Shrimp and Grits Recipe (2024)

Recipe from Pearl’s Café

Adapted by Julia Reed

Updated Feb. 5, 2024

Shrimp and Grits Recipe (1)

Total Time
45 minutes
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Once a popular morning meal throughout the South, shrimp and grits is no longer restricted to breakfast tables below the Mason-Dixon line. Variations of the dish now appear on breakfast, lunch and dinner menus across the country from Maine to Oregon. This recipe is an adaptation of one that Julia Reed discovered at Pearl’s Café, a restaurant in landlocked Sewanee, Tenn., that evokes shrimp cardinale, a dish found in New Orleans. It is “a superb version, a highly seasoned, creamy concoction with chunks of tomatoes” that is served over a pile of grits enriched with plenty of butter, salt and Cheddar. —Julia Reed

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Yield:4 servings

    For the Shrimp

    • 1pound medium to large raw shrimp, shelled (reserve shells for stock)
    • 4tablespoons butter
    • ¾cup chopped onion
    • ½cup chopped green bell pepper
    • 2garlic cloves, minced
    • 1cup diced ripe tomatoes with a little of their juice (chopped canned tomatoes are preferable to less-than-perfect fresh tomatoes)
    • ½teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1tablespoon flour
    • 1tablespoon tomato paste
    • cup heavy cream
    • 2teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 2dashes Tabasco
    • Salt to taste
    • 2tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

    For the Grits

    • ¾cup grits
    • ¼teaspoon salt
    • 6ounces Cheddar cheese, grated
    • 3tablespoons butter

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)

660 calories; 43 grams fat; 25 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 12 grams monounsaturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 34 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 4 grams sugars; 37 grams protein; 764 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Shrimp and Grits Recipe (2)


Make the recipe with us

  1. Step


    Make shrimp stock: Combine the shrimp shells and 2 cups water and boil until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain.

  2. For the grits, bring 3½ cups water to a boil and stir in the grits. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the grits are tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat, add the salt, cheese and butter and stir until melted. Keep warm.

  3. Step


    For the shrimp, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion, pepper and garlic until softened, about 3 minutes.

  4. Step


    Add the tomatoes and juice and thyme; bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and stir well.

  5. Step


    Add the shrimp and stir constantly until they begin to turn pink, about 2 minutes.

  6. Step


    Add ½ cup of the stock and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the tomato paste and stir until blended. Add the cream, Worcestershire and Tabasco and more stock if needed to make a spoonable sauce that generously coats the shrimp. Heat thoroughly, being careful not to let it come to a boil. Taste for salt.

  7. Step


    Place a portion of grits in the center of each plate and spoon shrimp over or around it. Sprinkle with parsley.



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Cooking Notes

Charles Michener

I've done this a number of times and suggest not cooking the shrimp until all the ingredients in the sauce have been combined. Adding the shrimp before this point will likely result in overcooked, tough shrimp. Saute the onions, peppers, garlic in half the butter (2 tbs). When cooking shrimp in a sauce, do it as slowly as possible (bare simmer). Refrigerate the remaining 2 tbs butter so it gets cold and somewhat hard, and add toward the end to produce a silky glaze over the shrimp.


You have to salt the water before the girts go in the pot or else they will have no flavor. People who grew up eating grits knows this. This is one of the reasons people up north don't like grits. Salt does nothing for already cooked grits. This is an important fact people need to know~!


I adore shrimp and grits! This looks like a great version. I ran a couple of restaurants that had them on the menu. I live in FL I'm a shrimp snob. Not everyone can do this, but I have a "shrimp guy." I only buy wild caught shrimp. They can even be frozen, but NO products from Asia. Nothing farm raised. Also, if you like spinach, this dish is fantastic with cheddar grits, a bed of wilted spinach, topped with shrimp...sprinkled with chives! You can even throw a poached egg on top.

Low Country born and bred

Growing up I always heard only a Yankee would cook grits for less than 1 1/2 hours. That's when they get creamy. Let them stick to the bottom of the pot; it's like the crust at the bottom of a cheese fondue. Bring the grits to a boil, 1c grits/4c water (salt to taste), then turn the heat to low. Stir and add water for the desired consistency over the next 1-2 hours. A typical meal is shrimp, grits, hush puppies and okra or if you must butter beans. Enjoy!

Bill Crowe

Nowhere on this page do I see mentioned the importance of using real grits — not “instant,” not “quick.” One might as well use waterlogged cardboard. Stone-ground, real stuff, please.


From a GRITS: a Girl Raised In The SouthUse a double boiler for the grits - they get thick and creamy without sticking to the pot. And replace the cheddar cheese with some heavy cream. Shrimp and cheese do not belong together.

