Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Grits

~ or Pumpkin Grits ~
~ or Butternut Squash Grits ~

Is mac 'n' cheese your downfall? It sure is mine. But now I've found an ally, a healthy substitute for cheesy pasta. It's a "skinny" pot of grits, conveniently cooked in the slow cooker with sweet potato (or pumpkin or butternut squash) and a little mik, with just a tablespoon of butter stirred in to finish. Good stuff this, really good stuff.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Grits (or Pumpkin Grits or Butternut Squash Grits) ♥, a 'skinny' pot of grits, conveniently cooked in the slow cooker with sweet potato (or pumpkin or butternut squash) and a little mik, with just a tablespoon of butter stirred in to finish.

Homemade Grits, Made from Scratch in a Slow Cooker. Real Food, Fresh & Family-Tested. Hearty & Filling. Budget Friendly. Great for Meal Prep. Weight Watchers Friendly. Vegetarian. Naturally Gluten Free.

  • "Easy and pretty tasty!" ~ Jeanette

Fighting the Good Fight.

Homemade macaroni and cheese is my downfall – or it would be, if I let it.

What’s the recipe, you ask? It’s low-brow and sinfully good but sorry, the cheese is the highly processed not-really-cheese-at-all Velveeta.

Take it upscale? Yep, I’ve tried fancy cheese, lobster too.

Make it healthier? I’ve tried. Throw in vegetables like butternut squash (Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheese) and cauliflower (Cauliflower Mac ‘n’ Cheese).

Gird it with protein? Mac n Chicken is my signature mac 'n' cheese.

It’s still my downfall.

But things are looking up because Sweet Potato Grits (and its cousins the Pumpkin Grits and the Butternut Squash Grits) completely satisfy my yen for mac ‘n’ cheese – with zero cheese and a single tablespoon of butter.

Could you add cheese and more butter? Sure, the inspiring recipe did, a half cup of cheddar and 4 tablespoons of butter. But when I taste the grits straight from the slow cooker, to my taste that added richness just isn’t needed.

And instead of devouring a potful, I am satisfied with reasonable portions, say as a base for Winter Stew or alongside Perfect Lamb Chops.

Mac ‘n’ cheese may long remain my downfall but thanks to these grits? I’ve got a new ally.

About This Recipe

Sweet Potato Grits are soft and creamy, they're meant for serving as a hot side dish or warm "under" other foods like grilled shrimp, meaty stews, roasted vegetables and even breakfast eggs and sausage.

The grits are made with just three distinctive ingredients: cooked sweet potato (or pumpkin or butternut squash); stoneground grits (not quick or instant grits); and buttermilk. The grits:liquid ratio is 1:3.5.

Sweet Potato Grits are full of flavor but very low in fat, especially compared to other grits that are heavy with butter, cheese and even cream. The grits are cooked in a mixture of low-fat buttermilk and water. A little butter is stirred in at the end. Could you call this a recipe for healthy grits? You bet.

The grits are cooked in a slow cooker. For easy clean-up and to prevent scorching, it's a good idea to line the slow cooker with a special disposable bag for slow cookers commonly found in grocery stores. Since the sweet potatoes are quite sugary, it's also a good idea to stir the grits often while they cook. It takes about 3 hours to cook the grits on high, 7 hours to cook them on low. Slow cookers do vary so much in performance, watch carefully the first time.

Sweet Potato Grits are tinged with color, a lovely fall orange. The texture is soft and creamy, like polenta or oatmeal or Cream of Wheat. I hope you love them!

Here's What's NOT In This Recipe

Sometimes, what's left out of a recipe is just as important as what's put in. That's definitely the case here.

