Cajun chicken and grits is the ultimate hearty homemade comfort food! Cheesy, creamy grits are topped with crispy pan-fried chicken and a dash of hot sauce.
Chicken and grits is the comfort food meal you never knew you needed in your life - until now! Hearty, flavorful, and filling, this recipe is sure to become a new favorite.
Cheesy grits are cooked on the stove top (it's super easy!). They're made with chicken broth, milk, and plenty of sharp cheddar cheese. Topping your grits is a pan-fried chicken breast. Panko bread crumbs give your chicken a crunchy crust and cajun seasoning adds just the right amount of spice.
Add a dash of hot sauce on top - it's a must! Hot sauce adds the perfect amount of heat and acidity to cut through the richness of this dish.
Serve chicken and cheesy grits for dinner after a long, hard work day. It also makes the perfect cold weather meal!
Breaded chicken ingredients
To make your chicken, you'll need two large boneless, skinless chicken breasts that have been sliced in half to make four thinner pieces. Your chicken shouldn't be any thicker than about ½" to ¾" to cook through in a skillet.
Panko bread crumbs can be substituted with regular bread crumbs. However, I highly suggest using panko bread crumbs for an extra crunchy breading.
Cajun seasoning can be homemade or store bought - use your favorite brand.
Choose an oil that has a high smoke point for this recipe. Since you'll be pan frying your chicken, likely in two batches, you'll want an oil that can withstand a bit of heat. Canola oil, vegetable oil, or peanut oil are great choices.
Cheesy grits ingredients
For your grits, I recommend using freshly shredded cheese from a block. Pre-shredded cheese is often dusted in a powder to prevent clumping, which can make your dish grainy when melted.
For this recipe, you'll want to use stone ground grits. If you've never purchased grits before, you can usually find them near the oats or cereal in your local grocery store.
Similar to shopping for oats or rice, you will find two kinds of grits at the grocery store: stone ground grits and instant grits. For this recipe, I'm using traditional, stone ground grits.
Chicken broth can be substituted with vegetable broth if needed. Substituting with water will result in a loss of flavor in your grits.
How to keep breading from falling off
- Pat your chicken dry on all sides with a paper towel before beginning. Do not skip this step! Excess moisture on your chicken will make your egg and breading mixtures more likely to slide off.
- After coating your chicken breasts in your egg mixture, gently shake to remove any excess.
- When coating your chicken in the bread crumb mixture, give them a pat all over to make sure the bread crumbs are stuck to the egg layer.
- After coating them in the bread crumb mixture, gently shake to remove any excess.
- While your chicken is frying in the pan, resist the urge to nudge it around. Do not move your chicken until it has browned and is ready to be flipped. Once ready, it will easily release from the pan.
- Allow your chicken to rest for 2 to 3 minutes before slicing and serving.
Grits tips and tricks
- Grits need to be cooked low and slow to get that silky, creamy texture. Don't be tempted to turn up the heat! This will cause your grits to stick to the bottom of the pan and burn - they won't cook faster.
- When pouring your grits into the pot, whisk constantly to prevent clumps.
- Whisk frequently while your grits are cooking to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan or forming lumps.
- Do your grits look dry? Add a splash of water and turn the heat down slightly.
- Grits are done when they no longer have a grainy texture. Do a taste test - feel a rough, grainy texture? They're not done yet. Cooked grits will be soft and creamy.
- Do not substitute the milk with water. Milk helps give your grits an extra creamy and rich texture.
Cajun Chicken and Cheesy Grits
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 ½ teaspoons cajun seasoning
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 tablespoons canola oil , or vegetable oil
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup stone ground grits, not instant
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- hot sauce, to taste
- Carefully slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise to create four thin pieces (as if you were butterflying them, but continue slicing all the way through). Pat chicken dry on all sides with a paper towel - this will help the breading adhere. Season chicken with salt and pepper and set aside.
- In a shallow bowl, whisk egg. In a second shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, cajun seasoning, and garlic powder.
- Place one piece of chicken into the egg mixture, flip to coat, then pick up and gently shake to remove any excess. Next, place chicken into breading mixture, flipping to coat. Use your hands to gently pat breading into the egg mixture. Gently shake to remove any excess and place breaded chicken onto a plate. Repeat with each chicken breast.
- *At this point, I recommend starting your grits. When your grits are about halfway through cooking, begin frying your chicken. Or, cook your grits to completion, remove from heat, and cover to keep warm while your chicken cooks.
- In a pan over medium heat, add oil. When hot, add breaded chicken, making sure not to overcrowd the pan (you may need to cook in 2 batches). Cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, OR until breading is golden brown and chicken lifts easily from the pan. Transfer to a plate and allow to rest for 2 to 3 minutes before slicing into thin strips.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add milk, chicken broth, and salt. Bring to a boil, then slowly whisk in the grits.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes, whisking frequently. If grits begin to stick to pan, reduce heat and add a splash of water. Grits should be creamy and thick, with no rough texture remaining when they're done cooking.
- Remove from heat and add pepper, butter, and shredded cheese. Stir until melted. Portion into bowls and top with sliced chicken and hot sauce, to taste. Serve immediately.
- To prevent breading from falling off your chicken: make sure to pat your chicken breasts dry before beginning. Shake off any excess egg and bread crumbs. When cooking, resist the urge to nudge your chicken around or move it prematurely. When your chicken is ready to be flipped, it will release easily from the pan.
- To ensure your chicken is cooked through, I suggest using a meat thermometer. Chicken is cooked through when an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit is reached at the thickest part of the meat.