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Shrimp and Grits

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Shrimp and Grits is a heavenly combination of shrimp and bacon with bell pepper and onion served over cheesy stone-ground grits.
5 from 13 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
A serving a shrimp and grits in a white bowl.

This recipe for an old southern favorite, Shrimp and Grits, is the perfect thing for a quick weeknight supper or your next Sunday brunch. It’s a heavenly combination of sauteed shrimp, bacon, bell pepper, and onion served over creamy, stone-ground grits with cheddar cheese. You’ll want to lick the plate clean and ask for a second helping!

This great old southern classic, Shrimp and Grits, is an example of low-country cooking at its absolute best. Using readily available local ingredients to produce something so mouth-watering, so delicious that it almost takes your breath away.

A serving a shrimp and grits in a white bowl.

The recipe is thought to have originated as a breakfast dish along the Carolina coast. Most people say that it was generally unknown outside of the low country until Craig Claiborne wrote an article about it in 1985 for The New York Times

It may have taken an introduction from The New York Times to bring the dish to the national consciousness, but it has certainly become a sensation on its own. Even Bobby Flay, best known for open-flame grilling and southwestern cuisine, says in Bobby Flay Cooks  American, “If there is one dish that makes me want to march down Fifth Avenue waving the American flag, it’s shrimp and grits.”

Now, there are about as many variations of this southern classic recipe as there are cooks and this is my version. Others include mushrooms in the recipe and some prefer to serve over plain grits instead of cheese grits.

There are so many variations on the classic combination that one of the most well-known southern cooks, Nathalie Dupree, wrote an entire cookbook on the subject. She has lots of variations that I want to try!

I’ve enjoyed Shrimp and Grits in many restaurants, but the best I’ve ever had were at Blackstone’s Cafe in Beaufort, South Carolina. Maybe I was especially hungry that morning, but that serving of Shrimp and Grits was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my life. If you ever find yourself in that area between Savannah and Charleston, be sure to stop by Blackstone’s. You’ll be glad you did!

About the Ingredients

All ingredients needed for shrimp and grits
  • ShrimpYou’ll need one pound of medium (21-25 count) shrimp, peeled, tails removed, and split lengthwise. Ask the butcher or fishmonger to peel the shrimp for you to save some time.
  • GritsEither “quick” grits (5 minute cook time) or stone-ground (longer, around 20 minute, cooking time). Never, ever, under any circumstances use instant grits. That’s just a hard no for this southerner.
  • Cheddar CheeseI prefer a sharp or extra sharp Cheddar.
  • BaconCut crosswise into about 1/2-inch pieces (lardons).

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

Equipment You’ll Find Useful

No fancy equipment is necessary for making this recipe. You’ll need a good, sharp knife, a wooden spoon, cutting board, and a skillet or saute pan.

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How to Make Shrimp and Grits

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

Prep the Shrimp and Vegetables

Combine the shrimp with the lemon juice and Tabasco. Chop the onion, green pepper, garlic, and scallions. Set aside while preparing the grits.

Cook the Cheese Grits

  • Bring the water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan.
  • Add the grits to the boiling water using a whisk. Using the whisk ensures that you don’t get lumps in your grits.
  • Now cover the pot, lower the heat to a simmer and cook the grits according to the package directions.
  • When the grits are done, stir in the butter, black pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Next, add the grated cheddar and stir until well blended.
  • Hold the finished grits over a very low heat until needed.

COOK’S TIP 
If you’re interested in knowing more about grits, check out my original Cheese Grits recipe post.

Cook the Bacon and Veggies

  • In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook the chopped bacon until brown but not yet crisp.
  • Without removing the bacon or bacon fat, add the onion, green pepper, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Add the scallions, sprinkle the flour over the mixture and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the stock or broth and salt. Cook for a minute or two until sauce is thickened.

Add Shrimp

Add the shrimp to the sauce and cook until shrimp are opaque – no more than three minutes!

Serve

A wooden spoon holding a bite of shrimp and grits.

To serve, ladle a generous amount of grits into a shallow bowl and top with shrimp and sauce. Offer your guests more Tabasco to adjust the spice to their own taste.

