What Are Grits: The Beginner Guide To Cooking Grits

If you’ve never heard of grits before, you may be wondering what they are and how to cook them. Grits are a Southern staple made from ground corn, and they’re often served for breakfast or as a side dish.

I remember my aunt’s boyfriend made me grits for the first time. I have loved them ever since.

What Are Grits?

Grits are a Southern-style breakfast dish made from coarsely ground corn that has been boiled in water or milk until it becomes a thick porridge-like consistency. They are a staple in Southern cuisine and are often served as a side dish for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Grits can be prepared in many different ways, depending on personal preference and the desired texture. Some people like their grits to be creamy and smooth, while others prefer a coarser texture with some texture and bite. They can be served plain or flavored with butter, cheese, or bacon.

Grits are a good source of carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins, and are often used as a base for savory dishes like shrimp and grits or served as a breakfast porridge with eggs and bacon.

Varieties of Grits

There are several varieties of grits available in the market. The most common ones are:

Stone-Ground Grits: Stone-ground grits are made from whole-grain corn that is ground using a traditional stone mill. They have a coarser texture and a slightly nutty flavor.

Instant Grits: Instant grits are pre-cooked and then dehydrated, which makes them cook much faster than regular grits. They have a smoother texture than stone-ground grits but are not as flavorful.

Hominy Grits: Hominy grits are made from hominy, which is dried corn kernels that have been treated with an alkali solution, such as lye. This process softens the corn and gives it a unique flavor.

Yellow Grits: Yellow grits are made from yellow corn, which is sweeter and less starchy than white corn. They have a brighter color and a slightly sweeter taste.

White Grits: White grits are made from white corn, which is more starchy than yellow corn. They have a milder flavor and a smoother texture.

Cheese Grits: Cheese grits are made by adding grated cheese, such as cheddar, to the grits while they are cooking. The cheese melts and combines with the grits, creating a rich and creamy dish.

These are some of the most common varieties of grits. Each variety has its own unique flavor and texture, making it a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different dishes.

What Do Grits Taste Like?

Grits are a popular Southern American dish made from ground corn that has been boiled in water or milk until it reaches a porridge-like consistency. The taste of grits can vary depending on how they are prepared and what ingredients are added to them, but generally, grits have a mild, slightly sweet and nutty flavor.

Plain grits are often served as a side dish for breakfast and have a creamy, buttery taste with a slightly grainy texture. However, grits can also be flavored with salt, pepper, cheese, butter, or even shrimp and bacon to create a savory dish that is popular for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

The taste of grits is often described as comforting, filling, and satisfying. If you’ve never tried them before, it’s definitely worth giving them a taste to see if you enjoy this Southern classic!

How to Make Grits

Here’s a simple recipe for making grits:


  • 1 cup of stone-ground grits
  • 4 cups of water or milk (or a combination of both)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Butter or cheese (optional)


  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the water or milk to a boil.
  2. Once the liquid is boiling, add the grits and stir to combine.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and let the grits simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. As the grits cook, they will thicken and become creamy. If the grits become too thick, you can add more liquid to adjust the consistency.
  5. Once the grits are cooked, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Optional: Stir in some butter or grated cheese to add extra flavor and richness to the grits.
  7. Serve the grits hot, as a side dish or main meal, with your favorite toppings or accompaniments.

Note: the cooking time may vary depending on the type of grits you use, so be sure to follow the package instructions and adjust accordingly. Also, feel free to experiment with different spices, herbs, and toppings to personalize your grits to your liking!

Grits Recipes

This Southern Shrimp and Grits is a classic dish featuring cheesy shrimp drizzled with BBQ sauce and topped with bacon! The smoky flavor creates the best shrimp and grits recipe you’ve ever tasted! 

Try these creamy southern-style grits.

Try these Shrimp and Grits with Andouille Sausage is perfect for a summer dinner meal.

Try these fried green tomatoes with cheddar grits.

What to serve with grits

Grits are a versatile dish that can be served as a side dish or main meal and pairs well with a variety of different foods. Here are some suggestions for what to serve with grits:

Bacon or sausage: A classic Southern breakfast combo, grits go well with crispy bacon or flavorful sausage.

Shrimp: Shrimp and grits is a popular Southern dish that combines sautéed shrimp with creamy grits. Try grits with fried shrimp poppers.

Fried chicken: The crispy texture of fried chicken pairs well with the smooth texture of grits.

Grilled or roasted vegetables: For a lighter option, serve grits with your favorite grilled or roasted vegetables, such as asparagus, zucchini, or roasted tomatoes.

Gravy: For a heartier dish, serve grits with sausage or chicken gravy.

Eggs: Grits make a great base for a breakfast bowl or burrito, topped with scrambled or fried eggs, cheese, and salsa.

Barbecue: Grits can be a great side dish to serve with barbecue, such as pulled pork or brisket.

Grits can be paired with many different types of food depending on your personal preferences. Experiment with different flavor combinations to find the perfect match for your taste buds!

Whether you’re a Southerner who grew up eating grits or a curious newcomer to this classic dish, we hope this guide has given you the knowledge and confidence to cook up a tasty batch of grits. From choosing the right type of grits to adding your favorite flavors and toppings, there are endless ways to enjoy this versatile dish.

Now that you know the basics of cooking grits, why not try your hand at making them for your next breakfast or brunch? Experiment with different toppings and seasonings to create a unique and delicious dish that’s sure to impress.

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