Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, corn and jalapeño baked grit cakes are a delicious side for brunch or dinner!
Corn and jalapeno is a nostalgic combination for me. In my pre-vegan days, when I'd first moved to Atlanta, one of my favorite things to eat was the corn and jalapeño quesadilla from La Fonda Latina. That old fave inspired the flavor combo in these baked grit cakes!
What kind of grits to use?
As you can see in the recipe below, I'm using quick grits. That's because they're quick! You can use traditional grits or instant grits, if you prefer, as long as you end up with around four cups of grits after cooking.
You can also use dry polenta in place of grits. Just follow the instructions on the package to make four cups cooked.
If you substitute other styles of grits, keep all of the other amounts the same.
You can make these in advance, if you like! To make ahead, prepare the jalapeño grits as directed, and place them into the muffin tin. Instead of putting them in the freezer to chill, stick them in the refrigerator. You can do this up to a day ahead.
When you're ready to bake, pull the pan out of the fridge and bake them according to the recipe as written below.
If corn and jalapeño isn't your jam, feel free to season your grit cakes however you like! You can omit or add ingredients to customize these.
The nutritional yeast and miso bring umami and acidity to this recipe, but they're not a requirement, especially if you plan to top these with a sauce. Feel free to omit, if you like.
Try these substitutions for the corn and jalapeños in these baked grit cakes:
- chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil (drained)
- cooked spinach or broccoli
- vegan cheddar shreds
- cooked and diced plant-based bacon or sausage
- cooked summer squash, diced
- sautéed mushrooms and onions (Try the sausage mushrooms from my cheese grits casserole recipe!)
Truly, raid your fridge and freezer and have fun with the mix-ins! Just use make sure that your total amount of mix-ins is about the same as in the original recipe below.
Serving and storage directions
Baked grit cakes make a delicious side for brunch or for dinner!
- Serve them as a side with a tofu scramble.
- Dip them in black bean chili.
- Dish them up with BBQ tofu on top and your favorite veggie side.
- Use them in place of regular grits in this tofu bowl.
- Smother them in smoky Instant Pot pinto beans.
If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container. They'll keep for up to five days.
Reheat leftover grit cakes in the oven or air fryer at 350° F until they're heated through. If you prefer, you can reheat them in a greased frying pan on medium-high. Cook for a few minutes on each side until they're warmed through.
Baked Grit Cakes Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup minced onion
- 5 cloves minced garlic
- 1-2 large jalapeno sliced - Discard the seeds if you prefer less heat.
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup quick grits - The 5 minute kind.
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast optional
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon miso paste optional
- In a pot, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, and a pinch of salt. Sauté until the onion turns golden. Stir frequently, so the garlic won't burn.
- Add the broth, grits, corn, nutritional yeast, onion and garlic powders, and miso. Bring to a boil on high, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the grits thicken. You want to stir constantly to avoid lumps, and be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. Add more salt to taste, then remove the pan from the heat.
- Lightly grease a muffin pan or use a nonstick muffin pan. Divide the grits between the cups in the pan. Place the pan into the freezer for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The grits should be very firm at this point. (If you are making this ahead, you can refrigerate the grits overnight. Do not freeze them overnight!)
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Remove the pan from the freezer or fridge, and pop out the grit cakes. Transfer them to a lined baking sheet, and bake for 40-45 minutes, until they're browned on the edges.
I do not recommend using leftover grits. These work best if the grits cool in the muffin tin. If you use leftover grits, your cakes are likely to be too crumbly.
Grit cakes are a lot like polenta. On their own, they have a mild corn flavor, but you can season them however you like! These baked grit cakes use garlic, onion, corn, jalapeno, and other seasonings to amp up the flavor.
They're made of grits, which are dried, stone-ground corn. If you can't find grits where you live, you can use dry polenta instead.
Sure! After they bake and cool, transfer to a freezer safe container. They'll keep for up to 3 months. I recommend thawing overnight in the refrigerator, then baking or pan frying to warm and crisp them back up.
If you live outside of the South, grits can be harder to find. You can use polenta (uncooked) instead of grits. In fact, when I used to do CSA deliveries, I had a farmer tell me that his grits and polenta were identical, he just charged fancy restaurants more for the polenta! 😆