Microwave Green Chili Cheese Grits

Wherein a northerner shares two southern secrets for the quickest, easiest and tastiest way to cook grits. I'm willing to bet: you already own this "secret tool" and your fridge is already home to the "secret ingredient". Just check, am I right?! Try these secrets on your own favorite grits recipe. Or try my latest, a southwest-style pot of grits with a touch of green chili and a touch of cheese, low in calories but full of flavor.

Microwave Green Chili Cheese Grits ♥ KitchenParade.com, two secrets for quickest, easiest, tastiest way to cook grits.

Real Food, Fast & Flexible. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Great for Meal Prep. Budget Friendly. Vegetarian. Low Cal. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free.


“Try the Shrimp ‘n’ Grits Every Chance You Get”

So cajoled our friend Mary when we headed east for a drive along the Carolina coast. “Every restaurant makes them different.”

Four big plates of creamy grits with fresh shrimp later – over about 28 hours! – we were smitten. Our favorite was a creamy plate of breakfast shrimp and grits, all about the shrimp cloaked with a silky sauce. Determined to create our very own “house recipe” for shrimp ‘n grits, in Charleston we picked up the Shrimp & Grits Cookbook (affiliate link) by southern maven Nathalie Dupree.

Her book offered two grits tips that proved life-changing, grits-wise anyhow.

Funny though, the tips were presented as casual one-liners, almost throw-aways, the way you might mention something that every southerner already knows, like tea should be sweet but corn bread should not.

Two Tricks for Cooking Grits

But let it be known, there are two secrets for the quickest, easiest and tastiest way to cook grits. No throw-aways here! Take note!

  • HALF MILK - HALF WATER Grits turn out extra-creamy when they’re cooked in half water and half milk. Worth knowing! Even a small portion of milk makes a big difference. Evaporated milk works great too.
  • MICROWAVE GRITS Grits cook really well in the microwave, even stone-ground grits. This is totally worth knowing, especially if like me, you have experience, twice, of stirring-stirring-stirring big pots of grits for more than an hour.

All About Grits

Cornmeal, Grits & Polenta Recipes ♥ KitchenParade.com.

WHAT ARE GRITS? Grits originated with Native Americans but are distinctive across the American South. The word "grits" has two roles: it's the name of the ingredient itself and also the name of the finished dish. It's a word game: "Cook grits (ground cornmeal) to make grits (a porridge-like mixture).

First, the grits the ingredient. Grits are cousin (perhaps sibling?) to cornmeal, polenta and even masa. Each one starts with corn, that's for certain. After that, the differences are cultural in addition to how the corn is treated and how finely it's ground and how it's cooked.

Now, grits the cooked dish. Grits are usually a side dish or more accurately, an "under" dish like mashed potatoes, with other foods (shrimp, meaty stews, etc.) put on top. Plain grits are, well, rather plain, so other flavors are often added.

TYPES OF GRITS Grits can be ground from white corn or yellow corn, that determines the color of the final dish. Look for grits in grocery stores near the cornmeal and the oatmeal. In fact, like cornmeal and oatmeal, grits have also been turned into "food products".

  • Instant Grits (Not Recommended) – Like instant oatmeal, instant grits have been very finely ground and par-cooked (partially cooked) and thus are fastest to the table. I'm not a fan of instant grits, the texture is gloppy and gooey. I don't recommend them for this recipe.

  • Quick Grits (Recommended With Caveats) – Like quick oatmeal, quick grits are a bit more coarsely ground and a bit less par-cooked. These are handy to keep on hand for a gluten-free thickener that substitutes for flour. They're not my first choice for this recipe but do work. Quick-cooking grits are easy to find, my grocery store even carries a house brand that competes with the Quaker brand.

  • Stone-Ground Grits (My Favorite) – Stone-ground grits are coarser and take longer to cook but are preferred for texture, flavor and "real food" values. I have great luck finding Bob’s Red Mill grits found in many grocery stores and also buy stone-ground grits from War Eagle Mill in Arkansas, very good stuff! Do store stone-ground grits in the fridge or even the freezer, otherwise, they’ll go rancid quite quickly.

A FUNNY STORY ABOUT GRITS On our drive to Florida's Emerald Coast earlier this year, we timed our trip to stop for a week's worth of fresh fruits and vegetables at a farmers market east of Montgomery, Alabama. We stocked up, for sure! But our most memorable purchase was stone-ground grits from Oakview Farms. Feeling all knowledgable, I asked if the grits were this year's crop. "This year's crop?" the vendor scoffed back. "They are yesterday's crop." Mighty fine grits, those from Oakview Farms.

How to Cook Grits, Three Different Ways

  • Stovetop (Not Recommended) – I find it very chancy to cook my favorite stone-ground grits on the stovetop, they're too easy to scorch, too easy to boil over and take entirely too much stirring attention to avoid these two disasters!

