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?

This southern shrimp and grits recipe is a classic low-country dish adored by just about everyone on the planet–and if someone says 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. – David Leite

What exactly are grits?

Grits are basically ground corn, usually made from starchy, less sweet varieties. The corn is processed in an alkali solution in order to remove the tough outer hull. The corn is washed and dried, giving us hominy. The hominy is then stone-ground and the result is grits.

Are grits and polenta the same thing?

Well, yes and no. While grits are from the American South and polenta is from Italy, both are both made from ground corn. One difference is the type of corn used to make each: Grits are usually made from white corn (hominy)–but not always, which adds to the confusion–while polenta is made from yellow corn.

The biggest difference, though, is texture. Polenta is usually ground coarsely and that lends a pleasant chewy texture prized in Italy. Grits, on the other hand, are typically ground finer, making it smoother.

What toppings go with grits?

Being mildly flavored, grits are marvelously versatile. They can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. And they can be simple (just a few pats of butter and salt and pepper) or elaborate (smothered in cheese). Even better, they can be topped with all sorts of things, such as maple syrup, jam, herbs, shrimp, pulled pork, poached eggs, bacon, sausage–you name it. And you can even blanket grits with any sauce you’d top pasta with, although you might get strange looks from true Southerners.

What should I serve with shrimp and grits?

Let’s face it: This shrimp and grits recipes with its cheese and bacon is a rich dish. And we’re not saying there’s anything wrong with that! Still, you might want to round out the meal with a salad with a lip-puckering dressing to cut through the richness. Your favorite pickled vegetables are also a way to go. Keeping with the Southern theme, okra is also good as is sautéed greens.

Shrimp and Grits

A Fiesta bowl filled with cheesy shrimp and grits with bacon
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?
Paula Deen

Prep 15 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 30 mins
Entrees
Southern
4 servings
736 kcal
4.96 / 22 votes
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Ingredients 

  • 1 cup stone-ground grits
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) butter
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound shrimp peeled and deveined, left whole if small and roughly chopped if medium or large
  • 6 slices bacon chopped into tiny pieces
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions white and green parts
  • 1 large garlic clove minced

Directions
 

  • 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.
  • Meanwhile, 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.

    TESTER TIP: 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!
Print RecipeBuy the Paula Deen and Friends cookbook

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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 736kcal (37%)Carbohydrates: 35g (12%)Protein: 46g (92%)Fat: 45g (69%)Saturated Fat: 24g (150%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 397mg (132%)Sodium: 1458mg (63%)Potassium: 357mg (10%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 1434IU (29%)Vitamin C: 14mg (17%)Calcium: 600mg (60%)Iron: 4mg (22%)

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.

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 afterward.


Originally published May 8, 2010

 

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Comments

  1. 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.

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