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.

A white plate filled with cheesy shrimp and grits with bacon

Shrimp and Grits

4.89 / 27 votes
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?
David Leite
CourseMains
CuisineSouthern
Servings4 servings
Calories736 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes

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

Instructions 

  • 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!

Adapted From

Paula Deen and Friends

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 portionCalories: 736 kcalCarbohydrates: 35 gProtein: 46 gFat: 45 gSaturated Fat: 24 gMonounsaturated Fat: 14 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 397 mgSodium: 1458 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2005 Paula Deen. Photos © 2022 bhofack2. All rights reserved.

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.

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.




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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4.89 from 27 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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93 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Great meal! Quick and tasty! Added a little sausage for a bit more depth of flavor but it was great.