The Chef Trick For Giving Quick Grits A Major Texture Boost

Grits may seem like a simple enough food, but there's something about this Southern staple that inspires all kinds of fervor. President Jimmy Carter liked eating grits so much that the family's dog was named Grits, and these days, you can even find grits on the menus of fine-dining restaurants across the country. But not all of us have a White House kitchen staff or team of renowned chefs working to make us pots of creamy grits from scratch. Enter quick grits. 

Unlike regular creamy grits, which need to be stirred nearly constantly for 20 or more minutes, or stone-ground grits which can take up to an hour to make properly, quick grits cook up in a jiffy. However, as with most convenience foods, there can be a trade-off in texture and flavor. You might think that means professional chefs would turn up their noses at the product, but Scott Linquist of Coyo Taco in Miami says that quick grits are one pantry staple he always keeps in the cupboard. He also shared a few easy ways to improve the flavor and texture of quick grits so you will barely notice a difference. 

For creamier grits, fat is your friend

Scott Linquist's trick for making instant grits taste creamy and delicious? Dairy. Linquist told Food & Wine that his secret is that he cooks his instant grits in "half milk and half heavy cream for a richer finished product" instead of water. You could also just use half-and-half if you already have it on hand for coffee. Linquist also adds butter at the end of the cooking time and prefers his grits savory, served with cheese. That said, you can swap the cheese for cinnamon sugar if you want sweeter grits or keep it simple with salt and pepper.

So why does Linquist's trick work? Milk, cream, and butter add fat, and fat not only equals flavor but also creates a creamier texture. Even if the texture of the instant grits you're working with doesn't come out quite as thick, creamy, or smooth as a big batch of stone-ground grits laboriously stirred for an hour or more might, the trade-off is worth it. If you're just looking for a comforting hit of creamy grits in 30 minutes or less, the richness of dairy and butter makes up for what you'd get by simply adding water. Add cheese and shrimp — or honey and fruit — to your bowl and enjoy.