Cheesy Grits With Saut\u00e9ed Ham and Kale

Cheesy Grits with Sautéed Hame and Kale. [Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Cheesy grits may be delicious as a side dish, but top them with kale that's been simmered in chicken stock with smoky ham and they become a flavorful, hearty meal. A dash of vinegary hot sauce, and you may never want to eat them on their own again.

Why this recipe works:

  • Using regular (not instant) grits allows enough time to prepare the kale-and-ham topping while the grits cook.
  • Smoked ham infuses the kale with deep flavor that tastes like they've been simmered together for hours.

About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is the editor of Serious Eats: Chicago. He loves tacos and spicy food. You can follow him as @nickdk on Twitter.

Every recipe we publish is tested, tasted, and Serious Eats-approved by our staff. Never miss a recipe again by following @SeriousRecipes on Twitter!

Cheesy Grits With Sautéed Ham and Kale

About This Recipe

Yield:serves 4
Active time:15 minutes
Total time:30 minutes
This recipe appears in: Dinner Tonight: Cheesy Grits With Sautéed Ham and Kale


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups water, plus more as necessary
  • 1 cup coarse ground grits
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces sliced smoked ham, chopped
  • 1 large bunch kale (about 1 pound) tough stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • Hot sauce, for serving (such as Louisiana Hot Sauce or Frank's Red Hot)


  1. 1

    Bring milk and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir in grits and the 2 teaspoons of salt, and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until grits are thick and creamy, about 25 minutes. When done, turn off the heat, stir in 4 tablespoons butter and the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Season with salt and pepper, and thin with water if the grits have become too thick.

  2. 2

    Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ham, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp around the edges, about 2 minutes. Add the kale a few handfuls at a time and cook, stirring, until wilted.

  3. 3

    Pour stock into skillet, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is just tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. 4

    Spoon the grits into bowls and top with the kale and ham. Drizzle with hot sauce and serve.


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