Shrimp & Grits

I’ve lived in the South for 3 1/2 years now and have only eaten grits a handful of times. Granted, I’m not sure grits are as big in Louisiana as they are in the rest of the South, but still, you’d think I’d have eaten grits at least as many times as I’ve been served squirrel, right? I decided that needed to be remedied and if I was going to eat grits that I might as well go all out and make Shrimp & Grits, one of the most delicious, elegant, down-home, all-around amazing ways to eat grits. And shrimp.

For this recipe, I totally overcame one of my biggest fears: buying the shrimp at a locally owned establishment that exclusively sells seafood (I’m also scared of the butcher). I know, totally terrifying, right? Why the fear, you ask? I think it’s because I’m obviously not from here, in a place where people take their seafood and butchered meats very seriously, and I’m afraid of doing/saying something stupid. However, I figured it was kind of lame to go to the grocery store and spend the same amount of money on previously frozen shrimp from Asia when I could get super-fresh shrimp and help support Louisiana’s ever-struggling economy. So I overcame my fears and lived to tell the tale.

My shrimp came without heads (thank goodness–I can’t handle it when my food looks at me), but they still had their shells, legs, and “veins” (which is a really nice way of saying “intestinal tract,” which is a scientific way of saying, well, you know.) As I’ve discovered in my time here in Louisiana, not everyone deveins their shrimp, and I guess to each their own, but I’m dead serious, shrimp with the “vein” is one of the few foods that I will flat-out refuse to eat. Aside from the fact that I’m eating shrimp poop, un-deveined shrimp are gritty and sandy and totally detract from the sweet, delicate flavor of the shrimp.

I photographed a nice interesting thorough tutorial about how to peel and devein shrimp, but then I didn’t want to talk about de-pooping shellfish in my recipe post, so I’m going to direct you over to the lovely Elise at Simply Recipes.

If your shrimp are already peeled and deveined, you can get started on the grits (otherwise, peel and devein the shrimp first). Grits kind of get a bad rap, but I think if you make them and serve them right, they’re delicious. Like, for instance, with butter and lots and lots of cheese:

Corn. Butter. Cheese. You can’t go wrong.

In a perfect world, we would all use stone-ground grits and cook them slowly over a long period until they were creamy and perfect, right? The problem? If I can’t find stone-ground, non-quick-cooking grits right here in the middle of Louisiana, I’m thinking a lot of people are going to have a hard time finding regular grits. So if you use quick-cooking grits, push your shame into that corner where you keep your Diet Coke breakfasts and  Us Weekly magazines and own your grits.

Cook the grits according to the package directions. While they’re cooking, you can get the rest of your ingredients ready:

You’ll need 6 ounces of regular bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces, some green onions, fresh parsley, fresh lemon juice, fresh garlic. How can you possibly go wrong with those ingredients?

Cook the bacon in a large skillet until browned and crispy.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked bacon from the pan and let it drain on a paper towel. Reserve the bacon grease. All of it. This recipe is not going into our “Healthy Meals” category.

Add the prepared shrimp to the hot bacon grease and stir them constantly until they’re just starting to turn pink (about 2 minutes):

When the shrimp are barely turning pink, add the green onions, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, and cooked bacon and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes.

When the grits are done cooking, add the butter and cheese and stir until smooth. Ladle the grits into shallow bowls, top with the shrimp mixture (you can also garnish it with a little extra parsley and green onions), and eat it immediately. It’s so pretty that you’ll want to serve it with the shrimp on top, but when you go to eat it, be sure to mix it all together. Unless you’re my husband, who kept passing off his shrimp to the kids when he thought I wasn’t watching (he’s hopeless).

woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. I have never had grits…but those grits with shrimp on them make me want to have grits right now! I guess I know what i’m buying this week 😉

  2. Uh yeah, I’m like your husband, I can’t do shrimp, at all. I tried sushi the first time with my husband the other night and I literally gagged on the shrimp in the one roll. I was brave and tried, but I just couldn’t do it. I do, however, love grits. Yum!!! Cheese grits and bacon (minus any shrimp) sound fab!!!!

  3. I was in a fancy restaurant recently and ‘shrimp and grits’ was on the menu. They served it with andouille sausage and gouda. I know that nobody would really want to substitute bacon (because, who would knowingly leave out bacon from any recipe?), but it is another tasty pork product, so I thought that I’d mention this dressed-up version. The sausage was spicy and the smokey cheese made it very rich. Just another flavor combination to consider!

  4. I made this last night for my husband and our friends. It was truly an amazing meal with raves from all! I used your suggestion and served with a light salad since the recipe is very rich. I know this recipe will be a favorite. I love all of your recipes and haven’t tried anything that I didn’t enjoy.
    Thanks for your wonderful recipes and ideas.

