We made classic cheese grits dairy free! Our easy dairy free cheese grits recipe is creamy and delicious and makes the perfect comfort food. This is great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
A hot bowl of cheese grits is one of the best comfort foods out there! They’re creamy, comforting, and delicious for any meal and are amazing on cold evenings. If you are dairy free, don’t worry! You can still enjoy this classic with our allergy friendly recipe.
Non-dairy cheese grits are just as delicious as traditional grits, but without the dairy ingredients. You won’t even miss them! This is thick, creamy, and has loads of cheesy flavor without the allergens.
Food allergy notes:
- Dairy free
- Gluten free (if grits with a gluten free label)
- Peanut free
Why we love this recipe
My favorite thing about this recipe is that it comes together quickly and we love it. I’m not a traditional southern cook nor am I a grits connoisseur (if there is such a thing), so I’m fine making this recipe with quick grits by the package directions.
This is allergy friendly and as-is the written recipe is entirely vegan, too, but we love adding bacon crumbles with these grits and it’s incredible served with shrimp for dinner, or with a fried egg for breakfast grits.
These grits are delicious with any meal: breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
How to make easy dairy free cheese grits
Here are the steps to make our quick allergy allergy-friendly cheesy grits (this is just an overview, the full recipe card is at the end of the post):
- Steps 2 and 3 are for quick-cooking grits (not the same as instant grits packets). If you’re using a different type of grits (like stone ground), follow the cooking directions for your preferred grits and start at step 4.
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan and add the salt to the water.
- Add 1 cup of 5-minute grits to the boiling water and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for about 5-7 minutes until thick.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the nutritional yeast, seasonings, dairy free butter, and the dairy free sour cream until combined.
- Stir in the non-dairy cheese and stir regularly until it is melted into the grits and mixed.
- Add any additional salt and pepper if needed and serve.
- You can serve this as a side by itself or top it with additional butter, cheese, red pepper flakes, crumbled bacon, or chopped chives/green onions.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
If you’re a fan of smoky flavors, you can use smoked salt in this recipe to add another dimension of flavor. I love a good smoked salt, but we were out when I made this recipe otherwise I would have put some in!
You can add extra flavor to this recipe by using unsalted chicken broth or low-sodium vegetable broth instead of water. I usually just use water and it’s still delicious, but if you use a salted broth, make sure to adjust the salt in your recipe.
My favorite dairy free cheese for this recipe is the Violife cheddar cheese, but you can use other brands of non-dairy cheddar. Cheddar works the best since it has a classic sharp or medium cheddar taste that works best with grits.
This recipe also comes out nice and thick as well. If you want slightly less thick grits, you can increase the water in the recipe or stir in some canned coconut milk to thin them out a bit and add some additional creaminess.
Can I make this recipe with old-fashioned or stone-ground grits instead of quick grits?
Yes! You can definitely make these allergy friendly cheese grits using different varieties of grits (like old-fashioned or stone ground) vs the 5-minute grits I used.
I like using the quick grits since they’re faster (grits purists don’t come at me in the comments!), but if you prefer traditional grits, all you need to do is follow the cooking directions on your preferred package of grits then add in our list of mix-ins: dairy free butter, cheese, seasonings, etc.
If you have a preferred method of slow cooking old fashioned or stone ground grits, you can follow your favorite grits cooking method and then mix in the dairy free cheese and other ingredients for an allergy twist on your traditional grits recipe.
The color of grits won’t matter here (white and yellow will both work). Just make sure that you are adjusting the amount of dairy free butter, cheese, and seasonings if your yield is more or less than our yield in the recipe.
Our recipe makes about 6 cups of grits, so if your cooking method only yields 3 cups, you’ll want to double your recipe to make 6 cups or reduce the amount of seasonings and add-ins you add to your 3 cups of grits.
Are grits gluten free?
Corn-only grits are usually naturally gluten free since they are made with corn which does not contain gluten. However, not all brands are certified gluten free due to cross contamination.
Quaker is an example of a brand that does not add a label of gluten free to their grits since they can have some cross contamination in their facility. I use that brand since I’m not strictly gluten free, but if you have celiac, look for brands that are labeled gluten free and processed in dedicated facilities.
Here are a few grits options that are labeled gluten free (not many of these are the quick/5-minute variety). Contact each brand if you have questions about manufacturing protocols:
- Bob’s Red Mill grits (they have gluten free facilities)
- Old School Brand stone ground grits (made in a gluten free facility)
- Linney Water Mill stone ground grits
- Dixie Lily grits (in both yellow and white)
There are probably other gluten free brands available, but these are the ones I found on Amazon, so this list is not an exhaustive one!
Check out our recipe roundup of comfort food recipes!
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Easy Dairy Free Cheese Grits Recipe (Gluten Free)
- 4 cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup quick cooking (5-minute) grits (make sure to look for a certified gluten free brand if needed)
- 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
- 1½ teaspoon all purpose Cajun seasoning
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons dairy free sour cream, I used Violife (OR more dairy free butter)
- 2 Tablespoons dairy free butter
- 1 cup dairy free shredded cheddar cheese (I used Violife)
- More salt to taste if needed (I ended up with 1 teaspoon of salt)
- Additional dairy free cheese, dairy free butter, red pepper flakes, or sliced chives for topping
- Add the water and salt to a 2 quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Reduce the heat slightly to medium-low heat and add the quick cooking grits to the water, whisking as you add the grits to make sure they don't clump together.
- Cook the grits for about 5 minutes, whisking regularly to prevent scorching or lumps.
- While the grits are cooking, whisk in the nutritional yeast flakes and the spices/seasonings.
- Once the grits are cooked and thickened quite a bit, turn off the heat and stir in the dairy free sour cream, the dairy free butter, and the dairy free cheddar cheese.
- Taste test your grits (make sure your test tasting sample is cooled off because this will be very hot), add more salt if you'd like more. I ended up adding 1 teaspoon salt in our batch of grits.
- Serve immediately and store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge.
Sarah Jane Parker is the founder, recipe creator, and photographer behind The Fit Cookie. She’s a food allergy mom and healthy living blogger based in Wyoming. Sarah is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Health Coach, Revolution Running certified running coach, and an ACE Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist