How many carbs is in 1/4 cup of grits?

Grits are a popular breakfast food, especially in the southern United States. They are made from ground corn, also known as maize. Grits have a creamy, porridge-like texture and can be enjoyed savory or sweet. When looking at the nutritional information for grits, one of the main things people want to know is how many carbohydrates (carbs) are in a serving.

The Carb Count in 1/4 Cup of Grits

A 1/4 cup serving of cooked grits contains approximately 23 grams of carbs. This carb count remains relatively consistent between different brands and types of grits, such as quick grits vs old-fashioned grits. The carbs come mainly from the corn that the grits are made from.

Here is a breakdown of the full nutrition facts for a 1/4 cup serving of plain grits made with water:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 79
Total Fat 0.5 g
Sodium 3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 23 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 1 g

As you can see, the majority of calories and nutrients in grits comes from the carbohydrates. Specifically, a 1/4 cup of grits contains 23 grams of total carbs.

How Does this Carb Count Fit Into Your Daily Needs?

To understand how the 23 grams of carbs in a serving of grits fits into your complete daily diet, it helps to look at the recommended daily intake of carbs.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended daily allowance for carbohydrates is:

  • 130g per day for sedentary adults
  • 130-210g per day for moderately active adults
  • 210-400g per day for very active adults

So a 1/4 cup of grits provides around 15-20% of the daily carb intake for a sedentary adult. For more active adults, it would provide a slightly lower percentage of their total daily carb needs.

Here are some key points to keep in mind when looking at the carb count for grits:

  • A 1/4 cup serving is a relatively standard size for hot cereals like grits.
  • 23g of carbs is considered a high amount coming from a single serving of food.
  • Grits eaten as part of a balanced breakfast can fit well into most people’s daily carb allowance.
  • People on low-carb or ketogenic diets may want to consume grits only occasionally or in smaller portions.

Overall, the carb count in grits can work for most diets in moderation but may need to be limited for very low carb eating plans.

Tips for Managing Carbs from Grits

Here are some tips for enjoying grits while keeping the carb count under control:

Pay Attention to Portions

As mentioned, a typical 1/4 cup serving of grits contains 23g carbs. If you eat a larger portion, say 1/2 cup or 1 cup, the carb count will increase proportionally. Measuring your portion with a measuring cup can help you stay aware of the carbs you’re consuming.

Combine with Protein and Healthy Fats

Eating grits along with protein foods like eggs, lean meats, or nuts/seeds can help balance out the carb impact. Combining with healthy fats like avocado or olive oil can also slow digestion and absorption of the carbs.

Choose Lower Carb Toppings

Instead of adding high sugar toppings like syrup or brown sugar, opt for lower carb mix-ins for your grits. Some ideas are a sprinkle of cheese, salsa, hot sauce, or a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

Make Them Savory Instead of Sweet

Skip the butter, cream, and sugar when preparing grits. Season them instead with spices, herbs, salt, and pepper for a savory bowl with fewer carbs.

Select Lower Carb Alternatives

If you’re really looking to cut back on carbs, replace some or all of the grits with lower carb alternatives like riced cauliflower, chopped spinach, or shredded zucchini.

How Does Cooking Method Affect the Carb Count?

The cooking method used for grits will not significantly change the carbohydrate content. For example, grits prepared with water will have a nearly identical amount of digestible carbs as grits cooked in milk. The main differences would come from any extra ingredients added, not the cooking method itself.

Here is a breakdown of how some common cooking techniques could alter the carb count per 1/4 cup serving of grits:

  • Water: 23g carbs
  • Milk: 24g carbs
  • Half water & half milk: 24g carbs
  • Heavy cream: 23g carbs
  • Butter: No significant increase
  • Cheese: No significant increase
  • Sugar or syrup: Can increase carbs up to 5g

As you can see, the different cooking liquids and most additions cause little variation in the total carb content. Sweeteners like sugar or syrup would have the biggest impact by adding extra grams of carbs.

