Shrimp and Grits

This cheesy shrimp and grits recipe is an easy low-country classic. We’re talking shrimp and bacon smothering a puddle of Cheddar grits. Need we say more?

Shrimp and Grits

This southern shrimp and grits recipe is a classic low-country dish adored by just about everyone on the planet–and if someone say they don’t love it, they’re lying. You can certainly count The One and me among its fans. We first had a plateful of this divineness at a lovely little restaurant in Charleston. Originally published May 8, 2010.David Leite

Shrimp and Grits

  • Quick Glance
  • (20)
  • 15 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 8 as a starter or 4 as a main
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In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a roiling boil. Pour in the grits, add a goodly amount of salt and freshly ground black pepper, and stir well with a whisk. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting. (A flame tamer is a great idea if you have a particularly aggressive stove.) Cook the grits until all the water is absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the butter and Cheddar cheese. Cover the pot and keep it warm until ready to serve.

Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy and brown, then transfer to a paper towel to drain. Dump the shrimp into the skillet and sauté them in the bacon grease over medium heat until they just turn coral pink, about 3 minutes. Whatever you do, don’t overcook them. You don’t want rubbery shrimp. Immediately drizzle in the lemon juice and mix in the parsley, green onions, and garlic. Take the skillet off the heat.

To serve the shrimp and grits, ladle the grits into a large serving bowl. Scrape the shrimp mixture over top the grits. Sprinkle with bacon and hightail it to the table!

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Recipe Testers Reviews

My first experience eating grits was not the best. Then I tried some at a small restaurant in North Carolina and realized that if the grits are properly cooked, they really could be amazing. When I finally decided to make grits at home, this shrimp and grits recipe was my first try, and it couldn't be any easier to make. The grits came out wonderful—filled with strong cheese flavor yet not so overwhelming that I couldn't enjoy the shrimp and bacon. This is extremely filling and better suited to lunch so you can enjoy a little nap afterwards.


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David Says

David Leite caricature

I think we fell in love in Charleston, The One and I. Not with each other--that happened twenty-something years before--but with shrimp and grits. It was at Slightly North of Broad, S.N.O.B. for short. We were having lunch with Sita Krishnaswamy, one of our recipe testers, and her husband. The shrimp and grits were good enough to cause The One and I to exchange a look that said--we have to make this when we get home. And we did. We tried a lot of recipes, but this shrimp and grits recipe is the one we like the most. It's cheesy, studded with plump shrimp, and scattered with salty bites of bacon. On a few occasions, I took out some shrimp shells I'd frozen and made a shrimp stock to cook the grits in. A little extra layer of flavor worth trying.


  1. Wow this recipe came out perfect!! I will definitely make it again!! This is perfect for a family of 3-4. Note: you won’t have enough for seconds so I suggest doubling the recipe if you are hungrier or have more people.

  2. One of my favorites! Creamy cheesy grits contrast nicely with tangy shrimp, and bacon makes everything better. A somewhat heavy but very satisfying meal.

    1. Thanks, Eagleswing865. I’m delighted that you enjoyed it. Can’t wait to hear what you make next.

  3. Great meal! Quick and tasty! Added a little sausage for a bit more depth of flavor but it was great.

  4. The first time I tried shrimp and grits was at a small restaurant called The Blue Mingo after seeing a performance of Porgy and Bess at Glimmerglass Opera House this past summer. Before that I’d see truckers eating huge platters of white gummy oozing stuff that made me shudder. But wow! The meal I had at the Blue Mingo left me searching the web to see how I could recreate it. I wanted the grits to be creamy, just shy of soupy, and I wanted the shrimp to be juicy and spicy and sprinkled with chopped green onion. So here is my improvised take on shrimp and grits – 2 cups of chicken broth, 1/2 cup of grits, cooked and 2 oz of cream cheese and a cup of cheddar stirred in at the end – and for the shrimp, I skinned and chopped chorizos and sautéed them in some olive oil and drained them and then tossed the shrimp (marinated in chopped garlic and Old Bay and smoked paprika for about five minutes) in and cooked them in the same oil making them a nice shade of red. Plate the grits and the shrimp, sprinkle chorizo bits and chopped green onion on top. Not exactly low calorie food, but if you’re going to go, might as well go big.

