The Reason You Keep Ending Up With Runny Grits

A staple side dish in the American South, grits are delicious, creamy, and a total comfort food when cooked correctly. But they're an absolute disaster when cooked incorrectly. While you don't want grits that are too thick, clumpy and sticking together in one big mass, you also don't want the opposite: grits that are too runny. 

So, how can you avoid the all-too-common cooking mistake that is runny grits? It starts with understanding the basics of grits and the culprits behind a runny batch.

Grits are ground corn and come in both instant and traditional variants. When you're cooking traditional grits, the general rule is to cook the grits at a ratio of four parts liquid to one part grits, according to MasterClass. You bring this mixture to a boil while stirring, lower the heat, and let the mixture cook for up to an hour. With such a simple cooking process, though, where could you go wrong? According to FoodsGuy, there are three things that might be messing you up.

The culprit behind runny grits

According to FoodsGuy, your grits are likely runny because you used too much water, you overcooked your grits, or you aren't allowing your grits to set after cooking. It's important that you're careful to follow your chosen recipe (or the four-to-one liquid-to-grits ratio) when measuring your cooking liquid, whether it's water, milk, broth, or anything else. 

Also, don't forget to lower the heat after you bring the grits and liquid mixture to a boil. Likewise, it's important to note that you usually can't just eat your grits as soon as the hour's cooking time is up. The grits will need to set a little to thicken, off the heat.

But while all of the above can help you avoid runny grits, what do you do when you're already at the end of the cooking process and you're staring down at a bowl of runny mess? FoodsGuy recommends recooking the grits and bringing them to a medium simmer until the excess liquid evaporates, which might take another half-hour. And don't make the mistake of assuming you should add more uncooked grits to the mix in an effort to soak up some liquid; this will prevent you from achieving an even cook across the entire batch.