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Cheesy Tomato Grits with Chiles and Bacon

Cheesy Tomato Grits with Chiles and Bacon is a super easy, ready in 25 minutes, side dish that is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. With grits, cheese, tomatoes, green chiles, and bacon, this is an over-the-top Southern comfort recipe!

Cheesy tomato grits in a serving bowl.

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One of the first recipes I ever posted on Lana’s Cooking was my favorite Cheese Grits. I grew up eating grits pretty much every week. Sometimes several times a week. Grits are as quintessentially southern as fried chicken and pimiento cheese.

If you’ve never had grits, I do wish you’d give them a try. They’re really just ground corn, first cousins to the famous Italian polenta. If you like cornbread, you’ll probably like grits.

I always recommend trying a regional southern brand such as Dixie Lily or Jim Dandy and never, ever, under any circumstances, use “instant” grits. Just no.

A southern breakfast wouldn’t be quite complete without grits to go along with your fried eggs and bacon (or sausage!). But don’t think they’re only breakfast food. By no means! One of the more popular ways to serve grits outside of breakfast is with fried fish.

Grits are also delicious with other things mixed in. Like cheese. Or greens – turnips, mustard, or collards. Or as I’ve prepared them in this recipe with crispy bacon, plum tomatoes, green chiles, and sharp Cheddar cheese.

Serve this alongside any protein – chicken, fish, and pork are best – or topped with a fried or poached egg for the main course on its own.

❤️ Why I Love This Recipe

  • Ready in under 30 minutes
  • You can adjust the heat level to your preference
  • Great side dish for lots of different proteins

🛒 Ingredient Notes

  • Bacon (use your favorite breakfast bacon)
  • Green onions (make sure they’re nice and fresh, remove any wilted or bad spots)
  • Chicken broth (canned or boxed is fine, but if you have homemade use it!)
  • Salt and pepper (the classic seasoning combination for almost all cooking)
  • Quick-cooking grits (if you have a regional brand such as Jim Dandy available, use those)
  • Plum tomatoes (I prefer canned for this recipe)
  • Canned green chiles (any brand you like; my preference is Hatch)
  • Cheddar cheese (I like extra sharp for this)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

🥄 How to Make Tomato Chile Cheese Grits

Bacon cooking in a skillet

Cut the bacon crosswise into about ½-inch wide pieces. Cook in a deep skillet over medium high heat until brown and crisp – about 8-9 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Keep the bacon fat in the pan.

Green onions cooking in bacon fat in  a skillet.

Add the sliced green onions to the hot bacon fat and cook for a minute or two until slightly softened.

Adding grits and remaining ingredients in a skillet.

Add the broth, salt, grits, diced plum tomatoes, green chiles to the pan. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in 4 ounces of the Cheddar cheese. Serve immediately topped with remaining cheese and bacon to garnish.

Cheesy tomato grits in a serving bowl.

❗ Recipe Tips

  • Either quick grits or old-fashioned grits work fine in the recipe. Stone ground grits are my favorite, but they take quite a bit longer to cook. Just don’t use instant grits. Just no. Not ever. For anything.
  • Change the heat level to suit your taste by using mild, medium, or hot chiles.
  • Switch up the cheese if you like. Any type of Swiss or Gruyere is great!

🍽️ Serving Suggestions

  • These grits are really fantastic with grilled shrimp (for a quasi shrimp and grits), grilled chicken, or a ham steak. They’re not bad with pork chops, either :-)
  • Top with a fried or poached egg for a standalone main dish.

❓ Questions About Cheesy Tomato Grits

Can this recipe be made in advance?

Yes! One of the great things about grits is that they store and reheat very well. You may find that they need a little liquid added when reheating. Just stir in some water a little at a time until you get the desired consistency.

How do you store leftover grits?

Leftover grits store really well, but usually need thinning with a bit of water when reheating. They’re easily reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop (stir often to prevent sticking).

What are grits anyway?

Grits are simply ground corn. More specifically, they’re made from dent corn. The corn kernels are dried, then the outer hull is removed and the remaining kernel is ground to create grits.

Are grits and polenta the same thing?

They’re very similar. Grits are made from white corn and polenta from yellow corn. Polenta is also coarser than grits. They’re not exactly interchangeable but can be substituted for each other in a pinch.

What are the different types of grits?

