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!
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. After all, if Trader Joe's is selling them, then the youngun's out there should be interested, right?
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!
Ingredients for Cheddar Grits with Cinnamon Apples and Crispy Turkey Sausage
- Stone-Ground Grits - using this type of grits will give this recipe extra texture and flavor to make it something really special. Like I mentioned earlier, Trader Joe's sells them, but there are some good options on Amazon here and here.
- Milk - stirring in some milk halfway through the cooking time will make your grits creamy and rich. I use 1% milk with wonderful results - plus it will save some calories! If you need to use a milk alternative, try soy, rice, oat or almond milk here.
- Cheddar Cheese - I'm using an extra sharp cheddar in this recipe to pair with the sweet tanginess of the apples. You just can't go wrong with the classic combination of sharp cheddar and apples in the fall!
- Butter - we will use a little bit of butter to finish the grits and also to cook the apples in. The whole recipe just requires 1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) of butter, so it's just enough to be a little indulgent without going overboard!
- Apples - I like to use a combination of apples for this recipe to get a good depth flavor in the apples; typically one Honeycrisp and one Granny Smith. Fuji, Golden Delicious, or Macoun (if you can find them) are all great options as well.
- Cinnamon - just a little bit of cinnamon goes a long way in this recipe. We just want a hint in the apples, but not too much. This is so that the flavor of the cheddar, apples, and turkey sausage can shine through in the overall dish.
- Brown Sugar - a few tablespoons of dark brown sugar will be added to the apples once they are tender and slightly translucent. This will create a nice, light coating of syrup on the apples. Feel free to substitute with maple syrup, sugar-free maple syrup, or honey as desired.
- Turkey Sausage - I'm using turkey breakfast sausage in this recipe to cut back on fat and calories - this is the one I like to use. But there are great options for making your own maple turkey sausage if you'd like to try that!
- Hot Sauce and Maple Syrup - a little bit of hot sauce and maple syrup sprinkled on the cooked turkey sausage will coat the sausage crumbles and make them perfectly crispy, sticky, a little spicy, and totally irresistible!
How to Make Cheddar Grits with Cinnamon Apples and Crispy Turkey Sausage
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
Other Tips and Uses for Cheddar Grits
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
Are you ready to make these Cheddar Grits with Cinnamon Apples and Crispy 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! I’d also love to feature your creation in my monthly newsletter, so you can upload a photo to Instagram or Twitter with the tag @sweetcayenne5 to be featured!
Cheddar Grits with Cinnamon Apples and Crispy Turkey Sausage
- 1 ½ cups water
- ½ cup stone-ground grits
- ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ cup 1% milk, plus more as needed
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 medium apples, thinly sliced (recommend one Honeycrisp and one Granny Smith)
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 ounces turkey sausage (from a roll or bulk packaged)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon 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 2 tablespoons of butter until incorporated and melted. Add splashes of water or milk as needed to reach desired creaminess.
For the apples:
- Melt 2 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!