By/ Last Modified On June 21, 2023
If you live in – or are from the Southern United States – you’ve probably enjoyed a hearty bowl of grits for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. But you may be wondering if they factor into a gluten-free lifestyle.
Today we’re going to answer the question: Are grits gluten-free? We’ll also share the best gluten-free grit brands so you never miss out.
What Are Grits?
Grits are made from ground corn. More specifically, white or yellow dent corn which are sweeter and starchier than other corn varieties. The ground corn is then boiled with water until it resembles a bowl of creamy porridge.
Fact: Native Americans first enjoyed grits before they became a staple in Southern diets after the 17th century.
Are Grits Gluten-Free?
So, do grits have gluten? No.
Grits are made from corn, meaning that they’re naturally gluten-free.
However, it’s never that simple, is it? Grits are naturally gluten-free, but not all brands of grits can be labeled as gluten-free (due to cross-contamination during the production process).
If there’s no gluten-free label, it’s in your best interest to assume that the grits weren’t manufactured in a dedicated gluten-free facility. If there is a gluten-free label, that means the product meets FDA standards.
Don’t worry! Even if you follow a strict celiac diet, there are plenty of grits to choose from!
5 Different Types of Grits
Here are the five different types of grits:
Heirloom corn is known for having the best flavor. It comes in a variety of colors, from blue (from blue corn) and red grits (from red corn).
For hominy grits, the corn is soaked in an alkaline solution (i.e., lime juice). This softens the hull which is removed before the kernels are dried and stone ground.
Instant grits are similar to instant mashed potatoes. Since they’re sold pre-cooked and dehydrated, all you have to do is rehydrate them with boiling water.
As the name suggests, quick-cooking grits are more finely-milled and cook faster than stone-ground grits.
Stone-Ground or Old-Fashioned Grits
Stone-ground grits are known for having a coarser texture and more flavor than many other types of grits. The corn is ground with the germ intact. This variety is typically less processed and more perishable.
How to Shop for Gluten-Free Grits
It’s worth noting that the most common varieties of grits in the US are stone-ground and instant. Choosing between the two will depend on personal preference and cooking time. Stone-ground grits take about 45 minutes to cook while instant grits are ready in 5-10 minutes.
The next thing to be aware of is the brand and whether the packaging comes with a gluten-free label. Note: Many grits are flavored (e.g., cheese, bacon) and not all are 100% gluten-free.
Related: Make gluten-free dining and shopping easier with these gluten-free apps.
What Brands of Grits Aren’t Gluten-Free?
Unfortunately, the three biggest grits brands without a gluten-free label are:
- Quaker Grits
- Great Value Quick Grits (from Walmart)
- Old School Stone Ground Grits
What Brands of Grits Are Gluten-Free?
Are all grits gluten-free? Definitely not! But there are several brands producing gluten-free grits.
Our favorite thing about Arrowhead Mills’ Organic Yellow Corn Grits is that the 24-ounce bag is resealable. That keeps your product fresher for longer!
Bob’s Red Mill
Bob’s Red Mill offers gluten-free grits and grits without a gluten-free label. Make sure you pick up the right product. Gluten-Free Corn Grits has a big gluten-free label on the front and is produced in a dedicated facility.
Carolina Grits is a family-run mill nestled in North Carolina. They produce their certified gluten-free grits in small batches using a combination of traditional stone grounding techniques and modern technology. Pick up a variety pack so you don’t have to choose between yellow grits, white grits, or unique Sea Island grits.
There’s no need to miss out on flavored grits thanks to Judee’s. All their gluten-free grit varieties are produced in a gluten-free and nut-free facility in the heart of Ohio. Choose between these sweet and savory options:
- Creamy Parmesan Mushroom
- Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese (with a vegan alternative).
- Strawberry Cream
- Vanilla Fig
- Yellow Corn
Palmetto Farms is a family-owned business that’s been producing top-quality grits in South Carolina since 1934. Produced in 32-ounce bags, choose between Stone-Ground White Grits, Yellow Grits, or Mixed Yellow Grits (for something different).
To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co.
This health food brand specializes in organic and vegan products. And their Organic Sprouted Gluten-Free Yellow Corn Grits? Well, they’re certainly no exception! You can buy their gluten-free grits on their website.
Cooking Tips for Gluten-Free Grits
Most grit packages include instructions or a recipe. But if not, it’s usually a 1:4 or 1:5 ratio. For every cup of grits in a large saucepan, you’ll add four to five cups of water. The amount of water depends on your desired texture. If you’re a thicker grits person, use less water.
Using salted water (like you do with your favorite pasta), bring the grits to a boil and simmer them for 45 minutes. You can also use a half-broth, half-milk combination for a super creamy texture.
Give them an occasional stir to get the creamiest texture possible (and make sure that bits on the bottom don’t burn). When it starts to look like porridge, take the grits off the heat, stir in as much butter and seasoning as you want.
How Long Should I Cook Grits?
Something else to remember is that different types of grits have different cooking times. This example is for stone-ground grits, but quick grits are, naturally, going to be done quicker. Double-check the cooking time on the package.
If you love your slow cooker, you can cook stone-ground grits in the crockpot. It may take longer, but the results are just as good – and there’s minimal stirring involved.
What Are Good Toppings for Grits?
Everyone has their preferred way of eating grits. Some prefer it as a main, others love it as a die dish. From soupy to creamy to sweet to savory, there are also endless varieties of toppings to choose from:
- Sauteed shrimp
- Shredded sharp cheese (e.g., cheddar, parmesan)
- Baked ham or bacon
- Caramelized onions and peppers
- Cinnamon & raisins
- Poached eggs (add a side of crispy bacon, trust us).
Related: If you don’t feel like cooking, check out these amazing gluten-free subscription boxes!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do Grits Taste Like?
To put it simply, grits taste like corn. The taste profile, however, depends on the type of grits. Stone-ground grits typically have the most flavor because they’re ground with the germ intact. Meanwhile, instant and quick grits are finely milled, so they tend to have the mildest flavor.
Are Quaker Grits Gluten-Free?
While Quaker Grits (including their Instant Grits) don’t contain any glutinous ingredients, they’re not labeled gluten-free. This makes us believe that they’re cross-contaminated in the production process – not manufactured in a separate gluten-free facility.
Related: Quaker does have other gluten-free snack products, though!
Are Instant Grits Gluten-Free?
Yes, instant grits are naturally gluten-free, but only if they come with a gluten-free label (to avoid cross-contamination).
Are Grits Wheat or Corn?
Grits are made from ground corn, not wheat.
Do Corn Grits Have Gluten?
No, corn grits are naturally gluten-free. Just make sure you’re buying grits with a gluten-free label.
What Are Rice Grits?
Don’t let the name confuse you: Rice grits are just broken rice and have nothing to do with actual grits. They are, however, pretty delicious!
Ready to Get Your Grits On?
So, are grits gluten-free? Yes, as long as they’ve passed FDA standards to get their gluten-free label.
Choose from one of the brands above, and you’ll be set for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
If you’ll excuse us, we’re off to make a cozy bowl of shrimp ‘n’ grits!