Grits are one of the most iconic dishes of Southern USA. To make them properly takes a little patience, a touch of dedication, and, most importantly, the perfect foundational ingredient: the stone-ground grits themselves.
Some people prefer their grits plain and simple whereas others like to flavor them with rich and delicious additives.
No matter what else goes in the mix, the key to a perfect dish of grits every time is finding your personal favorite brand of grits and sticking to your tried and true recipe.
So what are the best stone ground grits? The best stone ground grits are less processed, ground neither too coarse nor too fine, and able to be cooked long and slow for maximum flavor. Traditional southern styles and brands tend to be more authentic.
After researching, we’ve found Palmetto Farms, Charleston Favorites, Old School Mill, Weisenburger, and Carolina Plantation to be among the top choices for grits. There’s no coincidence that these brands are all authentically Southern.
In this article, we go into detail about what makes a grit great and provide you with all the key features and potential drawbacks of our favorite brands.
What Are Grits?
Grits are a very popular, very versatile porridge-like dish made from ground corn. Corn kernels are ground into small particles that can be cooked up in water, milk, or broth.
How you cook it will determine whether it’s eaten as a hot breakfast porridge or a creamy dinner side dish.
Grits are traditionally cooked on the stove-top, but with stone-ground, you may decide a slow cooker is more convenient. Each brand takes slightly different lengths of time to cook because the size of the grind makes all the difference.
Grits are very similar to other popular dishes, such as cornmeal and polenta, but they are not the same thing.
Grits Vs Polenta
Polenta is an Italian dish made from a coarse grain of cornmeal, whereas grits use a finer grain of ground corn and are much more popular in Southern American cooking.
Polenta is traditionally made from flint corn, which is a high-starch heirloom variety that’s richer in flavor and color. If you’re interested in learning more about polenta, we have an ultimate guide for the best cornmeal for polenta.
Grits Vs Cornmeal
Cornmeal is almost an umbrella term for any type of ground corn. Polenta and grits are made from different grinds of cornmeal. You can find it in almost any color of corn, yellow, white, and even blue.
However, when referred to as a dish, cornmeal is generally a very fine grain, used for baking or making porridge cereals. Grits are usually a coarser grind than cornmeal and cook up very creamy and smooth.
Are Grits Healthy?
Grits themselves are relatively healthy, being nothing but dried and ground corn. Corn, especially non-GMO and organic corn, is a good source of iron, B-vitamins, and a variety of other vitamins and trace minerals.
The fixin’s are where you have to be careful. Grits are often made using milk or broth and then filled with other sweet or savory ingredients, depending on whether you’re having them for breakfast, dessert, or another meal.
If you’d like to make your grits healthier, follow a few of these “this not that” tips:
|Pass on That
|Dried, sweetened fruit
|Pure maple syrup or honey
|Coconut or extra virgin olive oil
|Vegetable or canola oil
|Organic, full-fat cheese
|Cheese products or spreads
|Bacon or other processed meats
|Home-made mushroom gravy
|Gravy made from meat fat
We’re not saying to skip on the “good” stuff, but if health is a concern, you can always go lighter on some ingredients and favor others.
Why Stone Ground Grits are Best
When you’re shopping for grits, you’ll notice a few different types, though stone-ground is by far the best tasting, most filling, and healthiest.
Stone-ground grits are made from the whole corn kernel, including the germ where a huge portion of the nutrition and fiber resides. It’s ground in a mill and is the least processed of all the types of grits.
It can be harder to find and is less popular than other styles of grits because it takes considerably longer to cook. The 30–60 minutes is worth your time, however, because the flavor is the richest.
Hominy grits are quite popular. This is a type of grit made from kernels that have been soaked in a solution to remove the hull of the corn.
It’s further processed and the result is grits that cook up a lot quicker but have much less nutritional value and a lighter flavor.
There are also quick and instant grits, which have been processed even more extensively. At this point, there’s very little flavor or nutrition left, but you’ll have a consistent, very quick meal.
One thing is guaranteed, if you’re ever cooking grits in the South or for a Southern guest, super-market quick grits will not pass the authenticity test.
If you want to make them right, you have to start with a traditional, stone-ground grit.
Best Stone Ground Grits
Stone-ground grits are, as previously explained, the best quality grits you can buy. They do take longer to cook, but with patience, they’ll yield creamy grits packed with flavor.
We’ve listed the top 5 stone-ground grits, and they each appeal to different sub-sections of the grits market.
Cooking times range from 20 minutes to a full hour, some grits are authentically ground very coarse and mealy while others are meticulously ground and sifted for a finer consistency. There’s even variation in flavor intensity.
We’ve done our research and found our top favorite stone ground grits:
|Palmetto Farms Mixed Stone Ground Grits
|Charleston Favorites Stone Ground Grits
|Old School Stone Ground Grits
|Weisenberger Stone Ground Grits
|Carolina Plantation Stone Ground Grits
We’ve also included a full review of each, so there’s no guesswork involved. No matter how you like your grits, you’re seconds away from reading all about your new favorite brand.
1. Palmetto Farms Mixed Stone Ground Grits
- Mixed yellow and white corn grits for a lighter grit flavor
- Slow ground, whole grains retain the maximum amount of nutrition possible
- Produced in a wheat-free facility for complete gluten freedom
Biggest Drawbacks: Super traditional southern grits lovers tend to find the flavor lacking in these grits because they’re not solely made from white corn. For the same reason, it’s a favorite brand of many who enjoy a lighter flavor in their grits.
2. Charleston Favorites Stone Ground Grits (Yellow)
- Unlike bland instant style grits, these are full of traditional corn grit flavor and texture
- Authentically stone ground
- Traditional Southern grits right down to the rustic cloth bag
- Cooked to creamy perfection within 30 minutes
Biggest Drawbacks: Even though grits are naturally allergen-friendly, these grits are produced in a facility that also works with wheat, soy, milk, and eggs, making it potentially hazardous to those with extreme sensitivities or allergies.
3. Old School Stone Ground White Corn Grits
- Harvested locally in South Carolina, a hotspot for traditional southern grits recipes
- Slow ground using antique millstones
- Carefully sifted to remove unwelcome chaff
- Produced in a fully gluten-free facility
- Non-GMO, unbleached white grits
Biggest Drawbacks: Very coarse grind, courtesy of the traditional milling techniques used. For some, it’s too coarse and doesn’t give the same creamy texture of hominy grits, but many others find the coarse texture is exactly what they’re searching for in a great grit. It comes down to personal preference.
4. Weisenberger Stone Ground White Grits
- Local Kentucky product
- Produced from non-GMO white corn
- Ground using a water-powered stone mill, producing consistent texture and grind
- Cooks in 20–25 minutes, despite being stone-ground
Biggest Drawbacks: Not as coarse of a grind as most stone-ground grits, which can be a pro or a con, depending on what you want to cook with them, but it’s unexpected so worth noting.
5. Carolina Plantation Stone Ground Grits
- Deep rich, creamy flavor courtesy of a good, long, slow cooking grit
- Packaged in an authentic, 2-pound rustic cloth bag
- Made with Green e-Certified Renewable Energy
Biggest Drawbacks: These stone-ground grits are designed to take a full hour to cook and need to be stirred frequently. They’re not the most convenient food to cook, but the flavor that develops is worth the extra effort.
Are Grits Gluten-Free?
Grits are made from corn, not wheat, and are therefore naturally gluten-free.
If you’re highly sensitive, make sure you check the package to be sure the grits are processed in a gluten-free facility. You want to be sure there’s no cross-contamination with wheat or gluten products during manufacturing.
Are Stone-Ground Grits Whole Grain?
Yes, stone ground grits are considered whole grains. If eaten off the cob, corn is considered a vegetable, but when you grind up just the kernels, they are considered grains.
Stone-ground grits are made using the entire kernel including the germ, which holds a great majority of the nutritional value.
Other types of grits, including the more popular hominy grits, have had the hulls removed and are no longer considered a whole grain. Quick or “regular” grits are certainly not whole grains.
Are Grits Keto?
Grits are ground up corn kernels, and since corn is a starchy vegetable it does have a decent amount of carbs.
Depending on the brand, you’ll be consuming, on average, about 45g of carbs with as little as 1–2 grams of fiber, per 1/3 cup serving size.
Most keto diets recommend maxing your carbs out at about 30 grams per day, so grits wouldn’t likely be on your menu, no.
Up Next: How To Reheat Grits (The Right Ways)