Shrimp and Grits -- The Only Recipe You Will Ever Need (2024)

Shrimp and grits is a low country classic and this version is a family favorite. You've never had grits this creamy!

This post was updated July 3, 2020.

To say that the dish shrimp and grits has gained popularity in recent years would be a huge understatment. It's a lowcountry classic that has found its way into kitchens and fine restaurants the world over, and with good reason. It's a wonderful layering of flavors that appeals to all.

Jump to:
  • The origin of this shrimp and grits recipe
  • How to make the creamy grits
  • About the shrimp, the bacon and more:
  • Making the sauce for the shrimp and grits
  • Plating the shrimp and grits
  • 📖 Recipe
  • If you like this recipe, you'll like:

The origin of this shrimp and grits recipe

In every way imaginable this is my own recipe. I have made it many times, refining it over the years. When it was time to document the ingredients and instructions for an official recipe I had to carefully make notes and measure.

Sara, who is my partner on this blog, (and my daughter) told me to be sure to share that she refuses to order shrimp and grits in a restaurant because she knows it will never measure up to mine. I guess all kids love their Mama's cooking, but I'm just telling you what she said.

How to make the creamy grits

Heat the half and half just until it starts to boil and then stir in the grits. Bring back to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.

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A good sturdy whisk is a tool you don't want to be without when cooking a pot of grits. It is worth its weight in gold for getting out lumps. Cover and cook 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the grits are done, stir in the cheese and red pepper.

For the cheese I like to use a good sharp white cheddar. Yellow is fine too, but I prefer to keep the grits a clean white color if possible. Another great option is to serve the shrimp over Gouda Grits with Cajun Spice. We love it both ways!

Cayenne pepper is of course, an ingredient you can adjust to your taste. I like to use enough to give it a small kick, but not overpower. There is something magical to me about the flavor combination of cayenne and cheddar. Think cheese straws.... yum! Our recipe for those are here.

Another fun, seafood appetizer is Smoked Fish Dip. It stirs up in just a few minutes and will bring back memories of your favorite beach bar.

After the grits are done you can keep them on warm if you'll be serving fairly soon. Otherwise, remove from the heat and reheat right before you eat. Just be prepared to stir like crazy and add a bit of water to reach the right consistency.

About the shrimp, the bacon and more:

I like to allow about ⅓ lb. shrimp per person, but honestly this shrimp and grits is arichrecipe, so ¼ lb. is probablyplenty, unless you're serving football players. We're starting out here with shelled and deveined shrimp. I use this method and find it quick and easy!

Shrimp and Grits -- The Only Recipe You Will Ever Need (3)

I season my shrimp lightly with Creole or Cajun Seasoning. This Tony Chachere's Original Creole SeasoningShrimp and Grits -- The Only Recipe You Will Ever Need (4)is our family favorite. It is pretty salty, so keep that in mind as you shake it on. If you love Cajun Seasoning you'll also want to check out our Fried Oyster Po' Boys. Yum!

While the shrimp is soaking up all that goodness, cook the bacon. The easiest way to end up with bacon "bits" is to cut it before you cook it. Lay the slices on a cutting board and cut with a sharp knife into small pieces.

Shrimp and Grits -- The Only Recipe You Will Ever Need (5)

When you put it in the skillet and break it up, the heat hits and it cooks up very nicely. When browned, remove the bacon bits from the pan with a slotted spoon and put on paper towels to drain.

Drain off the most of the bacon grease. Leave a little in the pan, and try to leave that brown goodness at the bottom.

Cook the shrimp in the same pan, using that little bit of bacon grease. The amount of time is going to be determined by the size of your shrimp, but I caution you to stand over the shrimp and watch them very carefully so they don't get overcooked and tough.

I'm speaking from the experience of a person who does not like to stand idly EVER. Don't get distracted. About 2 minutes per side is a good rule of thumb.

Remove the shrimp and set aside while you go on to the next step.

Making the sauce for the shrimp and grits

Saute' the green onions and garlic in the pan until slightly limp, then remove and set aside. Deglaze the pan with the broth and wine. My preference is a mixture, but if you only have broth that would be fine. Likewise, all wine is perfectly good too.

Stir in the juice of a half lemon (fresh isso much betterthan that bottled) and the worcestershire sauce

Add a little more of the Creole SeasoningShrimp and Grits -- The Only Recipe You Will Ever Need (6)and then thicken slightly with about 4-5 shakes of Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour, if you have it available. I don't like the sauce to be as thick as gravy, but just give it a little "body".

If you only have plain flour, dissolve about a tsp. in ⅓ cup water and stir into your sauce and simmer a few minutes. I also use this Wondra Flour in my succotash side dish when I make the creamy version. It thickens without lumps! Order yours here.

Add the shrimp and onion/garlic mixture in just long enough to heat. You don't want the shrimp to cook anymore.

Plating the shrimp and grits

Boom! Divide the hot grits evenly onto four plates. Top with the shrimp mixture, bacon and the reserved green onions.

If you love shrimp and you love southern style food you'll want to make Classic Southern Style Fried Shrimp too. It's so many easier than you think.

Southern Food Then and Now is all about traditions, regions and the origins of our favorite cuisine!

📖 Recipe

Shrimp and Grits -- The Only Recipe You Will Ever Need (8)

Shrimp and Grits — The Only Recipe You Will Ever Need

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  • Heat half and half and salt just until it starts to boil.

  • Stir in grits, return to boil, whisking to prevent lumps.

  • Reduce heat to simmer and cover.

  • Simmer 6-7 minutes until thickened (stirring occasionally).

