Cajun Shrimp and Grits are so easy yet taste as good or better than any fancy restaurant. Creamy and cheesy grits are perfect with the flavorful shrimp!
For years, I thought I didn’t like grits. My eyes skimmed right over any shrimp and grits on a restaurant menu; it wasn’t even a consideration. This was based on an experience I had with runny, watery grits served as my breakfast side at a roadside diner years ago. Not being from the South, I assumed that grits were grits and always avoided them after that.
Sometime around 2008-ish, I was dining at a nice restaurant in DC with some friends. We decided to order a bunch of entrees and share them all. A good friend of mine, who knows that I love pretty much everything, insisted that I try the shrimp and grits. I was skeptical but acquiesced.
One bite and I was in love! Smooth, creamy, cheesy grits with a slightly spicy shrimp mixture with flavors and textures that melded perfectly. I’ve been a grits lover ever since!
How do you make Shrimp and Grits from scratch?
Making shrimp and grits from scratch is incredibly simple and takes just 30 minutes from start to finish. Here are the basic steps for making them at home (see the recipe for detailed instructions):
- Cook the shrimp, sausage, and onion briefly in a hot skillet, Add the bell peppers and cook it all together for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes and parsley.
- Add some white wine, bring it to a boil for a couple of minutes until it’s reduced by half. Add some cold butter and stir it until it’s melted and incorporated into the sauce. Taste and add a bit more salt, if necessary.
- Heat some milk in a saucepan, add the grits and simmer, whisking frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add cheese and butter and cook for another minute, whisking constantly to make sure it’s smooth and creamy. Season with the salt and pepper.
Tips for making Cajun Shrimp and Grits
- Make sure that all of your ingredients are prepped before you begin. This is true for most, if not all, recipes, but shrimp and grits comes together quickly as soon as you start, so it helps tremendously if your ingredients are ready to go.
- Make sure your shrimp are completely patted dry before adding them to the pan. Oil and water don’t mix.
- Use high-quality ingredients. There aren’t many main ingredients in Cajun Shrimp and Grits, so you really want to make sure they’re all top-notch. If you can’t find fresh-off-the-boat shrimp, buy them frozen then thaw overnight in the refrigerator or place them in a colander and run cold water over them, tossing them occasionally, until they’re completely thawed.
- Our favorite local brunch joint (Parallel Wine Bistro if you locals are wondering) has a version of Cajun Shrimp and Grits on their menu. They serve it with poached eggs and it’s fantastic. I don’t order it often since it’s so simple to make at home (I almost always choose dishes I wouldn’t typically make myself). The point? Try making this for a special brunch!
Are grits better made with milk or water?
Although this is up for debate, I suggest never making grits with water. I almost always make my grits with whole milk since I prefer them to be creamy. If you’re going for a more straight-forward version, use chicken or vegetable stock instead of water. It will add a lot of flavor without adding fat and calories.
How do you keep grits from getting hard?
Make the grits just before you’re going to serve them. Grits can harden very quickly, so if this does happen to you, whisk in a small amount of warmed milk until they’ve loosened to your liking. Don’t panic if they’re too thin as they tend to thicken as they cool. You can always cook them for another 30 seconds to 1 minute if they’re quite thin.
Can you reheat Shrimp and Grits?
Any leftovers from this Cajun Shrimp and Grits recipe can be easily reheated. Store any leftovers separately as grits can be finicky to reheat.
To reheat the grits, put them in a saucepan over medium-low heat and add about 1/4 of whole milk. Gently stir in the milk. Heat the grits, stirring occasionally, until they’re heated through, adding more milk (if necessary) as you go. (Note: You can also use that same method in the microwave, heating in 30-second increments and stirring between each cycle.)
Alternatively, you can spread any leftover grits into a pan until they’re about 1-inch thick. Cover and refrigerate. When you’re ready to cook the grits again, cut them into squares and fry them until they’re golden brown (add a little oil to the pan first) on both sides. This is my favorite way to serve my leftover grits!
Leftover shrimp and grits also make a great breakfast with a fried or poached egg on top. regardless of the method you choose to reheat them.
Reheat the shrimp mixture over medium-low heat in a saucepan until it’s hot, stirring occasionally. To reheat in the microwave – which I don’t recommend since it tends to make the shrimp rubbery – heat in 30 second intervals just until it’s hot, stirring between each cycle.
How long can you store Shrimp and Grits in the refrigerator?
They’ll last for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Store the shrimp mixture separately from the grits and see above for instructions on how to reheat.
Can you freeze Cajun Shrimp and Grits?
Shrimp and Grits hold up well in the freezer. Freeze the shrimp mixture and grits in separate air-tight freezer containers for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then follow the instructions above for reheating.
What goes well with Cajun Shrimp and Grits?
You really don’t need any sides since there’s a starch, protein, and vegetables in this recipe. A simple green salad would be a nice addition, however, and you could add a loaf of crusty ciabatta bread, too. If you’re going to serve bread, you might as well make it a buttery stuffed garlic bread.
- 1 lb jumbo shrimp (21-25 count), peeled and deveined
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 4 oz andouille sausage, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1/4 large red onion, sliced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half (optional but recommended)
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 8 cubes (cold; cut just before adding)
- 1 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup quick-cooking grits
- 1/2 cup grated Gouda cheese
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt (more or less to taste)
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Make the Shrimp:
- Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel, then sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and, when it's shimmering, add the shrimp, sausage, and onion. Cook for about a minute, then add the red and yellow bell pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until they're just starting to soften. Add the tomatoes and parsley and stir to combine.
- Add the white wine and bring it to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the butter and stir until it's melted and incorporated into the sauce. Taste and add seasoning if necessary. Remove from the heat and lightly tent to keep warm while you make the grits.
Make the Grits:
- Heat the milk in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until it's simmering. Add the grits and continue simmering, whisking frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add the Gouda cheese and butter and cook for another minute, whisking constantly to make sure it's smooth and creamy. Season with the salt and pepper.
How to serve:
- Divide the grits between four bowls and top with the Cajun Shrimp mixture. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 457Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 149mgSodium: 1296mgCarbohydrates: 12gNet Carbohydrates: 18gFiber: 1gSugar: 7gProtein: 17g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.
Here’s one of the photos from when this Cajun Shrimp and Grits recipe was originally posted. Sometimes I skip the peppers and tomatoes if I don’t have any on hand, and it’s still delicious (but better with them if you can manage it)!