and prevent burning. It should get thick, but not gummy.
  • Add enrichments. Add the butter and stir it in until it melts and is evenly distributed. If you are adding herbs, now's the time. If you are adding cheese, now's the time. Mix it in about 1/3 at a time. If it is too thick, and it probably will be, add an ounce (29.6 ml) of liquid and stir. Add more liquid if necessary. If it is too wet, leave the lid off for a few minutes. When it has thickened but is still a little runny, season it to taste with salt and pepper. Take it off on the runny side. It will thicken by the time you serve it.
  • Serve. Remove from heat and if you are using other toppings like grilled shrimp, grilled ham, grilled andouille, or bacon, now's the time. Serve with butter, salt, pepper, and cream on the side in case your guests want to doctor it.