13 Store-Bought Grits, Ranked Worst To Best

Whether you were born with a spoon full of grits in your mouth, or it's an entirely foreign concept you're looking to dabble with, there's no shortage of grit brands at the local grocery store. But which one should you go for? Should you just go with the cheapest? A brand you recognize? Or should you take a wild swing and go for the pricy bag with the elaborate label? We're here to help. There are just a few things you need to know before reaching for that next batch of grits. Namely, not all grits are the same. They are broken down into different categories: hominy, instant, quick-cooking, and stone ground. Stone ground, also known as whole-ground, are made up of dried corn kernels that have been, as the name suggests, coarsely ground with a stone.

Hominy grits are made from corn kernels that are soaked in an alkaline bath (usually made up of lye or lime), in order to remove the hulls. With the removed husks, hominy grits cook faster, which is why both instant and quick-cooking grits are typically made from hominy. More specifically though, instant grits have been pre-cooked and then dehydrated, so they can cook in only a matter of minutes. Lastly, quick cooking is more of a reference to the coarseness of the grits. They are ground finely, so they can cook faster (usually in five minutes). But which is right for you? Here is our ranking of the worst to best grits.

13. Quaker Instant Grits

Anything labeled "instant" is, whether you like it or not, going to be mostly devoid of flavor. That's basically true with Quaker Instant Grits. This is because Quaker Instant Grits have already been cooked, and a good amount of the original flavor leaves with that original cooking. This leaves the grits bland and almost entirely tasteless.

Now, that isn't to say there aren't any merits to these grits. If you love loading your grits up with copious amounts of butter, sour cream, cheese, or anything else like that, the fact of the matter is the taste of the grits probably doesn't really matter. It's like ordering one of those ornate Frappuccinos with a dozen different ingredients. At that point, the actual taste of the coffee matters little, because it's almost entirely masked.

Even Quaker seems to accept the fact that these are tasteless grits with the variety of flavor packs out there. Whether you want spicy and cheesy or cinnamon and sweetness, there are Quaker Instant Grits individual packages out there. We're not going to rate each individual package, because they all use inferior grits. So, if you even remotely care about the taste of your grits, keep moving. But if you're all about speedy cook time and want to load up on the mixed-in toppings? By all means, go for the Quaker Instant Grits.

12. Quaker 5-Minutes Grits

In terms of taste, taking a few extra minutes to cook Quaker 5-Minutes Grits over the Instant Grits variety is well worth the time investment. Now, these are made from white hominy, so much of the flavor is still stripped away with the loss of the husk, but they haven't been pre-cooked, so there is still more flavor in these grits than the instant option.

The big problem with these grits is more on the textured side. Five-minute grits (or quick-cooking grits, as they are called by other manufacturers) are made with an extremely fine grind of grit, which takes away much of the desired texture you will find in stone-ground grits. This can leave the grit feeling a bit mushy. It's also incredibly easy to add too much water to these grits, which results in the dreaded soupy consistency, which we find a major turnoff. One of the major delights of grits is the texture of the meal. So, yes, while the taste is a step above instant grits, the texture leaves much to be desired.

11. Fish Sky Easy Cheddar Grits

These are the only "flavored" grits on the list. No, they aren't mind-blowing. Frankly, they aren't even for everyone, because some grits purists out there will probably hate this inclusion. But it's worth adding to our rundown for a few reasons.

First, it's based out of New Mexico. Chances are you didn't see a New Mexican grits brand popping up on the list, so we wanted to throw you a curve ball. It's important to remember that hominy was used throughout the Americas long before the Europeans ever popped up, so there's plenty of history tied to the Southwestern part of the United States.

And a second big reason is that these grits come packed with hatch chile peppers. Hatch chiles are unique to the region, and they offer a much different flavor profile and kick than jalapeños (which are also included in the pouch). It isn't always possible to track down hatch peppers, which is why these grits are so interesting. It's also a style of grits that the non-traditionalists are going to like. Made with spicy peppers, cheddar cheese, garlic, and salt, it's a good way to convert non-grit lovers over to your side. As for the grits themselves, we have to admit we don't like that the package doesn't actually indicate what kind of grits it uses (other than yellow corn). As the required cooking time is five to seven minutes, they are likely quick-cook grits (like the Quaker 5-Minute Grits).

10. Pearl Milling Company Old Fashioned Grits

You likely know this brand as Aunt Jemima's. However, after a name swap and a rebrand, Pearl Milling Company continues to use many of the same recipes it has been using for 100 years.

In terms of the brand's grits, we wished it would have changed some things. Don't get us wrong, these aren't terrible. And for the price, you absolutely could buy something worse. However, these are the full-cook "old fashion" grits, yet are still using hominy to produce the grits.

We simply don't believe hominy grits can compete at all with stone ground grits. The hominy grits, even though they aren't instant or quick cooking (according to Pearl Milling Company's website, it takes 20 minutes to cook), they still are finer without the texture of stone ground. Now, the reason we put this over the Quaker offerings is that these grits are not as fine, which helps give the grits a fluffier consistency. 

9. Quaker Old Fashioned Grits

This is Quaker's top-tier grits. And really it isn't exactly "better" than Pearl Milling Company's Old Fashion Grits. It's kind of a Pepsi versus Coke sort of thing with this one. Like Pearl Milling Company, this is still made with hominy grits. Because of the creamier nature of hominy grits, you should consider using this style for a casserole, and turn to stone ground grits when you want a bowl to enjoy as-is. You're looking at 15 to 20 minutes for the full cook time with the Quaker Old Fashioned Grits. Also like Pearl Milling Company's offering, these grits utilize chemical additions to help preserve freshness. Of course, when purchasing Quaker products, you're probably going to be buying the larger containers (such as 16 to 24 ounces), so having the added freshness can be beneficial (especially if you're not eating grits every day).

So, if you don't mind spending an extra 10 to 15 minutes cooking these over the other Quaker entries, go with the Old Fashioned label (and even whip up a shrimp and grits dinner like the brand suggests). But if you want to truly bask in the full flavor potential of quality grits, hold out for the other grits brands we have listed further down.

8. Judee's Yellow Corn Grits

Marketed as the perfect "camping grits," we applaud the company for taking a unique approach and trying to make its product stand out from the pack. In a crowded field, it's often necessary. We also like that there aren't any added ingredients or chemicals to these grits, as they are simply de-germed yellow corn grits. The pouch is nice and easy to open and close, and it's airtight so it's easier to keep everything fresh after ripping it open.

The grits themselves are alright. The taste is superior to the hominy offering of Quaker, and you can actually taste the yellow corn of the grits (with hominy there is often more of a bland, even watered-down corn taste). One of our biggest issues with the grits is the packaging doesn't actually tell you much about the grits. Yes, they are yellow corn grits, and because it doesn't say "hominy," we know that much. But it doesn't detail whether it is traditional, instant, quick cook, or stone ground.

The cooking instructions are for five to eight minutes, so these are most likely quick-cook grits. The grits are thicker than the instant options, which gives more of a fluffy spoonful. Not considering the price tag, we would recommend these grits if you want something that cooks faster, has a nice texture, and you can actually taste the corn. But it's also almost $9 per pound, and, honestly, that's highway robbery.

7. Lakeside Yellow Grits

Truthfully, we like the taste of Judee's Yellow Corn Grits slightly more than Lakeside Yellow Grits. Hold on, hold on, hear us out before you wonder why we're rating this one ahead of it. The taste is close enough (both use yellow corn grits), so there is a bolder, richer corn taste than the hominy offerings of other grits. However, 28 ounces of Lakeside Yellow Grits costs $3.75, while Judee's runs $17 for 28 ounces.

The taste is close enough that saving that kind of cash is well worth it. As you experiment more and more with grits, you'll begin to tell the difference between yellow and white corn grits. Basically, ask yourself if you like sweet corn or yellow corn. Your grit flavor of choice will likely mirror what your corn selection is. Lakeside Yellow Grits does have the added folic acid and other chemicals to help prolong freshness, which is something you'll find on the circular tubes rather than the air-tight packages (consider pouring the contents into an air-tight container to prevent the grits from going stale).

6. Bob's Red Mill Creamy White Corn Grits

We love everything about Bob's Red Mill. This is an employee-owned company, where the founder and owner of the mill actually sold the company and gave ownership directly to its employees. Any kind of business like that is one we can get behind. Now, that didn't impact our taste test, but it's worth mentioning. Bob's Red Mill also tends to have products come and go. The brand once had more grit options available, but currently, there are only the polenta and Creamy White Corn Grits listed on the website.

The White Corn Grits gives a sweeter taste than yellow corn. These also aren't stone ground, so the grits are finer. It's the kind of grit you should grab if you enjoy a large bowl of grits in the morning for breakfast with just a bit of butter or a hit of cream cheese (We promise it's worth checking out). With the right water mixture, you'll have a great consistency that doesn't require much chewing and is excellent on a cold morning. White corn is also the only ingredient, which we love.

