Easy Shrimp and Grits Recipe (30 minute meal!)

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Savor the flavor of the South with my quick & Easy Shrimp and Grits recipe! Creamy grits topped with succulent shrimp, bacon, onion and garlic – a perfect meal in under 30 minutes! Everyone that tries this dish, absolutely loves it! Just read through the comments and you’ll be convinced too!

A bowl of food with shrimp and grits.

Why You’ll Love This Easy Shrimp and Grits Recipe

Shrimp and Grits are a popular southern dish from coastal South Carolina and Georgia. Though I’ve seen versions of this all across the south as lunch and dinner, I prefer this as a hearty brunch option.

The first time I tried Shrimp and Grits was in Nashville. I tried one bite and I was sold. Creamy grits, salty bacon, tender shrimp, all-around warm comfort food. It was magical. Once I came home, I did my best to make an easy but still delicious version and man does this recipe deliver!

Shrimp and grits in a blue bowl.

What are Grits Anyway?

Grits were a staple in Native American culture, traditionally made by grinding various corn varieties into hominy grits, particularly among tribes in the southeastern United States. Similar to Italian polenta or cream of wheat, grits have a neutral taste and shine when paired with savory elements like butter, cream, and cheese, making them a delightful dish when combined with the right ingredients. You can even make them sweet!

Quick Grits vs Instant Grits

Quick-cooking grits, also known as quick grits, use dent corn partially pre-cooked during the milling process, which reduces the cooking time. They typically take about 10 minutes to cook and have a slightly coarser texture compared to instant grits. Quick grits retain more of the natural, rich corn flavor and have a heartier porridge-like consistency.

Instant grits are fully precooked and then dehydrated, allowing them to cook almost instantly with the addition of hot water or milk. Instant grits are fine-textured grits and cook in just a couple of minutes. The disadvantage to instant grits is they often lack the depth of flavor and texture found in quick-cooking grits.

Just a note: There are also stone-ground grits, which take a lot longer to cook and have a coarser texture. For the purposes of this recipe, we are using Quick Grits. I think they have the perfect texture and flavor while still being quick and easy to whip up!

The ingredients for shrimp and grits are laid out on a table.

Ingredients Needed for Shrimp and Grits

Here’s everything needed for that perfect pot of grits:

  • Bacon: Adds a smoky flavor. I used Hickory smoked bacon.
  • Onion: Yellow or white onion- for savory depth
  • Garlic: Adds an aromatic kick
  • Shrimp: Raw, peeled & deveined. Use 1 pound of fresh, small size shrimp (51-60 ct) found at the seafood counter in your local grocery stores.
  • chicken broth: or chicken stock. Use homemade bone broth for ultimate flavor and nutrients.
  • heavy cream: Adds some creaminess. Can use whole milk as a substitute.
  • quick-cooking grits: Don’t use instant grits. You can use stone ground grits for an authentic flavor, but that’s a different recipe. 🙂
  • butter: Adds a buttery rich flavor.
  • medium cheddar cheese: Melts into the grits.
  • parmesan cheese: Adds a sharpness to the grits.
  • Pantry staples: Salt, black pepper, parsley or green onions (optional).

Shrimp and Grits Recipe Variations

In addition to the different types of grits you can use, you can also add these ingredients:

  • Turkey Bacon: Swap bacon for turkey bacon for a lighter option.
  • Different Cheese: Experiment with different cheese blends for unique flavors.

How to Make Shrimp and Grits

This recipe has two easy sections: making the shrimp and then making the grits. Each take about 15 minutes with a little prep time, so overall you can be eating this dish in about 30 minutes. For full recipe details, including ingredient measurements, see the printable recipe card down below. Here are step-by-step directions for making Shrimp and Grits:

1. Make the Grits

In a large pot, bring chicken broth to boil, then whisk in grits. Reduce the heat and start cooking for 10-15 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.

Pro Tip: You may substitute steel cut grits if desired, but they take a lot longer to cook. I suggest following the package directions for the cooking time. I do not recommend using instant grits as those are precooked and then dried. 

2. Cook the Shrimp

While the grits cook, sauté onions and bacon in a skillet until bacon starts to crisp.

Stir in the garlic, shrimp, salt and black pepper. Cook until the shrimp *just* turns pink and remove from heat.

3. Add Heavy Cream, Butter + Cheeses to Grits

Once grits are done cooking, add heavy cream and fold in butter, both types of cheese and extra salt and pepper if needed.

4. Top With Shrimp + Bacon Mixture

Spoon a cup of grits into a bowl and top with shrimp and bacon mixture. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

Shrimp & Grits Storage + Make Ahead Directions

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. While you can technically freeze shrimp and grits, it’s best to enjoy this dish fresh because the texture seems to change when grits are reheated.

Make Ahead: Grits can be made up to 3 days ahead. After the cooking process above, transfer to a baking dish, then- cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat uncovered in a 300º F oven until heated through and stir before serving and then add the shrimp and bacon mixture.

A bowl of grits with shrimp and vegetables on a table.

What to Serve With Shrimp and Grits

Since shrimp and grits are usually synonymous with the southern soul food, I like to pair this recipe with a simple southern side dish:

A blue mug with shrimp in it next to a napkin.

Love Shrimp? Try these other recipes:

Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, my easy Shrimp and Grits recipe is sure to impress. With its quick prep and irresistible flavors plus smooth creamy texture, this Southern staple is perfect for any occasion. The printable recipe card is below. Have a great day, friends! 🙂

If you make this recipe, I would really appreciate it if you would give it a star rating and leave your review in the comments! If you have a picture of your finished dish, post it on Instagram using the hashtag #laurenslatest and tagging me @laurens_latest.

A blue mug with shrimp in it next to a napkin.