Southern Grits

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Learn the easiest way to make the ultimate Southern comfort food – a big bowl of buttery, scrumptious, and soothing Southern grits. 

Spoonful of Southern grits.

We love our Southern grits. Creamy, hot, soothing, and delicious with cheese, bacon, or a simple stirring of butter and sugar, grits have been and continue to be the South’s ultimate comfort food.

Apparently many Southerners also see it as a dish that can actually bring out world peace! The Post and Courier, the oldest newspaper in the South, once declared: “an inexpensive, simple, and thoroughly digestible food, grits should be made popular throughout the world. Given enough of it, the inhabitants of planet Earth would have nothing to fight about. A man full of grits is a man of peace.”

I consider myself fortunate to be able to get real stone ground grits where I live. Real stone ground grits are truly Southern grits at their finest! But whatever grits you get your hands on will be fine for this Southern grits recipe. All we need is grits, water, salt, and butter. The ingredients are as simple as can be. Add all of the ingredients to a saucepot, let them reach a boil, and then simmer for about 30 minutes. Then you’ll have a big serving of homemade grits to share with your family.

If you’ve ever wondered how exactly you serve grits, fear no more! I’ve included lots of serving suggestions down below, so let’s get cooking!

Ingredients for Southern grits.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Grits
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Butter

How to Make Southern Grits

Now, sometimes I skip this step (I’m a rebel that way). But if you like, you can rinse the grits before boiling them. If you want to do that, go ahead and measure the desired amount of grits into a medium bowl.

Add some water and stir, as this causes the light bran to float to the top. Once that happens, pour off the water, allowing the bran to go with it.

Add grits and water to saucepot.

Next, place grits and water in the saucepot.

The secret to ultimately creamy Southern grits is to add more water than your directions call for and don’t try to cook them too fast. For these, my directions called for 2 cups of water but I added 2 1/2 – 2 3/4 of a cup.

Add salt to saucepot.

Add salt…

Add butter to saucepot.

And butter or margarine to the saucepot.

Give the grits a stir and bring to a boil.

Give the grits a stir before bringing to a boil and then lowering the heat.

Add lid and simmer for 30 minutes.

Simmer on low heat, covered, until grits are done (about 25 to 30 minutes).

A ladle full of grits.

That’s it! This easy grits recipe is complete – how quick and simple was that?

Bowl of Southern grits.

Serve however you like them best!

Some folks like to stir in cheese, others crumble up bacon in them. I like my old-fashioned grits simply with butter and a touch of sweetener.


  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat either in the microwave or on the stovetop for best results.

Recipe Notes

  • For creamy grits, stir in heavy cream, half and half, or milk before serving.
  • For more flavor, substitute the water for chicken broth.
  • You can also add flavor with different seasonings and sauces, like garlic powder, Creole seasoning, Old Bay seasoning, and your favorite hot sauce.

Recipe FAQs

What are Southern grits?

Grits are most similar to polenta and are made from stone ground dried corn. However, polenta is made from more finely ground corn or cornmeal, and grits are slightly coarser. When slow-cooked, grits release their starch to become a creamy porridge you can serve for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can get stone ground grits (also labeled as old-fashioned grits), instant grits, hominy grits, and quick grits.

How do you make grits cakes?

Turn leftover grits into grits cake by chilling grits in a loaf pan in the fridge until hardened. Then slice the grits and fry them in oil until crispy.

How do you serve Southern grits?

There are so many ways to serve grits, as both a side dish and main meal. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Make cheese grits by stirring in the cheese of your choice at the end, like shredded sharp cheddar cheese, homemade pimento cheese, or parmesan cheese.
  • You can also stir in crumbled bacon bits, green onion, caramelized onion, diced bell pepper, or sausage.
  • Shrimp and grits is a classic Southern main dish, but you can serve it with other seafood too, including crab, lobster, oysters, or Southern fried catfish.
  • Serve them as a side dish with chicken or turkey and gravy.
  • In Louisiana, grillades and grits is a popular main dish. Grits are often used as a substitute for mashed potato and served with Creole-style braised beef, veal, and stews.
  • Enjoy them as a breakfast side dish with eggs, bacon, and toast (bonus points if you swap the toast for a buttermilk biscuit).
  • How about a sweet breakfast combination? Enjoy your grits with your favorite fresh fruit, honey or maple syrup for sweetness, ground cinnamon for spice, and chopped nuts for texture.

You may also like these sensational Southern recipes:

Southern Deviled Eggs Recipe (Keto-Friendly)

Southern Fried Chicken Recipe (Fuss-Free)

Hush Puppies Recipe, Southern-Style

Simple Southern Fried Catfish

Southern Biscuit Recipe (3 Ingredients Only)

Southern Dressing With Cornbread

Bowl of Southern grits.

Southern Grits

Learn the easiest way to make the ultimate Southern comfort food - a big bowl of buttery, scrumptious, and soothing Southern grits. 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: grits
Servings: 4
Calories: 240kcal


  • 1 cup grits
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  • If using stone ground grits, place them in a bowl, cover with water, and stir. Pour off the water and light bran, which has floated to the top.
    1 cup grits
  • Place grits in a saucepot and add water, salt, and butter.
    1 cup grits, 2 1/2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon butter
  • Stir ingredients together, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low.
  • Cook, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes or until done.



Calories: 240kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!


