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"Correct" grits consistency

  • f

I've just experimented with making grits for the first time (so I was interested in the recent discussion).

However, my only experience with grits so far was the off-putting way they were served in my dormitory: runny and tasteless. I was cooking them the way I do oatmeal, which is until it's thick, no longer liquid, or even viscous. But I was just curious: what is the traditional consistency? When it's served as a side-dish with breakfast, is it eaten with a spoon or a fork?

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  1. I prefer mine firmer than soupy. I guess it is a matter of personal preference. My favorite way to eat grits is well buttered with a fried egg. I fork up the runny yolks with the grits.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      You can also coddle an egg in hot grits....

      1. re: Karl S.

        And top the grits w/ cheese AND steamed shrimp; heck, why stop there? Add garlic when cooking the grits!

        1. re: MKatrina

          My cuban-spanish--florida-southern husband cooks his grits with garlic and olive oil (or even a little chorizo or jamon serrano). Sometimes cheese added at the end, sometimes not. We like our grits thick.

          Some of his family members do a version that is finished off in the oven with a nice crispy cheesy top. Good stuff!

          1. re: butterfly

            My uncle likes his thick and stirs in maple syrup.

            1. re: marycarol

              Grits are like bean curd--they will accept any flavor. I cook them with milk in the microwave--bring them to a boil and then cook them on the defrost cycle covered in plastic wrap with a few holes punched in the wrap.

    2. m
      Marcia M. D'A.

      The best grits are cooked much longer than the package indicates, and they should be thick. They are usually eaten with a fork. For a treat, stir in some good sharp cheddar when done. Instant cheese grits.

      1. Grits should be thick. Not so thick that you can stand a spoon in them, but reasonably thick.

        Also, if (like most people) you have generally eaten grits of the "Quaker Quick Grits" variety all your life, you owe it to yourself to seek out some old-fashioned stone-ground/coarse-ground slow-cooking grits, and give them a try. Soak them a little, then simmer for 45 minutes in milk and butter. Oh my.

        Fallsmill.com is one source for old-fashioned grits by mail-order, but their minimum order requirement is high (10 pounds, if memory serves.) I just buy my favorite brand when I'm visiting the folks down South.

        - er

        1 Reply
        1. re: enrevanche

          Do seek out the real grits. They may take longer to cook but you just won't want to go back to the instant or quick cooking junk. There is a huge difference and it is worth the extra cooking time.

        2. Thank you for so much feedback. What's particularly interesting to me is that those of you who mentioned additions obviously aren't treating it like breakfast cereal (except for the maple syrup example) which is how it appeared at my dorm - but rather like a starch accompaniment, as if it were toast or rice or pasta.
          I think I'll try cheese first.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Fida

            A little garlic is good with cheese grits. BTW, I have never seen anyone but a Yankee put sugar or syrup on grits. Butter and salt an pepper is fine for breakfast.

          2. Number one, I don't think stone ground grits are that much better than quick...certainly harder to find. Breakfast grits are usually soupy, and often cooked in plain water...yuk. But you are expected to season them. "Dinner" grits are thicker, and often seasoned. A great New Orleans dish is grits and grillades. We make grits with salted water and butter, then at the end of cooking add peccorino romano cheese. What we don't eat goes into a container (usually a can) and kept in the fridge. Then later, sliced into 1/2 rounds and browned in butter.

            1. j
              Jim Washburn

              Let me say first that I will fight to the death to defend everybody's right to have his grits however he likes. Now I'll give my own opinion. I grew up in South Carolina in the '50s and early '60s, where and when almost everyone ate grits for breakfast almost every day, and the prevalent way they were cooked and seasoned there and then is the way I still love them. I don't think quick grits or instant grits even existed then, and I really can't bear to eat them nowadays. Aunt Jemima Old-Fashioned grits are what I usually have on hand, and I think they are fine. I've also had stone-ground grits from small mills that were excellent. I like to cook them slowly in salt water until they are between runny and as firm as mashed potatoes. If you can eat the whole portion with a fork, they are too dry. If they are too runny to eat with a fork at all, they are too wet. It should be necessary to chase down the last bits with a spoon or sop up with bread or biscuit. Butter only is applied at the table to individual taste. This all applies only to grits for breakfast served along with bacon and eggs or something similar. Grillades and grits and cheese grits and such are something entirely different and something I don't have any strong opinions about.


              1. Correct consistancy is just thick enough so you can make a well in the middle that holds its shape -- for that big pat of melting butter.

                Turn the leftovers (what, did you just make 1 serving per person!?!) into a greased loaf pan. Come dinner time, cut the solidified grits into slices and fry in the bacon fat left from breakfast (what, all that butter and you thought bacon is bad for you?!?) and serve with golden Karo syrup.

                1. The problem with old-fashioned grits is that they take such a long time to cook. One solution is to start them the night before.

                  Last night I put a cup of grits and four cups of water into a small enameled cast iron pot and set it in the oven at 200F. In the morning, I stirred in salt, a pat of butter, and I carefully cracked two eggs onto the surface of the grits and set it back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

                  I spooned the 'grits-poached eggs' and some grits into a bowl, grated some Parmiggiano cheese and black pepper on top. It was very good.

                  If I owned a slow-cooker I probably would have used it instead of the oven.

                  Link: http://tomness.blogspot.com