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Shrimp and Grits

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shrimp and grits

Having received many recipe requests for shrimp and grits over the years, I decided to do some “research” over winter break since we were vacationing on the Southern coast. I tasted shrimp and grits everywhere, from humble seafood shacks to trendy hot spots. What I learned is that no two shrimp and grits dishes are the same. To quote Daniel Gritzer from Serious Eats: “Shrimp and grits is a dish with so many renditions, the only thing you can really count on is that it contains shrimp…and grits.”

What I love about this version is that it incorporates bacon, which gives the dish a nice meaty undertone, and plenty of sauce for spooning over the grits. I cheat and use quick-cooking grits, which I know is sacrilege in the South but they cook in 5 minutes and, most nights, babysitting a pot of grits for 30 minutes is just not in the cards. If you want to take the dish up a notch, use stone-ground grits. Or, better yet, save the shrimp peels and simmer them, covered, in the chicken broth for 15 minutes, and then strain; this will infuse the broth with the taste of the sea and enhance the flavor of the dish.

how to make shrimp and gritsTo begin, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the bacon.

how to make shrimp and grits

Cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 7 minutes.

how to make shrimp and grits

Add the shrimp to the skillet and sprinkle with the Cajun seasoning and salt.

how to make shrimp and grits

Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are mostly pink but not quite cooked through, about 2 minutes.

how to make shrimp and grits

Transfer the shrimp and bacon mixture to a bowl and set aside. Place the skillet back on the heat (do not wash) and melt the butter.

how to make shrimp and grits

Add the light green scallions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic.

how to make shrimp and grits

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 4 minutes.

how to make shrimp and grits

Sprinkle in the flour.

how to make shrimp and grits

Mix until well incorporated.

how to make shrimp and grits

Whisk in the chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce and bring to a boil.

how to make shrimp and grits

Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, 5 to 7 minutes.

how to make shrimp and grits

Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside while you make the grits. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine the milk and salt.

how to make shrimp and grits

Bring to a boil and then, whisking constantly, slowly pour the grits into the bubbling broth.

how to make shrimp and grits

Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking often, until the grits become thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir continuously to prevent sputtering.

how to make shrimp and grits

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese.

how to make shrimp and gritsTaste and adjust the salt, if necessary. Remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm until ready to serve. Place the veggie/sauce mixture back on the stove.

how to make shrimp and grits

Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Return the shrimp and bacon, along with any juices that collected in the bowl, to the skillet and mix well.

how to make shrimp and grits

Cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are cooked through, a few minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a small handful of the dark green scallions over the shrimp (you may not need all of them).

how to make shrimp and gritsDivide the grits among serving bowls. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over the grits and serve. Pass the hot sauce, if desired.

shrimp and grits

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Shrimp and Grits

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 35 Minutes
Total Time: 50 Minutes

Ingredients

For the Shrimp

  • 4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-in dice
  • 1-1/2 lbs large (21-25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, such as Emeril's
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, light and dark green parts divided
  • 1 large stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco

For the Grits

  • 4 cups whole or 2% milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quick-cooking grits
  • 3/4 cup (2 oz) shredded Cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Start the shrimp: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 7 minutes. Add the shrimp to the skillet and sprinkle with the Cajun seasoning and salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are mostly pink but not quite cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp and bacon mixture to a bowl and set aside; place the skillet back on the heat (do not wash).
  2. Melt the butter in the skillet. Add the light green scallions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and mix until incorporated. Whisk in the chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside while you make the grits.
  3. For the grits: In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, bring the milk and salt to a boil. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the grits into the bubbling milk. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking often, until the grits become thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. (Stir continuously to prevent sputtering.) Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese. Taste and adjust the salt, if necessary. Remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm until ready to serve.
  4. Place the skillet with the vegetable/sauce mixture back on the stove and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Return the shrimp and bacon, along with any juices that collected in the bowl, to the skillet and mix well. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a small handful of the dark green scallions over the shrimp (you may not need all of them).
  5. Divide the grits among serving bowls. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over the grits and serve. Pass the hot sauce, if desired.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 731
  • Fat: 34 g
  • Saturated fat: 16 g
  • Carbohydrates: 59 g
  • Sugar: 17 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 46 g
  • Sodium: 1625 mg
  • Cholesterol: 291 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Reviews & Comments

  • We made this for dinner last week when some friends came over. While I had not made Jenn’s version before, her recipes always come out perfect, so I had no worries about making it for the first time, and serving it to our guests.
    I simmered the shells in the broth — it gives the sauce great flavor.
    Made the grits with milk as suggested (Some recipes use water — milk is way better)
    Used the sharpest cheddar I could find, and used about 1-1/2 times the amount in the recipe instructions (My wife likes ’em really cheesy!)
    Turns out that it was the best shrimp and grits I’ve made yet.
    Thanks Jenn~
    –Lou P.

