Shrimp and Grits is a classic Southern dish bursting with flavor, that’s perfect for a simple weeknight meal. It only takes 30 minutes to make the entire recipe, plus, you can cook the grits hands-off while you prepare the shrimp.

Shrimp and Grits - in White Bowl with Scallion Garnish

Shrimp and grits. Jambalaya. Biscuits. Fried chicken. Pecan pralines. These are a few of my favorite quintessential Southern dishes that I came to love during my few years living in the South. But the shrimp and grits, I was shocked when I discovered how easy it is to make, because it’s such a typical restaurant dish. When I think restaurant, I think it must be fussy and involved, but nope, not here.

For this recipe, you’re really bringing two components together for one harmonious pairing, but each one is minimal with only 6 ingredients. The key is to use quality ingredients, but especially the shrimp and the bacon. You want to make sure the shrimp is plump and the bacon is flavorful and meaty.

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.

Shrimp and Grits Recipe - Served on Blue Plate with Fork and Scallion Garnish

Tips for Best Results

Choose the right grits – Grits come in a wide variety of options and quality. This is not the time to use Quaker or Aunt Jemima quick grits. I personally like stone ground yellow grits that are medium in coarseness, so there’s texture there but it still ends up creamy. I like Palmetto Farms grits and Bob’s Red Mill.

Get the big shrimp – It’s the right time to splurge on the larger shrimp here, and I recommend going no smaller than 16/20 (meaning 16 to 20 pieces per pound). Bigger shrimp have a more lobster-like texture and eating experience that is important to the dish.

Use good bacon – I tend to like thinner and crispier bacon, but I actually think thicker-cut, more artisanal bacon is better here for its meaty bite. I like Neuske’s, Niman Ranch, and pasture-raised bacons.

Step by Step Overview:

You 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 them piping hot with grits that finish right around the same time.

As far as the grits go, I’m going to show you how to make them on the stove below, but I’ve also successfully made them in my rice cooker, which is nice for making it completely hands-off.

Rice Cooker Option for Grits

The stovetop is a great choice for making the grits, as you’ll be able to see what’s going on and control the process well. However, I’ve made grits in two different models of rice cookers and it went great each time. Here’s how I did it.

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.

To cook the 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. Then, turn the heat off and add heavy cream and butter: 

Pouring Cream into Grits in Pan

This will cool the mixture slightly, and then you can add some shredded cheddar cheese:

Shredded Cheddar Cheese Added to Grits in Pan

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, to your taste.

Stirring the Cheddar Cheese Creamy Grits in Pan

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 low, and stir for a couple minutes until it’s smooth and flowy. It’s very easy to fix grits.

Now let’s make the shrimp! In a large skillet, cook some sliced bacon until it’s crisp and cooked through:

Sauteed and Crisped Bacon Bits in Skillet

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:

Raw Seasoned Shrimp Added to Bacon Fat

For this recipe, I recommend using high-quality wild shrimp, if you can find some. They are much more flavorful than farmed, though farmed shrimp are just fine too. The most important thing is to not use shrimp that are too small.

Cook for 60 seconds on the first side, then give them a flip. They should have a nice brown color and be coated with the brown bits of flavor from the bacon:

Caramelized Cooked Shrimp in bacon Fat in Skillet

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:

Garlic, Lemon, Scallions, and bacon Added to Skillet with Shrimp

You can also add a couple dashes of Tabasco if you enjoy the heat. I do!

Stir everything around and keep cooking for another minute or two, until the shrimp are just barely cooked through:

Tossing the Shrimp and Grits Sauce Together in Skillet

It is SO, so important to be really careful about not overcooking the shrimp. You actually want to aim for slightly undercooked here, as they will keep cooking slightly from carryover cooking.

Shrimp Grits - Served in White Bowl with Scallions and Bacon on Top

How to Serve

When you’re ready to serve, spoon some grits onto the bottom of a shallow bowl or plate, then add the shrimp on top. You may want to garnish with extra sliced scallions on top. This is certainly a whole meal on its own, but adding a side of Drop Biscuits or Cheddar Scallion Biscuits would pair nicely.

Shrimp SaladPeel and Eat Shrimp, and Coconut Shrimp are more of my favorite seafood dishes on the blog. Enjoy!

Recipe FAQ and Tips

How do you store shrimp and grits?

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.

Can you freeze shrimp and grits?

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.

How do you reheat shrimp and grits?

The microwave works best, but you have to be careful not to overdo it. Heat in 30 second intervals at 60% power until warmed through, making sure that if you start to hear lots of popping, that you check to make sure the ingredients aren’t overcooking. You may want to stir often to redistribute, as well. Microwaves tend to reheat unevenly.

What goes well with shrimp and grits?

It can certainly be a meal in itself, but Creamed Corn, Coleslaw, and Rice Pilaf are nice sides to add to the table.

Did you enjoy the recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page.

Shrimp and Grits in White Bowl with Scallion Garnish

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits is a quick and flavorful dish to make for a weeknight meal with a Southern spirit! 
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Ingredients

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

Instructions 

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!

Notes

Storing leftovers: Keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge. 
Freezing: Store for up to 2 months in an airtight container. However, it’s not my favorite dish to freeze because I find the grits are not as creamy after the dairy has been frozen.
Reheating: The microwave works best, but you have to be careful not to overdo it. Heat in 30 second intervals at 60% power until warmed through, making sure that if you start to hear lots of popping, that you check to make sure the ingredients aren’t overcooking. You may want to stir often to redistribute, as well. Microwaves tend to reheat unevenly.
Compatible pairings: This dish can certainly be a meal in and of itself, but Drop BiscuitsCreamed Corn, and Coleslaw, are nice sides to add to the table.

Nutrition

Calories: 639kcal, Carbohydrates: 33g, Protein: 37g, Fat: 38g, Saturated Fat: 20g, Cholesterol: 384mg, Sodium: 1634mg, Potassium: 275mg, Vitamin A: 1045IU, Vitamin C: 7.8mg, Calcium: 400mg, Iron: 3.3mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.