  • Microwave (Recommended) – The recipe is below. You'll see that stirring is required to cook grits in a microwave too but the grits turn out perfectly every time and don't take long at all, definitely a weeknight staple.

  • Slow Cooker (Recommended) – The slow cooker is a good cooking method too, just see Slow Cooker Sweet Potato (or Pumpkin or Butternut Squash) Grits. In fact, I've adapted the recipe for these Green Chile Grits to the slow cooker, you'll find them there!

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Microwave Green Chili Cheese Grits ♥ KitchenParade.com, two secrets for quickest, easiest, tastiest way to cook grits.


Hands-on time: 10 minutes plus occasional attention
Time to table: 30 minutes
Makes 3 cups
  • 1 cup (160g) stone-ground grits (see TIPS)
  • 1-1/2 cups (360g) low-fat milk
  • 1-1/2 cups (360g) water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (50g) grated cheese (see TIPS)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 4 ounces canned mild green chilies (see TIPS)
  • Green onion, for garnish, optional

Combine the grits, milk, water and salt in a large microwave-safe bowl. (I use a 4-cup Pyrex liquid measure but something bigger would work better to prevent the grits from spilling over.)

Microwave for 10 – 15 minutes, giving the grits a good stir every 2 minutes, especially near the end. Watch carefully, you don’t want these to spill over!

Stir in the cheese until it melts, then add the spices and chilies.

Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with green onion and serve immediately.

MAKE-AHEAD Better yet, cook the grits now and serve them later! This is a favorite make-ahead side dish. Grits rewarm beautifully in the microwave and keep for several days. You really can’t tell that the grits have been made ahead of time! You may want to add extra liquid to loosen the grits when reheating.

ALANNA’s TIPS My Auntie Karen gave me this recipe, she uses quick-cooking grits – note that's "quick" grits but not "instant" grits – and cooks the grits in a saucepan on the stovetop with 2-1/4 cups water. I once had some quick grits on hand so tried cooking 1 cup quick grits with 3 cups half-water and half-milk in the microwave: it worked fine. For cheese, I use smoked Gouda, a “Mexican” grated cheese mix, a sharp cheddar, even no cheese at all! No green chilies on hand? Not excited about the added small measure of heat? Skip the green chilies entirely. Want to move grits toward tomatoes? Do try Slow Cooker Tomato Grits.

GREEN CHILI CHEESE GRITS in the SLOW COOKER Last year, I started cooking grits in the slow cooker. It takes two to three hours and the grits must be stirred to minimize sticking but still, the grits turn out just beautifully. The technique is an adaptation of this recipe and my recipe for Slow Cooker Sweet Potato (or Pumpkin or Butternut Squash) Grits.

IMPORTANT To minimize sticking in the slow cooker, you must stir the grits often. They will still stick, you don't want to skip the liner!

Line the slow cooker with a liner. In a bowl, combine 1 cup (160g) stone-ground grits with 1-1/2 cups low-fat milk, 1-1/2 cups water, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon oregano and 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt. Transfer to the slow cooker. Cook on HIGH for about 2-1/2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes after the first hour to minimize sticking or on LOW for about 7 hours, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/2 cup grated cheese and four ounces canned green chilies. Let cook for another 30 minutes, stirring often.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per half cup: 127 Calories; 4g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 10mg Cholesterol; 136mg Sodium; 18g Carb; 2g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 3 & PointsPlus 3 & SmartPoints 4 & Freestyle 4 & myWW green 4 & blue 4 & purple 4 CALORIE COUNTERS 1/3 cup = 100 calories.
Adapted from a recipe from my dear, much-loved Auntie Karen.

More Perfect-for-Fall Recipes for Grits & Cornmeal

(hover with a mouse for a description; otherwise click a photo to view the recipe)

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Grits (or Pumpkin Grits or Butternut Squash Grits) Greens & Grits Seared Scallops with Chimichurri and Garlicky Polenta
Skillet Cornbread Simple Cast Iron Southern Corn Bread Savory Cornbread Muffins
~ more grits recipes ~
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~ more polenta recipes ~ from Kitchen Parade

~ Pumpkin Corn Bread ~
~ Sweet Cornbread ~
~ Supper Casserole with Pumpkin & Green Chile Cornbread Topping ~
from A Veggie Venture

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(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ grits recipes ~

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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 recipes@kitchen-parade.com. 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.

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2013, 2014, 2015, 2020 (repub) & 2021

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

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


  1. Love this! Anything with green chiles is a win!

  2. Thanks, Meagan! I've got some fresh hatch chilis in the fridge, want to roast them for cornbread or maybe, just maybe, more grits!

  3. I like grits, having worked across the street from the Capital of the Confederacy for several years, but the family? Fools, the lot of them. Still, I'd like to go on a shrimp and grits vacation.


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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