Creamy vegan grits with plant-based cheese and crispy, smoky mushroom bacon is a hearty breakfast or brunch. And it's so easy to make!
We are a grits family, y'all. Every weekend, we make vegan grits for breakfast or brunch using basically whatever savory toppings are in the fridge. I particularly love this combination of cheese-spiked vegan grits, because the combination of flavors and textures is just out of this world.
I like to start off by making the mushroom bacon in the oven. Just toss sliced shiitake mushrooms together with liquid smoke and some simple seasonings, and bake until the mushroom pieces are nice and crispy.
You can make vegan grits using quick grits or traditional grits. When I say "quick grits," I mean the kind that take five minutes on the stovetop.
Do not use instant grits for this recipe. They cook up too quickly, and they'll get dry before your cheese has a chance to melt.
Before adding the grits to the pan, though, sauté a couple of cloves of garlic in olive oil. Then, it's time to make those grits!
Because you can use different kinds of grits, I do not specify the amount of grits or water. Instead, flip over your package, and use the amounts to make four servings.
That amount will vary, depending on whether you're using quick grits or regular.
I also recommend using vegetable broth instead of water in this recipe. It just gives it such a nice flavor boost! You're welcome to use water, though, if you don't have broth handy.
To cook your grits, bring your water or broth to a boil in the pan with the sautéed garlic. Then, simmer the grits until they're tender.
And now, it's time to get cheesy.
Turn off the heat, and add a splash of soy or oat milk to your pan along with vegan cheddar shreds. The ambient heat in the pan will melt the cheese, yielding creamy, vegan cheese grits that will, frankly, knock your socks right off.
Dish this up with the mushroom bacon on top along with a generous sprinkle of fresh, chopped tomatoes and green onions.
How to store
Got leftovers? No problem! You've got options.
I like to store my leftovers in a microwave safe container with a tight fitting lid. That way, I can just pop them into the microwave to warm them up. If they end up too thick, just add a splash of soy or oat milk, and stir.
If you don't microwave, just transfer any leftover grits to a small saucepan with a splash of soy or oat milk, and warm on medium heat. Stir constantly, until the grits are heated through and smooth.
If you have a lot of leftover grits, make them into grit cakes! I don't recommend making grit cakes from grits that you've stored in the fridge, though. You'd want to do this right away.
More cheesy vegan recipes
Vegan Grits Recipe
For the mushroom bacon
- 5 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms ¼" strips
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the vegan cheese grits
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- vegetable broth or water to make 4 servings of grits, according to your package directions, see note
- grits to make 4 servings of grits, according to your package directions, see note
- 1 cup vegan cheddar shreds
- 2 tablespoons soy or oat milk
- salt and black pepper
- diced tomato and green onions for topping
Make the mushroom bacon
- Preheat the oven to 400° F.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, tossing to coat the mushrooms well in the bacon seasonings. Transfer to a lined baking sheet, spreading the mushrooms into a single layer.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the mushrooms are nice and crisp.
Make the vegan grits
- In a small saucepan, heat the oil on medium high. Add the garlic and saute until it softens, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the broth or water, and bring to a boil, then toss in the grits. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, until the grits are done, adding water by the tablespoon if the grits get too thick too fast. How long this takes and how much broth/water you need depends on the grits you’re using.
- When the grits are finished cooking, turn off the heat, and add the cheese and soy milk to the pot. Stir until the cheese is completely melted.
- Divide the grits between your serving bowls. Serve topped with the mushroom bacon and a little diced tomato and scallion.
Frequently asked questions
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! 😆
Grits are just stoneground, dried hominy, which is a type of corn. You cook them up oh the stovetop or in the microwave, just like you would any other whole grain. (Corn is a grain. Who knew?)
Think of grits as slightly coarser polenta. In fact, you can use polenta in place of grits in most recipes, including this one!
A lot of people think that grits aren't vegan, but they're actually just dried, stone-ground corn. Plain grits, including Quaker grits, can totally be part of a vegan or plant-based diet.
I get where that myth comes from, though. Here in the American Southeast, we tend to load up our grits with cheese or butter. Or sausage. Or bacon. Or all of it.
At a restaurant, you definitely want to ask if those grits on the menu are vegan. But at home, it's incredibly easy to make delicious, satisfying dairy-free grits!
You have so many options to dress up plain grits! Vegan butter is a common addition, and that is how you get good, creamy grits. You can also stir vegan cheese shreds into your grits, and they'll melt.
You can also season your grits with things like garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, etc.
I love adding veggies to grits like cooked mushrooms or broccoli, chopped tomato, diced green onion, or sautéed sweet onion. Grits with avocado and tofu is also super delicious and filling.