  5. I live in the Northwest so I have never eaten grits (they are uncommon here) but my co-worker is from the south and raves about them. I think I’ll try to hunt them down and give this recipe a shot, it looks delicious!

  6. I’m from Louisiana and I love grits! I have never had Shrimp & Grits before. Your pictures are so great that I think I may give these a try. I bet my husband would even eat these…

    Kate, I’m glad you survived your seafood market experience! I’m in Utah now and miss the fresh seafood.

  7. I am a born and raised Mississippian and have yet to eat or cook shrimp and grits. I have to say…thanks to these pictures…that will be remedied this week! I was going to make Shrimp Quesadillas a few days ago but couldn’t find the shrimp I knew I had bought. I had to settle for Chicken Quesadillas. You would know, I found the shrimp last night. I think it was meant to be. 8)

  8. We have grits every Saturday morning. It’s the one thing my husband cooks! These look yummy and a BIG THANK YOU to you guys for the props to the Louisiana seafood industry. La seafood is the best, yummy yummy shrimp (ok its really the only seafood I eat) And I think, since my husband is working Saturday morning, we might have solved my Saturday dinner problem! Cheesy grits and shrimp are yummy one of my favorites. Just the cheesy grits alone are making me hungry.

  9. I just moved to Georgia two weeks ago and tried grits for the first time last night, not a fan, BUT these grits look SO yummy I may just have to give them a second chance.

  10. My fav grits recipe:
    1 c grits
    1 qt water
    garlic salt
    boil til hot and bubbly

    then add 1 cube butter
    1 jar old english cheese

    turn to med heat and let cheese and butter melt. pour into 9×13 pan and bake at 350′ for 30 minutes til golden brown! Excellent with ham!

    Can’t wait to try grits and shrimp!

  11. I’ve lived my whole life in the Southwest and the title of this post made me gag a little. 🙂 Then I read the recipe and it looks fabulous, I will definitely be trying it!

  12. I tried to make grit and they were gross. I can’t imagine anyone enjoying them but I keep hearing good things about them though so, what is the secret I’m not in on? What is the consistency suppose to be of grits in general? Do you have any other suggestions of how to make good grits? Thanks so much.

    1. Heather, I am sure Kate can answer this questions better than I can, but as a lifelong Mississippian, I’ll give it a go :). Grits should be creamy and smooth. They should drizzle, not plop, off a spoon. If you cook them and let them sit out too long, they will get thick and gelatinous, and then they ARE really gross! If that happens and you need to reheat them, sprinkle them with water or milk, cover the bowl, and put them in the microwave.

      I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is not cooking them with enough salt. You can add salt at the end, but the grits just won’t be as good as when you add it on the front end (kinda like with pasta). And they DO need salt! My favorite way to eat them is with cheese melted in (as described in this recipe) and garlic powder. I add the same amount of garlic powder as I do salt, and I just follow the directions on the box for the amount of salt. That said, I’ve noticed that some brands call for much more salt than others. I prefer plenty of it, which I realize is not healthy :). I usually put in the amount the box says and taste it again after I’ve got everything else in there and adjust.

      I hope that’s helpful!

      1. Amelia, A) You are WAAAAAAAAY more of an expert in this than I am, so I totally appreciate your input, and B) you totally said what I would’ve said, only with way more experience under your belt. 🙂

  13. So, Kate- do they even sell grits in Utah? And since I’ve never eaten them, do grits taste gritty? 🙂
    I really have no idea. The closest I can imagine is that they taste something like Cream of Wheat, which could be totally wrong. Signed, Clueless

    1. Patti, I honestly don’t know (although I imagine they probably would, especially in Utah County where they have people living there from all over the country). They are kind of like Cream of Wheat, only a little cornier. Like Cream of Wheat, if you make them right, they’re awesome. If not…well…

    2. Patti, I live in Utah and they DO have grits. Quaker makes them. I’ve seen them at Wal-Mart and Smith’s. Check by the hot cereals in your grocery store. The box I have is a little bigger than a box of salt. I love grits with butter (of course) and a sprinkling of sugar! MMMmmmmm…..

      1. I grew up in Louisiana and people would get grits canned in#10 cans for food storage. We love grits with a fried egg and some grated cheese. But you can always just do butter and cheese. I like to think of grits as an American polenta. I think I’ll go make some right now.

  14. Wow! I haven’t seen anyone do a shrimp and grits post or even seen or heard anything about that dish while living in Utah. I first tried it in the lovely South Carolina. Looks pretty good! Will definitely have to make it! Next on your list to make should be hush puppies! So yummy!

