How to Make Grits

Grits are a staple in ay Southern home. Growing up we all learn how to make grits, and everyone has their own special way. I promise you this is the BEST grits recipe out there.

How to Make Grits

I love grits when they are done right. And like many of the “basics” on my bucket list there is such a vast difference between good and bad executions. They’re either a sticky mess of a blob OR they are the creamiest, dreamiest you’ve ever had. I truly believe cheese grits were (thankfully) invented in the first place for those who weren’t able to master the regular kind.

I’m so excited to add this recipe to our Southern Kitchen Bucket List. You can find all of the recipes here.

homemade grits

To truly master this staple, I teamed up with James Beard Foundation Award winning chef Virginia Willis. She shared one of her favorite basic recipes for “4C Grits” from her Short Stack Edition cookbook, “Grits” and many of her top secret tips with me in the kitchen, and I have them here for you. In fact, the first time I met Virginia she was doing a demo cooking them at Williams-Sonoma. So I truly couldn’t think of anyone more perfect to learn from than her.

In fact, my husband (thinks he) doesn’t like grits so it’s not a dish I generally cook in my own home, but something I’m looking to change after making this recipe.

how to make grits

How to Make Grits

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How to Make Grits


The best creamy and tasty grits recipe.


  • 2 ears fresh sweet corn, kernels scraped and reserved and cobs cut in half 
  • 1 tablespoon unrefined corn oil 
  • 1 sweet onion, grated 
  • 1 cup 2-percent milk 
  • 1 cup stone-ground yellow grits 
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, or to taste 
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 


  1. Make the corn stock: In a saucepan, combine the corncobs and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Decrease the heat to low and simmer until the corn stock has taken on a light corn flavor, about 10 minutes. Remove the cobs, strain the stock into a bowl, and set aside. 
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until transparent, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved corn kernels and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Increase the heat of the onions and corn to medium high; add the milk and the corn stock. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk in the grits. Season with 1 teaspoon of coarse salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until tender and creamy, 45 to 60 minutes. Add the butter and taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. 

corn and onions

shucked corn

The “four c’s” in the name refer to the four layers of corn that form this dish. Unrefined corn oil, fresh corn, corn stock, and lastly, ground corn (grits) take this from a straightforward bowl of country grits to elegant simplicity. This recipe is best in summer when corn is in season. For breakfast, crown with a farm fresh egg and to “lift” this bowl to lunch or dinner status, stir in other summer ingredients such as chopped heirloom tomatoes and basil, tender poached shrimp, or even buttery chunks of steamed lobster.

women shucking cornear oh corn

cutting corn

fresh corn

grits in cast iron skillet

grits in cast iron skillet

Tips for Making Grits

Courtesy of chef Virginia Willis:

  • Whisk so that “grit rocks” don’t form

  • Only use whole grain grits

  • Use local grits when possible

  • Stick to a 1 cup grits / 4 cups liquid ratio (she generally does 2 cups milk / 2 cups water)

  • Don’t pound with heavy cream or cheese to let the flavor of the corn be the hero

grits in a bowl

eating grits

I hope that you’ll try this recipe and learn how to make it yourself. I promise this is the best recipe, and so much better than any store bought bag.


Download our FREE Southern Recipes Cookbook here.

I’m an old soul based in Atlanta, GA and mom of 3 with a deep love of all things from the past with a story to tell, on a mission to keep heirlooms around for another generation - whether it be a tradition, splattered family recipe, or historic home.

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