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How to Make Creamy Southern Cheese Grits
Ultra-Creamy Southern Cheese Grits are the best side dish for lunch or dinner, or breakfast feast! This recipe is a Southern classic with cream, spices, and plenty of melty cheddar cheese. Plus my top tips for making the best grits you’ve ever had.
Grits are a staple at most Southern family tables. Whether they’re served with plump and juicy shrimp or piled into a bowl for a hot breakfast, you truly can’t go wrong with the creamy, pudding-like texture and decadent creamy cheesy flavor of classic grits. While there are dozens of ways to cook grits, this Southern-style version is my family’s go-to. I think you’ll love it as much as I do!
My top Five Tips for Perfect Grits
#1: Heat + Soak Grits: Much like cashews, this allows grits to soften, cook faster, and become more creamy.
#2: Boil grits for 20-30 minutes uncovered, but make sure to stir regularly to avoid lumps.
#3: It’s all about adding milk, water, + heavy cream with cheese for the ultimate creaminess.
#4: Don’t be afraid to season your girts. It amplifies the flavors more.
#5: Low + slow is always best. This allows the grits to slowly release their starches for a decadent, silky texture.
Ingredients for Cheesy Southern Grits
Here’s what you need to make these creamy, rich grits at home:
White corn grits. You can find these at most well-stocked grocery stores, often in the grains aisle.
Grits are at their best when they’re hot and soft. However, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. To serve, reheat the grist on the stove or in the microwave in 30-second intervals until soft. If necessary, add a dash more milk, cream, or water to help loosen them up.
Are Grits Gluten Free?
Yes! Grits are made from corn, so this recipe is fully gluten-free.
Vegan Southern Grits
To make this recipe dairy-free, use these swaps:
Use vegan butter instead of unsalted butter
Swap the cream for coconut milk (full-fat)
Use vegan cheese instead of cheddar
To change up the flavors or if you don’t have all of the ingredients on this list, here are a few simple swaps:
Swap cheddar for gouda, parmesan, or pepper jack
Use a different spice blend, such as taco old bay seasoning
1/2cupunsalted butter(See Notes for Vegan option!)
1cupmild cheddar cheese(See Notes!)
HEAT + SOAK THE GRITS FIRST:
In a large pot or dutch pot over medium-high heat, add the water, white corn grits, and salt and stir until combined. Once it begin to boil, turn off the heat and let the grits sit for 15 minutes so that it soaks a bit. NOTE: See Post for the reasoning for this, etc.
COOK THE GRITS:
Once the time has ended, turn on the heat to medium-high and add the milk, heavy cream, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and cajun seasoning (optional), whisking regularly to avoid lumps or sticking to the bottom. After the first 10 minutes, reduce heat to medium-low so that it can cook more slowly for the ultimate creaminess.
FINISH THE GRITS:
In the last 5 minutes, add the butter and cheese, whisking until combined and completely smooth. The grits are ready once it thickens, most of the liquid has reduced, becomes creamy, and the grits are al dente when tested. Remove from heat and serve immediately with your favorite protein.
Tips & Tricks
STORAGE: Leftovers can be kept in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Re-heat over the stovetop or in a microwave when ready to serve.
VEGAN OPTION: To make these grits entirely dairy-free or vegan, just substitute the unsalted butter with vegan butter, the heavy cream with full-fat coconut cream/milk, and the cheese with dairy-free shreds or nutritional yeast.
WHAT PLANT-BASED MILKS ARE GOOD FOR THIS RECIPE? You can very much use regular cow's milk. However, for less dairy or for the vegan option, you can always use your fave or one of the following: Almond, coconut milk, homemade oat milk (froths/foams VERY WELL), homemade cashew milk, potato milk, flax milk, etc.
BEST CHEESES TO USE: I love using Mild Cheddar cheese, however, you can also use the following: Gouda, Freshly-grated Parmesan, Sharp Cheddar, Pepper Jack, etc.