How to Make Cajun Shrimp and Cheesy Grits

Jump to Recipe ♦ Print Recipe

Shrimp and Grits…a truly traditional Southern dish. Once a regional treasure of the Lowcountry of South Carolina, the popularity of grits and the availability of fresh Gulf shrimp in South Louisiana, make this a natural for Cajun and Creole ingredients and spices. Even though the flavors jump out  and gets your attention, Sweet Daddy D’s Cajun Shrimp and Cheesy Grits recipe is truly simple, no-angst and delicious.

Shrimp and Grits in a green bowl
Cajun Shrimp and Cheesy Grits

Originally a breakfast staple for southern fisherman and shrimpers along the coast, its profile was elevated in the mid 1980’s when Shrimp and Grits appeared on the menu at Crook’s Corner Restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and later introduced to the world when written about in the New York Times in 1985. (Read more about the history of Shrimp and Grits here.) At the same time, Southern, and particularly Louisiana, cuisines were gaining popularity and the once humble Shrimp and Grits was finding its way to menus in the finer, white tablecloth restaurants of New Orleans, like Antoine’s and Commander’s Palace. Just follow this recipe and you’ll be making a version that will compete with them all!

Sign up for my email notifications of new recipes and posts right HERE.

Here’s What You Need

Large Gulf Shrimp, either fresh or frozen are the star of this dish. This recipe calls for a pound, but it’s also easily scalable if you want to make a larger batch. If buying fresh shrimp with heads and shells, make sure to buy about ½ pound more so you have enough once they are peeled. Yellow onions and green or red (or both) bell peppers will be sauteed in butter. The aromatics will come from garlic (lots of garlic!), green onions and herbs and spices. The Herb and Spice Blend provides a punch of flavor-that’s oregano, basil, thyme, kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper along with Creole Seasoning and Cayenne Pepper.  A little tomato paste will slightly thicken the sauce which results from condensing some seafood stock spiced by a little lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce.

ingredients for shrimp and grits
Here’s what you need

This wonderful sauce will be ladled over some creamy, cheese grits. Whip up some Old Fashioned Grits, or even some Quick Grits, lay in lots of butter and some grated Gruyere cheeseYou could substitute cheddar cheese for the Gruyere, or leave the cheese out all together. If you’re not use to cooking grits, they may seem challenging, but not so. Keep it simple at first, then when you’ve got the hang of it, you can fancy them up with milk or stock and use stone-ground grits or yellow grits or whatever you can think of. But until then, you’ll be just fine keeping it simple. Don’t forget, it all goes together so much better with a couple of beers!

Here’s What You Do

First…you have a beer. There are not a lot of ingredients here, so pop the cap off a beer, sit down and read the recipe through to make sure you have everything you need. Mise en place-peel, clean and rinse the shrimp, sprinkle on an ample amount of creole seasoning and set them aside. Slice the onions and peppers and chop the garlic, measure out all the Herb and Spice Blend ingredients into a ramekin and then measure out the tomato paste, lemon juice, Worcestershire and the stock. Slice the butter into pieces, it will melt quicker that way. Measure the grits, grate the cheese and slice the butter. Another good swig of beer and you’re ready to go. The shrimp will cook fast and you want to eat them right away, so make the grits while you are preparing all the other ingredients.

Sign up for my email notifications of new recipes and posts right HERE.

Prepare the Grits

Bring a couple of cups of water to a heavy boil. Add some salt then slowly whisk the dry grits into the boiling water and make sure they are all mixed in and there are no lumps. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and check back in 15 minutes, maybe give it a good, bottom scraping stir with a rubber spatula after about 7 or 8 minutes. After 15 minutes, stir it all together, getting all the grits off the bottom of the pan and getting rid of any lumps. They should be fairly smooth and most of the water absorbed at this point, but if they are still watery and the grits are hard, put the cover back on and simmer a little longer. When they are al dente, add the butter, some ground black pepper and the grated Gruyere. Using the spatula, mix and blend everything until smooth and creamy. Cover, remove from heat and set them aside until the shrimp are ready.

Pouring grits into boiling water
Creamy and Cheesy Grits
Saute the vegetables and the aromatics.