  15. No need to villanize frozen shrimp! Not all of it comes from Asia, it’s just important to have to choose a trustworthy brand that has sustainable fishing practices. As far as the recipe goes, this sounds delicious! We’ve never been big into grits, but you make it look mouthwatering.

    1. Oh, I’m definitely not villainizing! 🙂 I bought it fresh to support our local economy and because I can get great, local shrimp, but I think sustainable frozen shrimp from American waters are a GREAT alternative for people who can’t get it fresh.

  16. We’re huge shrimp and grits fans. I’ll be making this for my husband and myself on Sunday while the kiddos are out of town. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be any shrimp left for us. 🙂 Thanks for another great recipe suggestion!

  17. YUMMM! These look so good! We may have to have these this weekend. I love how you make it look so easy but gourmet! I have never cooked them myself because I just didn’t think I could do it. I must say I have cooked way more over the last month since I found your site that I never thought I could, so thanks! Also maybe just maybe if we have left overs you’ll give us a recipe for some yummy grit cakes with a sauce for the next day???? 🙂

  18. Looks tasty, though grits fall on my “do not eat” list. I’m a picky eater, and it’s a long list. Anyway, I totally agree with your fear about going to the fishmonger and/or butcher. I’m always afraid they’ll shake their heads in judgement at my lack of knowledge. I used to even feel that way about Subway Sandwich Artists.

  19. OMG this look so good!!! The problem I’ll have is finding someone who will eat grits with me. Barely anyone I know likes them.

  20. I’m a commerical fisherman’s wife from NC, and I just want to tell you guys to please be aware that the shrimp imported from other countries are not well regulated. They be farmed in sewage ditches. They may also be dipped in iodine, which many people are very allergic to. In fact, many people who believe they are allergic to shellfish are actually allergic to some of the more common preseratives/chemicals used on them. The date on the package may also be the date that the shrimp was processed in yet another country, not hte date harvested. Also, fishermen in other countries do not have to abide by sustainable harvest practices….so, whenever possible buy seafood harvested in the US!!! It’s safer, tastier, and better for the fishery. Plus, most local fisherman are really struggling to survive under the regulations placed on them. Okay, I’m off my soap-box now. The recipe does look delicious!

    1. You make some really good points! The first time I had what I knew was local shrimp, I could NOT believe the difference. Shrimp is a splurge to begin with, so I think it’s worth it to pay the extra 1-2 dollars (total) for shrimp harvested in the US.

    1. Suzanne–we’re about 3 hours away from New Orleans, so not right on the gulf, but not too far! 🙂

  21. I can’t wait to try this. My husband, who claims he does not like grits, ate some “by accident” not long ago (the room was dark, he thought they were cheesy mashed potatoes, hahahahaha!) and ate them up–until he discovered they were grits.

    But this looks so fabulous, with the bacon and cheese, and oh! the shrimp, that I might be able to get him to try grits again. 🙂 Thanks!

  22. Squirrel you say? Grits are super popular here in Georgia, but I’ve never been offered that one before!

  23. Mmm…we live in Kentucky and got a gift certificate to a fancy restaurant called Jack Fry’s for our anniversary. For an appetizer the hostess suggested Shrimp n’grits which sounded disgusting to my Northwest upbringing but we gave them a try and they were heavenly. Your recipe seems to include everything theirs did so I will definitely be giving it a try! Love, love this site and all your recipes!!

  24. When I was little, we used to steal left over grits from the fridge, crawl under the kitchen table, and eat cold buttery grits with our hands. *Sigh* Good Times.

    This looks fabulous! There are serious misfortunes to living in the middle of Ohio. I suppose frozen shrimp from Asia will have to do. At least I can buy them de-pooped!

  25. “How can you possibly go wrong with those ingredients?”

    If you’re allergic to shellfish, which my husband is. 🙁 This looks amazing and I would love to try it, but obviously the shrimp is right out. Maybe chicken would be a good substitute? Will have to experiment!

  26. As a double-fifth generation Native Floridian, I can tell you that some of the best stone ground grits that have ever passed my lips come from

    There’s nothing better than fresh Gulf shrimp with stone ground grits!

  27. OMGoodness. Shrimp and Grits. It’s been a while. I think I’ll put them on the menu for next week.

    Glad to see you over came your fear and are supporting your local economy. We always buy our shrimp right off the boats in the marina. I 100% agree with you on shrimp served with the poop shoot still there. What a waste of one of the best foods on earth, Gulf Shrimp.

  28. Cheesy Grits are on my Top 5 foods of all time list… and I’m a yankee! Can’t wait to try out this recipe!