18 Foods To Eat With Grits That Aren't Shrimp

If you're from the South, then you've probably had grits more than a few times in your life. The corn-based porridge-like staple is iconic in Southern cuisine, and it provides a neutral base for a wide variety of foods. If you're not from an area that specializes in grits, you'll likely only find it on a limited basis, usually served with shrimp. Don't get us wrong — we absolutely love that iconic combo, but limiting grits to one single pairing seems like a waste, especially for those of us who love the versatility of their creamy texture and subtle flavor profile.

We want to make sure grits get all the love they deserve, which is why we've compiled this list of some of the best foods you can serve with them. Some of them are super simple and require only a few extra seconds to add to your grits, while others are a bit more intricate and time-intensive. Let's take a closer look at these delicious pairings.

Pork chops

Pork chops are one of our absolute favorite foods to eat with grits. The main reason why we think this is such a perfect combo is because of the fat content of the pork. Grits can be pretty bland on their own, so they need a lot of flavor to make them more interesting. Pork chops don't just deliver that meaty bite we love, but they also introduce a fattiness to the dish that works especially well with the blank canvas that is a bowl of grits.

You can always just scoop a few spoonfuls of grits over your intact pork chops, but we like to cut our pork into small, bite-sized pieces so it's easier to mix it into the grits. Marinate your pork chops before cooking them to maximize flavor. Better yet, get saucy with a creamy smothered pork chop recipe


Cheese and grits are a natural combo. The creamy texture, the milky flavor, and the sharpness of cheese work well with grits as a neutral base. Of course, you can add cheese to your shrimp and grits (or anything else and grits), but we think these two ingredients can stand on their own.

Feel free to get creative with the type of cheese you decide to use. Melty cheese like cheddar or fontina makes for a quick addition to an easy breakfast, while a shaving of Parmesan adds body and an umami quality to your grits. Of course, you don't have to stop there. If you're trying to add even more flavor to the mix, drizzle on some vinegar-based hot sauce for a kick of acid and heat.


If you love shrimp and grits because you're a fan of the seafood component, you should think about making cheese grits and scallops. Like shrimp, scallops offer that salty, ocean-y flavor that all seafood lovers enjoy, but the texture is softer and more buttery. You can either use fresh scallops or opt for the frozen stuff if you prefer a more cost-effective solution. 

If you've always assumed that seafood and cheese should never mix, think again. By pairing scallops and grits with fontina or another melty cheese, you get a depth of flavor you could never achieve with seafood alone. The Cajun or Creole seasoning this recipe calls for is essential for building flavor in this dish, as most of the other ingredients are relatively simple. 


Many people who love grits enjoy eating them for breakfast, which makes them ideal for pairing with eggs. The possibilities are pretty much limitless here. We prefer eggs fried in butter — the crisp edges and extra fattiness make for a texturally rich dish. Feel free to include cheese, onions, or whatever else you usually like adding to your eggs. Don't be afraid to really layer on the different flavors here.

But if you're not a big fried egg person, there are other options available to you. Poached eggs are a great choice if you like a runny yolk, while chopped-up boiled eggs are solid if you enjoy those eggy chunks in your grits. And of course, you can never go wrong with scrambled eggs.


You've had rice and beans before, but what about grits and beans? Beans are one of those staples that everyone should keep stocked in their pantry because they're healthy, affordable and super-filling. Plus, they taste delicious when you serve them with grits.

You don't necessarily have to be picky about what kinds of beans you use for this dish. We love pinto beans cooked in a savory spiced sauce, but you can also go for chickpeas, Great Northern beans, lentils, or just about any other legume you see at the grocery store. If you want to add some richness to the dish, fry the beans in some oil or butter (or even chili crisp) after they're cooked before you combine them with the grits — you can thank us later.


