Recipe: Cheesy quinoa "grits"

Posted on August 12, 2021

Serves four as a side.


  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 shallot, fine dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, fine dice
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt (4g)
  • 1/4 tsp MSG
  • “some” chili flakes
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 cup Gruyère, shredded
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock


  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the garlic and chili flakes and cook until garlic is fragrant and barely starting to turn golden, about 2-3min
  3. Add quinoa and increase heat to medium. Toast quinoa another 2-3min, stirring occasionally. There’s no visual cue for this, just don’t go too long.
  4. Add milk, stock, salt, and spices. Cover and bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a bare simmer (low heat). Cook covered for 15min.
  5. After 15min, uncover and cook uncovered until most of the liquid has disappeared, about another 5min. Remove Bay leaves, fold in cheese, then taste for salt. Continue to cook, stirring, until it hits your desired consistency.


Look, I have “grits” in scare-quotes for a reason. These obviously aren’t grits. They may, however, serve a similar purpose for you, and they taste goddamn great.

This is an adaptation of my everyday quinoa recipe / technique to make it softer and richer. That recipe uses a 2:1 ratio of liquid to quinoa, and uses plain water. This one uses a 3:1 ratio, with chicken stock and milk for the cooking liquid. (If you happen to have some shrimp shells around to make stock from, possibly because you’re gonna serve the shrimp on these “grits”, it’d do magnificently with that instead of the chicken stock.) Most of the discussion points from that recipe still apply to this one, so give it a read.

You don’t have to be too cautious about adding the liquid, but keep an eye on it as it comes to a boil so you don’t overflow your saucepan and drop milk on your burner.

I like Gruyère in this, since it melts nicely and doesn’t have too strong or distinctive a flavour. You could put cheddar in this and it’d be good too, or more or less anything else you’d expect to melt in nicely. You’re not trying to flavour the quinoa with the cheese, you’re improving the texture and adding richness.

(I mean, if you want to flavour the quinoa with the cheese, go ahead, that’s you cooking.)

If you’re kind of offended that I’ve called this “grits”, even with the scare quotes, check back later when I annoy the Italians with quinoa “risotto”. But I hope you make some of this anyway, it’s really good.