    I am going to try this new recipe and compare it to mine–I’ve yet to try a recipe on this website that wasn’t perfection, but I gotta say I don’t think there is a way to mess up grits and shrimp unless you’re eating the white gummy stuff at a truck stop with red gravy!

    1. Marilyn, I love your recipe for grits. It’s interesting: My grandmother Vovo Costa, used to fry Portuguese chouriço in oil then pour off the oil and save it in the fridge. When she had enough, she’d fry potatoes in the oil. They came out smoky, crispy, and orangey-red.

      1. David, that sounds delicious! I love potatoes!

        I’m making this version of shrimp and grits tonight (my husband usually makes it his way but I’m the cook tonight). I almost always serve it with Okra and Tomatoes. I look forward to trying this with a dash of cayenne since my guys like spicy. Thanks for the recipe! I can’t wait to visit Charleston really soon. And Marilyn, I plan to use your idea for grits soon too.

  5. This recipe inspired me, but I had so few of the ingredients, and was pressed for time. I made the grits in my rice cooker, with a bit of garlic added, and once they were done, added some grated Parmesan I had on hand, sautéed the shrimp in butter and olive oil – when they were done, deglazed the pan width a bit of vermouth and added a bit of butter, then reduced it – that made a lovely, if scant, sauce. It was so good, we could not imagine the other ingredients could have improved it at all. We’ve had it twice now, and will be adding shrimp to the grocery list more often. Thank you for the inspiration, even cut down to basics, this dish will remain a favorite!

  6. Great! And simple! I used garlic cheddar cheese and no garlic and white sharp cheddar . And some Tabasco in the grits! We loved it!

  7. Wanted to let ya’ll know ’bout a small but wonderful grist mill in Helen, GA called Nora Mill Granary. You can watch them grind not only grits but oats, et al. Their grits are the best we ever had. Definently a five-star granary. Their “menu” is on line and they will ship.

  8. Oh, sure, it looks like a great recipe for shrimp and grits. Fine. But the real thing y’all have is the recipe for an awesome blog with some of the absolute best comments I have ever read on a foodie site! This rocks! Maybe I’ll even make something ;)

  9. Okay, don’t blast me immediately, but hear me out. I can just imagine what you grit aficionados are going to think. Anyway, growing up in Chicago, I never heard of a grit until I played college baseball in the North and we went to the University of Southern Mississippi and Jackson State and stayed in the dorms and ate at the cafeterias. Grits was the only thing that kept me going…and I’ve learned to love them. But…I don’t have time to cook them for 30 minutes, so I’ve eaten the Quaker instant grits often…and love them…so I tried this recipe with them. Well, it was great! I like being able to control the consistency of the grits by adding more boiling water (I like ’em soupy), and I added a couple of diced shallots to the bacon oil and Old Bay Seasoning. Be gentle with me…

    1. Well John, I’m just pleased as punch that non-Southerner loves grits. And I’ve been known to pull out those instant grits in a pinch. Especially on school days when we are all running late. Signed grits (girl raised in the South)

      1. Thanks to Beth and David for letting me off the hook for doing it my way. Made them again this week and this time added Nigerian Cayenne, which I had in the spice rack. Extra spicy!

        1. John, so glad you liked this. I made it again on Saturday (seems I can’t get enough of it). They sure are tasty. And if Beth, our GRITS (Girl Raise In The South), gives her nod of approval, you’re all set.

  10. You guys are terrific. I read it all and then improvised. Just me and Charleston Favorites, Southern Stone Ground Grits is the name – food for the Southern Soul twas said on the bag they came in . Expensive and freeze what you don’t use ’cause there are no preservatives. I used one cup, and one cup of Swanson’t Chicken Broth and one cup 1/2 and 1/2. Added a little more broth near the end of the 40 minutes I cooked them. Added 2/3 cup of shredded sharp cheddar near the end also. Oh,yes, about 4 or 5 tbsp of butter. I just played with it. Destin shrimp were only hours old and did them just a few minutes in the bacon grease, 1/2 tsp. of Old Bay seafood seasoning, some crushed garlic and 2 tsps of lemon juice. Lord have mercy on my soul! I can see where you can play around with different add – ins, like andouille sausage or Smithfield ham………you name it. I don’t think you can mess it up as long as you keep stirring the grits, don’t overcook the shrimp and make sure that you use bacon. I have two Yorkies that are the smartest dogs in the world and when I start yelling; BACON, BACON, BACON!, they come running from wherever they were soundly sleeping. Yorkies Rule and they know bacon.

