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Grits, as a breakfast side-dish with bacon, scrambled eggs and toast
Place of originAmerica
Main ingredientsGround corn
VariationsHominy grits
Yellow speckled grits
Cheese grits
Grits with cheese, bacon, green onion and poached egg

Grits is a food made from corn (maize) that is ground into a coarse meal and then boiled. Hominy grits is a type of grits made from hominy, corn that has been treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization with the cereal germ removed. Grits is often served with other flavorings[1] as a breakfast dish, usually savory. The dish originated in the Southern United States but now is available nationwide, and is popular as the dinner entrée shrimp and grits, served primarily in the South.[1] Grits should not be confused with boiled ground corn, which makes "hasty pudding" or "mush" or may be made into polenta using coarse ground corn, or with the "mush" made from more finely ground corn meal.

Grits is of Native American origin and is similar to other thick maize-based porridges from around the world, such as polenta and mieliepap. The word "grits" is derived from the Old English word "grytt," meaning coarse meal.[2]


The dish came from a Native American Muskogee tribe's recipe in the 16th century, of Indian corn similar to hominy or maize. Traditionally from the southeastern woodlands, the Muskogee would grind the corn in a stone mill, giving it a “gritty” texture.[3] They were made using a stone-grounder. Only true grits are boiled and mixed with butter and milk. The colonists and settlers enjoyed the new staple with the local Native Americans and it became an American staple dish.[4]

Traditionally, the hominy for grits was ground on a stone mill. The ground hominy was then passed through screens, the finer sifted material used as grit meal, and the coarser as grits.[citation needed] State law in South Carolina requires grits and rice meal to be enriched, similar to the requirement for flour.[5]

Three-quarters of grits sold in the U.S. are bought in the South, in an area stretching from Texas to Virginia that is sometimes called the "grits belt".[6] The state of Georgia declared grits to be its official prepared food in 2002.[7] Similar bills have been introduced in South Carolina, naming it the official state food.[8] Grits may be either yellow or white, depending on the color of the corn used. The most common version in supermarkets is "quick" grits, which have the germ and hull removed. Whole kernel grits is sometimes called "speckled".[9]


Prepared grits

Whole kernel grits is prepared by adding four to five parts boiling water or milk (seasoned with salt—1/4 tsp for each cup of liquid) to one part grits. Cover and cook for 20 to 45 minutes over medium low, stirring regularly.[citation needed] Grits expand when cooked and need stirring to prevent sticking, and lumps from forming.[citation needed] They are not done until they have absorbed four and one quarter times their volume.[citation needed] Whole grain grits require much longer to become soft than do "quick grits." Some people serve grits with sugar, while others object to sweetened grits. They are often served with butter. They are served with grated cheese, sausage, bacon, or salt and pepper, or red-eye gravy. Extra, i.e., left-over, grits can be put into a glass tumbler or loaf pan, chilled until needed, sliced, and fried either plain or with a breading. In this form they are denominated "fried grits," "fried hominy," or "grit cakes."[citation needed]

Grits dishes[edit]

Grits is eaten with a wide variety of foods, such as eggs and bacon, fried catfish, salmon croquettes, country ham, and many other dishes.

Shrimp and grits is a traditional dish in the Low Country of coastal South Carolina and Georgia. A variation of the dish is also consumed for breakfast in the northern states of Kedah and Perlis in peninsular Malaysia. It is a traditional breakfast dish.

Solidified cooked grits can be sliced and fried directly in vegetable oil, butter, or bacon grease, or they can first be breaded in beaten egg and bread crumbs.

Dessert grits[10][11][12] are made with milk, cream, chocolate, chocolate tahini, brown sugar, and salt and can be served optionally with berries or fruit. Although the origin is not known definitively, cook Ben Scheinfeld has been making dessert grits in Philadelphia since 2018.

In popular culture[edit]

Grits are discussed in the 1992 comedy film My Cousin Vinny. Grits are used as a punishment for a teenage girl in the 2008 film The Secret Life of Bees.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Harper, Douglas, The Surprisingly Recent Story of How Shrimp and Grits Won Over the South, retrieved March 21, 2017
  2. ^ Harper, Douglas, Online Etymology Dictionary: grits, retrieved August 27, 2011
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 39 – Trade and Commerce, Chapter 29. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  6. ^ Cutler, Charles L. (2002). Tracks that Speak: The Legacy of Native American Words in North American Culture. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. p. 28. ISBN 0-618-06510-5.
  7. ^ Georgia Secretary of State, State Prepared Food. Retrieved December 14, 2007.
  8. ^ South Carolina General Assembly 113th Session, 1999–2000, Bill Number: 4806. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  9. ^ Lee, Matt; Lee, Ted (April 26, 2000). "A Taste of Charleston; Corn's Highest Calling: Grits". The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  10. ^ "Delicious Dessert Grits Recipe - Genius Kitchen". Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  11. ^ "Chocolate Grits Recipe - Genius Kitchen". Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  12. ^ "Southern Chocolate Grits n Berries". The McCallum's Shamrock Patch. Retrieved 2018-11-13.