You are missing out if you have never had Shrimp and Grits in New Orleans. Perfectly seasoned shrimp are paired with creamy, cheesy grits. You can recreate this classic southern dish at home. One bite and I know you will find this one of your new favorite shrimp recipes.
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What Makes New Orleans Shrimp and Grits So Good?
If you’re craving comfort food, this dish is the perfect choice! The marriage of spices, cheese, and herbs gives it an exquisite and refined taste.
It’s the kind of meal you prepare when you want to enjoy a five-star experience from the comfort of your own home. The creamy grits and tender shrimp create a wonderful contrast of textures that will leave you wanting more.
Why You Should Try Cajun Shrimp and Grits
Cajun shrimp and grits is a dish that packs a lot of flavors. The spicy and savory seasonings used in the cajun spices and the creamy buttery grits make for a delightful bouquet of flavors you will want again and again.
This recipe was taught to me by a chef in New Orleans. This is an authentic recipe that is bursting with full of flavor. By cooking the whole shrimp in the sauce, you get more of the shrimp flavor than you would if you used only the shrimp tails.
This recipe also does not overcook the shrimp since you cook them only for as long as needed. After the shrimp are cooked, they are removed from the sauce, which then reduces and magnifies the flavor.
This recipe also uses Romano cheese instead of Cheddar cheese. The romano cheese really comes through the savory sauce and gives the grits the ability to stand up to the well-seasoned broth in which the shrimp are served.
The History of Shrimp and Grits
Grits are a staple dish in the South, so much so that the region is known as the “Grits Belt.” Moreover, Georgia named grits as its state food and annually holds an annual Shrimp & Grits Festival.
- Native Americans – Grits originated from the Native American Muskogee tribe. They ground Indian corn in a stone mill, giving it a signature “gritty” texture.
- African Americans – It is believed that West African slaves would catch shrimp and other fish and cook them with grits, which were included in their food allowances.
- Crook’s Corner – Shrimp and grits used to be considered a lowly dish. In 1982, the chef at Crook’s Corner, a Chapel Hill, North Carolina restaurant, combined grits with Cheddar, parmesan cheese, jumbo shrimp, mushrooms, bacon, and other ingredients, resulting in an improved dish. Then, In 1985, Craig Claiborne of The New York Times wrote about it, and the dish started to become more popular.
This recipe is similar to classic barbecue shrimp, which are cooked in a Cajun-spiced garlic and beer marinade. Typically, the cooking sauce is thin, but this one is different. This version creates a thick and savory sauce to enjoy with the grits.
Nevertheless, the barbecue shrimp prepared at Pascale’s Manale restaurant is one of the most famous dishes in New Orleans. I highly recommend visiting the old-school restaurant if you are ever in the area.
Here’s a list of what you need for this shrimp and grits recipe:
- Stone-ground grits
- Whole milk
- Shredded Romano Cheese
- Large shrimp with heads and shells
- Worcestershire sauce
- Light-tasting beer
- Cajun seasoning
- Crab, shrimp & crawfish boil seasoning
- Thyme leaves
- Rosemary leaves
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
If you prefer to make it without beer, you can substitute it with chicken broth or seafood stock.
There are different types of grits and the best type to use is white corn grits. Yellow corn grits are more like polenta. You also want to use regular stone-ground grits and not quick grits.
For creamier grits, substitute half of the milk with heavy cream.
You can add some chopped or sliced andouille sausage. Just cook it in a separate pan and then add it to the pan with the sauce.
How to Make Shrimp and Grits New Orleans Style
- Place grits, water, and milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add cheese to grits just before serving. Stir or whisk until the cheese is melted.
- Rinse the shrimp in cold water. Pinch off heads and place heads in a large skillet with butter.
- Sauté shrimp heads until the fat in the heads melts, and the oil turns red. Remove and discard heads.
- Peel and devein the shrimp.
