Grits Vs Farina – What’s The Difference?

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A flavorful, warm, porridge-style dish is a fantastic addition to any meal of the day, but oatmeal doesn’t always hit the spot.

Thankfully, grits and farina are two finely milled grains that can create the perfect foundation for any porridge, whether sweet or savory.

What’s the difference between grits and farina? Grits and farina are both ground grains used to create porridge-style dishes, but the main difference is that grits are made from corn, while farina is made from wheat. Grits are made into both sweet and savory meals, whereas farina is usually made sweet.

There are a few other major differences, such as the fact that farina is typically enjoyed at breakfast, whereas grits are just as popular as a savory side to dinner.

We’ll cover all the similarities and differences below, preparing you to add two new staples to your pantry as soon as possible.

What Are Grits?

Dry Grits

Grits are one of the most iconic recipes to be featured on any menu in the southern states of the US.

Even if you’ve eaten grits before, you may not be entirely sure what they actually are and where they come from.

What are grits made of? Ground white corn. Grits are a very simple dish but are also incredibly versatile.

They can be purchased in a variety of corn colors and grind sizes, slightly altering the flavor and texture of each recipe.

Grits can be used to make everything from hot cereals with milk or savory side dishes with broth, butter, cheese, and various seasonings.

While most popular as a savory breakfast dish served with eggs and various other breakfast items, it can also be eaten as a side dish for dinner.

What Do Grits Taste Like?

Grits on their own taste like very little. They have a very mild corn flavor, but their true potential is for being the textured medium with which to showcase any flavor combination you feel like enjoying. 

Grits are soft and fluffy, somewhat like mashed potatoes, but have more texture in the fine grains. They will generally taste like the seasonings and liquids you make them with.

As a breakfast cereal, grits are generally made with milk, giving them a creamy base. From there, added syrup, sugar, or fruit will bring extra sweetness and bright flavors to your morning. 

As a savory dish, grits can be made with either water, milk, or broth, depending on the outcome you’re searching for. They may then be flavored simply with salt and pepper or boosted with cheese, garlic, herbs, or any number of other spices.

How to Make Grits

The coarseness of the grounds will generally determine how they are cooked, with fine grits cooking nearly instantly on the stovetop and coarse stone-ground grits simmering to perfection in a slow-cooker.

Grits are incredibly versatile and can be made to suit nearly any time of day and match any recipe or meal you’re cooking, but they will be made differently each time.

To make grits to perfection, it’s best to follow the guidelines on your package or adjust your method according to the coarseness of your grounds. 

Keeping a supply of instant grits in your pantry at all times will ensure you always have a quick side-dish or hot breakfast to prepare when you’re too tired or don’t have enough time to making anything from scratch.

Just add hot water, broth, or milk, mix, and serve! We love the multiple options provided in the Quaker Oats 4 Flavor Variety Pack.

What Is Farina?

Dry Farina

Farina is a style of milled wheat middlings, the part of the wheat not made into flour.

The germ and endosperm of the wheat grain are milled to an ultra-fine consistency and sifted to remove any larger pieces before being packaged for sale. 

In Italy, farina means flour. In the US, farina is a type of grain. 

For Americans, farina is most commonly used to make a porridge-style cereal, which was first branded by Cream of Wheat in the late 1800s.

This was followed closely by their closest competitors, Farina Mills and Malt-o-Meal, which is a blended cereal of farina and malted wheat.

Many people ask if Cream of Wheat is the same as farina and the answer is both yes and no.

As a product, Cream of Wheat is made from farina, so they are the same thing. However, as we stated previously, Cream of Wheat is a brand, while farina is the food itself, sold by several different brands.

What Does Farina Taste Like?

Very similar to grits, farina on its own is very bland, perhaps even with less natural flavor than grits. It has a very light wheat taste that is warming and just barely earthy, sweet, and nutty.

It’s rarely eaten on its own but rather used as a base for all your favorite seasonings and added ingredients.

Some of the most common flavorings added to farina include:

  • Fresh, dried, or preserved fruits
  • Milk, cream, or milk alternatives
  • Sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, molasses, or sugar
  • Spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, anise, or ginger
  • Extracts such as vanilla, almond, or rum

Much like grits, because of its mild flavor, farina is a blank canvas to build the porridge of your choice.

How to Make Farina

Each brand of farina will create slightly different recommendations for making this hot breakfast cereal and it’s best to use their instructions as your guide. 

The most basic farina is made simply by boiling salted water and mixing in your farina at the correct ratio.

Everyone prefers their porridge differently, some loving the extra texture of lumps and others despising anything that isn’t perfectly smooth and creamy. You’ll have to experiment to find your own style and preference.

To enhance the basic recipe, you may want to try making your cereal with milk or adding cream, as well as incorporating your favorite flavors such as syrups, honey, sugar, flavor extracts, nuts, or fruit. 

Farina is something of a specialty dish in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, traditionally being flavored with freshly ground spices such as nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon.

Grits Vs Farina – Nutrition

Both farina and grits are often fortified to add extra nutrition to these American staple foods, but on their own, they each are carbohydrate-rich and a decent source of a variety of vitamins and minerals. 

When compared to grits, farina is very similar in terms of nutrition, but it does edge ahead of the competition on a few points.

Farina is higher in protein as well as iron and selenium, all of which are very useful in a plant-based diet because they’re more difficult to source without animal products.

Both kinds of cereal get a nice boost of calcium when made with milk.

Farina is also slightly higher in fiber, though that also means a higher carb content and overall calories. 

Grams Per 1 Cup of GritsDV Per 1 Cup of GritsGrams Per 1 Cup of FarinaDV Per 1 Cup of Farina
Fat1.93%0.9 1%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)0.2 mg14%0.1 mg7%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.14%0.2 mg10%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)1.9 mg9%1.2 mg6%
Vitamin B60.2 mg11%0.1 mg5%
Vitamin B9 (Folate)7.8 mcg2%42.2 mcg11%
Iron1.6 mg9%2.6 mg15%
Magnesium42.1 mg11%22.9 mg6%
Selenium26.5 mcg38%41.4 mcg59%

Depending on what your dietary goals are, both grits and farina can add valuable high-quality nutrition to your day, as long as you’re equally aware of any added flavorings and extras you mix into the cereal.

Related Questions

What Are Grits Called in Canada?

Grits is a dish that is very popular in the southern states of the US but it hasn’t gained a lot of traction up north in Canada.

It is possible to order grits through Amazon, but shopping in locals stores may be more difficult. 

Major brands may ship small quantities to their Canadian suppliers, particularly Bob’s Red Mill or Quaker, but if you’re craving grits and can’t find any, try these similar products:

  • Polenta
  • Cornmeal

To learn the major differences, read our guide to the best cornmeal for polenta for more information.

Are Grits Gluten-Free?

Grits are made from corn, which is naturally gluten-free. However, it is always important to make sure any brand you buy is certified as gluten-free if you’re highly sensitive or allergic.

This will ensure that not only the product itself is gluten-free, but the facility it was produced and packaged in is also following the right safety standards to avoid cross-contamination.

Is Farina Gluten-Free?

Farina is made from wheat and therefore not gluten-free

If farina is a favorite of yours that needs to be replaced, grits are a great alternative for anyone who is eating a gluten-free diet. Though the flavor of the cereal will be different, the experience and texture is very similar.

There are also rice-based farina substitutes, sometimes even called farina, though they are not made of wheat. Of course, there is always the traditional favorite of oatmeal as well.

Up Next: The Best Substitutes for Millet

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