Comparing Carbs in Grits vs. Other Breakfast Cereals

How does the carb count of grits compare to other hot or cold breakfast cereals? Here is a breakdown of the carbs in a 1/4 cup serving of some popular breakfast cereal options:

Cereal Carbs (g)
Cooked grits (plain) 23
Old fashioned oats 20
Steel cut oats 24
Instant oatmeal 15
Granola 21
Corn flakes 22
Rice Krispies 22
Frosted Flakes 24

Grits are on the higher end for carbs compared to other common breakfast cereals. Only steel cut oats and Frosted Flakes contain slightly more carbs per 1/4 cup serving. So grits are one of the more carb-dense hot cereal options.

Effect of Different Types of Grits

There are two main types of grits available – old fashioned grits and quick grits. Let’s see how the carb count compares between them.

Old Fashioned Grits

Old fashioned grits are ground more coarsely from whole corn kernels. They take longer to cook – about 30-45 minutes. A 1/4 cup serving contains:

  • Calories: 83
  • Total carbs: 22g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 0g

Quick Grits

Quick grits have a finer grind and cook more quickly in just 5 minutes. A 1/4 cup serving contains:

  • Calories: 80
  • Total carbs: 23g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 0g

As you can see, the carb content is nearly the same at 22-23g per serving. So the type of grits does not have a significant impact on the carb count.

Carb Difference Between Dry and Cooked Grits

Since grits expand and absorb liquid as they cook, there is a big difference in carb content between dry, uncooked grits and cooked grits.

Here is the carb count difference:

  • Dry grits (1/4 cup): 16-17g carbs
  • Cooked grits (1/4 cup): 22-23g carbs

The dry grits contain only about 75% of the carbs compared to cooked grits. Just 1/4 cup of uncooked dry grits provides 16-17g of carbs, versus 22-23g once cooked in liquid.

Tips for Low-Carb Grits

If you are following a low-carb or ketogenic diet, enjoying grits in moderation can still fit into your daily carb allowance. Here are some tips for keeping grits low in carbs:

Use Smaller Portions

Stick to a 1/8 cup or even 1/16 cup serving size to cut the carbs in half or quarter of the full amount.

Try Cauliflower “Grits”

Replace up to half the grits with riced cauliflower to reduce the carbs.

Increase Healthy Fats

Top with extra butter, cheese, avocado, or olive oil to slow digestion and lower the glycemic impact.

Avoid Adding Sugar

Skip syrup, honey, brown sugar or other sweeteners that increase the carb count.

Boost Fiber Content

Mix in high-fiber ingredients like chia seeds, hemp seeds, or almond flour to help counteract the carbs.

Combine with Protein

Eat grits alongside protein sources like eggs, bacon, Greek yogurt or nut butter to balance your meal.

Should You Consume Grits if You Have Diabetes?

People with diabetes need to carefully monitor their carbohydrate intake. Since grits are relatively high in carbs, they can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a diabetic diet but portion size is key.

Here are some tips for people with diabetes eating grits:

  • Stick to 1/4 cup or less per serving
  • Combine with protein, fat, and fiber
  • Avoid adding sugar or sweet toppings
  • Measure your blood sugar levels carefully
  • Consume as part of your recommended daily carb intake
  • Adjust insulin dosage if needed to balance carb intake

Consuming grits occasionally as part of controlled portion sizes can be acceptable for some people with diabetes. But moderation and monitoring your blood sugar levels is important.


A 1/4 cup serving of grits contains about 23 grams of carbohydrates, which is a relatively high amount from one food source. For most people, enjoying grits in moderate portions as part of a balanced diet can fit into their recommended daily carb intake. However, people on low-carb or ketogenic diets, as well as those with diabetes, may need to be more mindful of limiting portion sizes of grits to control their carb consumption. Carefully measuring servings and being aware of proper cooking techniques and ingredients can help manage the carb content when preparing grits. Combining them with protein, fat, and fiber can also help counteract the blood sugar impact of the carbs in grits.

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