in

All There is to Know About Grits

Let us answer all your questions about this classic southern food.

Grits are incredibly popular across the USA, but outside this area, very few people actually know what grits are. Even if you are American, you might not actually know exactly what grits are, even if you eat them on a regular basis. So what are grits exactly? 

a bowl of buttery grits

Well, as you probably know from just looking at them, grits are a type of food that is very similar to oatmeal, and porridge in the UK. Grits have a long history, and because of this, they are very special. This is why they are enjoyed by so many people. 

In this guide, we’ll be taking a complete look at grits to find out what they are, where they come from, what they taste like, and lots more. So, if you want to find out more about this classic dish, keep on reading. 


What is Grits?

As we have said, grits is a type of oatmeal that is incredibly popular in the USA. Most of the time, grits are made using boiled cornmeal, but there are a couple of variations on this classic recipe. One of the most popular variations of grits is hominy grits, which use hominy corn in its creation.

a bowl of hominy corn for making grits

Hominy corn is treated with alkali before it is used to make grits, and this makes the dish taste very different from regular grits. But, this is just one type of flavoring which you will find for grits, there are a few different varieties, and this is why grits make such a perfect breakfast dish.

Just as you will get different flavors of oatmeal, you will also get different flavors of grits. This means that you can get both sweet and savory grits to enjoy. As this is a breakfast dish, savory flavors are more popular, which is what you would probably expect out of this dish.

This dish originated in the Southern States, but it has gained popularity all across the USA, and it is used in both breakfast dishes and main meals. Most of the time, grits are used in main meals in the Southern states, including dishes such as shrimp and grits. But what do they taste like? Let’s find out. 


What do Grits Taste Like?

The flavor of your grits will depend on the ingredients that are added to them. So, let’s begin by taking a look at what grits taste like without any flavoring. In their basic form, grits have a very mild flavor to them. They are thick and smooth, and easy to transform because they easily soak up whatever flavor you add to them. This is why so many flavors are added to them.

The only time that you will really taste anything in unflavored grits is if they are undercooked. When grits are undercooked, they taste like they are off, so if you give them a taste, and they don’t taste right, this is because they are likely still raw. 

In terms of flavors that you can add to your grits, the list is seemingly endless. A lot of the time, these flavors will include things such as butter, cheese, chickpeas, and shrimp in savory dishes. In sweet dishes, you might expect to taste things such as apple, strawberry jam, and maple syrup in your grits. This dish is incredibly versatile, and this is part of what makes it so popular. 


Are Grits the Same as Polenta?

If you have ever eaten polenta, then you might have noticed the fact that this dish is remarkably similar to grits. So similar, in fact, that you might find yourself wondering if these two dishes are actually the same as each other. So, are grits and polenta the same? Let’s find out. 

Grits and Polenta are incredibly similar to one another, but they are not the same thing. They are both so similar because they are both made using corn, so the end product in both of these dishes is very similar to one another. But, they are not quite the same, and this is because of the type of corn that is used in this dish. You only need to put a bowl of polenta next to a bowl of grits and look at them to see the main difference, and that is the color. 

bowl of polenta

Grits are a cream color, and this matches their smooth and mild flavor and consistency perfectly. Whereas polenta tends to be more yellow, and this is because of the type of corn that is used.

This difference in color does not impact the flavor or the consistency of the dish, it just affects the way that it looks. This color difference exists because polenta uses yellow corn, whereas grits usually consists of white or hominy corn as we mentioned earlier. So, while they are very similar to one another, they are not the same. 


What is the Best Way to Eat Grits?

The list of ways that you can enjoy grits is seemingly endless. This dish is diverse, and because of this, it is served in a lot of different ways. This means that there are lots of excellent ways for you to enjoy your grits. 

Sometimes, the best way to enjoy grits is to keep things simple. Plain grits make an excellent side dish, as long as they are served alongside something full of flavor. This is why you cannot beat the classic dish, shrimp, and grits. But, if you are not a fan of seafood, then you can also serve things such as beef or chicken alongside your grits. To make it a complete meal, consider serving a salad or some roasted vegetables on the side of your grits. 

But, you can also throw caution to the wind, and enjoy grits in much more complex dishes too. For example, you can use grits to make a cheese casserole by baking them in the oven, or you can use grits to make a souffle. Like we have said, you have lots of different options to choose from when it comes to this dish. 


Are Grits Healthy?

Whenever you consider going on a diet, one of the dishes that jumps right to the top of your mind as being ‘healthy’ is oatmeal. Grits are very similar to oatmeal, so you might be wondering if they are healthy, or not. So let’s find out. 

bowl of buttered grits and toast

Generally speaking, yes, grits are healthy. This is primarily because they are packed with nutrients that offer lots of different health benefits. These nutrients include minerals such as iron, and vitamins such as vitamin B, both of which are great for your health.

Iron helps your body function regularly and preserves your vital functions, and vitamin B is essential for maintaining health and well-being. So, the fact that grits contain both of these minerals/vitamins, means that they are very healthy to eat. 

Of course, the overall ‘healthiness’ of grits will depend on what you eat them with. If you were to eat grits with fatty foods, then they would be less healthy. Whereas, if you were to eat grits on their own, they would be a lot healthier. Just like with many dishes, the healthiness of your grits depends on how you make them, but when prepared correctly, they can be very healthy and nutritious. 


Do Grits Exist Outside the USA?

Outside the USA, most people do not really know what grits are. They may have heard of them due to the popularity of this dish in the USA, but they aren’t really eaten outside the USA. But, a lot of dishes that are very similar to grits, such as polenta and oatmeal, are enjoyed all over the world. 

The main difference between the grits enjoyed in the USA, and the polenta/oatmeal enjoyed outside this country, is the dishes in which it is used. In the USA, grits are used in both breakfast and main meals, but in Europe and other areas of the world, oatmeal (or porridge as it is known in the UK) is only really enjoyed for breakfast. Both sweet and savory flavorings are added to this dish. But generally speaking, you will only really eat oatmeal in the morning, and this is what makes it so different from grits. 


Final Thoughts

In short, grits are a type of oatmeal that is made using boiled cornmeal. The most common type of corn used in grits is hominy, and this is what gives this dish its pale appearance.

Grits are so popular because they have a mild flavor, which can be changed by the ingredients you add to your grits. This is why they are enjoyed by so many people in the South and all over the USA.

What’s your favorite way to eat grits? Leave us a comment down below and let us know!

This page may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we'll earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Rocco Smith

Rocco is from Sanibel Island, Florida, and a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor’s in Editing, Writing, and Media. With seven years’ experience in the restaurant industry as a cook, server, bartender, and more, he is deeply passionate about intertwining his fondness for food with his love of language.