This dish is Southern comfort food at its best! Giant, pan-grilled shrimp are the star of the show in our Cheesy Shrimp and Grits, gourmet enough for a special occasion, yet not too pretentious for a weekday. 😋 Grilled shrimp sit on top of creamy, white cheddar grits and are served with a spicy, Creole sauce smothering andouille sausages.
This iconic southern shrimp and grits recipe has it all, and was inspired by a delicious and very memorable restaurant dish. We’re also excited to share our easy Creole seasoning mix, perfect for seafood or any other protein that needs a zesty kick!
I have to admit, I’ve never really loved grits, but this recipe is a true exception and enough to convert a grits ho-hummer to a possible fan. No lie. Our cheesy shrimp and grits are a burst of Southern flavor! Cheese, bacon, Creole shrimp and hot, andouille sausage each add a savory and spicy element to this classic comfort food. Our Creole seasoning is a must, and it’s simple to put together. Store a batch in your pantry to add a quick kick to any meal!
How to make Creole seasoning
First, let’s talk about the Creole seasoning. It’s a combination of spices that make this cheesy shrimp and grits a Creole shrimp and grits recipe, so don’t skip it. You’ll thank me later. If you have store-bought Cajun seasoning, that will work too, but use it cautiously because it’s very high in sodium. We prefer this easy, homemade recipe.
Combine these ingredients in a small canning jar, which can be stored in an airtight container for up to six months (check the printable recipe card for measurements):
- smoked paprika
- dried oregano
- dried basil
- dried thyme
- powdered onion
- powdered garlic
- kosher salt
- ground black pepper
- cayenne pepper
Let’s make Cheesy Shrimp and Grits
Here is what you will need for the grits
- Whole milk. Use whole milk for the creamiest texture. This isn’t diet food, you can do some intermittent fasting tomorrow😋
- Chicken broth. We like the flavor of chicken broth but you can use vegetable broth if you want.
- Butter. Because everything is better with butter!
- Salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt and pepper as there already some in the Creole seasoning mix. A little seasoning goes a long way.
- Stone-ground grits. No instant grits here, this is the real deal!
- Cheddar cheese. We used sharp white cheddar cheese but you can substitute it with any cheddar.
Making the best cheese grits:
- Start by making the cheesy grits by combining the milk, water, butter, salt and pepper in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the grits. (We used Bob’s Red Mill Southern-Style White Corn Grits, which is also known as polenta, and different than the chemically-treated hominy grits.) A wire whisk will help you blend the grits well and prevent them from clumping!
- Continue to stir them for about 2-3 minutes, then reduce the heat and cook the grits for another 15-20 minutes, stirring them occasionally. After they’ve cooked, remove them from the heat and stir in the butter and cheese (YUM). Cover with a lid to keep the grits warm.
How to make the sauce for Cheesy Shrimp and Grits
Ingredients for the sauce:
- Smokey bacon. That smoke adds some extra flavor.
- Andouille sausage. Andouille sausage is smoked and adds that all-important smokiness to the dish.
- Yellow onion and green bell pepper. These vegetables add a great flavor base.
- Crushed canned tomatoes. You can also buy whole canned tomatoes and crush them with a fork or pulse in a food processor.
- Garlic, thyme, paprika, and Creole seasoning. Flavor, flavor, flavor!
- Chicken broth. You can substitute vegetable broth but the chicken has more flavor.
- Hot sauce. We used Frank’s Red Hot.
- Corn starch. This will add a little thickness to the sauce.
Now let’s make the sauce:
- Set a heavy-bottomed skillet on the stovetop over medium heat, then add the bacon bits and cook them until they’re crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set the bits on a paper towel-lined plate to further drain the grease off. Set the bacon aside.
- Cook the Andouille sausage in the bacon drippings until the sausage is browned on all sides. When it’s cooked, transfer it to a plate to cool, and then slice the sausage into 1/2-inch diagonal pieces. Set it aside while you prepare the rest of the sauce.
- Drain out all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings from the skillet, then add the onion and bell pepper and cook until the onions are soft. Add the garlic, sautéing for about 30 seconds. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, thyme, paprika and Creole seasoning.
- Pour in the chicken broth and bring the sauce mixture to a boil. Whisk in the cornstarch and water mixture and cook the sauce for a minute until it slightly thickens. Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and keep the sauce warm.
How to cook the shrimp for Cheesy Shrimp and Grits
We prefer using giant shrimp for this recipe because it adds to the overall presentation, but you can substitute for medium or large shrimp as well.