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  1. I discovered GRITS in Rhode Island. (Who knew) I had heard of them, but never tried them.The waiter was from the South & he told me to have eggs with.them. I loved them… I am from Vermont. Later we took a vacation in Tennessee& the Carolinas. I had them almost everyday. I cook them myself now. I love to make a big pot , put them in a loaf pan to get cold. Slice them &fry them in a little bacon grease.. So good!!!!!!!

  2. I have to agree – the ONLY way to serve grits is with lots of butter and plenty of black pepper!! My brother and his family live in Nicaragua and cannot get grits there, so anyone who comes down to visit automatically brings grits! BTW, I also have a fire king leaf shaped bowl. My mama had it as long as I can remember and it was passed down from her to me and will some day be passed down to my daughter.

  3. I worked with a older lady from northern Alabama many many years ago. She taught me to add an egg into the grits a few minutes before they are done. I add the egg and scramble it up with a wire whisk. The grits turn out oh so creamy that way. I have no idea why, but they do!


    Wisdom from South of the Mason-Dixon Line

    What Are Grits?
    Nobody knows. Some folks believe grits are grown on bushes and are harvested by midgets by shaking the bushes after spreading sheets around them. Many people feel that grits are made from ground up bits of white corn.

    These are obviously lies spread by Communists and terrorists. Nothing as good as Grits can be made from corn. The most recent research suggests that the mysterious Manna that God rained down upon the Israelites during their time in the Sinai Desert was most likely Grits. Critics disagree, stating that there is no record of biscuits, butter, salt, and red eye gravy raining down from the sky, and that God would not punish his people by forcing them to eat Grits without these key ingredients.

    How Grits are Formed.
    Grits are formed deep underground under intense heat and pressure. It takes over 1,000 years to form a single Grit. Most of the world’s grit mines are in Mississippi and Alabama, and are guarded day and night by armed guards and pit bull dogs. Harvesting the Grit is a dangerous occupation, and many Grit miners lose their lives each year so that Grits can continue to be served morning after morning for breakfast (not that having Grits for lunch and dinner is out of the question).

    Yankees have attempted to create synthetic Grits. They call it Cream of Wheat. As far as we can tell, the key ingredients of Cream of Wheat are Elmer’s Glue and shredded Styrofoam. These synthetic grits have also been shown to cause nausea, and may leave you unable to have children.

    Historical Grits
    As we mentioned earlier, the first known mention of Grits was by the Ancient Israelites in the Sinai Desert. After that, Grits were not heard from for another 1,000 years. Experts feel that Grits were used during this time only during secret religious ceremonies and were kept from the public due to their rarity.

    The next mention of Grits was found amidst the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii in a woman’s personal diary. The woman’s name was Herculaneum Jemimaneus (Aunt Jemima to her friends).

    The 10 Commandments of Grits
    I. Thou shalt not put syrup on thy Grits.
    II. Thou shalt not eat thy Grits with a spoon or knife.
    III. Thou shalt not eat Cream of Wheat and call it Grits, for this is blasphemy.
    IV. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s Grits.
    V. Thou shalt use only salt, butter, and red-eye gravy as toppings for thy Grits.
    VI. Thou shalt not eat Instant Grits.
    VII. Thou shalt not put ketchup on thy Grits.
    VIII. Thou shalt not put margarine on thy Grits.
    IX. Thou shalt not eat toast with thy Grits, only biscuits made from scratch.
    X. Thou shalt eat grits on the Sabbath for this is manna from heaven.

    How to Eat Grits
    Immediately after removing your grits from the stove top, add a generous portion of butter or red eye gravy. (WARNING: Do NOT use low-fat butter.) The butter should cause the Grits to turn a wondrous shade of yellow. (Hold a banana or a yellow rain slicker next to your Grits; if the colors match, you have the correct amount of butter.)

    In lieu of butter, pour a generous helping of red eye gravy on your grits. Be sure to pour enough to have some left for sopping up with your biscuits. Never, ever substitute canned or store bought biscuits for the real thing because they cause cancer, rotten teeth and impotence.

    Next, add salt. (NOTICE: The correct ration of Grit to Salt is 10:1. Therefore, for every 10 grits, you should have 1 grain of salt.)

    Now, begin eating your grits. Always use a fork, never a spoon, to eat Grits. Your grits should be thick enough so they do not run through the tines of the fork.

    The correct beverage to serve with Grits is black coffee. DO NOT use cream or, heaven forbid, Skim Milk.) Your grits should never be eaten in a bowl because Yankees will think it’s Cream of Wheat.

    May the lord bless these grits,
    May no Yankee ever get the recipe,
    May I eat grits every day while living,
    And may I die while eating grits.

    1. I’m in tears this is so funny. I’m a 6th generation Florida cracker and a true southern belle, a real steel magnolia. Bless you for making my late night reading such a deep hearted pleasure. I just hear music reading such a well written declaration. And grits will simply HAVE to be a part of my day tomorrow. Bless you , again, for the pleasure.

  5. As a ole southerner from LA (Lower Alabama) grits were served just about every morning for breakfast, usually with some form of eggs,meat & homemade biscuits! We would NEVER think about adding sugar to grits! just butter or cheese. Also, to most southerners, having cheese grits with your fish is a “must-have”. All small/local restaurants serve cheese grits as a side for fried fish. Have had to always stir my grits while they were cooking to avoid lumping..nothing worse than to bite into a lump of grits…yuck! One of the best comfort foods of the South!

  6. I love this site. I cook my grits with a little bit of milk. I think it helps to keep it from clumping and gives a creamy consistency.

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