The Grits Rule You Should Never Break

If you're a fan of Southern cuisine, chances are you've had grits a time or two. The simple dish has such a good reputation that it even became the official food of South Carolina (via The Spruce Eats). The versatile favorite can be served up for breakfast or dinner, and adapted in a wide variety of ways. However, there is one rule you should never break, no matter what creation you're mixing up. Always give your grits a few minutes to properly set up.

If you followed your recipe carefully and know you put in the right amount of water and you cooked it for exactly how long the recipe stated, there's a good chance that your grits just need a few minutes to properly set up (via Baking Kneads). If your grits are cooked to perfection but the texture just isn't quite what you wanted, the simple extra step of waiting a few minutes will make sure you don't accidentally overcook them in an attempt to get the mixture thicker, as they'll thicken up a bit more as they cool.

When determining cook time, it's also important to know what type of grits you're working with. As Spicy Southern Kitchen outlined, some quick grits can be cooked in under 15 minutes, while stone-ground grits could take up to an hour.

A few more tips for making the perfect bowl of grits

There are a few other mistakes to avoid when making grits. If you've opted to use stone-ground grits, Kitchn recommends soaking the grits before you start cooking them. Anson Mills, one of the brands many chefs love for grits, suggests soaking them overnight to lower the cooking time needed, as well as to give your final product a better texture.

The cooking temperature also plays a big role in how your dish turns out. As Real Simple explains, grits should be cooked low and slow, and should be frequently whisked. This allows the grits to release their starches to create the creamy dish you've been dreaming of, and also ensures that you don't have any unappetizing lumps in the mixture. And, you don't really need to worry about your grits hanging out on your stovetop too long — they won't get mushy, but instead will get even creamier as time passes, according to Bon Appétit.

Finally, while all you really need to cook your grits is water, there's something to be said for mixing up your choice of liquids. According to Southern Living, using chicken stock, vegetable broth, buttermilk, heavy cream, or milk can be a game changer. But the outlet was careful to point out that you don't want to replace the water entirely with another liquid, just swapping out some of the water will add some serious flavor.