Shrimp and Grits
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This easy shrimp and grits recipe incorporates bacon, which gives the dish a nice smoky undertone — and there’s plenty of silky gravy for spooning over the grits.
Shrimp and grits is a beloved Southern dish that originated as a humble and inexpensive meal for fishermen and their families. While traditionally a breakfast item, it has evolved into a popular dinner dish that can be found in all manner of restaurants, from casual seafood shacks to trendy hot spots. While the presence of shrimp and grits is a constant, there are many variations of the dish. Some recipes incorporate sausage or bacon, while others use different types of cheese or vegetables. 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.”
My version of shrimp and grits incorporates crispy bacon, which adds a delicious smoky flavor, and a generous amount of sauce for drizzling over the creamy grits. While I know it’s considered sacrilege by some, I use quick-cooking grits to save time (these grits can be prepared in just five minutes!). If you have more time, feel free to use traditional stone-ground grits for a more authentic version of the dish. To really take the dish up a notch, save the shrimp peels, simmer them in the chicken broth for 15 minutes, and then strain; this will infuse the broth with the taste of the sea and add depth and complexity to the sauce.
What you’ll need To Make Shrimp and Grits
For the Shrimp
For the Grits
Step 1: Make the Shrimp
To begin, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the bacon. 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) and melt the butter. Add the light green scallions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour.
Mix until well incorporated, then 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.
Step 2: Make the 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. Bring to a boil and then, whisking constantly, slowly pour the grits into the bubbling broth.
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.
Step 3: Finish the Shrimp
Place the veggie/sauce mixture back on the stove. 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, 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).
Divide the grits among serving bowls. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over the grits and serve. Pass the hot sauce, if desired.
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Shrimp and Grits
This easy shrimp and grits recipe incorporates bacon, which gives the dish a nice smoky undertone — and there’s plenty of silky gravy for spooning over the grits.
For the Shrimp
- 4 slices bacon, cut into ½-in dice
- 1½ lbs jumbo (21/25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined, thawed if frozen
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, such as Emeril's
- ½ 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
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
For the Grits
- 4 cups whole or 2% milk
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup quick-cooking grits
- ¾ cup (2 oz) shredded Cheddar cheese
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Divide the grits among serving bowls. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over the grits and serve. Pass the hot sauce, if desired.
- 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.
Delicious! I did not change a thing.
I love every recipe I have tried so far from Once Upon a Chef. This one was a lot of prep work for a so-so dish. Not bad, just so-so. Keep ’em coming Jen,; you do great work.
I want to make this for a bridal shower. What if any can be made in advance please?
Hi Laura, You could do all the prep in advance like dicing the bacon and chopping the vegetables, but other than that, I don’t think this is a great make-ahead option — sorry
I also used stone ground grits from Charleston, SC cooked in 2 cups water and 1 cup milk. Delish!
This was the best shrimp and grits I’ve ever made or eaten! The taste of the sauce is incredible and reminds me more of a New Orleans dish than a Southern one. Living in Florida I get amazing tasting shrimp from Key West and they just add to the flavor.
This recipe was delicious. I looked at several different ones before deciding on this one. I made it exactly as written and it came out perfect. It was easy to make and came together quick enough to be a weeknight meal. My husband and teen son loved it.
I love this recipe! Made it three times and it’s always a hit. On one occasion I used diced pancetta instead of bacon, but other than that, I keep to the recipe.
I made this wonderful dish last night with stone-ground grits. I was so happy to have leftovers
after coming home from skiing today. YUM!
Simply the best Shrimp and Grits recipe!! I can always be confident Jenn’s recipes are easy to prepare, delicious, and become family favorites.
At our favorite restaurant Shrimp and Grits was always my first (and only) choice. Unfortunately this restaurant closed which made me try this recipe. In all honesty, this is even better than the restaurant’s. Don’t change a thing. It’s fantastic, flavorful and now a family favorite. I will admit I used fresh shrimp from the fish market and not the frozen kind. It is so worth the extra time to prepare the shrimp.
I have made this multiple times, and it is a favorite of mine and my husbands. When I have the time, I use regular grits, but I love that this recipe uses quick cooking grits, because I am a busy mom and regular grits can be very time consuming. The only change I make is that I use more bacon! (We love bacon, but who doesn’t LOL) This recipe helps to make a comforting meal that could be very time consuming, in a fraction of the time. I would definitely recommend it!
I made this recipe for New Year’s day . It was a hit ! The only thing I changed was , being from Charleston,SC, I used stoned ground grits that cooked for 45 min, added cream and pepper jack cheese to the grits. This recipe will be my go to for Shrimp and grits from now on.
I really liked this recipe. Somehow I missed the last bit that talked about infusing the chicken stock with the shrimp shells. I do that the next time. Also, I’ll avoid the quick grits which just NOT my idea of grits good enough to match the shrimp and the sauce. Also need to think about using water (like I’m used to) vs. 2% milk.
Net net – loved the sauce (5 stars), hate quick grits (-1 star) =.4 stars.
But I’ll go for 5 next time!
What other cheese can I use instead of cheddar? Is Gruyere or Parmesan ok?
I’d probably go with the Gruyere here. Hope you enjoy!
