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Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits is a southern classic. This version is made with cheesy grits topped with shrimp in a cajun cream gravy.

When it comes to down home comfort food, it doesn’t get much more classic than Shrimp and Grits. It is a southern classic for a reason. Between the cheesy grits and the creamy shrimp gravy, this recipe is the epitome of stick to your ribs, warm your tummy food.

The thing that makes this Shrimp and Grits recipe stand out from others is that you’ll be making your own shrimp broth. It takes the flavor of the gravy to a whole other level.

Don’t let the idea of making your own broth intimidate you though, it’s actually really easy and I am here to walk you through every step of the process.

First, let’s talk about what ingredients you’ll need to make it.

Shrimp and Grits Ingredients: 

  • SHRIMP: Use large or jumbo shrimp for the best results for this recipe. Because you’re making shrimp broth, it is also important that the shrimp have shells on them when you buy them. You will need the shells. 
  • WATER: You’ll need water to make the shrimp broth and for the grits. 
  • PEPPERCORNS: Whole black peppercorns add flavor to the broth. 
  • QUICK GRITS: My grocery store only had quick grits so that is what I used. Quick Grits are different than Instant Grits because they are not pre-cooked and then dehydrated. They are simply ground finer so that they cook faster. 
  • CHICKEN BROTH: Use to cook the grits. Low sodium chicken broth will work the best so that you can control the salt content. 
  • BUTTER: To add richness to the grits. 
  • SHARP CHEDDAR CHEESE: I recommend shredding your own. Pre-shredded cheese has additives to help prevent it from clumping but this also impacts how the cheese will melt. Freshly shredded cheese melts a bit better. 
  • CAJUN SEASONING: You can use your favorite store-bought brand or you can make your own DIY Cajun Seasoning
  • GRANULATED GARLIC: You can also use garlic powder if you don’t have any granulated garlic on hand. If you use garlic salt, you will need to watch the rest of the salt content in the dish. 
  • BACON: Adds smokiness and texture to the gravy. 
  • ONION/GARLIC: Aromatics to had flavor to the gravy. 
  • FLOUR: To thicken the gravy. 
  • HALF AND HALF: Will add richness and cream to the gravy. 
  • GREEN ONION: Optional garnish.

Step by Step Photos and Instructions: 

Making Shrimp and Grits can seem like a bit of a labor of love because you are essentially making three components: shrimp broth, shrimp gravy and the cheesy grits. But believe me, the work is worth it and it’s really not all that difficult. Follow along with these step by step photos and I’ll guide you along the way. 

STEP 1: Make the shrimp broth. Combine the shrimp shells, 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. 

STEP #2: After the broth has simmered, use a fine mesh strainer to strain the broth. You should have about 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 broth. If you don’t you can add a little bit of water to make up the difference. 

STEP #3: While the broth is simmering, toss the peeled and deveined shrimp with cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper and granulated garlic. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

STEP #4: Make the grits. Bring the chicken broth and water to a boil over medium heat. Add butter and let melt. 

STEP #5: Slowly whisk in the grits. Cook 5 minutes. Add in cheddar. Cover and cook another 10 minutes or until the cheese melts and the grits are creamy. Reduce heat to low to keep warm. 

STEP #6: Brown bacon in a skillet until cooked through. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the pan drippings. 

STEP #7: Add onion and garlic to the reserved pan drippings. Cook until onions are softened. Add shrimp and cook 3 minutes or until the shrimp start to turn pink. 

STEP #8: Add in flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the shrimp broth and cook until it starts to thicken, about 3 minutes. At this point remove the shrimp and set aside. 

STEP #9: Slowly whisk in the half and half and cook until the sauce reduces by 1/3 about 5 minutes. The gravy should coat the back of the spoon. 

STEP #10: Return the shrimp to the pan, add the bacon pieces and stir to combine. Spoon shrimp gravy over grits. Serve immediately. 

Storage and Leftovers: 

Shrimp and grits are best when made and eaten in the same day. This is because shrimp doesn’t reheat that well without overheating. You can however make the grits ahead of time and reheat just before serving. 

