Shrimp and Grits
Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and grits are an iconic Southern dish and easy to make at home. Creamy grits come together with spicy shrimp, onions, peppers and bacon in this flavorful interpretation.

In this recipe

  • A classic Southern dish
  • The best recipe
  • The best grits
  • The best shrimp

A classic Southern dish

Shrimp and grits is one of those iconic Southern dishes that resonates deep within those who grew up with it.

Originally from the Oceanic South — Georgia, the Carolinas’ Low Country coast, and the Gulf Coast states all have their versions — this homely bowl of fantastic flavor was historically a simple fisherman’s breakfast: grits, with some bacon and some shrimp tossed on top.

If you’ve ever eaten it, you can understand why shrimp and grits burst from the seaside shrimp shacks.

The best shrimp and grits recipe

The grits are soft, buttery, and often cheesy, surrounded by a hearty bacon sauce and lots and lots of shrimp. Maybe some parsley or scallions for color and crunch.

My recipe is a mix of all my best experiences with shrimp and grits. However, if it has direct inspiration, it would be the rendition I Ate of Chef Linton Hopkins of Holeman & Finch restaurant in Atlanta in 2011.

I never got his recipe, and I make no claim to having the One True Shrimp and Grits recipe, but I can vouch for how this one tastes.

To use the best grits

Aside from the Mexican masa harina, everything in these areas is yellow corn. And I’ve heard more than one Southerner threaten violence over making grits with yellow corn. (Here are the white grains we use.)

The best grains come from hominy, a large-grain, white corn processed with alkali like Mexican masa harina. The main difference is that with semolina, the corn is coarsely ground, ideally with a stone grinding wheel. It actually makes a huge difference in taste.

Good grits come out smooth, tender, and speckled with chunks of the corn husks, making for a radically different experience than its Italian cousin, polenta (which I also love).

Keep in mind that almost all chefs who prepare shrimp and grits have their own variation of the dish. This is mine and I hope you like it.


Check out this shrimp and grits recipe

To use the best shrimp

Unless you live on a coast where you know fresh shrimp is actually fresh, you are most likely using frozen shrimp. At many grocery stores, fresh shrimp are pre-frozen and then thawed. Frozen shrimp work well in this recipe. Just make sure it’s not pre-cooked.

Medium or large sized shrimp work well in this recipe, and we recommend buying wild-caught when it’s available. More important than the size of the shrimp is cooking until they are just cooked through (opaque and firm) and not overcooked (rubbery).

More Southern-style recipes

  • Shrimp Etouffee
  • Shrimp Gumbo with Andouille Sausage
  • Shrimp Po Boy Sandwich
  • Slow cooker jambala
  • Hummingbird Cake

From the editors of Simply Recipes

Prawns and Grits

preparation time
20 minutes

cooking time
45 minutes

total time
65 minutes

4 servings

Shrimp and grits are best served immediately. You can get the grits going ahead of time and keep them warm on the stovetop for about an hour if you like. But the shrimp are best prepared just before serving.


  • 4 1/2 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 Cup stone floor white jelly

  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 2 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded

  • 4 tight slices bacon

  • 1 Cup chopped white or yellow onion

  • 1 Cup chopped green pepper

  • 2 cloves garlic chopped

  • 1 to 1 1/2 lb shrimppeeled and deveined

  • 1 Cup chicken broth

  • 3 green onionschopped (only white and light green parts)

  • 2 tablespoon chopped parsley

  • juice from 1 lemonabout 1 to 2 tablespoons


  1. Cook bacon:

    Fry the bacon in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove and chop the bacon. Drain off all but about 3 tablespoons of fat. Turn off the heater.

  2. Cook groats:

    Bring the water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the salt. Slowly pour the groats into the boiling water while stirring with a wooden spoon. Stir and pour gradually to avoid lumps. When all the grits are incorporated, turn the heat down to a low simmer and cook the grits, stirring frequently, for 35 minutes.

  3. Chop Shrimp:

    Reserve about 1/3 of the shrimp whole and cut the rest into 3 to 4 pieces each. Put aside.

  4. Sauté the veggies, bacon, and shrimp:

    When the groats have cooked for 30 minutes, heat the sauté pan over medium-high. When the bacon fat is hot, sauté the onion and green pepper over medium-high heat until tender, about 4 minutes.

    Add the bacon, garlic cloves, and shrimp and mix. Let this cook for another minute.

  5. Add the broth, then reduce:

    Add the chicken broth and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

  6. Add the cheese and butter to the grits:

    Meanwhile, stir the cheddar cheese and butter into the grits. The dish may not need additional salt, but add some if you like.

  7. Surcharge:

    To serve, spoon some grits into individual bowls. Add the spring onions, parsley and lemon juice to the shrimp to taste. Add salt if necessary. Spoon some shrimp over the grits, making sure there is at least one whole shrimp on each plate. Serve immediately.

nutritional information (per serving)
512 calories
18g Fat
51g carbohydrates
36g protein
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