When the grits are just about finished, melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a heavy bottom sauté pan until bubbly. Add the onions and the green peppers and sauté until soft, about 5–6 minutes. Add in the aromatics–that’s the garlic, green onions and about ¾ of the Herb and Spice Blend (reserve the remainder), and sauté about 2 minutes more, until everything is smelling really good.

Time for the shrimp.

You’ll want the shrimp to cook pretty fast, so increase the heat to high and add the shrimp a few at a time by hand. Sauté for about 2 minutes, turning over midway through so they start to cook evenly.

Sauteed shrimp with onions and peppers and spices
Add in the shrimp
Make the sauce.

Add the tomato paste and mix it in very well. Continue to saute about 2 more minutes while it smooths out. If things are sticking to the bottom of the pan, use just a little of the stock to deglaze before adding the rest. Then, only mix in about ½ to ¾ cup of the seafood stock (reserve the remainder if the sauce needs to be thinned). Add the lemon juice and the Worcestershire and stir it all together. When that’s all mixed together, add 2 tablespoons of butter and shake the pan back and forth, continuing to simmer as the butter melts and the sauce thickens slightly. Don’t over cook the shrimp, no more than a total of about 7 or 8 minutes on the shrimp. Taste the sauce a few times to check if it needs more spices, remember the shrimp will soak up some spice so its OK to be a little over spiced at this stage. Add more of the reserved Herb and Spice Blend if needed.

Time to serve.

You’ll want to serve this right away so that the shrimp don’t get over cooked. Give the grits a vigorous stir, then spoon some into a shallow bowl or onto a plate. Ladle the shrimp with plenty of sauce right on top.   

Shrimp and Grits in a green bowl with parsley
Cajun Shrimp and Cheesy Grits

That’s it, all there is to it, simple as that! You’re going to love this.

Sign up for my email notifications of new recipes and posts right HERE.

Hints and Tips

  • Don’t over cook the shrimp! There is a huge difference in properly cooked shrimp and over cooked shrimp-from plump and tender to hard and rubbery. The best way to ensure that you don’t over cook the shrimp is to be prepared, do your mise en place, and use a high heat that will cook them quickly. Anywhere from 5 to 8 or 9 minutes is all you need for perfect shrimp.
  • If you are buying head-on shrimp, you’ll need to buy about  1 1/2 pounds to end up with 1 pound after the shells are removed.
  • If you can’t find seafood stock, just substitute chicken or vegetable stock and it will be just fine.
  • Substitute Quick Grits if you want them done a little quicker! Just follow the directions on the package.
  • Gruyere cheese is creamy when melted and slightly sharp. Try some sharp or mild cheddar cheese if you prefer, or no cheese at all.
  • I always think it’s best if you grate your own cheese, but if you are crunched for time, or just prefer, use some pre-grated cheese.
  • Cayenne pepper adds a nice, subtle kick to this dish. Use more or less depending on your personal preference for spiciness, or leave it out all together.  If you want the spice, but don’t have cayenne, use some of your favorite hot sauce…I recommend Tabasco hot sauce because it is a nice match for the shrimp (I have no affiliation with Tabasco, I just like it!) or some red pepper flakes.  Both the hot sauce and the red pepper flakes can be added at the table-so everyone can make it as spicy as they like!
  • Many commercial creole seasonings and stocks contain salt, some have quite a bit. This recipe was developed using a stock that does contain salt and a creole seasoning that does not contain salt. Whatever you use, make sure you taste while cooking before adding more salt so you get it the way you like it.

Here are some other recipes with shrimp from Sweet Daddy D:

Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant

Classic Shrimp Creole

Mirlitons Stuffed with Shrimp and Creole Tomatoes

If you make this recipe, please tell us about it in the Comments section below and make sure to LEAVE A RATING ON THE RECIPE. Post a picture on our Facebook page or on Instagram with a #firstyouhaveabeer. Make sure to Pin it on Pinterist.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest and make sure to share this with your friends…they will love you for it. SIGN UP FOR OUR EMAIL UPDATES below so you don’t miss anything!

Sign up for my email notifications of new recipes and posts right HERE.

Yeah You Right!

