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Shrimp and Creamy Grits

Shrimp and Creamy Grits

If you have lived or have roots in the Southeastern coastal U. S., shrimp and grits is an old friend. Once a breakfast staple, this dish has pushed its way onto lunch and dinner menus across the Mid-Atlantic, and now even appears on menus in the North.  The styles, variations of and additions to this dish are seemingly endless.

When my daughter lived in South Carolina I was fortunate to be introduced to this and many other Low Country dishes. In particular, I learned about creamy grits, made from stone ground grits. Previously I had only tried the "instant" variety of grits, a poor representation of the real thing.

For other dishes using Maine shrimp, and information about this delicacy, see these previous posts: California Roll Salad; Maine Shrimp Boil; and Flounder and Shrimp Roulades.

Grits are basically just dried and ground white corn. Long slow cooking, reminiscent of the process for making risotto, produces a flavorful and satisfying porridge which makes a perfect partner for additions such as eggs, sausage or gravy. Stone ground grits can be hard to find, especially in the North, partially because this variety has a short shelf life. (Ground slowly, like other stone ground grains, stoneground grits contain oils that can become rancid fairly quickly. This can be mitigated by keeping stone ground grits in the freezer.) However,  stone ground grits can be ordered from several on-line suppliers.

My version is extremely simple, with little to distract from the wonderful combination of the creamy grits and the fresh shrimp cooked in a broth made from their shells and heads. Good for breakfast, lunch or dinner, I look forward each year to the arrival of the local Maine shrimp and the opportunity to make a few more meals of shrimp and grits.

Shrimp and Creamy Grits

Serves 4.

1 lb fresh cold-water shrimp, peeled (called Maine or Matane shrimp)
3 C red shrimp broth
3 T + 1 T butter
1 cup stone ground grits
1 C heavy cream
3 - 4 C stock, milk or water
salt, hot sauce to taste
2 scallions, chopped

Bring 2 cups of the water to a boil. Add the 3 tablespoons of butter, and when it has melted, stir in the grits. Lower to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cream and simmer 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, over the next 20 - 30 minutes, keep adding the remaining liquid by half-cupfuls, simmering and stirring occasionally, until the grits are done to the desired consistency. They should be slightly soupy but stiff enough to stand up on a spoon. Season to taste.

In a sauté pan, bring the red shrimp broth to a simmer. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, then add the shrimp and stir for a minute or two over low heat. Do not overcook the shrimp. Remove from heat, season to taste, and spoon the shrimp mixture over bowls of hot creamy grits. Garnish with the scallions.


I use a crock pot to make the grits, which reduces the amount of watching it takes. I perform the first step (boil water and butter, stir in grits) in a saucepan on the stove, then pour the mixture into the crock pot, which I've preheated, and continue with the rest of the preparation in the uncovered crock pot set on high.


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Low country cuisine is one of my favorite American creations. I used to live in Alexandria, VA (not quite in the heart of Low Country) and would get Low Country shortbread from a local restaurant. It was essentially a riff on the classic shrimp & grits recipe. Good, yummy stuff. I enjoy creamy/succulent dishes like this with 'high-minerality' wine such as Spanish Penedes white wine. Great recipe idea.


That's definitely one of my favorite dishes.

Only had grits twice and they were not of the creamy variety ... But that looks utterly delicious.

If I tried to get grits here I believe the shops might try to sell me sand instead.

MMMMMMmmmmm! Love them grits! These look great - oddly I have never had shrimp and grits although I have had many a grit in my day. Friends once urged me to open a grits restaurant in SF SOMA during the dot-bomb heyday. My kids ove em but we usually devolve to grits with butter and a fried/poached egg on top.

My other favorite is a grits dish with a sautedd mushroom, sesame seed and soy sauce topping.

What, grits?! That's something I'd never have thought to see on a blog from Maine. It looks like you've done them justice, Stephen, so know that you have a southern girl's approval!

In Louisiana, I've often seen shrimp and grits made with andouille sausage, influenced by jambalaya, no doubt.

Yours looks deliciously simple.

In coastal South Carolina, a favorite shrimp n' grits recipe uses bacon gravy as the base. You are correct about the difference in grits. Comparing stone ground to instant is like comparing a $1.00 store bought pizza with homemade pizza.

Do you make your shrimp and grits with a ragout sauce? If so, please send me a recipe. Thanks

I live in Arlington, VA. I can't seem to find stone ground grits other than the Quaker brand. Does anyone know where I can get stone ground grits (that take 20-25 mins. to cook) in this area? or a brand that i can purchse online. thanks.

Hey, this recipe looks great. The grits sound like corn meal risotto. Same process. One question...I'm allergic to tomatoes. What sauces could I use for the shrimp besides the red shrimp broth?

I live in Columbia SC and grits don't get any better than the ones produced by Adluh Flour Company. And yes, they are available online.

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