Variations

  • For a richer finished dish, add a dash of heavy cream to the grits.
  • Substitute Gruyere or Swiss cheese for the Cheddar.
  • Use smoked sausage or andouille sausage in place of the bacon.
  • Add a finely diced jalapeno in with the bell pepper and onions.
  • Garnish with finely chopped scallions and finely diced fresh tomato.
  • Stir a splash of Worcestershire sauce into the finished dish.

Storage Information

For the best flavor and texture, it’s always preferable to serve Shrimp and Grits piping hot and straight from the stove to the table. If you do have leftovers, you can keep them for about 3 days in the refrigerator. Reheat carefully at 50% power in the microwave keeping in mind that shrimp tend to take on a rubbery texture when cooked or heated too long.

FAQs

What can I serve with Shrimp and Grits?

Honestly, shrimp and grits is pretty much a one-dish meal on its own. All you need is some good warm French bread or garlic toast and a nice green salad with a buttermilk dressing.

Are grits gluten free?

Yes. Grits are a form of ground corn, so they are naturally gluten free. To make this entire recipe gluten-free, use a gluten-free thickener in place of the flour.

Is this a breakfast recipe?

Shrimp and grits started out as a breakfast recipe. However, it’s also a great, easy dinner.

Have you tried this recipe? I’d really appreciate you giving it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card or in the comments section.
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A serving a shrimp and grits in a white bowl.

Classic Southern Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits is a heavenly combination of shrimp and bacon with bell pepper and onion served over cheesy stone-ground grits.
5 from 13 votes
Print It Rate It Save
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 333kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

For the shrimp:

  • 1 pound medium shrimp peeled and halved lengthwise
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 6 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 4 slices bacon chopped
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • ¼ green bell pepper finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chicken broth or stock

For the cheese grits:

  • ½ cup quick-cooking grits not instant
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • couple dashes garlic powder
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese grated

Instructions

  • Combine the shrimp with the lemon juice and Tabasco. Set aside while preparing the grits and sauce.

For the cheese grits:

  • Bring the water and salt to a boil in a smallish saucepan.
  • Add the grits to the boiling water using a whisk. Using the whisk ensures that you don’t get lumps in your grits.
  • Now cover the pot, lower the heat to a simmer and cook the grits according to the package directions.
  • When the grits are done, stir in the butter, black pepper and garlic powder.
  • Next, add the grated cheddar and stir until well blended.
  • Hold the finished grits over a very low heat until needed.

Finish making the shrimp and sauce:

  • In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook the chopped bacon until brown but not yet crisp.
  • Add the onion, green pepper and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Add the scallions, sprinkle the flour over the mixture and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the stock or broth and salt. Cook for a minute or two until sauce is thickened.
  • Add the shrimp to the sauce and cook until shrimp are opaque – no more than three minutes!
  • To serve – ladle a generous amount of grits into a shallow bowl and top with shrimp and sauce.

Notes

Ingredients:
  • Shrimp – You’ll need one pound of medium (21-25 count) shrimp, peeled, tails removed, and split lengthwise.
  • Grits – Either “quick” grits (5 minute cook time) or stone-ground (longer, around 20 minute, cooking time).
  • Cheddar Cheese – I prefer a sharp or extra sharp Cheddar.
  • Bacon – Cut crosswise into • about 1/2-inch pieces (lardons)
Variations:
  • For a richer finished dish, add a dash of heavy cream to the grits.
  • Substitute Gruyere or Swiss cheese for the Cheddar.
  • Use smoked sausage or andouille sausage in place of the bacon.
  • Add a finely diced jalapeno in with the bell pepper and onions.
  • Garnish with finely chopped scallions and finely diced fresh tomato.
  • Stir a splash of Worcestershire sauce into the finished dish.
Storage: For the best flavor and texture, it’s always preferable to serve Shrimp and Grits piping hot and straight from the stove to the table. If you do have leftovers, you can keep them for about 3 days in the refrigerator. Reheat carefully at 50% power in the microwave.
Gluten-Free: Grits are a form of ground corn, so they are naturally gluten free. To make this entire recipe gluten-free, use a gluten-free thickener in place of the flour.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 333kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 316mg | Sodium: 1868mg | Potassium: 267mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 359IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 390mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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Shrimp and Grits on a decorative plate.

