I won’t lie. I’m not of “southern heritage” and I know the art of preparing grits is a sacred process in many parts of the south. I’m not here to say I am the Creamy Cheddar Grits queen or that I have a new technique or that THIS is the only way to prepare them.
What I will say is that Ms. Ina Garten has a darn good cheesy grits recipe and I’ve adapted it. So any criticisms or compliments should be ushered in her direction. Wink, wink.
Cheddar Grits are a “cult classic” 😉
Without fail, every time I make creamy cheddar cheese grits, my husband will walk into the room to ask me “how I like my grits, creamy or al dente”. He has that ridiculous ability to remember every line from every movie there ever was, but not what time I told him we have dinner reservations on Friday.
This one is from My Cousin Vinny, a cult classic that can be found on some third rate television station every weekend. I will say, it makes me smile no matter how many times he says it.
How Do You Like Your Grits?
So back to the important stuff, how do you like your grits? The truth is, I want my grits to be both creamy and a little al dente. I’m complicated.
I like the richness of cream and cheese, but I also want to taste the gritty texture of the corn to remind me these are indeed grits and not mashed potatoes.
Creamy Cheese Grits are also super simple to make. Switch out the type of cheese to change the flavor profile or stir in some other lovely ingredients, like roasted red peppers, tomatoes, bacon, scallions or even jalapenos.
Serve for any meal of the day, breakfast, lunch or dinner and as a side or the base of a fabulous shrimp and grits, like my Southwestern Shrimp and Grits.
What you’ll need for Cheesy Grits
- Coarse Kosher Salt – My favorite salt to use is a coarse Kosher salt for even salty flavor. If using fine salt, reduce the amount by half.
- Grits – This recipe requires fine quick cooking grits, not instant grits. And if you’ve seen My Cousin Vinny, no self respecting southerner eats that type of grits anyways.
- Half and half – Along with the cheese, this helps with the creamy factor. If smooth creamy grits are what you’re aiming for, half and half will help you achieve that.
- Unsalted butter – I always opt for using unsalted butter when cooking or baking. That way I can control the amount of salt that goes into the recipe.
- Sharp cheddar cheese – We use this extra sharp cheddar both in the cheesy cheddar grits and also on top as a garnish. The more cheese the better I say!
- Freshly ground black pepper – Just for a little kick, we add a small amount of pepper. Feel free to leave it out if you’d like.
- Scallions – Also known as green onions, these are optional as a garnish on top. But I love the flavor that they add as well as some color.
Best cheese for grits
The best cheeses for grits are semi-hard cheeses that melt well and smooth like cheddar cheese, monterey jack or even Swiss.
How to make Cheese Grits
- Boil water. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
- Add salt and grits. Add Kosher salt and then slowly add quick grits, stirring constantly. Reduce to low heat and simmer, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan, until the grits thicken.
- Add half and half and butter. Add half-and-half and butter to the grits, stir. The mixture will thicken as it cooks. Bring back up to a low simmer.
- Cover and cook. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Fold in the cheese. Take the saucepan off the heat and fold in sharp Cheddar cheese.
- Garnish and serve. Garnish with additional grated cheddar cheese and scallions.
How to make grits creamy
Grits are made creamy from cream, milk or other cheeses. How long the starchy ground corn cooks and how fine it is ground are also elements to creaminess.
How to serve this Cheesy Grits Recipe
There are many ways to enjoy these quick cheese grits. Make them as a side dish for some of your favorite classic southern dish. They would taste great with pork chops, short ribs or anything else.
You can also make these stone-ground cheese grits as a main dish. Serve them with a poached egg or even a fried egg and you’ve got yourself a popular southern dish for your brunch menu.
Best Cheese Grits Recipe variations
Take these hominy grits up a notch by adding different cheeses. You can use parmesan cheese, soft crumbled goat cheese, white cheddar or even pepper jack.
Although some may argue that just a pat of butter is all you need for the perfect grits, feel free to throw in some fresh garlic, crispy bacon or red pepper flakes to add some spice to your cheddar grits.
Cheese Grits Recipe storage
Store any leftover cheese grits in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I would recommend adding a little bit of liquid to rehydrate them. Water, milk, cream… whatever you’ve got works.
Can you freeze grits?
Raw grits don’t need to be frozen as they stay fresh in the pantry for quite a while if kept dry. You can put dry grits in the freezer to elongate their life.
You can also freeze cooked leftover grits, just make sure they are in an airtight bag, have room for expansion and are only kept there for 3-4 months.
Cheesy Grits FAQs
Grits alone have a mild corn flavor, but paired with cheese, they will also take on the undertones of the cheese used.
Southern grits boasts a healthy dose of whole cream and butter, many times also topped with an extra pat of butter.
Here are a few more southern inspired recipes you might enjoy.
- Fried Green Tomatoes
- Whistle Stop Sandwich
- New Orleans Gumbo
- Nashville Hot Chicken Sliders
- Southern Sweet Iced Tea
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large, heavy bottom saucepan.
- Add the Kosher salt and then slowly add the quick cooking grits, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the grits thicken, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
- Stir in the half-and-half and butter to the grits. The mixture will thicken as it cooks. Bring back up to a low simmer.
- Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Take the saucepan off the heat and fold in the cheddar cheese.
- Garnish with additional grated cheddar cheese and scallions.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.