- Add butter and garlic over medium heat in a large skillet until the butter is melted and the garlic becomes fragrant.
- Add Worcestershire sauce, crab boil, Cajun seasoning, and herbs, and beer. Stir to combine.
- When the sauce begins to bubble, add the shrimp to the pan.
- Flip the shrimp when it begins to turn pink and shrink. Cook for one minute and remove the shrimp.
- Continue to cook the sauce until it reduces by a third, then remove it from the heat.
- Add butter and stir until the butter melts into the sauce.
- Divide grits into four bowls. Spoon the shrimp and sauce equally over the grits in each bowl.
- Garnish with chopped green onions or parsley if desired.
- Store fresh or thawed shrimp in a colander filled with ice and set over a bowl.
- Shrimp should only be rinsed and dried just before cooking.
- For the best flavor, look for shrimp that is local or wild-caught.
What To Serve With Cajun Shrimp and Grits
Some delicious sides to serve with Southern shrimp and grits include collard greens, garlic green beans, sour cream cornbread, or fluffy buttermilk biscuits! You can also serve it with something light, such as a mixed greens salad with a tangy dressing to offset the rich main course!
How To Store The Leftover Shrimp and Grits
For best results, store the shrimp and the grits separately in the fridge. Place each in an airtight container so they maintain their quality. Unfortunately, if you only loosely wrap the grits, they will dry out!
When stored correctly, the grits will last approximately one week. The shrimp will last only 3 or 4 days, so I recommend eating them as soon as you can!
What Is The Best Way To Reheat Shrimp And Grits?
You may need to add a splash of milk, broth, or water to the grits when you reheat them to loosen them up again. You can reheat it in the microwave or stovetop until it is thoroughly heated and has the correct consistency.
Meanwhile, shrimp can be tricky to reheat! The microwave can make them rubbery, which you surely don’t want.
In my experience, the best way to reheat them is to allow them to come to room temperature first. Then, you can simmer them on the stovetop with a small amount of sauce or simply some butter. Take them off the stovetop as soon they have heated through.
More New Orleans Recipes
- Shrimp Remoulade
- Shrimp Alexander
- Bubba Gump Shrimp New Orleans
- Cheddar’s New Orleans Pasta
- Oyster Soup
- Crawfish Etouffee
- Cajun BBQ
- New Orleans Salad Dressing
Love Southern Cooking? Try these recipes!
- Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
- How to Cook Cajun Rice
- Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread Jiffy
- Chick Fil A Chicken Nugget Recipe
- How to Make Mush
New Orleans Style Shrimp and Grits
- 1 cup stone-ground grits
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup shredded Romano Cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter for sauteing shrimp heads
- 2 pounds large shrimp heads on are preferred
- 1/4 pound butter
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup beer Budweiser, Abita, or other light tasting beer
- 1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
- 1 teaspoon crab, shrimp & crawfish boil
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
- 1/8 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon rosemary leaves crushed
- 5 tablespoons butter for finishing dish
- Add 1 cup of grits to 2 cups of water and 2 cups of milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Add cheese just before serving, and stir through until the cheese has just melted.
- Rinse shrimp in cold water. Pinch off heads and place heads in a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of butter. Sauté shrimp heads until the fat in the heads melts and the oil turns red in color. Remove heads.
- While the shrimp heads are sauteing, peel and devein the shrimp.
- In a large skillet add the 1/4 pound of butter and garlic over medium heat until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add Worcestershire Sauce, crab boil, and Cajun seasoning, thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Add the beer and stir.
- When the sauce begins to bubble, add the shrimp. Flip the shrimp when it begins to turn pink and shrink. Cook for one minute more and remove shrimp.
- Continue to cook the sauce until it reduces by 1/3, then remove from the stove. Add the 5 tablespoons of butter and stir until the butter melts into the sauce. The sauce should be thick now.
- Divide grits into 4 equal portions in 4 bowls. Add shrimp equally to each portion. Add sauce equally to each bowl.
- