This Trick Will Make Your Grits So Much Better

Straight from our test kitchen.

How do you like your grits? Whether you stir in chopped bacon, three kinds of cheese, fresh herbs, hot sauce, or keep things simple with a pat of butter on top, our test kitchen has a simple tip that will make any type of grits taste even better.

While you can use plain water to cook a perfectly fine pot of grits, our test kitchen often replaces some of the water with another liquid for an instant flavor boost. Depending on the kind of grits you're making, you can replace some of the water with stock or broth (chicken or vegetable) or with dairy such as milk, heavy cream, or buttermilk. Milk adds creaminess and a touch of sweetness—ideal for cheese grits—while cream adds even more richness to grits in a breakfast casserole. Buttermilk adds a bit of tanginess to recipes like our Buttermilk Stone-Ground Grits. Stock or broth makes the grits extra savory, which can be ideal if you're making shrimp and grits or serving your grits alongside braised or roasted meat.

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Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

How To Substitute Liquids In Grits

As long as you use the total amount of liquid called for in a recipe, you can substitute some of that water with another liquid. For example, if the recipe calls for 2 cups of water, you can use a cup of water and a cup of chicken stock.

Southern Living Test Kitchen Director Robby Melvin prefers to cook grits in a mixture of water and heavy cream. "I use mostly water with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cream. The water does the trick to tenderize the grits, and the cream adds an obvious richness and creaminess to the finished product," he says. "Cooking grits in all milk or chicken stock imparts too much of those flavors into the grits."

This tip works for any type of grits, although we prefer stone-ground grits, which have a pleasantly earthy, toasty flavor. Stone-ground grits also tend to have a bit more body, which keeps the texture of the grits from being too thin and runny.

Tips For Adding Broth Or Stock To Grits

If you are adding broth or stock to grits, you can add the liquid along with water at the beginning of the cooking process. While you can use all broth to boil your grits in, many recipes use half broth and half water for a more subtle flavor, or half broth and half milk for grits that are both savory and creamy.

We recommend using low-sodium broth to prevent the grits from becoming overly salty, but if you use regular broth, don't salt the water before adding your grits. Give your grits a taste test after cooking and then add more salt if needed.

Tips For Adding Cream To Grits

Cream is very fatty and can over-thicken grits when too much is added. Use mostly water and add a small amount of cream, such as the 1/4 to 1/2 cup recommended by our test kitchen. If you want a stronger dairy flavor, you can use a mixture of half milk and half water along with the cream.

Many recipes tell you to stir the cream in halfway through or at the end of the cooking process for incredibly rich and velvety grits. You can use the same trick when adding whole buttermilk or cream cheese to your grits.

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