5. Marshal Hen Mill White/Yellow Grits

Much like Aunt Jemima, Marshal Hen Mill recently went through a name change, as it was formally known as Geechiee Boy Mill. Geechiee Boy originally produced heirloom tomatoes, and if you're thinking you don't ever remember seeing a South Carolina heirloom tomato company, you wouldn't be alone. The brand was dying, so new management took over and shifted from tomatoes to grits (and changed the name later in the process). These grits are made with heirloom grains in Edisto Island, South Carolina. You can find both white and yellow grits (plus a few other varieties, but more on those later). This is also the first label on our list that is stone ground, and both the taste and texture show.

The white variety of grits has more of a sweet corn taste, similar to the white sweet corn you pick up from the side of the road during the summertime. If you want to capture that in grit form, Marshal Hen Mill's White Grits is perfect for that. The yellow grits lean further into more of the yellow canned corn taste. Both are thicker and have a nice, lumpy edge to them. While not top of the list, these grits are a massive step up from all the other grits on the list up until this point. It's a medium-grind grit, so it has an adequate texture with good flavor. They're not the best, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a better price.

4. Carolina Plantation Stone Ground Grits

While the name itself might not be totally kosher in 2023, there's no denying these are some fine grits. And we absolutely love the way these grits are made.

First, they are stone ground. But not just stone ground. All grits are ground between the granite stone of an antique Meadows grist mill. These grits produce a thick, creamy taste to it. The grits can also handle more water than other grits (without turning soupy). So the longer the grits simmer, the larger, fluffier, and creamier the grits become.

The grits are also pretty affordable. A one-pound bag is less than $5, which we think is completely fair for the overall quality of the grits. The grits themselves are not always found in your local grocery store, but you can purchase the grits directly through the Carolina Plantation website, or through Amazon (all of the grits listed throughout this list can be purchased on Amazon if you can't find them in-store).

3. Marsh Hen Mill Sea Island Blue Grits

We told you we'd be back visiting Marsh Hen Mill. The company has some of the most unique grit options out there. These grits are made from native corn that once was more common in North America. The corn is more than speckled. It instead has a blue, almost purple color to it.

These grits are not as fluffy and soft as the other grits. They are not going to pull in all kinds of moisture, either. There will be a bit of a chew factor going on, so you've been warned. However, the taste is unlike any other grits you've ever had before. It has an earthy, nutty taste to it while packing an almost floral aroma to it. It's like eating a bag of cashews under a lilac bush. It's truly worth at least trying out. You'll either appreciate the unique variation of grits, or it will instantly become your all-time favorite.

2. Charleston Favorites Stone Ground Grits

It almost pains us not to rank these grits as the very best. But second-best is still pretty good, right? In terms of American-born companies, very few can compete with the longevity of Charleston Favorites. And, naturally, with Charleston in the name, it has to know what it's doing when it comes to grits.

Available in both white and yellow grits, these stone ground grits pack a mighty punch. The texture is actually our favorite on the list. The white grits are perfectly sweet as if the sweet corn was plucked and ground for your enjoyment yesterday, while the yellow grits are strong in yellow corn flavor. Sprinkle in a little salt and you'd swear you were tasting a delicious corn chip.

The grits can handle moisture and plump as you cook them, although even when plump, you still have a nice texture where you can almost feel each individual grit. We also love that the grits come with several cooking instructions. It isn't just traditional stovetop and water instructions. It gives "Classic Southern Grits" directions, or "Charleston Creamy Grits," which calls for soda water and milk. Even slow cooker/crock pot instructions are included. These are fantastic grits, and the price isn't terrible. You can grab a 6-pound variety pack for $21.

1. Palmetto Farms Stone Ground Grits

Can you imagine if these grits were named Savannah instead of Palmetto? The folks over in Charleston would be up in arms! We kid, of course. We love both Charleston and Savannah — and that classic rivalry.

But don't worry, these are also made in South Carolina. Family-owned for over 80 years, the highest quality, non-GMO, all-natural white and yellow corn is used in these stone ground grits. Everything is done on the farm, which helps maintain the highest quality of freshness.

There's an unbelievable creaminess to these grits. While the gritty texture is fantastic, as the grits cook to your ideal thickness, it's as if the entire pot turns to butter right in front of your eyes. It's true art. If the creamy, sweet delivery of the white corn grits doesn't win even the staunchest grit-hater, well there's no saving them, because they wouldn't know good if it smacked 'em across the face. Sorry, sorry, we just get so passionate about really good food, and really good grits, we just want everyone to enjoy them. So when you're looking for fresh-tasting, sweet, excellent textured grits from a family-owned and operated company, Palmetto Farms Stone Ground Grits is the answer.