Chile Rubbed Salmon over Cheddar Grits
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is pure Southern comfort food! My favorite preparation of salmon, chile-rubbed and cooked to juicy perfection, sits atop the most perfect, buttery, aged-cheddary cheese grits you'll ever taste. As a bonus, this recipe is super easy to prepare. I served it with homemade cheddar biscuits with lots of butter and peach jam. By the way, I always use farm-raised salmon for this recipe because it's fattier and juicier.
Serves: 2-3
Salmon Ingredients:
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (1-pound) filet of salmon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Cheddar Grits Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup stone-ground grits
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons Plugrá butter
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (splurge for the good stuff)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • green onions
  1. Make the salmon spice rub: Whisk together the cumin, chili powder, brown sugar, and salt. Rub the spice mix on the salmon filet (on both sides if it's skinless, but on just the exposed side if it's skin-on.) Set the filet aside while you start the grits.
  2. Make the cheddar grits: In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of milk and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Whisk in the grits. Reduce the heat to low and cover the grits, cooking until all the milk is absorbed (see the directions on your package for how long this should take. Mine took 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, heavy cream, and cheddar until smooth. Season to taste with pepper (and salt if more is needed; I didn't need to add any. Remember that your salmon will be seasoned separately). Cover the grits and set aside until you're ready to serve.
  3. Make the salmon: While the grits are absorbing their liquid, cook the salmon. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Place the fish in skin side down and cook without disturbing for 4-5 minutes before turning over and cooking for 4 minutes on the other side (thicker cuts might need 6-7 minutes per side -- mine was about 1 inch thick at its thickest point -- but keep in mind the fish will continue to cook when you tent it with foil). Remove the fish from the heat, tent it with foil, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. The fish will flake apart easily when done.
  4. Assemble: Spoon up grits into shallow bowls and top each bowl with a serving of the salmon and some green onions. Serve immediately (preferably with biscuits!)
Recipe by Willow Bird Baking at