Give grits a chance! Loaded with all sorts of yummy ingredients, this Sausage and Cheese Grits Casserole is a great way to enjoy a lazy brunch or perhaps breakfast for dinner!
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Grits are one of those foods that get a bad rap. Just go ahead and put ’em into the same category as Brussels sprouts and turnip greens. Hold up. No! Grits are amazing…you just have to prepare them correctly! I suspect grits (and Brussels and turnip greens) are often met with condescension because they were cooked in a very basic and bland way. There’s nothing bland about crumbled sausage, cheese, butter and green onions all mixed into creamy grits!
I’ll admit that I didn’t like Brussels sprouts for a long time. However, then I discovered that slicing them in half and cooking those Brussels in a cast iron skillet with bacon yields an amazing side dish! (Bacon improves everything, right?)
Grits go into the same category. Grits are an easy way to feed a lot of people, so they often show up in cafeterias. In fact, one of the first neighbors we met when we moved to New York 10 years ago said that he ate grits everyday in jail. (That’s a story for another time…) The point remains that grits can indeed be terrible if they are cooked poorly.
We love cheesy grits here in our house, and I took that concept and put a spin on it with this Sausage and Cheese Grits Casserole. We could barely stop ourselves from digging into this casserole straight from the dish!
Sausage and Cheese Grits Casserole
One bite. That’s all it took of this casserole before Laura exclaimed, “Mmmm…I love grits! They’re basically the Southern version of polenta.” That caught me off guard – but she was totally right! Both polenta and grits are made from stone-ground corn. Sometimes grits are made from white corn, although personally I prefer yellow corn grits anyways.
Thanks to an NPR story on this very topic, it turns out that the differences are indeed slight. Polenta and grits come from two different types of corn, and grits are also ground a bit finer. But they are both in the same family for sure – we’ll call them close cousins!
When we make cheesy grits, we often serve them as is. However, for this recipe I took the extra step of transferring the grits into a shallow dish and baking them for about 30-45 minutes. The result was a casserole with crispy bits on top and creamy grits in the middle. This casserole made for a fantastic meal! It could be served for brunch, but it does take a bit of time as I used stone ground grits instead of quick grits. Instead, we served this for dinner along with a side salad. Delicious!
If you’ve never cooked grits at home, then I challenge you to give them a try. Even though they are a bit harder to find, I recommend using stone ground grits. (If you live in the South, stone ground grits will be readily available. Fortunately, as a displaced Southerner living in upstate New York, I was able to turn to Amazon for my stone ground grits – aff. link.) This grits casserole will certainly make you rethink any previous notions that you had about grits! Enjoy!
Did you make this Sausage and Cheese Grits Casserole at home? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog) – I’ve love to see your version!
Sausage and Cheese Grits Casserole
- 16 oz. ground breakfast sausage
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups milk
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 cup stone-ground corn grits
- ¼ cup half-and-half
- ¼ cup butter melted
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese divided
- ½ cup chopped green onions
- 2 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Using a large skillet, add sausage and bell peppers; place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, for 7-8 minutes, or until sausage is cooked through. Set skillet aside.
- Meanwhile, using a large saucepan, add chicken broth, milk, salt and garlic powder; stir until well combined. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil.
- Add grits to saucepan, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and grits are creamy. Remove saucepan from heat and add cooked sausage/peppers, half-and-half, butter, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, 1 cup of cheese and green onions; stir until well combined. (Note: The dish could be served at this point. It’s delicious!)
- Spray a 2-quart shallow baking dish with nonstick baking spray. Transfer mixture into dish. Sprinkle remaining ½ cup of cheese on top.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
- Let grits rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.
Looking for more grits recipes? Check out these other favorites, too!