Fish and grits are a true Southern staple; cajun seasoned and sautéed catfish atop cheesy grits for a full-flavored dish. Serve this quick and easy meal for breakfast, brunch, or dinner.
Cajun catfish and grits is a hearty, savory meal topped with homemade pickled onions for a tangy twist. This is a great way to impress your guests or family for a tasty brunch. With pan-seared cajun catfish, and cheesy grits topped with pickled onions, this is the best fish and grits recipe.
Why You'll Love This Fish and Grits Recipe
- Quick and Easy. This dish comes together fairly quickly. It's made with super common ingredients and pantry staples and from start to finish, this is ready within 30 minutes.
- Versatile. There are so many ways to customize fish and grits. You can adjust everything from the seasoning to the type of grits. I have some tasty ideas so you can make this dish your own.
- Comfort Food. Get cozy with a hot bowl of creamy grits enriched with chicken broth, heavy cream, and two cheeses. It's good for your taste buds and even better for the soul!
This recipe has four components; cheesy grits, cajun catfish, pickled onions, and a delicious reduction sauce/gravy.
Creamy Cheesy Grits
- Instant Grits. These finely ground grits cook super fast.
- Chicken Broth. Use this instead of water for a savory depth of flavor.
- Cheese. I use muenster cheese and spicy pepper jack but you can use whatever cheese you like.
- Butter. This gives the grits a rich, buttery flavor.
- Garlic Paste. Use minced garlic for best results.
- Heavy Cream. This enriches the grits and gives them a creamy texture.
- Green Onion. This adds a fresh pop of pungent flavor.
- Seasoning. I season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Cooking Oil. Olive oil or avocado oil will work great here.
- Catfish. This flaky white fish pairs best with grits. You will need about 1 pound for this recipe.
- Cajun Seasoning. Use a cajun seasoning blend or creole seasoning for the best flavor.
- Lemon Wedges. about 1 tbsp
- Chicken Broth
- Heavy Cream
With just a handful ingredients, you'll have tangy, tart aromatic pickled red onions in minutes! Check out the full recipe for pickled onions.
- Red Onion
- Hot Water
- Garlic Clove
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Black Peppercorn (optional)
How to Make Fish and Grits
I suggest making the grits first, so the fish is nice and hot when you're ready to serve.
Creamy Cheesy Grits
Add chicken broth to a deep saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover the pot until the liquid boils. Then whisk in grits. Add butter and garlic and then cover for 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly.
Then add cheese and heavy cream, whisking until creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set the creamy grits aside and keep warm. Occasionally stir it so it doesn't begin to clump.
Add cooking oil to a sauté pan or cast iron pan on medium-high heat. Season the fish liberally with cajun seasoning. When the pan begins to smoke, add the cajun fish and sear on both sides for 3-5 minutes, or until cooked through.
Squeeze lemon wedges over the fish and let the juices cook out. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside.
Then add chicken broth to the pan. Use a whisk to release charred bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour in heavy cream and stir until the sauce is reduced and begins to thicken. Turn off the heat and set aside until plating.
Tips and Tricks
- If your grits are runny, allow them to rest. Grits tend to thicken as they sit. You can also try to drain excess liquid. If the grits are too thick, add broth or heavy cream.
- Remember to consistently stir the grits as they cook. This prevents clumping.
- Wash your saucepan as soon as possible because the grits will adhere to the pot, making it harder to scrub the pan clean, the longer it sits.
- Cooking Method: I opted out of frying fish (which is true Southern tradition) for this recipe since we are in small living quarters but you can definitely make fried fish and grits instead.
- Fish: You can make cajun fish with a variety of fish. I also like salmon and rockfish with this recipe.
- Grits: If you don't mind a longer cooking time, you can use stone-ground grits instead of quick grits. It's heartier, less processed, and more in line with traditional Southern grits. You can also use yellow grits instead of white grits. Yellow grits are great if you prefer sweeter grits.
- Cheese: You can use sharp cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese instead for a different flavor.
How to Store Leftovers
Store leftover fish and grits separately, in airtight containers in the fridge. The fish and sauce will last up to 2 days, whereas the grits will last up to 4 days.
You can reheat the leftovers in the microwave. Alternatively, warm up the grits over medium-low heat on the stovetop. You may need to add a splash of broth or heavy cream to loosen it up.
What are grits?
Grits are made from ground corn. There are many varieties of grits, including yellow and white. Although the process for making grits is the same, the different types are ground either finely or minimally.
What do grits taste like?
Grits have a mild flavor that makes them suitable for both sweet and savory dishes.
Are fish and grits a Southern thing?
Grits are a traditional Southern dish. Native Americans who used to reside in what is now considered the south, used to grind corn to make grits. Today it is a staple in Southern cuisine and often served with seafood like fried fish.
Can I make fish and grits in advance?
If you want to save some time, make your grits the day before and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Make the fish fresh.
I HOPE YOU ENJOY THIS FISH AND GRITS RECIPE!
Cajun Fish and Grits
- 2 cups Instant Grits
- 1.5 cups Chicken Broth
- 1 cup Muenster Cheese
- ½ cup Spicy Pepper Jack
- 2 tablespoon Butter
- 1 tablespoon Garlic Paste minced garlic
- ¼ cup Heavy Cream
- 1 tablespoon Green Onion
- Salt + Pepper to taste
- 1 tsp Cooking Oil
- 2 pieces Catfish about 1lb
- 1 tablespoon Cajun Seasoning
- 2 Lemon Wedges about 1 tbsp
- ¼ cup Chicken Broth up to ½ cup
- 3 tablespoon Heavy Cream
- See linked blog post above
- In a deep sauce pan on medium/high heat, add chicken broth and cover pot until liquid boils.
- Whisk in grits and add butter and garlic, cover for 5-10 minutes stirring constantly.
- Add in cheese and heavy cream and whisk until creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Set aside and keep warm stirring to not allow grits to clump.
- In a large sauté pan on medium-high heat, add cooking oil.
- Season fish liberally with cajun seasoning.
- When pan begins to smoke, add seasoned fish and sear on both sides for 3-5 until cooked through.
- Squeeze lemon wedges over fish and let the juices cook out.
- Remove fish from pan and set aside.
- Add chicken broth to pan and use whisk to release charred bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Add in heavy cream and stir until reduced and sauce begins to thicken.
- Turn off heat and set aside until plating.