Grits are one of the most iconic Southern foods out there, so it's no surprise that they would taste delicious when paired with another Southern favorite: okra. We know that not everyone likes the slightly slimy texture of okra, but when it's cooked well, it's a delicious veggie addition to your bowl of grits. Of course, fried okra is a classic in the South, so that's a solid option when you're trying to get your fill of vegetables. But sauteed okra or okra boiled with other ingredients into a soup or stew also makes for a delicious meal.

Can't find fresh okra in your area? Not a problem. Most grocery stores carry bags of frozen, pre-cut okra to make your life easier. Keep some on hand whenever you get a craving for grits.


We love savory grits, but that doesn't mean we don't like to sweeten them from time to time. If you're trying to keep things sweet and simple, all you have to add to your grits for a filling breakfast is a sprinkle of sugar. If all you have in the pantry is white sugar, go ahead and use it — it'll create a subtle sweetness that's hard to resist. However, if you want to add even more flavor to the mix, we suggest using brown sugar. It has a depth of flavor you can't achieve with the plain white stuff.

When we take this route, we also like to add some butter to the dish. That extra bit of fat gives the grits even more flavor and complements the sweetness of the sugar.


Making classic creamy grits for breakfast? Then pairing them with bacon might just be your best move yet. Like pork chops, bacon has a natural fattiness to it that works exceptionally well with grits. Keep the bacon more tender if you're just trying to add some flavor to the dish, or get it crispy if you want some crunch as well. Thinner-cut bacon tends to be better for crispness, but we love thick-cut strips for their heartiness and chewy quality.

Whether you decide to keep the bacon whole or cut it into smaller pieces is completely up to you. Dicing the bacon ensures you'll get a bit of pork in every bite, but keeping it bigger allows you to really savor every bite of the meat. Of course, you can always just add some butter to your grits and eat your bacon on the side.


For the uninitiated, catfish can seem uninviting with its big whiskers and prehistoric-looking face. But fried catfish is actually delicious, and it shines when it's served with grits. The best fried catfish has a crunchy breading on it that adds an interesting texture to otherwise unremarkable grits. The flavor of the fish itself can be slightly muddy, but even if you don't generally like seafood, you're probably not going to find fried catfish too offensive.

Fried catfish and grits is another beloved Southern meal that gives seafood its moment in the spotlight. If you're trying to up the flavor factor, make sure to add plenty of Creole seasoning to the catfish breading — it'll make a huge difference in the finished dish. If you're not a fried fan, consider our Southern catfish nuggets and grits recipe. The fish is cut into bite-sized chunks and marinated in a blend of seasonings along with honey, olive oil, lemon and garlic. 

Country ham

Country ham is a staple in many Southern breakfasts, so it makes sense that you would want to pair it with grits at some point. It's probably clear by now that grits taste good with just about any kind of pork product — again, it's that fattiness that works so well with grits' neutral palate. But what's special about country ham is its salt content. If you love salty foods, then country ham may just be the best pairing for grits you can possibly imagine.

For a full breakfast feast, consider adding eggs to your country ham and grits. Drizzle some hot sauce on top of the whole mixture, and you've got one of the heartiest, most filling breakfasts you could ever imagine.

Maple syrup

Here's another one for all the sweet grits lovers out there. If you're looking for a quick, easy breakfast that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters, you can't go wrong with grits and syrup. This is one of our favorite simple combos on this list because of the incredible depth of good-quality maple syrup. When you just add sugar to your grits, you'll get a lovely sweetness to the dish, but maple syrup offers the added bonus of a lovely richness and intensity.

These two ingredients are perfectly appealing on their own, but don't be afraid to add even more to the mix. Even something as simple as a pat of butter can up the flavor ante quite a bit, but banana, seeds, and dried coconut flakes are also delicious additions.


For a super-satisfying breakfast, consider adding nuts to your morning grits. Not only are many nuts high in protein and good-for-you fats, but they also add some texture to your meal. Of course, you can keep it simple and just stick to the nuts and grits, but these two ingredients make for a solid start to a super-flavorful breakfast. In addition to nuts, you may want to add dried or fresh fruit, some chia or flax seeds, or even baking spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice. We love throwing in some vanilla extract and a bit of sweetener too.

