Traditional low country shrimp and grits prepared the Southern way, with shrimp, bacon and andouille sausage in a Cajun spiced sauce served over creamy, cheesy grits. Southern comfort food at it's finest!
I didn't grow up on this dish and never had it until we moved to St. Louis years ago. It is now one of my favorites and so easy to make at home. A little prep work and then it all comes together quickly for dinner any night of the week.
Shrimp and grits was once a simple low country breakfast popular with sailors that has its roots in the Carolinas. Nowadays, it's enjoyed any time of day and is considered an iconic dish of the South.
Why This Recipe Works
- Bacon and andouille sausage, along with some Cajun seasoning, adds tons of smoky and spicy flavor to the shrimp.
- A simple homemade shrimp stock made with the shells adds depth of flavor to the pan sauce.
- Creamy and cheesy corn grits are the perfect serving bed for the shrimp and sausage mixture.
- The dish comes together quickly and easily if all your ingredients are prepped and ready to go, known as mise en place. This holds true for successful, stress-free cooking all the time.
Here's what you'll need:
- Shrimp use the tails to make a quick stock with water while the grits cook.
- Bacon and Andouille Sausage I like thick cut smoky bacon and any brand of spicy andouille sausage.
- Onion, garlic and parsley
- Cajun seasoning and smoked paprika
- A little white wine and easy to make shrimp stock for the sauce.
- Fresh lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and butter to finish off the pan sauce.
- Yellow cornmeal white cornmeal is traditional, stone-ground is preferred. I use yellow because I always have that on hand, medium or stone-ground, sometimes called polenta or grits on the label.
- Homemade chicken stock to cook the grits in with some garlic. Store bought low sodium chicken stock will work, but homemade is best if you have it. I always have homemade chicken stock stashed in the freezer.
- Parmesan, sour cream and butter to finish off the grits and make them extra creamy and delicious!
How to Make Shrimp and Grits
Step 1: Make your shrimp stock, place shells in water and simmer until reduced by about half. Start this while the grits are cooking.
Step 2: Make the grits. Stir the corn grits into simmering chicken stock and cook and stir until thickened. Add the cheese, sour cream and butter and combine until thick and creamy. Cut heat and cover while you prepare the shrimp.
Step 3: Brown the sausage, remove and set aside. Crisp the bacon and render the fat, remove and set aside with the sausage. Cook the onions in bacon fat until translucent and starting to brown, add the garlic.
Step 4: Add the shrimp and seasonings and cook a few minutes until the shrimp is just cooked through.
Step 5: Deglaze the pan with the wine and shrimp stock, simmer until reduced by about half.
Step 6: Stir in the Worcestershire and lemon juice.
Step 7: Add the sausage and bacon back to the pan and combine to heat through. Swirl in a pat of butter, taste for salt and pepper. Spoon over grits, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.
Recipe Notes and Tips
- Yellow or white cornmeal are both acceptable, although true believers only use stone-ground white cornmeal. Your choice and I won't tell.
- This is pretty adaptable in terms of the sauce. If you don't want to use wine or the simple shrimp stock, you can use some chicken stock instead, just use the same amounts. But try the shrimp stock if you can, it's just one of those things that adds depth and makes the sauce extra good.
- Frozen shrimp is perfectly fine and what I use. Just thaw and save those tails to make the stock.
- Use an unsalted Cajun seasoning blend. I find the blends with salt are too salty!
- Leftover grits are great for breakfast with runny eggs, just sayin'
There you have it, traditional Southern-style shrimp and grits at home, any night of the week. I can't think of anything more comforting than this flavorful, smoky shrimp and sausage over creamy cheesy grits, just simply amazing! xxo- Kelly🍴🐦
Here are some more Southern comfort food favorites!
- Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- Creamy Cajun Tortellini Soup
- Creamy Cajun Pork Chops
- Southern Green Beans
- Air Fryer Southern Fried Catfish
- Cajun Macaroni Salad
Shrimp and Grits
- 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 tablespoons butter I use salted
- ½ pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails reserved for stock about 12-16 shrimp
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 ounces andouille sausage, sliced into rounds
- 4 pieces thick-cut bacon, diced
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely diced or minced
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning preferably unsalted
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ cup dry white wine like Pinot Grigio
- ¼ cup shrimp stock made from the shells
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice about ½ lemon
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- Few shakes of hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Chopped parsley, for serving
Start the shrimp stock:
- In small saucepan, add reserved shrimp shells and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer util reduced by half. Strain.
Meanwhile, make grits:
- In a large saucepan, bring chicken stock and garlic to a boil. Reduce the heat and whisk in the cornmeal, stirring constantly. Switch to wooden spoon, add salt and pepper and cook and stir until thick, about 8 to 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in Parmesan cheese, sour cream and butter. Taste for seasonings and cover with lid to keep warm.
- In large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage rounds and cook until golden and brown. Remove to paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
- Add bacon to pan, cook until fat has rendered and starting to crisp. Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon fat in skillet, remove bacon to plate with sausage to drain, set aside.
- Cook onion in bacon drippings until translucent and starting to brown. Add garlic, stir and cook about 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Season shrimp with a little black pepper and add to skillet with Cajun seasoning and smoked paprika. Stir and cook 2-3 minutes until shrimp is just cooked through.
- Add wine and shrimp stock to pan and deglaze by scraping up any browned bits. Simmer until liquid is reduced by almost half, about 3 minutes or so.
- Stir in Worcestershire and lemon juice. Add the sausage and bacon back to pan, season with salt and pepper and a few shakes of hot sauce. Toss to combine well and heat through.
- To finish, swirl in 1 tablespoon of butter until incorporated. Spoon over grits, top with chopped parsley and serve immediately.
- You can use yellow or the more traditional white corn grits. I use yellow and it's sometimes called polenta on the package. Either way, try and get stone-ground.
- If you want to skip the wine and/or shrimp stock, sub with the same amount of chicken stock.
- I like the good stuff when it comes to the cheese, that being Parmigiano Reggiano.
- I highly recommend unsalted Cajun seasoning. If you use a blend with salt, watch your added salt when tasting for seasonings.
- A little extra hot sauce for serving is essential!
- The cheesy grits are great warmed up for breakfast with a couple runny yolk eggs. Chef's kiss!