This grit cake recipe is a great accompaniment for your breakfast, brunch or dinner! Perfect with a simple fried egg and some hot sauce, or dress it up with blackened cod and creamy cajun sauce. Either way, you'll have a delicious side dish made from humble grits!
A word about using leftover grits: I know some chefs and recipe developers encourage you NOT to use leftover grits for grit cakes, because they prefer fresh grits that have a lower ratio of water to cornmeal.
Listen. I'm not that fancy. I'm including instructions for making grits from scratch below, with the perfect-for-me ratio of 1 to 3 (grits to liquid) instead of the usual 1 to 4. But if you have a pan of leftover grits, they will absolutely work in this recipe. Will they be perfect? No. Will they be delicious? Yes. Do we prefer delicious to perfect? All day long.
Most of the grit cakes I've consumed in this glorious life were made in my mom's kitchen, using leftover grits that she poured into a loaf pan, refrigerated overnight, then sliced and fried the next morning. The whole family loved them, and fresh grits were never required.
What you'll need to make Cheesy Grit Cakes:
- All purpose flour
- Salt and black pepper
- Olive oil
- Chives, for serving
Step by step instructions for making homemade grits cake recipe:
If using leftover grits, skip to the cutting and browning step, below. I do recommend when preparing to store your cooked grits that you pour them into a parchment paper or plastic wrap lined dish that will allow for about ¾ inch thickness on the grits once they set up.
To make grits from scratch, follow the package directions for timing, but instead of 1 to 4 ratio (1 cup grits to 4 cups liquid) we will use 1 cup grits (or polenta) to 3 cups liquid.
Combine 2 cups water, 1 cup milk, and 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat. Bring to a simmer. Slowly stream in the dry grits, stirring to ensure the meal doesn't clump. From here, follow your package directions - quick grits will require less time to cook than regular.
When all of the liquid has absorbed and the grits are quite thick, but the grains are tender, remove from heat. Stir in the parmesan cheese and pepper. Taste, then add salt. I usually add 1 full teaspoon, but you may want to start with ½ teaspoon, then taste and adjust.
Prepare a jelly roll pan or casserole dish with parchment paper or plastic wrap, to make removing the chilled grits easier. Pour the grits into the pan. I don't have the perfect sized pan, so I use a smaller 2-quart casserole dish and then pour the remainder into small ramekins that have been well sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
Chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
When ready to make the grit cakes, remove from the refrigerator and lift the cheese grits out of the dish. At this point, you can use a round cookie cutter, a 2-inch biscuit cutter or just a small glass, if cutting into round cakes. I usually use a sharp knife to cut the molded grits into squares, so I don't miss any of the cheesy grit edges.
Start preheating a cast iron skillet or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
In a separate shallow dish, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the grit cakes in the seasoned flour, then drop into the heated skillet, but don't overcrowd.
Crisp for 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove to a rack to let the cakes drain of any excess oil.
Serve with green chives.
FAQ's and Serving Suggestions:
Absolutely. For traditional southern cheese grits, use 1 cup of cheddar cheese for your cheesy grit cakes. I've also made these grits with gouda and gruyere and I'll be thinking about that deliciousness for a hot minute.
I love the flavor of bell pepper and onions with grits, but I do recommend making a cajun sauce with peppers separately, and serving over the cakes. Unless they're cut very small, the veggies may create too much instability in the cake when frying.
You can, just eliminate the salt from the grits, as the stock will add all the seasoning you need. For these grit cakes, I like the pure flavor of the parmesan and pepper in the grits, but if you're looking for a more complex flavor profile, 2 cups stock (veggie or chicken stock, if cooking for non-pescatarians) would do the trick in place of the 2 cups of water.
For any elevated, southern-style breakfasts, these grit cakes make a special occasion even more delicious. Served with southern sausage gravy (or white gravy with tofu breakfast sausage crumbles) makes the perfect meal. For lunch or dinner, I love serving blackened cod on the grit cakes with creamy cajun sauce over the whole thing. Three easy, great recipes on one plate!
To store, transfer to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, move to a baking dish and heat in the oven at 400 until just heated through.
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