Shrimp and Grits
Shrimp and Grits is a classic Southern dish that’s quick enough for a simple weeknight meal (30 minutes). You can cook the grits hands-off while you prepare the shrimp.
I was shocked when I first discovered how ridiculously easy it is to make shrimp and grits, because it’s such a typical restaurant dish that I think of as really flavorful and full of pizzazz.
What’s Great About this Recipe
You can use farmed or wild shrimp – If you can get it, wild shrimp is a bit more flavorful than farmed, but there are enough supporting ingredients here that you’ll still get excellent results with farmed shrimp.
30 minutes to cook – This is pretty good, considering you’re really cooking two things. The grits can be made pretty hands off, and the shrimp cooks quickly.
Minimal ingredients, but still flavorful – We only add 5 ingredients to the shrimp, and one is actually optional. You won’t need a huge array of ingredients for this recipe.
How to Make The Dish:
You actually want to get the grits going before you start the shrimp, and you can either cook them in a rice cooker or in a pot on the stove. Then, you can quickly cook up the shrimp and enjoy that piping hot with grits that finish right around the same time.
How to Make the Grits:
As far as the grits go, I’m able to make them successfully in my rice cooker, which is nice for making it completely hands-off.
How to Make Grits in a Rice Cooker: I simply place grits, water, and a pinch of salt in the rice cooker, and turn it on. Then once the cycle is finished, I simply stir in the butter, cream, and cheese, and it’s perfect every time. A word of warning: results may vary depending on your model, but I’ve tried it in two rice cookers and it has been great in both models.
How to Make Grits on the Stove: Bring water to a boil in a saucepan, then add the grits and salt. Simmer the grits with a lid on for about 20 minutes, until the water has absorbed.
Turn the heat off, then add heavy cream and butter:
This will cool the mixture slightly, and then you can add some shredded cheese:
Remember that cheese can break and get grainy if overheated, so that’s why we let the residual heat melt the cheese.
Stir that through until you get a creamy, thick texture, then make any necessary seasoning adjustments.
You may want to add more salt, butter, or cheese.
If you’re not ready to serve the grits right away, make sure you keep the lid on to keep the grits warm, otherwise it will get stiff.
However, if this happens, simply add a little water or milk, turn the heat back on, and stir for a couple minutes until it’s smooth and flowy.
How to make the shrimp:
In a large skillet, cook some sliced bacon until it’s crisp and cooked through:
Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving all the brown bits and bacon fat behind.
Add shrimp to the pan in a single layer, and season with salt and pepper:
For this recipe, I recommend using high-quality wild shrimp, if you can find some. They are much more flavorful than farmed shrimp, though farmed shrimp are just fine too.
Cook for 60 seconds on the first side, and give them a flip.
They should have a nice brown color and be coated with the brown bits of flavor from the bacon:
Make sure to season the other side of the shrimp with salt and pepper, if you haven’t done so already.
Then add fresh garlic, scallions, fresh lemon juice, and the crisped bacon back to the pan:
You can also add a couple dashes of Tabasco if you enjoy the heat.
Stir everything around and keep cooking for another minute or two, until the shrimp are just barely cooked through:
It is SO, so important to be really careful about not overcooking the shrimp.
I actually aim for slightly undercooked, as the shrimp will keep cooking slightly from carryover cooking. I hate rubbery shrimp!
When you’re ready to serve, spoon some grits onto the bottom of a shallow bowl or plate, then add the shrimp on top:
FAQ and Tips
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. It’s really important to make sure the container is airtight because the grits will easily absorb off flavors from the fridge.
Technically yes, for up to 2 months in an airtight container, but it’s not my favorite dish to freeze because I find the grits are not as creamy after the dairy has been frozen.
Shrimp and Grits
For the grits:
- 1 cup yellow grits
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp butter (salted or unsalted)
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or asiago)
For the shrimp:
- 4 ounces high-quality bacon sliced or chopped into small pieces (about 5-6 strips)
- 1 lb 16/20 size wild shrimp peeled and deveined
- 4 scallions sliced
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 dashes Tabasco sauce optional
How to Make the Grits:
- I have great success cooking the grits in the rice cooker, though this may depend on the model used. If you want to give it a try, simply combine the grits, water, and salt in the rice cooker, and run a normal white rice cycle. When the cycle is over, stir in the butter and cream, then stir in the cheese. Season to taste and make any necessary adjustments.
- To make the grits on the stovetop, bring the water to a boil in a nonstick saucepan and add the grits and salt. Cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Then stir in the butter and cream, then the cheese. Taste and make any necessary seasoning adjustments.
How to Make the Shrimp:
- Place the bacon in a cold skillet, and turn the heat to medium. Render out the fat and cook the bacon until crisp, about 10 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the bacon bits, leaving the bacon grease and brown bits in the pan. Add the shrimp in a single layer, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 60 seconds.
- Flip the shrimp over, season with salt and pepper, then add the scallions, garlic, lemon juice, Tabasco (if using), and the reserved crisped bacon.
- Let the shrimp cook for another minute or two until cooked through, tossing the ingredients gently to meld the flavors. Take care not to overcook the shrimp, and keep in mind there will be a little bit of carryover cooking, so I undercook them slightly.
- To serve, place the grits on the bottom of a bowl and scoop the shrimp on top. They taste best eaten together. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
Post updated in April 2019. Originally published October 2012.