    1. Well howdy, Ron! Being from the fair city of Charleston, I can’t argue with grits or bacon, or adding everything but the kitchen sink to your shrimp and grits. It sounds like you have taken the recipe and definitely made it your own. So glad that you found it (and us)!

  11. I made this last night. It was fantastic, I used 1.5lbs of shrimp and 4 andouille sausages. It barely fed 4 adults and 3 kids. Definitely doubling this recipe or tripling it for left overs

      1. We love to have a big mess of collards and biscuits with our shrimp and grits. You do need to double the recipe for a family with good appetites.

  12. I live less than an hour from Charleston, SC and for years now have cooked Shrimp and Grits on several occasions. If you live near Charleston, Shrimp and Grits is a must! I add water, milk, cream cheese and cheddar cheese with a little garlic when cooking my grits. I cook it for a couple of hours(stirring often) until it reaches that rich, creamy taste. When cooking my shrimp, I cook my bacon first. I then saute diced onions and bell peppers in the bacon grease. After draining the rest of the bacon grease I then add my shrimp(don’t cook too long!). Next I add one can of Campbell’s Shrimp Soup and cook for approximately 2 min. Ladle this on the top of your grits and then sprinkle with crumble bacon and diced green onion tops. YUMMY!!!

    1. Oh Cis, you are talking to me! I live in Charleston and just finished a huge meal of shrimp and grits. I learned a new trick today from Rebecca Lang to make your grits extra creamy—condensed milk. Wow.

  13. So amazing! Very good. I omitted the bacon for sodium reasons (used evoo instead), but it still turned out great.

    1. Terrific, Brittany! We are all about the bacon, but we can (almost) understand why you opted to ignore it. Lovely to hear it was still phenomenal. Thank you for letting us know….

  14. Took the advice above and used 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup cream to cook the grits. I also added just under a tablespoon of tomato paste to give the grits a bit of acid and tomato flavor…..I think it was a good call! Cut the sharp cheddar in half…..used only 1 cup. Still plenty “cheesy”. Finally, after cooking the shrimp, they still tasted like they needed something. I sprinkled the pile of cooked shrimp with the low sodium Old Bay Seasoning. Not too much, but enough to give it that good seafood flavor.

    1. Hi David,
      Here at home there are as many different versions of this recipe as there are grits! Another suggestion to bump up the flavor level of your shrimp is to put a few drops of the liquid Shrimp and Crab boil in there (just a FEW drops unless you really like this flavor) and this will give it some zing. Some of the original recipes around here (South Louisiana) rely on grits cooked plain with some cheddar and butter stirred in at the end until cheese melts. We used to be able to buy Garlic Cheese (the old kind in the plastic tube) that we would stir in instead of cheddar. The shrimp were cooked in a saute pan in butter and seasoned with parsley, garlic, green onion, cayenne, paprika and some lemon juice. Sounds as if your Old Bay is a good suggestion! Crab Boil and Old Bay seem to always be in a contest around here – Old Bay being too sweet for the taste buds around here that have been raised on HOT sauce over ice cream. And of course, the Louisiana Gold Hot Sauce bottle is always on the table!

    1. Darlene, we’ve heard of folks making grits in a slow-cooker. Although we haven’t tried it ourselves, we’ll tentatively say yes to that part of the recipe. As for the shrimp, we fear they’d turn quite mushy. But the shrimp and sausage comes together so quickly, you could easily toss it together at the last minute, especially with the time you saved not stirring the grits…

  15. I made this for Valentines Day Dinner for my boyfriend…and he said it was the BEST he’s ever had. I wish I could comment, but my aversion to seafood kept me at bay. But he ate the WHOLE thing (and wasn’t this supposed to feed 4? :) )

    1. Janet, I try to be objective, but I have to say that this may be my very favorite reader comment ever! I’m sorry to hear that you weren’t able to enjoy the dish, although it sounds as though your boyfriend reveled in it for both of you–and then some. Here’s hoping he knows how lucky he is…

    1. Just to add to Beth’s suggestion–we’ve had raves galore on that biscuit recipe–our intrepid cook and recipe tester, Karen Depp, also chimed in. She hails from Louisiana and suggests a big green salad, unless the shrimp and grits is intended as a breakfast dish. She deviates from Beth’s approach, prefering a baguette to biscuits, but she says really, with grits, you don’t NEED bread or biscuits. (But when has that ever stopped us?!) And lots of beer, yes!