There are several different types. Stone-ground is made from whole kernels by the traditional method of grinding corn between two grindstones. They have a speckled appearance, a richer corn flavor, and take much longer to cook. Hominy grits have the hull and germ removed before grinding. Quick grits are finely ground and processed to cook quickly. Instant grits have been pre-cooked and dehydrated. I do not recommend using instant grits for any reason in any recipe.

Lana Stuart.

More Questions? I’m happy to help!

If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

📖 Recipe

Cheesy tomato grits in a serving bowl.

Cheesy Tomato Grits with Chiles and Bacon

Cheesy Tomato Grits with Chiles and Bacon is an over the top southern comfort recipe ready in 25 minutes and perfect for any meal.
5 from 3 votes
Print It Rate It Save
Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 342kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 2 slices bacon
  • 3 green onions sliced
  • 29 ounces chicken broth (2 14.5 ounce cans)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quick cooking grits not instant
  • 14.5 ounces canned plum tomatoes drained and diced
  • 4 ounces canned diced green chiles lightly drained
  • 6 ounces extra sharp Cheddar cheese grated

Instructions

  • Cut the bacon crosswise into about 1/2-inch wide pieces. Cook in a deep skillet over medium high heat until brown and crisp – about 8-9 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Keep the bacon fat in the pan.
  • Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Keep the bacon fat in the pan.
  • Add the sliced green onions to the hot bacon fat and cook for a minute or two until slightly softened.
  • Add the broth, salt, grits, diced plum tomatoes, and green chiles to the pan.
  • Bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Stir in 4 ounces of the Cheddar cheese. Serve immediately topped with remaining cheese and bacon to garnish.

Notes

  • Either quick grits or old-fashioned (stone ground) grits work fine in the recipe. Stone ground grits are my favorite, but they take quite a bit longer to cook.
  • Leftover grits store really well in the fridge for several days. They’ll likely need thinning with a bit of water when reheating. They’re easily reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop (stir often to prevent sticking).

Nutrition Information

Serving 1 | Calories 342kcal | Carbohydrates 37g | Protein 16g | Fat 16g | Saturated Fat 9g | Cholesterol 45mg | Sodium 1718mg | Potassium 561mg | Fiber 4g | Sugar 4g | Vitamin A 1412IU | Vitamin C 40mg | Calcium 348mg | Iron 3mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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22 Comments

  1. Carol at Wild Goose Mama.com says:

    I don’t think about grits. So thank you for the reminder. This would make a GREAT side dish and definitely different for me to fix.

  2. Rose | The Clean Dish says:

    I still haven’t come around to grits, even after 5 years of living in the South! I’d be willing to try your recipe, though, as it looks fantastic :) I have never made my own grits, perhaps that’s my mistake… Bookmarked!!

  3. Cookin Canuck says:

    I still remember the scenes from My Cousin Vinny where they talk about grits: “No self-respecting southerner would ever use instant grits!” That line sticks in my head. I love this take on classic grits, Lana!

  4. Angie | Big Bear's Wife says:

    These sound perfect! We love grits and I’m always looking for new ways to fix them!

  5. Martha @ A Family Feast says:

    This recipe is pure comfort food! Looks delicious Lana!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Thanks, Martha. And you’re definitely right – this is pure southern comfort!

  6. Heather // girlichef says:

    I love grits, but definitely do not eat them often enough. I love that these are accented with so much goodness!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      We love grits here, too, Heather. This recipe is a great way to dress them up for a change.

  7. This recipe sounds delicious. A new way to use an old Southern staple.
    Thanks, Neena

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      It’s really, really delicious! Hope you’ll try it.

  8. I never really loved grits but after having some incredible creamy grits in New Orleans earlier this month I’m officially a believer! I need to try my hand at some at home. This looks delicious and of course there’s bacon, what’s better than that?

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Bacon makes everything better!

  9. We have a joke in my family because the first time my mom met my now-husband who’s from Virginia, she asked him if his mom cooked a lot of grits going up :) I feel like I should make these for him- they look delicious!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      I bet he’d like this recipe, Sues!

  10. Oh, that looks like a wonderful dish to serve if you have a crowd. It will easily multiply and go with so many different entrees. Change up the spice profile a bit and it can compliment just about any cuisine.

    Thanks.

    Miss P

  11. This northerner doesn’t know much about grits, but your recipe is very tempting!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      They’re just one of those southern staples that we can’t do without!

  12. The Food Hunter says:

    what a great way to use green chilies

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      I think so, too!

  13. Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes says:

    I gave grits a try for the first time when visiting a friend in Georgia a couple of years ago. I love them now! Must try these!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Of course, I’ve been eating them my whole life and I love them, too!