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?

A white plate filled with cheesy shrimp and grits with bacon

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

A white plate filled with cheesy shrimp and grits with bacon

Shrimp and Grits FAQs

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 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.

Shrimp and Grits

A white plate 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?

Prep 15 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 30 mins
Mains
Southern
4 servings
736 kcal
4.92 / 24 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%)

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What should I serve with shrimp and grits?

Let’s face it: This shrimp and grits recipe 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.

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.

A Fiesta bowl filled with cheesy shrimp and grits with bacon

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. 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.

  2. 5 stars
    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)!

  3. 5 stars
    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.

  4. 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.

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