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).

Sara Wells
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. This is the best shrimp and grits recipes ever. I have used it several times. After making it yourself , you do not want to eat it in a restaurant. One restaurant uses a chunk of polenta instead of cheese grits. The very worst I have had was recently on a Norwegian Cruise. Their shrimp and grits was tasteless and did not even resemble thevresults of this recipe!

  2. Let me preface this by saying I love most Our Best Bites recipes and I realize this is based on a Bobby Flay recipe, but… yuck. The shrimp had almost no flavor while the grits were overly salty and cheesy. Just a weird recipe overall. Sorry, I don’t even have any suggestions for improving.

  3. Any maple obsessed yankee ruining this wonderful traditional dish with maple flavored bacon, should go straight to hell and don’t pas go!!!!!!

    1. I’m pretty sure the instructions say NOT use maple bacon, but thank you for reinforcing Southern stereotypes.

  4. I would like to cook this in a crock pot. Could you give me some direction on how make this and I also wanted to know if I could substitute chicken broth instead of water. Or do you I just need to use water? Thank you, all of the recipes look tasty. I’ll let you know how it turns out. 🙂

  5. Mmm, this looks delicious. I was born and raised in San Diego so grits weren’t on my radar until last month when I went to Seattle. Yeah, Seattle of all places. 🙂 I love grits, especially with cheese and bacon. I didn’t think I’d like the texture but it’s creamy and buttery. Thanks for this recipe. I’ll look for grits the next time I’m at the store.

  6. I love shrimp and grits! I have never had it with bacon, I’m going to have to try this recipe. Bacon always sounds good 🙂

  7. Bob’s Red Mill makes wonderful stone ground yellow grits (polenta) that would be perfection in this recipe. I also use half milk half water when I make grits, took me a while to cave, but the creaminess is worth it.

  8. The best grits in the South are stone ground and come from a 19th century watermill in Belvidere, TN. The mill has been featured in the Smithsonian magazine several times. You have to rinse the grits to remove the bran before cooking and they take 20 minutes to cook, but there is no comparison to their poor, off-the-shelf relatives.

    http://www.fallsmill.com/

  9. OMG!! I’ve successfully tried many recipes from this site, but the Shrimp & Grits we had for supper last night moved me to leave a comment. So, so good! I used the stone ground white grits from Trader Joe’s. Their directions called for part milk in the cooking which gave the grits a nice creamy texture. Yummm!

  10. Great idea! I just made this with some modifications for my preferences. I used potatoes o’brien hashbrowns, a 9×13 pan, an extra egg and about 1/3 cup more milk, red onion diced finely instead of green, and extra cheese and, and I didn’t completely stirr the ingredients but I kind of mixed them in the dish. I also covered @ 375 and then about 30-40 minutes. It was nicely brown around the edges like I like it and potatoes and eggs were cooked to perfection! Thanks for the recipe def a keeper.

  11. I cooked it for my mom and she really loved it, she came back for more til she’s full! Thanks for the recipe!

  12. I know I’m late to the game on this post but I’m just now finding all kinds of good new (to me) food blogs… I had to comment because shrimp and grits is one of my top 5 favorite meals. I also have to say I’m a shameless quick grits maker and there is nothing wrong with making your cheese grits with them! As someone from the NOLA area and a foodie, I’m obsessed with Chef John Besh and he highly recommends organic grits from McEwen & Sons out of AL if you wanted to go with the traditional grits (http://www.mcewenandsons.com/grits.php). I also agree that using smoked gouda cheese brings that something extra to the dish, especially if you add a couple cloves of roasted garlic. I’m so glad to see some local recipes on a blog and that you overcame your fear of going to a shrimp man!! They really do provide the best and freshest shrimp!

  13. I made this over the weekend for a dinner party. Everyone raved!! So good. This one is a keeper.

  14. My best friend and I tried this recipe last night for dinner. FANTASTIC!!!!! I simply can’t wait to make it again. I’m going to try it with chicken for my fiance’ (he’s allergic to shellfish) but it would be great to have a dish that I could have with shrimp and him not feel completely left out.

  15. I had shrimp and grits at Paula Dean’s restaurant in Savannah, GA. They were great and I’ve been wanting to recreate the recipe. This looks wonderful, now I can give it a try. Thanks!

  16. I love grits. The true stone ground grits that you talk of. Only I live in Minnesota. Do you have any suggestions for a source of these grits that I could purchase on the internet? Hubby and I went to the south last fall and I’m still dreaming of the course ground grits with butter, salt/pepper and a bit of cheese. Only hubby says that a plane ticket for grits is not the best use of money…

    1. Hey Michelle, there is a lady in Oxford, MS who ‘makes’ stone ground grits, cornmeal, polenta, etc. Her website is http://www.gritgirl.net She supplies many high-end restaurants in Oxford and the Memphis, TN areas. She uses locally grown corn with no pesticides (totally organic). Her grits are the best!! 🙂 btw: she ships all over the nation.

  17. I am very impressed with your shrimp and grits! A very authentic! But I do have to say I’m not sure what part of Louisiana you live in, but my Mom’s entire family is from various parts of Louisiana and my grandmother’s garlic cheese grits are a staple at many a meal! In fact my boyfriend is from Georgia (which is considered a ‘true’ southern state by many) and had never had grits until he meet me! LOL!

    1. P.S. I was just telling my boyfriend what about your post (he is so sweet and always lets me ramble on about blogging) and told him my response. He said that I was being mean, so I hope you don’t take my comment the wrong way! I was just shocked to hear that you didn’t think grits where a staple in Louisiana (when I have grown up on them)!

      1. Ha! No worries! To be honest, I’m not sure where we live is the best representation of Louisiana, especially when it comes to the food.

  18. I did this recipe with atkinson’s stone ground yellow grits. It was excellent. I added sauted mushrooms and garden fresh green beens. it was excellent. Google atkinsons mill. They take orders over the phone or email and ship. I have gotten them at the mill and through the mail. they are great.

  19. This recipe is heavenly! In defense of grits – you can think of them like polenta or rice, they take on the flavors of the sauces you serve on them or the seasonings you mix in. I live in Metairie with in-laws who own a shrimping skiff. Thanks for a wonderful new shrimp recipe!

  20. i need to make these for my husband…this is one of his “death row meals” …..promise he’s not a criminal 🙂

  21. We were in Williamsburgh, VA earlier this month on vacation and ate at a fabulous local restaurant that served shrimp & grits. I ordered them and they were soooo yummy! They had mushrooms and red & green peppers with the shrimp. I’ll have to try your recipe.

  22. Oh my this looks yummy. My favorite restaurant at the beach we go to has an incredible recipe, too. I get Shrimp & Grits every time I go there. I’m talkin’ havarti cheese and prosciutto, girl. Seriously, I have to split the entree with someone because it just won’t all fit. Know what I mean?

  23. I know the recipe specifies non instant grits, but its all my local stores had. They turned out just fine. I just added the cheese and butter a few stirs after adding the hot water and it was great! Loved the recipe!

  24. Oh. My. Goodness. I’m a shrimp-shrimp-and-grits-eater. Without a doubt. But I’ve never even considered that I could make them myself. Thanks for letting me know that I could do it AND how to do it. Soon. Really soon.

  25. This is the kind of recipe I love to find–it’s way different than what I’ve known before, yet so simple! I can’t wait to try it:)