Cheesy Grits with Ancient Grains

I want to eat healthy... really! And I want to cook healthy food for my family. I mean, between kid drop offs and pick ups and full days of work and getting home in time to make late dinner. I do. Really. But here's the honest truth, and you already know what I'm going to say. I don't. So, I have committed myself to try and bring more healthy foods into our every day meals- that everyone will actually want to eat. This recipe for cheesy grits with ancient grains is the ticket to my success!

cheesy grits in a ceramic bowl

What are Grits made of?

The word "grits" comes from the original word "greutana", which means to grind or crush, and the derivation "grytt", a coarse grain. So, essentially, any coarse ground grain can be used for grits. However, in the United States, grits are almost exclusively made from stone ground dent corn. Dent corn has both hard and soft starch content that makes for the signature texture. In my recipe, I use Carolina Grits as a base. However, you can easily interchange Polenta, an Italian style cornmeal that has a little more texture from the harder starch.

What about the Ancient Grains?

I haven't forgotten my original mission. I want to get more whole grains into my diet. This recipe uses a combination of the toothsome Carolina Grits that I love and my new favorite one-pot recipe for mixed ancient grains in this How To Cook Ancient Grains recipe. If you're looking for more information about grains in general, I also suggest reading some of the information from the Whole Grains Council , a site dedicated to educating people on the benefits of eating whole grains and encouraging manufacturers to make more grain products.

Tricks to making Cheesy Grits with Ancient Grains

  • Remember to make the ancient grains mix first. You can always make these up to 3 days ahead of time. I like to make a batch on the weekend and then use throughout the week, ensuring I always get my grains in. Try other recipes like Natalie's Ancient Grain Salad or Ancient Grain and Raspberry Pancakes.
  • The grits will cook with the milk, water, butter, and salt. Don't add the cheese and the grains until after they're cooked.
  • The finished grits will be creamy, but have a little bit of toothsome texture.
  • Use a vegan cheddar that melts well and has a mild flavor, like this one from Violife Foods. You can find this in your local Whole Foods or Health Food Market


Cheesy Grits with Ancient Grains in a ceramic dish

Cheesy Grits with Ancient Grains

A combination of everything we love in a creamy, cheesy grits recipe, with the added health benefits of whole ancient grains
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Recipes- Grains
Cuisine American
Servings 4 ½ cups



  • I recommend cooking the ancient grains ahead of making this recipe.  They can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept chilled until ready to use.  If you have not cooked them already, start by making your ancient grains and you can start your grits at the same time.
  • Place the grits in a pot with the water, oat milk, butter, and salt.  Bring to a boil.
  • Once the mixture boils, reduce the heat to medium-low.  Stir with a whisk to make sure there are no lumps, cover, and let simmer for approximately 30 minutes.
  • When the grits are done they will be creamy and smooth with a "toothsome" chew and texture to them.  The mixture will still be a little loose because you haven't added the grains yet.
  • Turn off the heat and whisk in the cheese and the cooked ancient grains.
  • Cover and hold warm until ready to serve.  


*It is always a good idea to cook your ancient grains ahead of time to make this a quick recipe.  Feel free to play with the grains and switch them up for different textures and flavors
Keyword Ancient Grains, Cheesy Grits, Grains, Grits, vegan, Vegan Grits, vegetarian
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