- Heat a stove-top grill pan over medium-high heat while you brush the shrimp with oil and season them with salt. When the grill is hot, add the shrimp to the pan and cook until they are a “C” shape and turn bright pink. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.
Here’s the best part- assembling and serving the dish! Spoon about 3/4 cup of the gravy into a bowl, scoop in a portion of grits, and then top the grits with the Creole shrimp.
Sprinkle the reserved bacon bits on top and garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro. The presentation is impressive, but trust us, the flavor of this creamy, cheesy, comfort (sea)food is what it’s all about! ❤️
SOME OTHER RECIPES WE ARE SURE YOU WILL LOVE:
- This Spanish Chorizo and Shrimp Pasta is a quick pasta recipe, with all our favorite things: smoky sausage, thick fettuccine, and plump, meaty shrimp. It’s an easy go-to dish when you’re craving a spicy and comforting pasta!
- A savory breakfast dish for any grits lover! Our Cream of Rice with Bacon, Leeks, and Poached Eggs is a hearty and filling breakfast, fit for any morning (or night, if breakfast-for-dinner is your thing)!
- This Thai Yellow Curry Paste is a simple and delicious from-scratch curry paste that will rival your favorite Thai restaurant! Just 20 minutes and a few ingredients, and you’ll have easy curry-based meals for days…
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For the Grits:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups chicken broth or water
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (or black pepper)
- 1 cup white stone-ground grits
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 4 oz. grated white cheddar cheese
For the Sauce:
- 1/4 pound smoky bacon, diced
- 4 Andouille sausage (1 pound)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, grated or crushed
- 1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons smoky paprika
- 1-1/2 tablespoon Creole seasoning (See Recipe Below)
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1-2 tablespoons Crystal or Frank’s hot sauce
- 2 tablespoon corn starch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water
For the Shrimp:
- 1-1/2 pounds (about 12) jumbo shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
For the Grits:
- Combine the milk, broth, salt, and pepper in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the grits. Stir continuously with a wire whisk to keep the grits from clumping.
- Once all of the grits are blended, continue to stir for 2–3 minutes. Reduce the heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring periodically with a wooden spoon.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and cheese. Cover with a lid and keep warm.
For the Sauce:
- In a heavy-bottomed skillet set over medium heat, add the bacon bits and cook until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper-towel-lined plate, reserve.
- Add the Andouille sausage to the bacon drippings and cook until browned on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and when cool, slice in 1/2-inch diagonal slices. Reserve.
- Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings from the skillet. Add the onion and bell pepper to the skillet and cook until the onions are soft, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, thyme, paprika and Creole seasoning.
- Pour in the chicken broth and hot sauce and bring to a boil. Whisk in the cornstarch/water slurry and cook for 1 minute until slightly thickened.
- Stir in the sliced Andouille sausages.
- Reduce the heat to its lowest point, cover the skillet and keep warm.
For the Shrimp:
- Heat a stove-top grill pan over medium-high. Brush the shrimp with oil and season with the salt. Add the shrimp to the grill pan and grill until they cook into a “C” shape and turn bright pink. Do not overcook. Remove the shrimp to a plate.
To Assemble and Serve:
- Spoon about 3/4 cup of the gravy into each of 6 shallow bowls. Scoop a portion of grits into each bowl with the gravy. On each serving place 2 shrimp on top of the grits and sprinkle with the reserved bacon bits.
- Garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro sprigs.
- We used Bob's Red Mill Southern-Style White Corn Grits which is not the same as the chemically-treated hominy grits.
- Instant grits are quick-cooking but laking in nutritional value due to over-processing.
- Medium or large size shrimp can be used for this dish, however, the giant shrimp makes an impressive presentation.
- Canned diced tomatoes can be substituted, pulse in a food processor to break them up for a smoother sauce.
- Store bought Cajun Seasoning can be substituted but use cautiously as it is very high in sodium.
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Amount Per Serving Calories 502Total Fat 40gSaturated Fat 18gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 17gCholesterol 102mgSodium 3003mgCarbohydrates 19gFiber 2gSugar 7gProtein 19g
- 4 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 3 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- 4 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon powdered onion
- 4 teaspoons powdered garlic
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- In a small canning jar, combine paprika, dried oregano, basil, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.
- Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Serving Size1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving Calories 11Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 399mgCarbohydrates 2gFiber 1gSugar 0gProtein 1g