Garlic cheese grits

There are certain basic things every Southern cook should know how to make and, for me, grits is at the top of the list. Yet, shockingly, so many people do not know how to make them correctly. I believe that is how grits got its name – because so often they are…well…gritty. That is not desired and in my household it is not allowed.

And the grits industry, if there is such a thing, makes it even worse. In most grocery stores there are two kinds – quick and instant. Don’t those two terms seem mighty similar? You always want quick, never instant. And then the quick grits package tells you they cook in five minutes. They do not. Liar, liar, pants on fire.

If you think you don’t like grits, I promise you that you will like them if you cook them my way. Five minutes is really more like 20 minutes and the key is to stir, stir, stir with a whisk. They should be creamy little pillows of goodness. And adding a little garlic butter and cream doesn’t hurt the equation.

Years ago, the Men of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church used to cook breakfast every Sunday morning before the 8:45 service. And some of their grits were, sadly, substandard. While mine, after I crashed one of the all-male cooking teams (what a rebel) were, of course, superior.

The day of the Great Flood of Middle Tennessee in 2010, King Daddy and I braved the carnage to make our way to church, despite the fact that the rector told us not to come. You know, King Daddy. He loves a challenge.

We didn’t think anyone would show up for breakfast. But you know what? In the midst of disaster, Jim Ulezelski walked through the door.  He knew we were cooking breakfast and he loved my grits. That’s how good they are.

Garlic cheese grits
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup quick cooking grits
  • 2 ounces Velveeta, cubed
  • ¼ cup cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Put the butter and garlic in a coffee cup and microwave it on high for 60 seconds. Set aside.
  2. Put the water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add the grits and stir, stir, stir for about 25 minutes until the grits are creamy. Add the garlic butter and Velveeta and stir until the "cheese" is melted. Add the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Dee
    January 30, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    I love that you wrote this. I would use grated cheddar, but otherwise it sounds yummy. I will share my mom’s method of making extra creamy grits. As you’re stirring, add in a teaspoon full of ice water every few minutes and stir, stir, stir. My mom’s grits are always wonderful when she uses this method, even though it’s a bit of trouble. I think one could use ice water instead of cream, if cholesterol was/is an issue.

  2. Victoria
    February 5, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    I read this post and was about to make a comment when I decided to take a little diversion and read your post about Chefs and Cooks, which made me so sad, and I don’t need to feel any sadder today because I feel so awful about those five people who were taking the train from Grand Central Station home last night, probably hoping to get a good dinner when they got off, and never got to eat what was waiting for them at the end of the line.

    About those grits. I live in NYC but spent eight years in Atlanta so there’s no excuse for the fact that, aside from some grits with my cheese omelet and raisin bread toast at the Waffle House, I hadn’t really eaten any until this past November when a friend from Atlanta who makes them all the time came to visit me.

    I’m talking plain old fashioned (not quick cooking, no, no, no) Quaker white grits. Not polenta. Not even stone ground. Amy taught me to stir them into broiling chicken broth, clamp the lid on the pot, and stir occasionally. When they have absorbed the chicken broth and a normal person might think they are close to being done, start mounting heavy cream in. And mount, and mount, and mount until the consistency changes to sort of elastic and you can hardly wait anymore because the aroma is wafting up every time you add more cream. Then, add a plop of butter and a generous grating of real – the GOOD stuff- Parmesan cheese and serve.

    I was in a NYC fancy food store talking to the cheese manager, and we started talking truffle butter. I told him it’s usually gross because most often it’s truffle OIL in butter. So he showed me a little jar from Italy of real summer truffles studded in butter. I exclaimed “it’s $33.” He said, yes. But think of the $370 you’re saving not buying truffles. I think Chef Christo would have look at it the same way, don’t you?

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