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
Print RecipeBuy the Paula Deen and Friends cookbook

Want it? Click it.

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

Want it? Click it.

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%)

#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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

HUNGRY FOR MORE?

Comments

  1. 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 (www.ansonmills.com). Also, Ted and Matt Lee sell them on their site (www.boiledpeanuts.com) along with other Southern goodies. Shrimp and grits are my favorite- we eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

        1. 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!

        2. 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.

          2. 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?

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

          4. 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. 🙂

    1. 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.

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

    2. 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!

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Rate this recipe!

Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think.

Upload a picture of your dish