  16. What exactly is stone ground grits. Went to the supermarket, went to whole foods – no one was familiar with “stone ground” grits. Is it polenta? Please let me know, having a hard time finding it in New Jersey

    1. Hi Michele,

      Stone ground grits are the heavier bits of corn that remain after the corn kernels are ground between granite stones in a grist mill. Anson Mills is probably the most familiar here in Charleston and you can buy on their website ( Also, Ted and Matt Lee sell them on their site ( along with other Southern goodies. Shrimp and grits are my favorite- we eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

        1. No eggs, but we do vary the recipe depending on what’s on hand. Peppers, Vidalia onions, tomatoes, sausage… It’s all good!

          1. Shrimp and grits for breakfast with Southern Fried Chicken and biscuits…ABSOLUTELY THE BEST!!!. Always bring back great memories of my grandmother, aunts and great-aunts who were originally from Columbia, South Carolina.

            1. I remember vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, as we did every year, and a bunch of us went to a resto in Oak Bluffs for an early lunch. The cook was from the South and made the best big old plate of shrimp and grits. Gosh, that was more than 12 years ago, and I can still remember where we sat, even the light as it slanted through the window. Food really is a powerful anchor for memory, isn’t it?

              1. Shrimp and grits in Martha’s Vineyard? No way, honey. Come to Charleston and we will show you how it’s done.

                1. Good food can be cooked anywhere in the world. It makes no difference where you are, or where the dish originated. I lived part-time in New Orleans and I have been known to make some of the best shrimp and grits ever, including of ALL the ones I have consumed in Charleston, New Orleans, and many other southern locations…and I do it right here in my Indiana kitchen. :)

        2. I LOVE eggs for breakfast with grits, but I poach them medium (soft but not runny) and they are so good! I might try cheesing them up with a little Cheddar next time. And I can’t wait to try out some version of this shrimp and grits recipe. I’ve had them two different ways in two different restaurants in the last two weeks and now I need to make them at home!

          1. MGG, yes, it sounds like you definitely must try this recipe at home! It’s been one of our most clicked-on recipes for years—and with good reason. Kindly let us know how terrific it is and any tweaks that you make!

    1. What a lovely thought! Knowing guys’ appetites, clearly you’ll need ample amounts of food. Not knowing your preferences, I’d suggest having biscuits galore to go with—we have a nice recipe on the site for baking-powder biscuits. Maybe even something meat-minded as the centerpiece to go with the shrimp and grits, perhaps a ham? I realize there’s bacon in the grits, but is there ever any such thing as too much pork? And of course some Abita Amber would be nice if y’all are beer drinkers. That’s for starters. I’m going to continue to think about this, please let me know if you have any preferences.

    2. For Cajun style, I recommend making a tasso cream sauce using sautéd leeks with green peppers, deglaze the pan with a little white wine, salt, and pepper. Add heavy cream and reduce, then finish with a little finely grated Parmesan cheese. Great flavor. I recommend Chef Adels’ tasso ham.

  17. If one uses good stone ground grits, 10-15 minutes of cooking time isn’t enough. Use a combination of chicken broth and cream and let the grits cook slowly for about an hour. They will become very creamy and have a much better, almost silky, texture which is perfect for this dish. Skip the cheese. Very, very few low country cooks use cheese in shrimp and grits.

    1. Hi Mike, it really depends upon how finely the grits are ground. Wades Mill recommends about 20 minutes in its recipes. Other producers call for 30 minutes or more, again depending upon how finely or coarsely the grits are ground.

      1. David, You’re right, it really depends upon how finely the grits are ground. But Mike did say “good stone ground grits” and finely ground grits do not make the best grits. You want them coarsely ground or medium ground at most to get the right combination of texture, creaminess, and flavor. Anson Mills recommends that their coarse ground grits be cooked for 90 minutes if unsoaked, 50 minutes if soaked. I personally find that 60 minutes is adequate for their unsoaked grits since I don’t have the patience to stir them for another 30 minutes!

    2. Who cares about being authentic when we know that adding cheese to anything can only make it that much better?! :)

  18. This was great! I made this dish for a family of five, and there was not enough for seconds. I’ll have to double the recipe next time. Great combination, and better with a hint of cayenne pepper. Mmmm.

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