Buttery, Bacon-Studded Shrimp and Grits Is Pure Southern Comfort Food (2024)

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See just how easy Southern-style shrimp and grits is to make at home with this streamlined recipe.

By

Hank Shaw

Buttery, Bacon-Studded Shrimp and Grits Is Pure Southern Comfort Food (1)

Hank Shaw

Hank has authored five cookbooks, the latest in 2021. His website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook won Best Food Blog by the James Beard Foundation in 2013.

Learn about Simply Recipes'Editorial Process

Updated March 08, 2024

24 Ratings

Buttery, Bacon-Studded Shrimp and Grits Is Pure Southern Comfort Food (2)

In This Recipe

A Classic Southern Dish

Shrimp and grits is one of those iconic Southern dishes that stir something deep inside those who grew up with them.

Originally from the oceanic South—Georgia, the Low Country coast of the Carolinas and Gulf Coast states all have their versions—this homey bowl of awesome was historically a simple fisherman's breakfast: Grits, with some bacon and a few shrimp tossed on top.

If you've ever eaten it, you can understand why shrimp and grits has burst from the seaside shrimp shanties.

The Best Shrimp and Grits Recipe

The grits are soft, buttery, and often cheesy, with a savory, bacon-studded sauce surrounding them, and lots and lots of shrimp. Maybe some parsley or green onions for color and crunch.

My recipe is an amalgam of all my best experiences with shrimp and grits. If it has a direct inspiration though, it would be the rendition I ate in 2011 made by Chef Linton Hopkins of the Atlanta restaurant Holeman & Finch.

I never got his recipe, and I make no claim to have the One True shrimp and grits recipe, but I can vouch for how this one tastes.

Buttery, Bacon-Studded Shrimp and Grits Is Pure Southern Comfort Food (3)

The Best Grits to Use

And while it may seem obvious, shrimp and grits all starts with the grits. Please, please, please try to get coarsely ground white grits for this. When Elise and I tried to find real grits (stone ground are best), or even coarse ground white corn...or any white corn, for that matter, we struck out here in Sacramento.

Other than Mexican masa harina, it's all yellow corn in these parts. And I've heard more than one Southerner threaten violence when the topic of making grits with yellow corn comes up. (Here are the white grits we use.)

The best grits come from hominy, a large-kerneled, white corn that has been alkali processed just like that Mexican masa harina. The key difference is that in grits the corn be coarsely ground, ideally by a stone grinding wheel. It actually makes a huge difference in flavor.

Good grits come out smooth, delicate and flecked with bits of the corn hulls that makes for a radically different experience compared to its Italian cousin polenta (which I also love).

Buttery, Bacon-Studded Shrimp and Grits Is Pure Southern Comfort Food (4)

Keep in mind that almost all cooks who make shrimp and grits have their own variation on the dish. This one is mine, and I hope you like it.

Buttery, Bacon-Studded Shrimp and Grits Is Pure Southern Comfort Food (5)

The Best Shrimp to Use

Unless you live along a coast where you know fresh shrimp is actually fresh, you'll most likely be using shrimp that's been frozen. Fresh shrimp in many grocery stores is previously frozen and then thawed. Frozen shrimp is fine for this recipe. Just make sure it's not precooked.

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

How to Peel and Devein ShrimpREAD MORE:

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

Shrimp and Grits

Prep Time20 mins

Cook Time45 mins

Total Time65 mins

Servings4 servings

Shrimp and grits are best served immediately. You can get the grits going ahead of time and keep them warm on the stove for an hour or so, if you like. But the shrimp is best made just before serving.

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup stone-ground white grits

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded

  • 4 thick slices bacon

  • 1 cup chopped white or yellow onion

  • 1 cup chopped green pepper

  • 2 cloves garlic , minced

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 1 cup chicken stock

  • 3 green onions, chopped (white and light green parts only)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

  • Juice of 1 lemon, about 1 to 2 tablespoons

Method

  1. Cook the bacon:

    Fry the bacon in a large sauté pan on medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon and chop. Pour off all but about 3 tablespoons of the fat. Turn off the heat.

  2. Cook the grits:

    Bring the water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the salt. Slowly pour the grits into the boiling water while you stir with a wooden spoon. Stir and pour gradually so you don't get any lumps. When all the grits are incorporated, turn the heat down to a low simmer and cook the grits, stirring often, for 35 minutes.

    Buttery, Bacon-Studded Shrimp and Grits Is Pure Southern Comfort Food (6)

    Buttery, Bacon-Studded Shrimp and Grits Is Pure Southern Comfort Food (7)

  3. Chop the shrimp:

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

  4. Sauté the vegetables, bacon, and shrimp:

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

    Buttery, Bacon-Studded Shrimp and Grits Is Pure Southern Comfort Food (8)

    Buttery, Bacon-Studded Shrimp and Grits Is Pure Southern Comfort Food (9)

    Add the bacon, garlic cloves and shrimp and toss to combine. Let this cook another minute.

  5. Add the stock, then reduce:

    Add the chicken stock and let this boil down for 5 minutes.

    Buttery, Bacon-Studded Shrimp and Grits Is Pure Southern Comfort Food (10)

  6. Add the cheese and butter to the grits:

    Meanwhile, stir the cheddar cheese and butter into the grits. The dish might not need any more salt, but add some if you'd like.

    Buttery, Bacon-Studded Shrimp and Grits Is Pure Southern Comfort Food (11)

  7. Serve:

    To serve, spoon out some grits in individual bowls. Add to the shrimp the green onions, parsley and lemon juice to taste. Add salt if it needs it. Spoon some shrimp over the grits and make sure at least one whole shrimp is on everyone's plate. Serve at once.

    Did you enjoy the recipe? Let us know with a rating and review!

  • Southern
  • Shrimp
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
512Calories
18g Fat
51g Carbs
36g Protein

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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories512
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g23%
Saturated Fat 8g42%
Cholesterol 257mg86%
Sodium 1668mg73%
Total Carbohydrate 51g18%
Dietary Fiber 4g14%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 36g
Vitamin C 49mg246%
Calcium 243mg19%
Iron 3mg14%
Potassium 620mg13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.

Buttery, Bacon-Studded Shrimp and Grits Is Pure Southern Comfort Food (2024)

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