    • — Lou Polsinelli on February 13, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn. I don’t eat red meat, and was wondering if thick cut turkey bacon would work in place of the bacon. If not, as it doesn’t render much fat, do you have any substitution tips?
    Thank you! Mary

    • — Mary M. on February 6, 2019
    • Reply
    • Sure, Mary, turkey bacon would work here. If you want to add a bit more fat, either butter or olive oil would be fine. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 7, 2019
      • Reply
    • I made the recipe and used thick cut turkey bacon, diced up pretty finely since it doesn’t cook as quickly as regular bacon. This stage took a little longer, and although this recipe is probably more flavorful with real bacon, my family and I loved it. It’s always nice to have a one-dish meal to go to that is a little different. Lots of flavor with not too many ingredients!

      • — Mary M. on February 11, 2019
      • Reply
  • So much flavor and looks appealing! My husband and I loved it….made enough for 2 nights. Reheated in the steam oven and it tasted just as delicious as it was on the first night. I’m sending this recipe to my daughter-in-law and I don’t normally do that unless it’s a home-run!
    Thank you Jen!

    • — Rosemary on January 24, 2019
    • Reply
  • This is a 5-star recipe! While it did take some time to do all the dicing, it was so worth it, both for the shrimp sauce and the grits (Bob’s Red Mill). I kept saying to my husband that this dish is way more than the sum of its parts. I was skeptical it was going to come out tasting like the shrimp and grits I’ve had yet it sure did. Can’t wait to have another occasion to make it.

    • — Karen O on January 21, 2019
    • Reply
  • Amazing and delicious!!! I’m from the South and have tried many shrimp and grits dishes. This one is by far one of my favorites! It’s not too heavy and reheats well! We made cheddar grits to go along with it. Would make it next time with grit cakes! Thanks again for another wonderful recipe!

    • — Liz on January 19, 2019
    • Reply
  • Wow. Delicious. My husband said it was better than the shrimp and grits at Sandra Bullock’s restaurant downtown. Thank you for this amazing recipe.

    • — Nicole Pryor on January 14, 2019
    • Reply
    • BTW – I doubled the recipe without any issues.

      • — Nicole Pryor on January 14, 2019
      • Reply
  • Delighted with this recipe! I’m a true southerner, raised in NC. I can attest that this tastes completely authentic and is simple to make. Easy to make adjustments, too. I didn’t have raw shrimp–only precooked–so I saved adding the shrimp until the last possible second just to warm it through, then served. Everyone loved it. Good news, too–the leftovers work the next day–mix everything together, shopping up any leftover shrimp–and served with two over-easy eggs on top of each bowl. Sprinkle with diced tomatoes and serve with hot sauce.

    About the 5-minute grits vs. slow-cooking grits, I can say definitively that I never saw home cook go through the trouble of making the slow-cooking grits the entire 23 years I lived in the south. Some restaurants do–and slow-cooking grits do have a lovely texture and are more flavorful. But 5-minute grits work great. It’s the instant grits you want to avoid–those are lousy!

    Also, on the polenta vs. grits topic, grits are more flavorful by far, probably because the dent corn from which they are made, a different variety of corn than polenta (which is made from flint corn), is tastier. Also, the dent corn is made into hominy by breaking it down with lye. (Yes, lye!) So the true essence of the corn shines through. Can you tell I love grits more than polenta? But polenta does work well for this dish–that’s what we had on hand, so that’s what I used. Cooking it with milk improves the flavor, as does the addition of cheese.

    • — Carolyn Brodersen on January 12, 2019
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe tonight, and it was delicious and easy to make. I used stone ground grits, and although it took a little longer to cook, it was worth it. I had the time, and the grits on hand. Thanks, Jenn, for another great recipe to add to my already list of great recipes from your site. If I want a great recipe, I always go to Once Upon A Chef first. You’re the best!

