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This One Trick Will Make Your Grits So Much Better

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Straight from our test kitchen.

How do you like your grits? Whether you stir in chopped bacon, three kinds of cheese, fresh herbs, hot sauce, or keep things simple with a pat of butter on top, our test kitchen has a simple tip that will make any type of grits taste even better.

While you can use plain water to cook a perfectly fine pot of grits, our test kitchen often replaces some of the water with another liquid for an instant flavor boost. Depending on the kind of grits you’re making, you can replace some of the water with stock or broth (chicken or vegetable) or milk, heavy cream, or buttermilk. Dairy adds richness and a touch of sweetness—ideal for cheese grits, or grits in a breakfast casserole. Stock or broth makes the grits extra savory, which can be ideal if you’re making shrimp and grits or serving them alongside braised or roasted meat.

As long as you use the total amount of liquid called for in a recipe, you can substitute some of that water for another liquid. For example, if the recipe calls for 2 cups of water, you can use a cup of water and a cup of chicken stock.

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Southern Living Test Kitchen Director Robby Melvin prefers to cook grits in a mixture of water and heavy cream. “I use mostly water with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cream. The water does the trick to tenderize the grits, and the cream adds an obvious richness and creaminess to the finished product,” he says. “Cooking grits in all milk or chicken stock imparts too much of those flavors into the grits.”

This tip works for any type of grits, although we prefer stone-ground grits, which have a pleasantly earthy, toasty flavor. Stone-ground grits also tend to have a bit more body, which keeps the texture of the grits from being too thin and runny.

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