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30 Comments

  1. Hi Lana,
    I’ve never made shrimp & grits before; however, after Bill Lane posted your recipe, I decided I would try it. Oh my gosh!! It was fabulous! The sauce deserves “gourmet” as part of the title. Can’t wait to make the sauce and serve it over rice. Thanks for sharing!

    1. 5 stars
      This is delicious! I was born and raised in the South and grew up on grits……..Love them!
      For this recipe, try cooking grits in chicken broth instead of plain water then, when done, add 2-3 tablespoons half and half or heavy cream and stir before adding cheese. These additions take the grits to another level. You’re welcome…. 😁

      1. I do the same thing but add Old Bay to shrimp and extra Old Bay to sauce and also add a few Tbsp. tomatoe paste to give the sauce a nice rich flavor and color. I got hooked on Shrimp n Grits at Paiges Okra Grill in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

  2. Im from Ca, and afriend who lived in the south because of husband being in military learned to make cheese grits. Oh my GOSH! I was in love with grits. Now I really want to try the shrimp grits! ! I make grits with pork belly for my girlfriends husband who is from w. Virginia , She does not know how. Went to new Orleans looking for grits and good collards greens. Nothing except plain old grits they were nasty. Thank you so much for these recipes. Will enjoy. Shirl

  3. I’m suprising my wife with this tasty looking recipe tonight and can not wait to get started! My co-workers are getting tired of me talking about it all day. Is it going to be ok to use the instant grits Lana? I’ll be trying some of your other great looking recipes here soon too!!

    1. Sam – I surely would not use instant grits! They’re nothing like the “real” thing :-) and the quick cooking grits only take about 5-10 minutes.

      1. Hey Lana. I made the Shrimp and Grits and it worked out great! My wife and I loved them. I had a question about egg yolks though. I am trying to make a Garlic Aioli sauce and the recipe I found calls for mixing raw egg yolks with lemon juice and there is not cooking involed… Is it safe to eat raw egg yolks when mixed with lemon juice? Didn’t know if the acids in the juice have any role in this? Oh, and if you have a good garlic aioli sauce recipe I’d love to try it, thanks!

  4. Lana, I am a southern girl also, and I have eaten shrimp and grits all over the south. If it is on the menu, I order it. This is my first time on your website. Beautiful pictures and recipes that I will definitely try, starting with s & g.

  5. When I lived in Texas, I tried grits, but only as a breakfast side. Will it shock you to know that I’ve never even heard the phrase “shrimp and grits”? This sounds like something I should try… as soon as my diet is over.

  6. Oh my lands. Just the phrase ‘shrimp and grits’ is enough to make my stomach growl at any time of day! This looks heavenly! I think my recipe might be identical.

    Paula (Bell’alimento) told me about your site-I’m so happy to find it! :) It’s nice to meet a fellow Southerner!

  7. ain’t nothing better Lana – great way to start off a new year is with an old classic and you sure got one going here, just perfect, and I’ve made my share of this one to know

  8. Okay, so how do I explain to non-Southerners what grits are? Hmmm…well, technically grits are ground hominy. The corn for hominy is processed differently than for the polenta but they’re both essentially just ground corn. Here’s an article from Wikipedia about grits: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grits

  9. I love shrimp and this looks tasty. But…I’m embarrassed to say, I dont know what grits are. Is it the similar to polenta?

  10. You absolutely have me salivating! None Southerner moment here… are grits similar to polenta? I’m not even sure I’ve seen grits in Nova Scotia but we certainly do have cornmeal to make polenta.

  11. Man oh man this looks delicious! My husband cheered when I mentioned this dish, so I’m very excited to give it a try! Thanks for posting this little gem.

  12. Wow…shrimp and grits are one of my favorites but I’ve never made them. I think I’ll give it a try soon! Thanks!

  13. This is one of our favorite meals! I can’t wait to try your variation. Thanks for all your great recipes and pictures.

  14. Shrimp and grits sums up my family (and food) heritage to a tee — Gulf coast Southern — and it’s a dish that really deserves to be more widely made. For reasons totally unclear, my husband decided years ago that he was the s&g expert in our family and always makes it for us. I wonder if I could get away with gently (very gently) suggesting your perfect recipe to him? Love it, Lana!