Classic Southern shrimp and grits were originally thought of as a breakfast dish. These days this iconic low country dish has a plethora of variations and is perfectly acceptable to be served at any meal or for any occasion. These Shrimp and Cheddar Grits are a homespun family favorite and always a welcome sight on my dinner table. In it, tender shrimp are boldly seasoned and smothered with a buttery lemon sauce then served ladled over a bowl of cheesy stone ground grits. It’s a classic that can only be described as lip smacking comfort food that’s guaranteed to be devoured.
Grits are to a Southerner what polenta is to an Italian. Grits have a more finely ground texture than polenta which is ground from whole kernel corn. Grits are made with corn kernels that have had the hull removed which lends a more fine result. They compliment so many entrees and living in North Carolina I can tell you firsthand we love our grits topped with almost anything depending on the time of day. Often served at breakfast topped with sausage or bacon and eggs, or for dinner topped with beef stew or pot roast. If you’d like to start a spirited debate, ask a group of Southerners whether grits should be served sweet or savory. You’re likely to hear strong opinions whether cream and sugar should ever touch a bowl of grits. In my kitchen, all grits are welcome and while I most often serve them savory, I have offered cream and sugar to those who prefer them sweetened for breakfast. Shrimp and grits together are a bonefide savory treat and one classic Southern dish I’m delighted to share with my children and generations to come.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Shrimp and Cheddar Grits
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 3/4 cup half-and-half
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1 cup stone ground grits
- 1 cup shredded white or yellow sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 bacon slices
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup green bell pepper or poblano pepper diced
- 1 bunch green onions thinly sliced
- 1 pound medium-size shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp Old Bay or Seafood Magic seasoning
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt divided
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth plus additional as needed to thin sauce
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 3 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley
- To make grits: In a medium-size heavy bottomed saucepan bring the chicken broth. half-and-half and salt to a boil. Whisk in the grits gradually.
- Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook covered for 20-30 minutes or until the grits are tender, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Stir in the cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese and butter. Mix until combined. Keep warm until serving.
- To make shrimp: In a large skillet cook the bacon until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain, then crumble and set aside. Reserve 1 Tbsp bacon drippings in skillet.
- Add butter to bacon drippings. Over medium high saute the diced pepper until softened and beginning to brown .Add the green onion. Cook for 1 minute longer
- Sprinkle shrimp with flour, Old Bay seasoning, 1/4 tsp garlic salt until evenly coated.
- Add the seasoned shrimp and garlic to the pan and continue to saute until the shrimp are browned about 2 minutes over medium-high.
- Add the broth, lemon juice, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
- Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits and cook for 2 minutes longer until slightly thickened. Add the parsley and crumbled bacon.
- Serve immediately ladled over hot cheddar grits.
- Garnish with additional bacon and green onion, if desired. .