Main Dish

Shrimp and Grits: A Revamped Classic

Shrimp and grits
Shimp and grits, beachside

Shrimp and grits is by far my most requested dish. Friends routinely email or text for the recipe, and my sister demands requests it every year for her birthday. If ever I named a signature dish (which I won’t because I don’t play favorites), this would be it. Shrimp and grits is a dish of lowcountry origins, associated with the Carolinas, but has spread far and wide across the Southeast. It is most commonly seen on brunch menus, but I could eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner (or all three).

Mine is by no means a “classic” version of shrimp and grits. Classically, shrimp and grits is sautéed shrimp over grits. That’s it. While the simple preparation has its merits, both of my feet are in the “more is better” camp. This is evident if you’ve ever seen me frost a cake, fill a macaron shell with buttercream or lemon curd, or pour a glass a wine.

In testing this recipe, I used pancetta, prosciutto, and bacon (not at the same time–even I couldn’t do that). Proscuitto was lovely with its paper-thin crispiness, but it didn’t deliver the smokiness I thought the dish demanded. Pancetta was closer, but I felt I needed to stay true to the Southern origins of this dish. Bacon won out (as it almost always does). I add sautéed bell peppers, onion, crisped bacon, diced San Marzano tomatoes, and a little white wine to deglaze the pan before the shrimp cook in the fragrant mixture. The grits plump up and simmer in their bath of  butter, stock, and half and half. For a finishing touch, I adorn them with a melting swath of goat cheese and a generous sprinkle of sharp cheddar. Swoon.

Amanda’s Shrimp and Grits

It is imperative to use the freshest, most locally sourced shrimp for this dish. I'm not going to recount them here, but lately there have been some pretty scary discoveries about imported seafood. I live on the Gulf Coast, so I always, always use Gulf shrimp. In fact, I always buy my shrimp at a little fish shop on the way to our family's beach house on Fort Morgan, a little seaside peninsula in southernmost Alabama. I realize not everyone has access to fresh shrimp, but save this dish for when you do. 

  • Prep Time: 15m
  • Cook Time: 20m
  • Total Time: 35m


  • Grits
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup grits (I use Anson Mills)
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (optional--who am I kidding? Mandatory.)
  • salt and pepper
  • Shrimp
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 pounds raw large or jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 1/2 cup Sauvignon blanc (same quality you\'d drink with the dish)
  • 1 15-ounce can diced San Marzano tomatoes in juice, drained
  • 6 slices of uncooked bacon, diced
  • 1 yellow or orange pepper, chopped
  • 6 leaves of fresh basil, chiffonade (sliced into ribbons)
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
  • salt and pepper


  1. Bring stock, half and half, butter and garlic to boil in heavy large saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits. Return to boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered until grits thicken, whisking often, about 15 minutes. While grits are cooking, melt 1/4 cup butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Add bacon and stir until bacon is fully cooked and browned. Add yellow pepper and cook until softened, then add drained diced tomatoes and white wine to skillet and stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add shrimp and sauté until shrimp are just cooked, pink and curled. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To simmering grits, add cheddar and optional goat cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon grits into shallow bowls (or as I do, one huge bowl). Top each serving with shrimp mixture, dividing equally. Garnish with basil and green onions and serve immediately. Wine pairing: Champagne or Sauvignon blanc


Shrimp and grits
Shrimp and grits, best served with cold bubbly


  1. Tucker Crum

    I just had the leftover helping for lunch. Yum!!! Gulf shrimp are a must and yellow coarse ground grits -like Arrowhead Mills- are the best


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