Hand-Selected Recipes and Stories Straight to Your Inbox


Ramona King

Stone-ground grits


The actual best way to make ultra-creamy grits

I'm going to be straight with you: There are countless methods and tricks out there on how best to cook corn grits, but most of them are overkill. 

The perfect creamy Southern corn mush (and I mean that in the best way) is often a calling card for cooks, so it's no wonder that folks like to make grits sound more complicated than they actually are: ground up corn, water and something creamy. They're that simple.

Sure, some will say you should cook them at a boil for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat, then add more of a different liquid, then stir 20 times clockwise and 20 times counterclockwise, and say a little prayer and finish cooking off the heat with a lid on. Again. This. Is. Overkill.

The best way to cook grits is, well, just to cook 'em, in plenty of liquid and lots of salt and pepper. Finish with butter. Yes, you'll need to stand by the stove and keep an eye on them. Yes, you'll need to stir, fairly frequently at the end, in order to prevent scorching. And yes, some grits will take longer (far longer) than others to cook. This is the nature of grits and it is OK.

Here at Southern Kitchen, we prefer to cook our grits in a 3:2 ratio of water to cream, but you can certainly fiddle with that ratio as you'd like, or even use milk instead of cream, or even some kind of alterna-milk instead of cream. For one cup of grits, you'll want five total cups of liquid, so three cups of water and two of cream. This amount of liquid is, indeed more than most package directions suggest, but we've found that cooking in a higher volume of liquid results in grits that turn creamy far more easily, and with far less sticking, than those calling for a mere four cups. You may even need more (more!) cooking liquid than this, depending on your particular grits of choice. Keep a measuring cup of water at the ready should your grits need thinning.

The only other ingredients your grits will need are butter, and plenty of it, as well as salt and pepper — plenty of those as well. You can add cheese if you must; grated cheddar will melt in beautifully, but Parmesan nods at polenta and adds delightful savory notes when you serve grits for dinner.

Classic and Creamy Stone-Ground Grits
Serves: 6 to 8

3 cups water
2 cups heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup stone-ground grits
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

In a large saucepan, bring the water and cream to a boil over medium-high heat. Generously season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the grits, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring very frequently, until thickened and cooked through, 30 to 45 minutes. Whisk in the butter, season with salt and pepper, and serve hot.

Need something to put on top? Try our classic Southern toppings:
Instant Pot Grillades and Grits
Shrimp and Grits with Andouille Gravy
Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder and Grits
Virginia Willis' Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs with Grits

Photo (shrimp and grits): Danielle Atkins

Author image

Chef Jeffrey Gardner is a native of Natchez, Miss., and a graduate of Millsaps College and Johnson & Wales University. He lives in Atlanta and has served as sous chef for popular restaurants South City Kitchen Midtown and Alma Cocina. In 2013 he became executive chef for East Cobb restaurant Common Quarter and was named one of ten “Next Generation of Chefs to Watch” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. He has appeared on TV shows including Food Network’s Chopped and Cooking Channel’s How to Live to 100, and also filmed a series of healthy cooking videos with retired pro wrestler and fitness guru Diamond Dallas Page. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling the world with his wife Wendy, watching game shows and “spending all his money on Bruce Springsteen concerts.”

Author image

Kate Williams is the former editor-in-chief of Southern Kitchen. She was also the on-air personality on our podcast, Sunday Supper. She's worked in food since 2009, including a two-year stint at America’s Test Kitchen. Kate has been a personal chef, recipe developer, the food editor at a hyperlocal news site in Berkeley and a freelance writer for publications such as Serious Eats, Anova Culinary, The Cook’s Cook and Berkeleyside. Kate is also an avid rock climber and occasionally dabbles in long-distance running. She makes a mean peach pie and likes her bourbon neat.