    • — Minnie on January 11, 2019
    • Reply
    • ❤️

      • — Jenn on January 12, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! I can’t wait to try this Shrimp & Grits Recipe! Quick question on another one of your fabulous recipes, Chicken Marsala. I’m serving for a party of 5…should I just double ALL the ingredients? My guess is yes?! Thank you in advance for all your help and you are Simply The Best Chef Ever! Your recipes truly inspire me to always serve meals with love xoxo

    • — Stacey Jacobs on January 9, 2019
    • Reply
    • Yes, I would double everything, Stacey — although you’ll have a lot leftover!☺️

      • — Jenn on January 10, 2019
      • Reply
  • I love this site and your recipes but I find it frustrating being from New Zealand that we don’t have ‘grits’ or “pumpkin pie filling” in a can and so on, and I do Google what it is but I’m still not sure what grits are so thought I’d just ask 🙂 – like Polenta?

    • — TarnNZ on January 9, 2019
    • Reply
    • Yes, grits are very similar to polenta; it’s perfectly fine to use polenta. 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 10, 2019
      • Reply
  • Oh, Man. Where have you been all my life? I just discovered shrimp and grits about a year ago (California Mom and Kansas Dad – that explains a lot) and was hooked. To find out I can make them is wonderful. I had everything in the pantry. I had home made chicken stock, home made Canadian bacon and all the veggies. It was alll there, just waiting to be turned into a wonderful meal. Is there a certain day that is Shrimp and Grits Day? Because I would note that on my calendar and celebrate every time. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • — Mary Lew McCarty on January 9, 2019
    • Reply
  • I’ve been wanting to make Shrimp & Grits since a trip to the South a couple of years ago. This one looks perfect. I can’t seem to locate Quick-cooking Grits in Vancouver. Bob’s Red Mill makes a White Corn Grits, that is not ‘instant’, but does cook in 5 minutes. Would that work? Quaker’s makes Quick Cooking Grits, but would have to order it. Thanks!

    • — Karen Funt on January 9, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Karen, Yes Bob’s Red Mill is a great choice – just follow the directions on the package for creamy grits. Another option would be to substitute polenta (again, follow the instructions on the package). Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 9, 2019
      • Reply
  • Holy Cow, that was delicious! Some of the best S & G that I’ve ever had! Easy to make too! Husband is not a lover of Cheddar so I used some Keisarinna Cheese (Finland) from Costco. The cheese is a marriage of creamy, sweet Gouda and sharp Parmesan cheese and 1/2 and 1/2 instead of milk, because that is all that I had. Perfect for this carnival season. Happy Mardi Gras, Y’all!

    • — Sloan LeMauns on January 9, 2019
    • Reply
  • Made this tonight for my wife and me. The sauce for the shrimp was absolutely killer and so easy to assemble!!! Used Smokey Chipotle Tabasco for the hot sauce and sharp white cheddar in the grits. I usually have to be in the mood for shrimp and grits…but this had sooo much flavor, I would add this to my weekly rotation in a heartbeat. As for my wife…she went back for seconds!!! Another Excellent Dish JS, 👍😁👍 Thanks!!!

    • — Carl Schena on January 9, 2019
    • Reply
  • As a southern cook I would like to add you can also use substitute rice grits. They taste the same.

    • — Cindy Cefalu on January 8, 2019
    • Reply
  • Can you serve over rice? We are not fans of grits.

    • — YD on January 8, 2019
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on January 8, 2019
      • Reply
  • Sounds great….I also add a small seeded and chopped jalapeno for little extra kick:)

    • — Debbie Borgerding on January 8, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi, Jenn.
    This recipe (shrimp and grits ) sounds delicious but I can’t have cheese. Would it be a rather lackluster dish without?
    Thanks. I bought your book and made three of the best soups ever.

    • — Carol Gold-Lande on January 8, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Carol, I think you’d still enjoy this without the cheese. If you’re able to have butter, adding a tablespoon or two to the grits will add some additional richness and flavor. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 10, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen – Would Bob’s Red Mill White Corn Grits work? Their site says that while they are not “instant” grits, that they cook up in 5 minutes. Bob’s Red Mill products are excellent and I can’t find Quaker Quick Cooking Grits in Vancouver. Thanks! I’ve been keen to make Shrimp and Grits since a trip to the South a few years ago.

    • — Karen Funt on January 8, 2019
    • Reply
    • Sure, Karen, I think they will work – just follow the cooking instructions on the package. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 10, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hello from Canada,
    This recipe looks and sounds wonderful. I have heard of grits but have not cooked them. Exactly what are grits and would I have eaten a food that tastes similar ?
    Thank you for all your great recipes. Perfect every time !
    Yvonne

    • — Yvonne Adams on January 8, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi in Canada! 🙂 Have you had polenta? If so, grits are very similar to them.

      • — Jenn on January 10, 2019
      • Reply
  • No self respecting Southerner uses quick cooking grits.

    • — Liz on January 8, 2019
    • Reply

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