Not everyone is a fan of sweet grits, but if you've only tried them in their savory form, you may want to switch it up with some nut-based grits with all the fixings.


If you're looking for a less-conventional sweet addition to your grits, try eating them with jam. Like syrup, this is another ingredient that adds both sweetness and flavor. Plus, you can choose whatever kind of jam you like best. We think that the brightness and subtle sweetness of strawberry is a particularly good fit for grits, but you can get as creative here as you want.

You don't have to limit yourself to jam, either — any kind of fruit spread with a similar texture is going to work here. Try that grape jelly you keep around to make PB&Js, or use that fig spread that you bought for making sandwiches that one time and subsequently ignored. If you opt for a jam that's on the tarter side, you may want to add an additional sweetener, like maple syrup, to the mix.

Roasted vegetables

If you want a meal that's filling but not necessarily gut-busting, consider bringing together grits with some roasted vegetables. We think this is such a perfect combination because cooked vegetables tend to have a deep flavor that's sweeter and more intense than their raw cousins. Those rich flavors pair particularly well with the blank slate of a bowl of grits.

When you choose to make roasted vegetables with your grits, you can focus on one veggie or go with a combination of different varieties. Some easy balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts are a delicious option because we love the way they crisp up, especially when they've spent some time under the broiler. Onions, carrots, and butternut squash are also solid additions. And don't forget the roasted garlic!

Pulled pork

A few days ago, you made pulled pork, and now you have a ton of extra meat. While sliders are a tried and true way to use up those leftovers, we have another suggestion> if you have some grits on hand, you're in luck because pairing them with pulled pork is one of our all-time favorite combinations. 

There are few types of meat that are as delicious as pulled pork, which means you don't have to add anything else to your grits to enjoy an intensity of flavor that's hard to forget. In fact, we may like pulled pork on grits even more than we like it on buns. If you ask us, though, pulled pork and grits are at their best when they're also slathered in gravy or another rich sauce.


We've covered just about all the other breakfast meats on this list, so you shouldn't be surprised to see that we're also recommending adding sausage to your grits. This one is only natural — as a type of meat that's often served at breakfast anyway, it only makes sense that you could combine the two ingredients for delicious results. We love chopping up both sausage links and sausage patties to make a more interesting grits dish for breakfast.

But when it comes to sausage, you shouldn't force yourself to stick to the stuff you usually make in the morning. Other types of sausage, like bratwurst, hot links, or even sweet Italian sausage can pair beautifully with grits. The possibilities are endless ... and delicious.


There are few vegetables we love more than leeks. These alliums (which means they belong to the same family as onions and garlic) have a pungency to them that can add an incredible amount of flavor to just about any dish, grits included.

There are a few different ways to include leeks in your grits. If you really want to go all out, you can cut the white part of the leek lengthwise and brown it over the fire. This results in a sweet, mild flavor that's delicious with just about anything. If you're trying to keep things simple, though, you may just want to caramelize your leeks to bring out their depth of flavor. And for those who are trying to put a meal together on short notice, even raw leeks can add a green-tasting crunch to your grits.


If you're craving that meat-like texture without the meat, you may want to try pairing your grits with mushrooms. Button mushrooms tend to be the easiest variety to find (you'll be able to buy them at most grocery stores), but if you want to expand your mushroom horizons, find varieties like oyster mushrooms, morels, or even chanterelles. They each have a distinct flavor and texture so consider including a medley for a bit of variety. Sear them, sauté them, or fry them to add depth to every bite of your grits. Don't forget to add spices and seasonings to give the dish an added boost.

Often, grits are paired with meaty, umami dishes, and cooked mushrooms offer a lighter and vegan-friendly alternative to the traditional grits playbook.