A creamy bowl of stone-ground cheddar grits topped with tender cinnamon apples and crispy maple-flavored turkey sausage crumbles makes for a delicious stick-to-your-ribs breakfast on chilly mornings!
About the recipe
Friends, I'm just gonna get straight to the point today and tell you that I'm SO excited to be sharing this recipe with you today. I've been sitting on it for a few weeks now, have made it several times and even had some company over to test it. I'm now ready to share it with the world in hopes that more people can enjoy it!
You know how grain bowls have been a thing for a while now? Well, I'm proposing today that we make "grit bowls" a thing. It's about time for the Millenials and gen-Z to be introduced to the wonderful, cozy comfort that is a steaming bowl of stone-ground grits.
To my sheer delight, I discovered a few months ago that Trader Joe's was selling old-fashioned, stone-ground grits. Do you know how hard these are to find???
Unless you have access to a good specialty food store in the South, it's likely you will only be able to find the quick-cooking grits that are ready in 5 minutes. These will do in a pinch, but won't hold a candle to the hearty texture and fresh flavor of stone-ground grits.
Sure, it does take an extra 20 minutes or so to cook them. But it's totally worth it! Plus, that gives you plenty of time to whip up a batch of buttery cinnamon apples and crispy maple turkey sausage crumbles for topping your grits. Let me show you how it's done!
- Stone-Ground Grits
- Milk - or milk alternative
- Cheddar Cheese - or vegan cheddar shreds
- Butter - substitute with Earth Balance for a vegan version
- Apples - Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Pink Lady
- Brown Sugar - substitute with maple syrup, sugar-free maple syrup, or honey
- Ground turkey breakfast sausage - omit if making this recipe vegan
- Hot sauce and maple syrup
Step 1: Have your mise en place - get everything ready first. Slice the apples, grate the cheese, and have to measure cups/spoons near the stovetop with all the ingredients. This way it will be easy to just reach for whatever you need while you stir at the stovetop!
Step 2: Boil the water for your grits - this will be the first thing to do to ensure each element of the meal is done at the same time.
Step 3: Start the cinnamon apples in a cast-iron skillet - you'll cook the apples and sausage separately but in the same pan. It's a good idea to start the apples first while the water for the grits comes to a boil.
Step 4: Simmer the grits in a pot on the stovetop - this will take a total of 20-25 minutes. You will stir the grits occasionally as they simmer so that they don't stick to the bottom of the pan.
Step 5: Once the apples are done, cook the sausage in the same pan. Keep the apples warm in a covered bowl on the stovetop while everything else finishes cooking.
Wipe the skillet dry with a paper towel before adding the turkey sausage. You will want to make sure to chop up the sausage with a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the pan as it cooks to ensure you have lots of crispy bits!
Step 6: Serve each item separately and let everyone customize their own bowl. I like to put the cheese grits in the bowl first, then some apples, and finish with a sprinkling of crispy sausage crumbles.
Below are some of my best tips for making these bell pepper nachos, as well as some answers to commonly asked questions!
Can I use quick-cooking grits instead of stone-ground grits?
You can absolutely use quick-cooking grits instead of stone ground, the texture will just be different. Quick-cooking grits have a smoother texture and, in my opinion, less flavor than stone-ground grits. But the cheese grits will be delicious just the same!
Why are my grits lumpy?
It's important to whisk in grits gradually into the cooking liquid to prevent any lumps from forming as they start to absorb water. Grits also tend to stick to the bottom of the pot, so it's important to give them a really good stir every few minutes to break up any clumps that are sticking.
Is there a substitute for turkey breakfast sausage?
You can use any breakfast sausage links or patties, just dice them up into small bits before pan-frying them. You can also use bulk pork breakfast sausage. However, the turkey sausage is much lower in fat and calories!
Good news: this dish reheats beautifully and is great for meal prep! I like to divide any leftover grits into small glass containers and top them with the apples and sausage. To reheat, just microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring halfway to distribute the heat. The leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
If you'd like to make this recipe for a Southern-themed brunch, consider serving them with:
- Spiced Tea
- Surprise-Inside Pimento Cheese Tartlets
- Baked Pumpkin Donut Muffins
- Sliced pears, grapes, and cantaloupe
If you are looking for more savory breakfast recipes, check out some of my favorites below:
Are you ready to make these Cheddar Grits with Apples and Turkey Sausage? I’m so excited for you to try this recipe. Once you get the chance to make it, please let me know how it turns out for you!
Leave a comment and rate the recipe below. This will help me with the creation of future recipes!
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Cheddar Grits with Cinnamon Apples and Crispy Turkey Sausage
- 3 ½ cups water
- 1 cup stone-ground grits
- ¾ teaspoons salt
- 1 cup 1% milk, plus more as needed
- 6 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 3 medium apples, thinly sliced (recommend one Honeycrisp and one Granny Smith)
- 5 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 8 ounces turkey sausage (from a roll or bulk packaged)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Louisiana
For the grits:
- Bring the water to boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the grits and salt. Reduce heat to low until the grits come to a slow simmer. Place the lid on top and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the milk, and simmer for 10-15 minutes more, stirring as needed to keep the grits from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the grits are cooked and tender, stir in the cheese and 3 tablespoons of butter until incorporated and melted. Add splashes of water or milk as needed to reach desired creaminess.
For the apples:
- Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the apples and cook, stirring often, until tender and translucent, about 7-8 minutes. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and stir to combine. Transfer the apples to a bowl and cover, keeping warm on the stovetop until ready to serve. Wipe the skillet clean to prepare for cooking the sausage.
For the turkey sausage:
- Return the cast iron skillet to medium heat. Add the turkey sausage. Cook, using a wooden spoon to break up the sausage and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan, until the sausage is cooked through and crispy, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the hot sauce and maple syrup, tossing to combine and coat the sausage.
- Ladle the grits into small bowls. Top with the warm apples and turkey sausage crumbles. Enjoy while hot!