  • Quick or Instant Grits Instant or quick-cooking grits are convenient and have their place. But for more texture, more wholesome goodness, you'll want to stick with so-called "stone-ground" grits which are larger chunks and haven't been pre-cooked.
  • Loads of Butter This recipe calls for only a dab of butter, it's stirred in at the very end. And it's plenty! I just don't get why some recipes call for a stick or two of butter.
  • Piles of Cheese Cheese lovers, you'll need to look elsewhere (how about here? Microwave Green Chili Cheese Grits) because there's no cheese in this recipe! Richness comes from the sweet potatoes and the slow cooking method that concentrates the flavors.
Cornmeal, Grits & Polenta Recipes ♥

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!

  • What are grits? Grits are made from corn that's been dried and ground. For anyone curious about grits, including how grits compare to cornmeal and polenta, look for an in-depth but straight-forward explanation in the intro to Microwave Green Chili Cheese Grits.

  • What kind of grits work best here? The recipe calls for stone-ground grits. These are the "whole food" version of grits, they take longer to cook but have better texture. In U.S. grocery stores, you'll likely find stone-ground grits among other Bob's Red Mill products. They're also quite common at farmers markets. But if you have a working local mill? That's your best source, just Google "working grist mills in [your state]". Yes, that's grist mill, not grits mill. Working mills often have a busy online business too, we like the grits from War Eagle Mills in northwest Arkansas.

  • What about instant grits? or quick grits? Please don't use these refined products for this recipe.

  • Yellow grits? White grits? Either one! I happen to love color in food so usually choose yellow grits but white grits are easier to find. Where gives grits their color? Well, remember, grits are made from corn. Yellow grits come from corn with yellow kernels. White grits come from corn with white kernels. Simple!

  • Would uncooked sweet potato work? Maybe. I only make Sweet Potato Grits when I have baked an extra sweet potato or two, the recipe for Baked Sweet Potatoes) yields a moist, sweet cooked sweet potato. But barring that, my instincts say to either grate the sweet potato into the slow cooker or to cut it into very small cubes.

  • Would regular milk work? Or a plant-based milk? Maybe. Not everyone keeps buttermilk and evaporated milk on hand but they're my two choices for this recipe, buttermilk for its tang and evaporated milk for its extra-milkiness. Regular milk will work fine, I think, as would an unsweetened non-dairy plant milk like almond milk, oat milk, etc.

  • Adding vegetables to grits is a great idea. Do you have any other recipes? I do! Do try Slow Cooker Tomato Grits, it's so-so good.

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How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe for Sweet Potato Grits hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Grits (or Pumpkin Grits or Butternut Squash Grits) ♥, a 'skinny' pot of grits, conveniently cooked in the slow cooker with sweet potato (or pumpkin or butternut squash) and a little mik, with just a tablespoon of butter stirred in to finish.


Hands-on time: 10 minutes up-front plus regular stirring throughout
Time to table: 3 to 7 hours
Makes 4 cups
  • 1 pound sweet potato, cooked and mashed to yield about 1-1/4 cups cooked sweet potato (see TIPS)
  • — or —
  • 1-1/4 cups cooked pumpkin (see TIPS)
  • — or —
  • 1-1/4 cups cooked winter squash (see TIPS)
  • 1 cup (160g) stone-ground grits
  • 1-1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk (or 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk)
  • 2-1/4 cups water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter

PREP If you have one, line the slow cooker with a liner, you still need to stir often but the liner seems to prevent scorching.

MIX Add the sweet potato, pumpkin or winter squash to the slow cooker. Stir in the grits. A splash at a time, add the buttermilk, incorporating each addition before adding another. As soon as the sweet potato (or pumpkin or winter squash) has loosened up, stir in the remaining milk and all the remaining ingredients except the butter.

TO COOK ON LOW Cover and let cook on low for about 7 hours, stirring occasionally.

TO COOK ON HIGH Cover and let cook on high for about 3 hours, stirring often after the first hour.

TO FINISH About a half hour before serving, check the consistency, if too loose, remove the cover and let finish cooking, stirring often. Stir in the butter and adjust the seasoning.

SERVE Serve immediately while hot.

MAKE-AHEAD Sweet Potato Grits reheat beautifully, a small portion heats in the microwave in 90 seconds. You can also transfer the Grits to a greased casserole dish and heats in the oven at 350F/160C in about 30 minutes; it puffs up a little, browning nicely on top.

ALANNA’s TIPS IMPORTANT Unfortunately, whether cooked on LOW or on HIGH, the grits need to be stirred often so they don’t stick to the sides and burn. This means they’re not a good candidate for a day when there’s no one at home to stick a spoon in every so often. A slow-cooker liner really helps. To pre-cook the sweet potatoes, I’d recommend Baked Sweet Potatoes but a Delicious Microwave Sweet Potato will do in a pinch. For pumpkin, Homemade Kabocha Squash "Pumpkin" Purée is wonderful. I haven’t used canned pumpkin but think it would work fine, especially if drained a bit, though with less flavor. For winter squash, just follow the instructions for How to Roast a Whole Butternut Squash.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Half Cup: 157 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 6mg Cholesterol; 145mg Sodium; 29g Carb; 3g Fiber; 4g Sugar; 4g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 3 & PointsPlus 4 & SmartPoints 5 & Freestyle 5 & myWW green 5 & blue 5 & purple 4 & future WW points This recipe has been Alanna-sized with reductions in fat and adjustments to use common ingredient sizes.
Adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, the original 2004 edition which I've owned since 2011 but which was revised and expanded in 2016 as Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, Revised and Expanded: 400 Perfect-Every-Time Recipes, both by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. Both cookbooks are terrific resources for cooking “real food” (no cans of mushroom soup and onion soup mix) in a slow cooker, including many basics like cooking grits in the slow cooker. My Disclosure Promise

Calling All Sweet Potato Lovers ...

~ sweet potato recipes ~
Tired of the same-old same-old sweet potatoes? Find new inspiration in this collection of seasonal Sweet Potato Recipes ♥, savory to sweet, every-day to special-occasion, simple to complex, summer to winter. Many Weight Watchers, vegan, gluten-free, low-carb, paleo, whole30 recipes.
Veggie-Lentil Burritos with Cilantro Sauce ♥, a vegetarian concept recipe for what's on hand, gorgeous sauce. Very adaptable. Rave reviews.

Vegetable Chili with Sweet Potatoes & Chipotle ♥, a confetti of colorful vegetables and beans warmed with chili spices.

Sweet Potato Cornbread ♥ Gorgeous golden color from a pile of sweet potatoes. Naturally wheat-free, gluten-free, no unusual ingredients.

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ sweet potato recipes ~
~ pumpkin recipes ~
~ winter squash ~
~ grits recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2012, 2021 & 2022 (repub)

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Alanna, this looks delicious, and a perfect meal for my Slow-Cooker Thursdays, where I'm home during the day but driving kids on and off between 4-6:30 pm.
    I've never looked for them, but would I find stone ground grits in the grocery store? Maybe near the cornmeal? Thanks!

  2. Alanna, this looks so seasonally wonderful and we are swimming in both pumpkins and sweet potatoes from the CSA boxes. I'm sensing lamb chops and this for Sunday supper.


  3. Denise ~ Isn't it perfect for fall? That said, I have to admit, I made this all winter long last year, starting at Thanksgiving! The grits go beautifully with lamb, great choice!

  4. I have stone-ground polenta in my you think that would work as well, or do I really need grits?

  5. Valerie ~ First, good for you for keeping polenta in the freezer, it's the only way to keep our whole-grain flours and other grains / etc fresh. I've commandeered an entire shelf in the freezer and an entire bin in the refrigerator for flours, nuts and lots of cornmeal! And yes, your stone-ground polenta will work, many packages are actually labeled with both names, the last batch I made was on a package that only read polenta. Enjoy, I think you'll love this! Just do be mindful about the stirring!

  6. This looks delicious! I wanted to let you know that I featured this great recipe in my "What I Bookmarked This Week" post today - stop by and see!!

  7. Cupcake * Jeanette on Pinterest7/31/2020

    Easy and pretty tasty!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna