Sugar Has No Place in Grits

Author Audrey McDonald Atkins has nothing against a sweet breakfast. But please, oh please, leave those grits alone.

sack of grits

Excerpt from the book “They Call Me Orange Juice” by Audrey McDonald Atkins

Let’s get one thing straight: sugar has no place in grits. If you want to put sugar on your breakfast, eat oatmeal. Eat Cream of Wheat. Eat Ralston. But never, ever, under any circumstances, put sugar on your grits.

There. I’ve said it.

Grits are meant to be salty and buttery. Sprinkled with black pepper. Savory all the way. Add some cheese, maybe some sausage. Let some runny egg yolk ease up beside them. If some ham gravy trickles across your plate, it’s all good.

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But never sugar.

Shrimp and grits is good. Fried fish and grits is good. Grillades and grits is good. What’s decidedly not good?

Sugar and grits.

Grits are ground corn, yellow or white. They are coarse. Polenta is not grits dressed up and visiting from Italy. Grits are grits.

And grits are never sweet.

Grits is singular even though it ends in s. You may have a singular bowl of grits, but you can’t just have a grit just like you can’t just have a spaghetti.

You don’t put sugar on spaghetti either.

Grits are comfort food. Grits are breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. You can slice up cold grits and fry the patties, preferably in bacon grease or butter.

Do not top these patties with sugar or, God forbid, syrup.

Grits will fortify you. Grits will stick to your ribs (and the pot if you don’t watch out). Grits should be considered a health food. Why?

Because they are sugar-free!

Throw that box of instant grits away. I don’t even want to know if your grits come in a paper envelope and the instructions include the word microwave. Take the time to make them from scratch, slowly. Savor the texture, the corn flavor. Get them good and salty. Drown them in butter. Enjoy them right down to the last forkful.

And remember, hold the sugar.

Born and raised in Citronelle, Atkins shares stories about growing up and living in the South in her book, “They Call Me Orange Juice,” and at her blog

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