  • Stir in cheese until melted, and add cayenne pepper and keep warm.

  • Sprinkle shrimp with ½ tsp. Creole seasoning and set aside

  • Cut bacon into small pieces

  • Cook bacon in skillet over med to med-hi heat until done & drain on paper towels; set aside

  • Drain most of bacon grease from skillet

  • Cook shrimp in same skillet until done about 2 min. per side and set aside

  • Cook ⅔ onions and garlic in same skillet until limp and set aside

  • Deglaze pan with wine/broth mixture

  • Add fresh lemon juice, worcestershire sauce and remaining Creole seasoning

  • Thicken sauce slightly by adding flour and simmer about 3-4 minutes

  • Add shrimp and onions back to skillet just until mixture is heated thoroughly

  • Divide grits evenly among 4 plates

  • Top with shrimp mixture, bacon bits and remaining onions

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Shrimp and Grits -- The Only Recipe You Will Ever Need (18)
Shrimp and Grits -- The Only Recipe You Will Ever Need (2024)


What was shrimp and grits originally called? ›

History of Shrimp and Grits

Many pin the dish's origins to the Lowcountry, where it was once called shrimps and hominy or breakfast shrimp. (Some in that region call cooked grits hominy.

What state is shrimp and grits most popular in? ›

Coastal Cuisine Reigns Supreme

The true origin of shrimp and grits is believed to be Charleston, South Carolina, where the recipe first appeared in 1950 as a breakfast recipe in the Charleston Receipts cookbook. By 1976, the meal was so popular South Carolina declared shrimp and grits the official state food.

What is a fun fact about shrimp and grits? ›

The history of shrimp and grits (sometimes called “breakfast grits”) lays a line through the entire received history of our country. Originally an African dish of ground maize and shellfish, shrimp and grits migrated with people who were enslaved in plantation kitchens of the Lowcountry of the American South.

What meat goes with shrimp and grits? ›

Some recipes incorporate sausage or bacon, while others use different types of cheese or vegetables. 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.

What is the black history of shrimp and grits? ›

The history of shrimp and grits

However, its roots go back even further: The concept of combining corn and shellfish was likely brought to the South by enslaved Africans. As time passed, the dish became a beloved Southern delicacy, appreciated for its harmonious blend of flavors and textures.

What are grits called in the South? ›

The word "grits" is derived from the Old English word grytt, meaning "coarse meal". In the Charleston, South Carolina area, cooked hominy grits were primarily referred to as "hominy" until the 1980s.

Are grits an African American food? ›

Grits as we know it today originated with the indigenous people in America, passed on to the European settlers, and later taken on by slaves throughout the South. A bowl of grits or porridge was prevalent in slave kitchens and eaten by both the slaves and their owners.

Why do Southerners eat grits? ›

“Grits are a very important comfort food for the African-American community,” says Charla Draper, a former food editor for both EBONY and Southern Living, adding, “Most people eat grits the way they did as children. It's a comfort food flavored with strong emotional feelings, including memories of home.”

What are grits in Texas? ›

Many people confuse grits with polenta, a popular Mediterranean dish made from cornmeal. But Southern grits are made from hominy, which is corn that's soaked in an alkali solution to remove the hull, making a smoother and creamier porridge.

Is shrimp and grits breakfast or lunch? ›

Shrimp and grits is a traditional dish in the Lowcountry of the coastal Carolinas and Georgia in the United States. It is a traditional breakfast dish, though many consider it more of a lunch or supper dish.

What is the difference between grits and polenta? ›

Grits are either stone-ground (aka old-fashioned grits), which are ground with the germ intact and have a coarse texture, or quick cooking, which are more finely milled. Polenta is typically made from medium- to coarsely-ground flint corn and tends to have a flakier texture than grits.

What does shrimp and grits taste like? ›

The grits are soft, buttery, and often cheesy, with a savory, bacon-studded sauce surrounding them, and lots and lots of shrimp. Maybe some parsley or green onions for color and crunch. My recipe is an amalgam of all my best experiences with shrimp and grits.

What do Southerners eat with grits? ›

Corn was dried, boiled, and rinsed so the hominy could be used as a staple or ground into "flour" or grits. Grits served with fried eggs, O.J., coffee (cafe au lait if you use a New Orleans blend), Mimosas or Bloody Marys for a brunch, as we say in south Louisiana: "mais-oui, you'll bring da house down fo' sho!"

Do you leave tails on shrimp for shrimp and grits? ›

If serving shrimp and grits to guests, I like to leave the tails on for a pretty presentation. If I am serving my family, I buy shrimp without the tails for easy eating; the choice is yours.

Is shrimp and grits good for you? ›

Shrimp and grits on their own are good for you! Grits are a whole grain and shrimp are packed with protein. The only thing that makes it an unhealthy recipe is the addition of fats and oils like butter, full fat cheese, and heavy cream.

What is the history of shrimp and grits in Charleston? ›

The origin of this popular dish is thought to be Charleston, SC, and the Low Country, more than 70 years ago, when fresh, local, small, peeled shrimp were fried in bacon grease with onion and green pepper and served alongside grits at breakfast.

Where did grits originate? ›

Grits originated during the 16th century among the Native American Muskogee tribes of southeastern states, including Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. These tribes are credited with grinding dried corn into a coarse, gritty texture and serving it to colonists.

Where did shrimp originate? ›

Shrimp farming in its earliest form began centuries ago in Asia, where wild shrimp fry migrated into tidal impoundments intended primarily for milkfish, mullet and other coastal finfish. This resulted in incidental crops of 100-200 kg/ha/year of shrimp with no additional input aside from trapping/harvesting.

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