Frank O

This is a tasty dish, but, I believe, a Low Country thing, not "Southern". I was born and raised in Louisiana, and never heard of it until 10-15 years ago. Similarly, I discovered that black-eyed peas for luck on New Year's Day was a Southern tradition when we went on vacation in Colorado. Heck, we ate them all the time. I wish I knew what part of the South to blame for "sweet tea".


Polenta is simply corn (maize) meal (preferably coarse and stone-ground). Grits is ground hominy -- which is produced from dried corn ( maize) kernels that have been soaked in a dilute lye or slaked lime solution, then washed, dried, and ground.


This was indeed delicious. If preparing with previously frozen shrimp, omit the juice of the tomatoes and maybe increase the flour to 1.5-2 Tbsp (previously frozen shrimp will release more water). I would NOT prepare this for breakfast unless you had help in the kitchen -- it's just too much work to keep the grits from sticking while getting everything else ready. For dinner, though, it's a winner!


First, whenever is see flour in a Cajun recipe, I make a roux. I corsely diced about a quarter pound each of bacon and Spanish chorizo, and started here. After removing the meats, I sautéed the garlic and onions. Then added the green pepper and a half stalk of chopped celery. The tomatoes and paste went in next. After a few minutes one cup of the stock was added, and I tossed in the shrimp, butter, and cajun spices after it began to boil. I followed the remainder of the recipe. Awesomeness!


This was really yummy! I did change a few things: I added mushrooms, didn't put in the shrimp until the veggies were cooked, shortly before the cream, and cooked the grits on low heat for a couple hours (1 part grits to 4 parts water). The grits were creamy, and the shrimp/veggies very flavorful and saucy. I think the shrimp stock adds a lot of flavor. Everyone loved it!

Lisa Laidlaw

Flour entirely unnecessary, and Southerners would use corn starch, making this dish effortlessly gluten free.


I make shrimp and grits with polenta instead of grits! Delish!

Tommy Hobbes

Congratulations on buying American caught shrimp. Between China's overfishing, Indian and Japanese sea harvesting, Indonesian and Vietnamese shrimp farming, there's not much left for American fishers. You are to be commended.


Oh it appears my original note did not send... it was just saying, THANK YOU to David for your comments re gulf harvested vs imported and "farm" raised shrimp and noting that it is surprising to still see imported shrimp of questionable origin in "healthy" food markets, and at the same time hard to find nice clean gulf shrimp. Where to get in NYC?


Needs more kick


Be sure to salt and taste from start to finish.


I haven't made this yet, but am excited to try it. So many recipes have it made with bacon, which I have totally omitted from my diet years ago. I also agree with Charles Michener on waiting until the end to add the shrimp.


I made this in my new kitchen for old colleagues. Hubby declared it my most successful dinner party to date. And everyone praised it. I doubled the recipe but seriously cut back on the butter and cream. It was delicious.


This recipe was exceptional. My grits were a bit watery, but firmed up the next day and were divine. I think the leftovers the second day were far better than day 1 (minus the shrimp getting a bit overcooked when I reheated)


I made this according to the recipe and all thought it very bland.


Agree with many other comments that the grits need a lot more time if cooked on low heat. I halved the cheese and didn’t butter the grits too much which was enough for my wife and I given the creaminess of the sauce. No judgement here for the original recipe.Also added cayenne and paprika to the sauce. Subbed chicken stock.

BC Foodie

I would use medium shrimp. I used large prawns and it was awkward to eat but super delicious. Served with steamed/sauteed greens with bacon and a balsamic drizzle. A winner!

Ron Nemirow

I used oat milk. Turned out fine!

Ron Nemirow

Used oat milk. The republic still stands


I don't like bell peppers so I use two cans of Ro-Tel tomatoes, one original and one hot, in lieu of ordinary canned tomatoes. They are magic!


Reduce the cream to a couple tablespoons.


Of all the T Cooking recipes for shrimp and grits, this one seemed least likely to kill my husband who has heart disease. No bacon or sausage. Grits made with water instead of milk. Easy to substitute (and halve) vegetable oil for butter, yogurt for heavy cream. One indulgence was the cheese in grits to which I didn't add butter. So delicious... and maybe even healthy!


Used the slow cooker for the grits. Added some cheddar and cream.


With all respect to the much-loved-and-lamented Julia Reed, I prefer parmesan in my grits for this dish. If you substitute whole milk (or cream!) for at least some of the water when cooking the grits, they'll be lusciously smooth. DEFINITELY not the "instant" or "quick" variety! Cook 'em low and slow. 30 minutes will do it.

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Shrimp and Grits Recipe (2024)


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