This Recipe Was Very Fool Proof (For A Beginner Like Myself) And Turned Out GREAT! I Will Be Making This Very Often. Thanks Alot!
I love shrimp and grits but had never tried to make the dish. I have made this 3 times and it is a great recipe. My guests loved it. Thanks
Turned out great. I did use the old fashion stone grits and a water milk combination in the recipe. Delicious results.
Made this dish with a few substitutions. This became necessary because living alone and being a high risk senior I don’t get to do much shopping these day. I used corn starch instead of flour and the vegetables on hand. Great dish. One of the best tasting shrimp and grits dishes I ever had.
Made this last night but with scallops instead of shrimp. I skipped the bacon and pan seared the scallops in vegan butter and olive oil. The sauce is divine! This is my new go-to shrimp (or scallops) and grits recipe.
This was my first time trying grits. I loved this dish, especially the cheese grits
This was one of the best meals that I’ve cooked.
Bell pepper isn’t my favorite ingredient, but it was perfect for this recipe. All of the flavors blended nicely, and the kitchen smelled great.
I couldn’t find grits at the store, so I found a recipe for creamy polenta. Let there be NO talk about milk boiling over, as true as that might be!
Green salad with it, romaine and some miner’s lettuce from the front yard.
Another winner, Jenn.
I’d love to try this recipe, but I can’t eat red pepper (or any other color). Can you suggest a substitute for them?
Hi Stephanie, you could just omit the pepper or add an additional stalk or two of celery. Hope you enjoy!
Jenn, I have made this several times and loved it! I made grits for the first time in my life with this recipe and I discovered I love them!
Growing up in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, we had LOTS of recipes that used corn, but grits were not common. So I am a little confused about them…are grits and polenta the same thing? The bag of Red Mill grits I purchased for this recipe has both the words “polenta” AND “corn grits” on the bag. (They are also much more yellow than the bowlful in your picture.) How would you cook this ground corn differently to get polenta? Thank you!
Hi Mary, so glad you’ve enjoyed this! Here is an article that details the differences between polenta and grits. BTW, it’s fine to use either grits or polenta for this dish. Hope that clarifies. 🙂
The shrimp and grits were outstanding! Thank you for your wonderful recipes and cooking tips. I bought your cookbook for a British friend, and it is beautiful! Phyllis
Will this work if I prepare ahead up to the last step of combining the shrimp with the sauce? How long can the grits sit before serving? Thanks. I love your recipes and instructions. Phyllis
Sure, Phyllis – you can do most of the shrimp recipe ahead of time, then just add the bacon and shrimp when you’re ready to serve. I’d say the grits could sit for 15 minutes or so; I’d make them at the last minute. Hope that helps!
This is one of my favorite recipes. I am not from the South — far from it — but somewhere along the line I got hooked on grits! The only thing I do differently with this is that sometimes I add a little okra, but most of my family doesn’t like it, so I just follow this recipe almost to the letter and it comes out great!
Delicious and quick! Tastes just like the Shrimp & Grits we used to get from Copeland’s, a New Orleans style restaurant. The grits were a little cheesy for my taste so I cut back the amount just a tad. But otherwise 5 stars!
Once upon a chef is my go-to site for tried-and-true recipes. but I have to be honest and say that this is not my favorite. I’m probably more of a purist, I like the shrimp to taste like garlic and butter so this has a little too much going on for me. I could be talked into bacon but the peppers and Cajun seasoning don’t make the cut for me. The grits always turn out great though.
I don’t like shrimp but want to make your grits, I know weird, but what can I substitute for the shrimp? Thank you so much for all your wonderful recipes!
Hi Cheryle, I think this would be nice with a pre-cooked turkey or chicken sausage like this. (If you use something like this, you wouldn’t need to add the Cajun seasoning and salt like you do to the shrimp.). I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it!
Hi Jenn, I wanted to let you know I made your grits with the sausage you recommended so I didn’t need the Cajun seasoning or salt and it was delicious! My husband said he can’t wait to have it again soon! I’ve made a few of your recipes and have loved them all! I got your cookbook too. Thank you so much for helping me be a better cook.
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.
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
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! 🙂
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
BTW – I doubled the recipe without any issues.
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.
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!
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
Yes, I would double everything, Stacey — although you’ll have a lot leftover!☺️
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?
Yes, grits are very similar to polenta; it’s perfectly fine to use polenta. 🙂
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!!!
As a southern cook I would like to add you can also use substitute rice grits. They taste the same.
Can you serve over rice? We are not fans of grits.
I want to serve this for a dinner party. Can I make it—all or part of it—in advance? Restaurants must do this…
Hi Tessa, you can do most of the shrimp recipe ahead of time, then just add the bacon and shrimp when you’re ready to serve. I’d say the grits could sit for 15 minutes or so; I’d make them at the last minute. Hope that helps!
Sounds great….I also add a small seeded and chopped jalapeno for little extra kick:)
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.
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!
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.
Sure, Karen, I think they will work – just follow the cooking instructions on the package. Enjoy!
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 !
Hi in Canada! 🙂 Have you had polenta? If so, grits are very similar to them.
No self respecting Southerner uses quick cooking grits.