If you're new to the region, read closely and follow the directions. If you've been lovin' grits for years, jot down the recipes and stop by the store as soon as you can.

Cheese Grits Recipes
Sharp Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses lend an unbeatable tangy richness to Creamy Cheese Grits.
| Credit: Beth Dreiling / Styling: Lisa Powell Bailey / Food Styling: Angela Sellers

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The food in our "Taste of the South" column often generates intense discussions at our tasting table, and cheese grits proved no exception. We all agreed that this straightforward dish embodies the very definition of good, old-fashioned, stick-to-your-ribs Southern food. The rest, however, was open to a little friendly debate.

Following our standard procedure, we tested a number of recipes, which included everything from garlic to bacon and just about every kind of cheese you can imagine. In the end, it was the unadorned but extraordinarily delicious Creamy Cheese Grits that won, hands down. The reason? The cheese. Specifically, sharp Cheddar and Monterey Jack.

We found that the combination of tangy sharp Cheddar and mild Monterey Jack creates the perfect balance of creaminess and flavor. Here's why: The sharper the cheese, the less moisture it has. This is a good thing when sliced and eaten out of hand, but it's not so good when the cheese is heated. When sharp and extra-sharp Cheddar are melted, they can taste greasy and grainy. Enter Monterey Jack, whose high moisture content makes it just right for melting. When you try the recipe, you'll know why they're the perfect match.

If you're looking for a more dressed-up, savory recipe, don't miss Baked Cheese Grits. We took the basic ingredients from Creamy Cheese Grits, replaced the water with chicken broth, and kicked up the flavor with the addition of ground red pepper and Worcestershire sauce. It's sure to be a hit at your next supper club or dinner party.