This Fish and Grits recipe is the perfect combination of savory, tender fish and creamy, buttery grits. This pairing creates a satisfying and comforting dish that is often served for breakfast, brunch, or dinner.
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You can find seafood and grits on the menu of many establishments and within the homes of many throughout the South and especially Louisiana. This recipe does not disappoint!
What Type of Fish to Use
I use my Blackened Catfish recipe in this. Here are more fish options:
- Catfish: Catfish is a popular choice for fish and grits due to its mild flavor and firm texture. It pairs well with the creamy texture of the grits.
- Cod: Cod is another popular choice for fish and grits. It is a white fish that is flaky and has a mild flavor. It is also a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Tilapia: Tilapia is another mild fish that has a slightly sweet taste and a tender texture.
- Trout: Trout has a delicate, nutty flavor and a firm texture that works well with creamy grits.
- Redfish or Snapper: Redfish, also known as red drum, has a slightly sweet flavor and a firm texture that holds up well when pan-fried or grilled.
How to Season the Fish
You can use your favorite spice blend or fish rub for the fish. Here are some options:
What Type of Grits to Use
It’s best to use stone-ground grits or whole-grain grits, which are made from whole kernels of corn that are ground between stones. These types of grits have a coarser texture and a nuttier flavor than instant grits, which are precooked and dehydrated.
Stone-ground grits take longer to cook, but they are well worth the extra time and effort. They have a creamy texture and a rich, corn flavor that pairs well with the fish. I used to love using the stone-ground from Trader Joe’s, but they discontinued them. Now I use these grits from Amazon.
Quick grits are what you will find in pretty much any grocery store. They are made from coarsely ground corn that has been pre-cooked, so they cook quickly. If you can’t find stone-ground grits, you can use quick grits. Just be sure to cook them according to the package directions.
How to Cook the Fish
The most common way to do this if you’re looking for the Southern method is to pan-sear the fish using a cast iron skillet or stainless steel pan.
How to Make Fish and Grits
Full detailed instructions are below in the recipe card.
- In a large pot combine broth, butter, and salt.
- Gradually stir in the grits.
- Once the liquid has been absorbed, remove the pot from heat and add the milk and shredded cheese. Stir until thick and creamy.
- Dry the fish completely.
- Combine the spices in a bowl and sprinkle the spices over the fish and rub them in.
- Heat a cast iron or stainless-steel skillet on medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter.
- When the butter has melted, add the fish to the pan.
- Cook the fish.
Instant Pot Grits
I use the pressure cooker to make my grits because it’s the easiest method. You will need 1 cup of grits (not Quick grits), 3 1/4 cups of water. Pressure cook for 10 minutes with a 15-minute natural release of steam. Add your milk, cheese, salt, etc from here.
Runny Watery Grits
I love to use the Instant Pot to make grits because it’s foolproof and you don’t run into issues. If you are making yours on the stove, here are some tips to avoid runny grits:
- Use the correct ratio of grits to liquid. A good rule of thumb is to use 1 part grits to 3- 4 parts liquid. Always read your package instructions.
- Use low heat: Cooking grits over low heat will help prevent them from boiling over or becoming too runny. Start with high heat to bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally.
- Stir often: Stirring the grits frequently will help prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot and becoming too thick or lumpy.
Lumpy grits are usually the result of rushed cooking and not stirring enough.
- Use a whisk: Whisk and stir the grits frequently while cooking to break up any clumps that may have formed. This will also help to create a smooth texture.
- Add grits slowly: Avoid adding too much grits at once as this can cause them to clump together. Add them gradually while whisking constantly.
- Use hot liquid: Use hot liquid when adding it to the grits, as this will help them cook evenly and prevent lumps from forming.
- Strain the grits: If you notice any lumps in your cooked grits, use a fine mesh strainer to remove them. Pour the grits through the strainer and stir until they are smooth. (I have never needed to do this, but I see this tip often).
Grits with Gravy
If you like to pair your grits with gravy, check out my Cajun Shrimp and Grits recipe.
How to Store
Fish and grits should be stored separately to maintain their optimal freshness and texture. Store them tightly covered and sealed in the fridge for 3-4 days.
How to Reheat
Grits can be reheated in the microwave or on the stove. I wouldn’t recommend microwaving leftover fish because you risk it becoming tough and rubbery. Reheat leftover fish in the oven or air fryer at 350 degrees until warm.
You can freeze the dish tightly covered and sealed for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge.
Pair With These Recipes
More Fish Recipes
Fish and Grits
- 2 ¼ cups chicken broth You can also use water. See notes.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup stone ground grits See notes for Quick Grits.
- 1 cup milk Any milk will work. See notes.
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 1/2 pounds raw white fish See notes
- In a large pot combine the broth, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil.2 ¼ cups chicken broth, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 teaspoon salt
- Gradually stir in the grits. Lower the heat to Low and continue to stir the grits frequently for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Stirring is essential. If you don’t constantly stir the grits they will be lumpy.1 cup stone ground grits
- Once the liquid has been absorbed, remove the pot from heat and add the milk and shredded cheese. Stir until thick and creamy.1 cup milk, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Allow the grits to thicken for at least 10 minutes.
Pan Seared Fish Instructions
- Dry the fish completely and allow the fish to come to room temperature for 15 minutes.
- Combine the spices in a bowl and sprinkle the spices over the fish and rub them in. Be sure to season the sides of the fish.I like to combine the spices before adding them to the fish because the amount you will need will vary based on the size of the fish you have. You don't want to overseason. Add enough to fully coat both sides. And add more spices if you need it.1 1/2 pounds raw white fish, 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, salt to taste, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- Heat a cast iron or stainless-steel skillet on medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter.Be sure to use a skillet that will fit the size of the fish you have or you may have to slice up the fillets so they fit. I used a 12 inch cast iron for large fillets.1 tablespoon butter
- When the butter has melted, add the fish to the pan. Do not overcrowd the pan. The fish shouldn’t touch. Cook the fish in batches if needed.
- Cook the fish for 2-3 minutes on each side or until the fish is cooked through. It will turn opaque at the center. The fish will easily flake with a fork when it has finished cooking.
- Remove the fish and set aside to cool. Serve the fish with the grits.
Air Fryer Instructions
- Spray the air fryer basket with cooking oil. Add the seasoned fish to the air fryer. Air fry at 400 degrees for 7-10 minutes or until the fish is flaky. Cook time will vary based on the size and how thick the fish fillets are.
- You can use catfish, cod, tilapia, trout, or redfish in the recipe.
- If you aren’t into spicy food, omit the cayenne pepper. If you prefer something with less spice, only add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon.
- If you use Instant Grits or Quick Grits refer to your packaging for instructions on how to cook them.
- In general, I recommend looking at the package instructions of the grits you buy and following the instructions closely. Cook time and ratios of liquid to use will vary based on the type of grind on the grits. Some may take 40-50 minutes to cook (which is why I love the Instant Pot method).
- Cooking the grits in broth gives them a rich flavor. You can use water if you prefer.
- The thicker the milk you use, the creamier your grits will be. Keep this in mind if you plan to use low-fat skim milk or plant-based milk.
- Feel free to substitute any cheese you like.
- Dry the fish thoroughly before coating it in butter or oil. Wet fish is more likely to stick to the pan when pan searing.