 

Shrimp and Grits in a green bowl with parsley
Cajun Shrimp and Cheesy Grits
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Fresh shrimp, sauteed in a buttery, savory sauce of onions, peppers and garlic, with a touch of tomato paste and creole spices, ladled over creamy, cheesy grits. Heart warming goodness from the South!
Servings Prep Time
4 Servings 20 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
20 Minutes 765
Servings Prep Time
4 Servings 20 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
20 Minutes 765
Shrimp and Grits in a green bowl with parsley
Cajun Shrimp and Cheesy Grits
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Fresh shrimp, sauteed in a buttery, savory sauce of onions, peppers and garlic, with a touch of tomato paste and creole spices, ladled over creamy, cheesy grits. Heart warming goodness from the South!
Servings Prep Time
4 Servings 20 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
20 Minutes 765
Servings Prep Time
4 Servings 20 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
20 Minutes 765
This is What You Need
Herb and Spice Blend
For the Cheese Grits
This is What You Do
  1. Peel, de-vein and the rinse shrimp; pat dry; sprinkle on 2 tablespoons creole seasoning and set aside. Slice the onions and green peppers and chop the garlic. Measure out all other ingredients. Prepare the grits.
Prepare the Grits
  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a heavy boil. Grate cheese and set aside.
  2. Add kosher salt and gradually whisk or stir grits into boiling water, stir or whisk until grits are dispersed and not lumpy.
  3. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover pot and simmer for about 15 minutes. Get started on the shrimp while these cook.
  4. Remove the lid, stir well and taste. If al dente, add the butter and Gruyere cheese. Stir vigorously to combine all ingredients until smooth and creamy. If the grits are a little hard still, leave a low fir on for another 5 minutes.
  5. Replace the cover, remove from heat and let sit until the shrimp are ready.
Prepare the Shrimp
  1. Place a large saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter until bubbly.
  2. Add sliced onions and peppers-sautée until soft, about 5–6 minutes
  3. Add garlic, green onions and about ¾ of the Herb and Spice Blend, mix well and continue to sauté until aromatic-about 2 minute.
  4. Increase heat to high and add the shrimp; sauté for about 2 minutes, turning over midway through.
  5. Add the tomato paste and mix it in very well while continuing to saute another 2 minutes (approximately).
  6. If needed, deglaze the pan with a little of the stock before moving on to the next step.
  7. Mix in about ½ to ¾ cup of the seafood stock (reserve the remainder), the lemon juice and the Worcestershire. When that's mixed in, add 2 tablespoons of butter. Shake the pan back and forth and continue to simmer as the butter melts and the sauce thickens slightly. Don’t over cook the shrimp, no more than about 5 minutes.
  8. Taste a few times to check if it needs more spices, remember the shrimp will soak up some spice so its OK to be a little over spiced at this stage. Add more of the reserved Herb and Spice Blend or stock, if needed.
  9. Stir the cheese grits vigorously then place a healthy spoonful in a shallow bowl or plate, spoon the shrimp over the cheese grits and serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

If you are buying head-on shrimp, you'll need to buy about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds to end up with 1 pound after the shells are removed.

If you can't find seafood stock, just substitute chicken stock and it will be just fine.

Substitute Quick Grits if you want them done a little quicker! Just follow the directions on the package.

Gruyere cheese is creamy when melted and a slightly sharp. Try some sharp or mild cheddar cheese if you prefer, or no cheese at all.

I always think its best if you grate your own cheese, but if you are crunched for time, or just prefer, use some pre-grated cheese.

Many commercial creole seasonings and stocks contain salt, some have quite a bit. This recipe was developed a stock that contains salt and a creole seasoning that does not contain salt. Whatever you use, make sure you taste while cooking before adding salt so you get it the way you like it.

Nutrition Facts
Cajun Shrimp and Cheesy Grits
Amount Per Serving
Calories 765 Calories from Fat 405
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 45g 69%
Saturated Fat 26g 130%
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 12g
Cholesterol 296mg 99%
Sodium 1192mg 50%
Potassium 784mg 22%
Total Carbohydrates 46g 15%
Dietary Fiber 6g 24%
Sugars 9g
Protein 46g 92%
Vitamin A 78%
Vitamin C 138%
Calcium 78%
Iron 45%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.