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How To Thicken Grits – The 3 Best Ways

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Grits are one of the most beloved Southern comfort foods for a cold winter night or an early summer morning.

While grits can be super convenient to make, they sometimes don’t cook well and get too runny. Does that mean you should throw them away? Absolutely not!

But, how do you even thicken grits? You can thicken your grits using several easy techniques. For instance, draining excess water, heating for a long time, or adding an egg can help achieve the right consistency.

So, if you are upset about your watery porridge, buckle up because your dish is about to get perfectly thick and creamy. 

Continue reading to find different ways on how you can thicken your runny grits.

How to Cook Grits

To make sure your grits cook well and end up perfect, you need to follow the right recipe.

If this is your first time cooking this dish, or even third time for that matter, read the tried-and-true steps below to make sure you are following the same technique:

  • Take a pan with 4 cups of hot water and bring it up to a boil. 
  • Add in ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 cup of milk.
  • Add cornmeal (if necessary) slowly to avoid any stickiness.
  • While stirring, add 1 cup of grits in the pan as well and keep cooking.
  • Stir well until the mixture has properly thickened. 
  • Reduce the pan’s heat to low
  • Cover the grits with the lid.
  • Let them cook for another 20 minutes until they have achieved a thick consistency. 

While the method for cooking may seem straightforward, you may find yourself making your grits a bit too runny. If you do, don’t panic! We’ve got some solutions right here for you. 

Why Do Grits Get Too Runny?

Here are a couple of common issues to look out for while preparing your grits!

Using Too Much Water

If you find your grits are perfectly soft but are still too watery, you may want to reconsider the amount of water you have added in the initial stage.

While this dish requires enough water to cook the grits properly, you should be careful with the quantity. Make sure to use a measuring cup to match the amount of water mentioned in the recipe. 

Similarly, make sure not to use too little water either. This mistake may not allow the grits to cook well, and you will most likely end up having an uncooked meal for your breakfast. 

Overcooking Grits at a High Temperature

In an attempt to make your own bowl of grits faster, you may be cooking them at too high a temperature and end up accidentally overcooking them. This can make them turn out super runny and thin. 

For a bowl of consistent porridge, cook the grits on medium-low heat. Moreover, keep stirring the mixture to simmer them patiently. 

While this method may take some time to achieve your grit goals, the results will turn out much better than having overcooked grits. 

Not Allowing the Porridge to Settle

If you are consuming grits as soon as you have turned off the flame, you may end up serving yourself a watery treat and ruining your morning.

Grits need at least 10 minutes to fully set up after cooking to achieve the level of thickness you desire. 

So, if you are not in an emergency and have enough time to eat your bowl before you head out for work, let your porridge thicken naturally. Believe us; you won’t regret this waiting time. 

How to Thicken Already Cooked Runny Grits

Despite all the efforts, if your grits have still turned out soupy, don’t worry, as we all make cooking blunders. There are a few methods you can try to bounce back and prepare a thick bowl of porridge for yourself. 

Here are some fantastic ways you can follow to convert your too-watery-to-eat bowl of grits into an oh-what-a yummy-delight dish. 

Recook Your Grits

Try this method if you think your grits may require some additional minutes to cook properly.

  • Put your cooked grits back in a pan on medium heat.
  • Keep stirring until the mixture is hot enough to form bubbles.
  • Let the water in the pan evaporate slowly so you can get a thick consistent mix. This should take 20 to 30 minutes, so don’t lose your patience. 
  • Once cooked, let the grits cool down in a bowl before you taste them. 

Add an Egg

If you do not have any issue consuming eggs, try using this method to thicken the mixture. 

  • Take a medium-sized bowl
  • Beat a small egg in the bowl. 
  • Whisk well until it has turned into a well-beaten paste. 
  • Pour a small amount of the hot runny grits into the bowl with the egg and keep stirring in order to temper the egg.
  • Keep mixing until you get a creamy paste. Make sure it that doesn’t have any pieces of unwanted scrambled eggs.
  • Once you are satisfied with the results, pour your grits back to the pot with the remaining mixture.
  • Stir the egg with the porridge on medium heat and let it simmer.
  • Turn off the heat when the correct thickness has been achieved, and pour the grits into a bowl to enjoy!

This method will help thicken the grits faster than any other technique. 

Remove Excess Water

Even after cooking for 30 minutes straight, if the grits are still too runny, you can try straining out all the excess water. To do that :

  • Use a coffee paper filter and place it in a mesh strainer.
  • Take a measuring cup and scoop out some grits from the watery mixture.
  • You should be very careful on this step because the cooked grits will be pretty hot to handle.
  • Pour the scooped grit mixture through a filter over a sink.
  • Let the excess water pass through the paper filter
  • Scrape any strained grits using a spatula and pour them back into the cooking pot.
  • Stir again and repeat the process until the grits are thick enough to meet your preference. 

While this method isn’t very complicated, you need to have the right filter to carry it out. Moreover, if you use a cheesecloth to strain the water, be careful as the cleanup afterward won’t be easy. 

What to Avoid When Thickening the Grits

In the above section, we got to show you a few tried-and-true ways to thicken your grits.

However, in this next section, we thought we’d show you some common mistakes people make when attempting their thicken their bowl of porridge.

Adding Additional Grits

It does sound logical to add some more grits in your runny mixture to achieve the desired thickness. But, in reality, it may lead to a bigger problem and waste of your precious time. 

You have cooked the porridge enough to make the consistency thick, but is it still runny? Adding extra raw grits may reduce the excess water in the pan, but they won’t cook well with the available mixture

The uncooked additions won’t have enough water and time to turn soft, and you may end up with crunchy grits over your soft ones. 

Mixing Cornstarch

Cornstarch doesn’t thicken cooked grits but only enhances the starch flavor. The most common occurrence with cornstarch is that ends up amplifying the bland flavor of runny porridge without helping thicken it. 

So, in short, cornstarch is not suitable to thicken a soupy grit dish. 

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over some of the best ways to thicken grits, as well as some problems to look out for when making this dish, let’s tackle a few more questions on the subject.

What is the right thickness for grits?

There is no single measurement standard for the perfect thickness of grits. It is a subjective matter and depends on everyone’s preference. 

However, if you want to enjoy your grits as most people do, make them thick enough to enjoy with a spoon with little excess moisture

Do grits cook well with milk or water?

The best thing about grits is that they mix well with just about anything to add versatility to your breakfast bowl. However, with milk, these oat-like treats make a far more creamy and thick delight as compared to water

But you can always follow the recipe above and add water and milk to a pot to cook your grits. A balanced combination of both will help to cook the porridge smoothly and quickly. 

Can you enjoy grits with any topping?

The best way to enjoy grits is in their purest form with a basic recipe. However, if you love to add more flavors to your dish, you can do so without feeling reluctant. 

A bowl of well-cooked grits tastes excellent with banana slices and chopped strawberries. Moreover, you can pour a few drops of maple syrup or honey on your thick porridge and experience the sweet balance it creates. 

You can also enjoy savory grits by adding cheese to the mixture while they are cooking. The options to enjoy this dish are endless, and you can always search for the one that will make your taste buds dance.  

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