Cold mornings call for cozy comfort food, like these creamy vegan grits topped with a sweet berry compote. If you like oatmeal but crave a healthy change of pace, this recipe will be your new breakfast BFF. You get the quick-cooking convenience of instant oats with the rich corn flavor of finely ground grits. No matter how late you sleep in, this is an energizing morning meal that will start your day on the right foot.
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The creamy texture and balanced sweetness should be enough to win over any haters, but if you need more reasons to turn up the stove, here are a few key features to keep in mind:
Affordable. These simple ingredients are available in all grocery stores for prices that fit any budget. You can save even more money by buying grits in bulk.
Allergen-free. In addition to being naturally vegetarian and vegan, grits are also gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, oil-free, and contain no refined sugar. You can omit the salt to suit low-sodium diets, too.
Fast and easy. No experience is necessary to turn out a perfect pot of grits every time. You just need a few minutes, a dash of patience, and a big appetite!
Grits vs Polenta vs Cornmeal
Corn, endlessly versatile in myriad forms, is the single ingredient responsible for creating grits, polenta, and cornmeal alike. Given the very close similarities, there’s a lot of confusion about how each form is different and if they can be swapped out in equal measures.
What’s The Difference Between Grits, Polenta, And Cornmeal?
The difference largely boils down to where each variety comes from; grits tend to be a southern American staple, while polenta hails from northern Italy. Cornmeal is a more generic term that could be used to refer to either one, though is frequently a coarser texture.
Grits typically come from dent corn and polenta comes from flint corn. That difference accounts for the subtle variation in texture and color between the two; grits tend to be softer and creamier with a paler color, versus polenta that sets firmer and has a bright yellow color.
Can Grits, Polenta, And Cornmeal Be Used Interchangeably?
In a pinch, you can absolutely swap grits, polenta, and cornmeal in a recipe, but be open to different end results if you do. For the best outcome, use slightly less liquid when swapping polenta in a recipe written for grits, and more for grits when it calls for polenta. Use your intuition while cooking to adjust the ratios until it reaches your desired consistency.
Take stock of your kitchen cabinets and go on a pantry raid; there’s a good chance you already have everything you need on hand!
Plant milk – Pick a non-dairy milk, any non-dairy milk! Whether you prefer soy, almond, oat, or something else entirely, they’re all welcome to the breakfast table here.
Polenta or grits – Since they’re the star of the show, pick your grits wisely! Most options can be found in the breakfast aisle along with the other hot cereals, but you might have to scour the baking aisle nearby the flours if you can’t find the right grind.
Maple syrup – Naturally sweet with a rich, subtly woodsy flavor, nothing compares to the distinctive taste of pure maple syrup. If you’d prefer a more neutral sweetness, try using light agave nectar instead.
Berries – Frozen strawberries and raspberries make a quick compote that’s ready in minutes. Best of all, you can always keep them on hand to satisfy sweet cravings through any season.
Optional: Vegan yogurt– For topping off your bowl with a creamy finish bolstered by probiotics, a spoonful of plant-based yogurt can’t be beat!
How to Make Vegan Grits
Step One: Bring the non-dairy milk and water to a boil before slowly adding the grits, stirring continuously. It’s important to go slowly to prevent the grits from clumping as they cook. Once fully incorporated, cover the pot, and cook for about 20 minutes. It should be thick and creamy when it’s done. Add maple syrup and salt, then keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.
Step Two: Meanwhile, prepare the berry compote. Combine the strawberries and raspberries with a splash of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer gently over medium-low until the berries start to break down; about 10 minutes. Lightly mash the berries with the back of a spoon for a more consistent texture.
Step Three: Divide the hot cooked grits between 4 bowls and top each with some of the berry compote. Add a dollop of vegan yogurt if desired and optionally swirl it together with the compote. Enjoy right away.
Ideas For Flavor Variations
Variety is the spice of life! Keep your morning routine fresh by changing up the flavors in your breakfast bowl. You can’t go wrong with any of these simple tweaks.
Use additional non-dairy milk instead of water for a richer texture. To put this one over the top, splurge on full-fat coconut milk!
Add some crunch to your vegan grits with a sprinkle of granola, nuts or seeds on top!
Swap the berries for any fresh seasonal fruits, such as cherries, chopped peaches, apricots, apples, or pears.
If you’re in a hurry, you can skip the homemade compote entirely and top your grits with a spoonful of your favorite jam, jelly, or fruit preserves.
Add a pinch of cinnamon, ginger, and/or nutmeg for a subtly spicy finish.
Go savory by omitting the maple syrup and using vegetable stock in place of water. Stir in a pinch of nutritional yeast or shredded vegan cheese to really enhance the flavor! Top with sautéed vegetables, pesto, and/or tomato sauce instead of berry compote.
Nutritional Benefits Of Grits
Grits are considered whole grains, which means they’re a great source of fiber to keep you full and satisfied through a long morning. They’re high in antioxidants, particularly lutein and zeaxanthin, which are shown to have benefits for healthy vision, protecting against age-related eye diseases as we age.
When it comes to vitamins and minerals, one serving is better than many lab-synthesized supplements! Corn grits are high in B Vitamins, such as niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and folate, in addition to iron and Vitamin C.
If you like oatmeal but crave a healthy change of pace, these vegan grits will be your new breakfast BFF. The convenience of quick-cooking oats with the rich corn flavor of finely ground grits is a winning combination. Top it with an easy berry compote to finish off this creamy vegan breakfast!
In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring the non-dairy milk and water to a boil. Stir and slowly add in the grits and adjust the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the grits are creamy. Stir in the maple syrup, and add salt to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.
While the grits are cooking, warm the strawberries and raspberries with a couple tablespoons of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, adjust the heat to medium-low, and cook until the berries start to break down, about 10 minutes. Lightly mash the berries if they are not breaking apart with the back of a spoon.
Divide the creamy grits between 4 bowls, and top each with some of the berry compote. Serve warm.
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