Recipe FAQ:

Are Instant Grits and Quick Grits the same thing?

No, they are different. Quick grits are grits that are milled finer so that they cook faster. Instant grits are grits that are pre-cooked and then dehydrated so that they can be cooked in the microwave in about a minute.

Do you need to devein shrimp?

No, you don’t need to. It is a preference. The vein that runs along the back of the shrimp is the intestinal track of the shrimp. It is completely digestible but can be a bit unsightly. It is up to you. If you need learning how to do it, help check out my guide on how to peel and devein shrimp.

If you love this Shrimp and Grits Recipe, check out some of my other southern classics: 

Fried Green Tomatoes is my favorite movie AND my favorite southern appetizer. Have you tried them yet?

Collard Greens are a must make for sunday supper or New Years day. 

Southern Style Green Beans with Bacon are a family favorite!

Note: Originally published 2009. Updated in 2024 with new photos, step by step photos and nutrition information. 

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits is a southern classic. This version is made with cheesy grits topped with shrimp in a creamy Cajun gravy.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Southern
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 469 kcal


Shrimp Broth:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • shells from 1 pound of shrimp

Shrimp and Grits Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup quick cook grits
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese cut into cubes (about 1 cup)
  • 1 pound 51-60 count prawns peeled and deveined (If making your own shrimp broth reserve the shells)
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 4 slices bacon cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion minced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup half and half


  • To make the shrimp broth, place shrimp shells in saucepan. Pour water over, add salt and peppercorns. Bring to a bowl, reduce heat and let simmer about 20 minutes.
  • Using a colander, strain the broth over a bowl. Discard shells.
  • To make the grits, bring chicken broth and water to a boil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan. Add butter, let melt.
  • Slowly whisk in the grits, stir for about 1-2 minutes to ensure that they don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the temperature to low, cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cheddar. Cover and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cheese melts and the grits are creamy. Leave covered on low heat until ready to serve.
  • Next make the shrimp by combining the shrimp, Cajun seasoning, cayenne and granulated garlic in a bowl and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • In a skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until browned. Place on a paper towel lined plate, set aside. Reserve 2 tablespoons of pan drippings.
  • To the same skillet add onions and garlic. Cook 3-5 minutes or until softened. Add shrimp. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes
  • Once shrimp start to turn opaque, add flour and cook one minute. (Note: It is important to cook the flour for a minute so that you don't have a pasty flavor to your sauce). Add the shrimp broth and cook until it thickens and shrimp are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove shrimp and set aside.
  • Add half and half and cook until the sauce reduces by 1/3, about 5 minutes, it should be creamy and will coat the back of a spoon. At the last minute add in reserved bacon bits and shrimp. Pour shrimp and sauce over grits and serve immediately.


It is important to allow the flour to cook for 1 minute to ensure that the gravy doesn't have a "pasty' taste. 
Nutrition information for estimation purposes only. 


Calories: 469kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 35gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 247mgSodium: 1284mgPotassium: 513mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1550IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 329mgIron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @lifesambrosia or tag #lifesambrosia!
Keywords: cajun, cheesy grits, cream sauce, Food, grits, Prawns, Recipe, shrimp, southern food

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating

  • Reply
    Carole Larie Wade
    September 14, 2021 at 2:58 am

    5 stars
    Is that sauce or gravy? It sounds more like a white gravy.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    One if my favorite dishes. I’ll try this recipe but may add some sliced kielbasa to it. Had that at the Outer Banks and it was yummy!

    • Reply
      April 21, 2018 at 9:49 am

      Ooooh I am loving that idea! I love kielbasa!

  • Reply
    Margaret Fiocca
    September 29, 2014 at 11:01 am


  • Reply
    March 16, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    I made this and it is spectacular. I used vegan cheese instead of regular cheddar (dairy allergy) and it was amazing.

  • Reply
    March 13, 2013 at 8:01 am

    First tried this dish at a casino buffet in Mississippi — wonderful! Had never heard of the combination. The next evening we were in Tallahassee and had room service for dinner — guess what we ordered? Again — wonderful!

