Creole Shrimp and Grits

This Creole shrimp and grits combines perfectly spiced shrimp, a spicy (but not too spicy) Creole sauce, and creamy white Cheddar grits. It’s Southern comfort food with Big Easy flair.

A white bowl filled with Creole shrimp and grits, with a spoon above the bowl with a shrimp in it.

Creole food is city food, slightly more rarefied than its rustic Cajun cousin, with roots that reach back to Louisiana’s French colonists. You can certainly see the French connection in this recipe—the base of the sauce is a brunoise (finely diced vegetables), the sauce itself is a reduction that’s mounted with butter, and the shrimp is cooked with a quick sauté . . . très française, n’est pas? One not-so-French element here is the hefeweizen I use in the Creole sauce. Its light, citrusy flavor intensifies as it reduces and helps cut some of the richness of this luxurious dish.–Tanya Holland

Creole Shrimp and Grits

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 4
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Ingredients

  • For the Creole sauce
  • For the Creole spice mix
  • For the white Cheddar grits
  • For the shrimp

Directions

Make the Creole sauce

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the scallions and garlic and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour in the beer and Worcestershire sauce and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture is thick, syrupy, and reduced to between 3/4 and 1 cup, 35 to 55 minutes.

Tester tip: If your sauce separates, don’t panic. Simply vigorously whisk to reincorporate it.

Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool. (You can cover and refrigerate the sauce for up to 1 week.)

Make the Creole spice mix

While the Creole sauce is reducing, in a small bowl, stir together the salt, herbes de Provence, cumin, cayenne, black pepper, and paprika until thoroughly combined. (You can keep the Creole spice mix at room temperature for up to 6 months.)

Tester tip: This recipe will make significantly more spice mix than you need for the recipe. Sprinkle it over roast vegetables, use as a spice rub for grilled meats, toss it in egg dishes, and anyplace else you can think to use it.
Make the white Cheddar grits

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Whisk in the grits, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring constantly, until the grits are fully cooked and have thickened to a mush-like consistency, 4 to 8 minutes.

Tester tip: You may want to check the package instructions for your grits as the proportion of water to grits as well as the cooking time can vary somewhat.

Stir in the cream, butter, cheese, salt, and white pepper until the cheese melts. Cover to keep warm over very low heat until serving.

Make the shrimp

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil until shimmering. Add the green and red bell peppers, scallions, garlic, and 2 teaspoons Creole spice mix and cook until the vegetables are softened, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp and cook just until opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer the shrimp to a plate. Stir the Creole Sauce, cream, and butter into the skillet and bring to a simmer.

Add the spinach, a handful at a time, stirring to wilt and coat with sauce. Once all the spinach has been added, remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and shrimp.

Spoon the shrimp over the grits and serve immediately.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This recipe transported me back to those wonderful days I spent living in Lake Charles, Louisiana. This recipe reminds me of wonderful meals enjoyed in little “mom and pop” restaurants or at some roadside stand scattered near a bayou. I can “gawrontee” that this recipe will bring the delightful flavors of the N’awlins to your kitchen.

Don’t be intimidated by all the steps to make this recipe as it’s really very easy to prep and make. If you do the prep work earlier, this meal will come together rather quickly. I made the Creole spice mix one day and the Creole sauce another day. That avoided some chaos and any timing issues in the kitchen on the day I made the dish, as much of the prep work was already completed.

When preparing the dish, I cut the peppers in a fine 1/8-inch dice so they sautéed quickly in the pan. When I added the shrimp (and I used size 13 to 15 count for my dish, which are quite large), I added the Creole sauce and other ingredients, except the spinach, then turned the shrimp over in the sauce as it thickened before adding the spinach to wilt. I didn’t want to overcook my shrimp, and that sequence worked well, as they were plump and juicy when served over the grits.

I don’t have quick grits in my pantry, just good old regular Carolina yellow grits. So instead of using the water and grits ratio in that part of the recipe, I used the typical 4:1 ratio of liquid and grits to make four servings. Then I used the rest of the recipe ingredients of cream, butter, and cheese.

I don’t recommend adding the full amount of salt to the grits from the get go. I do find that adding less salt earlier in any recipe is a good bet, as it’s easy to add, very difficult to remove later!

Now, as I already didn’t follow this part of the recipe exactly, I went completely rogue as I had some leftover corn on the cob. I added the corn from one cob and its milk to increase the corn flavor and add a bit more texture to the grits.

I will say that the Worcestershire sauce come through loud and clear, so I think the next time I make this dish, I will reduce the amount of Worcestershire sauce by 2 tablespoons. I felt the it overpowered the final sauce a little bit, my better half thought it was fine. I’ll let you make up your own mind on that tweak when you make this yourself.

We really enjoyed this dish. It’s a nice change from other cuisines, and will remind you of a down home Creole meal. And, IMHO, changing out the grits did not deter from the luscious Creole sauce that accompanied the shrimp, the real star of the dish. So “Laissez les bon temps rouler. “

The Creole sauce took about 5 minutes to prep, however it took over 30 minutes to get the sauce to reduce to 1 cup, so closer to 40 minutes to make the sauce. I used a local microbrewed Belgian-style beer I had in the fridge.

Absolutely fabulous! My husband described this dish as "righteous" and said he could eat this every day of the year! Full disclosure—my two testers and I have never had shrimp and grits before so we had no point of reference, but I can tell you that after the first bite, all three of us instantly said, "YEP, this one's a winner!" as we nodded our heads with enjoyment. It came together so fast that I nearly had to slow it down so I could get the remaining ingredients ready. It's not a “prep as you cook” type recipe, so have everything mise en place and definitely give it a try!

The grits weren't enough to serve four. We were three people (and 1 with a smaller appetite) and we didn’t have any leftovers, so for 4 people, I would double the grits recipe. And I may suggest letting the grits cool for a minute or two because then they start to gel nicely when you plate them and hold their shape. I served them piping hot and they were almost a bit soupy until they started to cool. We all went back for seconds and we preferred the texture of the grits after they had been sitting.

I used an English Pale Ale from a local brewery.

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Comments

  1. Quick grits with cheese?!?!? Why not just add some Viennie weenies while you’re at it.

    Sorry LC, I expect better from ya’ll.

    1. Hey, Bkhuna, if this is the first recipe in all our years together that doesn’t past your muster, then I’d say that’s pretty damn fine! Our goal has always been to present recipes that work and that our testers love. We have some real hardcore Southerner who gave this a thumbs up.

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