  • Reply
    January 1, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    These are absolutely fabulous! The depth and layers of flavor make both the shrimp and grits unforgettable.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I’m a southern gentleman, and I can testify that grits all by themselves, are not very tasty. But cooked with broth, with a bunch of cheese, and supporting yummy cajun flavored shrimp, these grits will make you change your mind about hominy.

  • Reply
    Anita B
    January 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    I had shrimp and grits in a restaurant in Washington DC, called Busboys and Poets. They serve a shrimp and grits dish that is not like any of the recipes on this website. I didn’t taste bacon fat and there was no cheese in the grits.Them shrimp were just the right size. The grits are served in a semi-solid wedge form and looked to be slightly grilled, and there was fresh basil in them. The sauce has fresh corn kernels, asparagus, and tomatoes in a peanut butter colored gravy. It is unforgettable.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Just made this for dinner, and it was a huge hit.

  • Reply
    March 2, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Hi there :)
    I found this recipe and then merged this with another I found
    I used a shallot and garlic clove. Sauteed in olive oil..then added
    some serrano ham…then the flour..then chicken broth Then I added
    the cream. I sauteed the shrimp separately and mushrooms as well.
    I heated up the cream sauce then added the shrimp.I added the mushrooms
    only for the “grownups” before serving, I also sprinkled with scallions and red pepper flakes
    Thank you for a wonderful recipe. We realllllly enjoyed it :)

  • Reply
    February 19, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    This is a tasty easy version of shrimp ‘n grits, thanks!

    My dad’s from the South. Quick and instant grits (and no other kind) have been a thorn in his side in all the 50 + years he has lived in the NW.

    I order him old-fashioned stone ground grits from Falls Mill in Tennessee, now THOSE make him happy. Unfortunately, the shipping is almost more than the cost of the grits!But they are gooood!

    Also, if you have friends or family who go down south every now and then, you can beg them to get you some “slow” grits at any grocery store. Albers and Quaker make them. They taste better than quick grits which my dad says taste like the box they came in.

  • Reply
    January 4, 2010 at 8:13 am

    I just made this for breakfast… YUMMY!!!!!

  • Reply
    Carol Blaess
    April 29, 2009 at 1:24 am

    My husband would never eat Grits. Being that there’s ( Shrimp and Cheese ) involved, he gave in.
    AND LOVED IT. Thank you !

    • Reply
      April 29, 2009 at 2:30 pm

      You’re welcome Carol! I am so glad that you and your husband enjoyed it! It is amazing what shrimp and cheese can do ;-)

  • Reply
    April 13, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious. I have some shrimp in the freezer and grits in the pantry… perfect! Love your site.

    • Reply
      April 13, 2009 at 3:39 pm

      Thank hobokenmetromom! I hope you enjoy it :)

  • Reply
    April 6, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    That looks good. I have been wanting to try shrimp and grits.

    • Reply
      April 7, 2009 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks Kevin!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    You’re welcome leslie! :)

  • Reply
    April 4, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    L am a Georgia,Girl And I know this recipe will be good.and of course it is different. love love love it.Thanks

  • Reply
    April 1, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks Sophia, you know I have heard that you can use polenta although I have never tried it, but I imagine it would be just as good.
    Thanks Carrie!
    Thanks the wicked noodle! I had only tried them once or twice before this and I am glad I gave them another shot because cooked this way they were delicious. :)

  • Reply
    the wicked noodle
    April 1, 2009 at 6:05 am

    I’m not sure I like grits, but I could try them again for this recipe! I’m quite sure that if I was going to enjoy them, it would be in this yummy dish.

  • Reply
    April 1, 2009 at 5:45 am

    I’ve never had shrimp and grits either, but I love that kind of southern food. This looks wonderful!

  • Reply
    April 1, 2009 at 3:32 am

    God, that looks heavenly. I’d love a huge bowl of that right now. I can use polenta too, right?

  • Des

    Hey! I'm Des!

    Welcome to Life’s Ambrosia where Dinner is served and memories are made. Here you will find over 1000 tried and true recipes for every possible occasion. In the last 10 years, this blog has helped millions of families put dinner on the table and create food memories. Let me help you too.

    Read more »

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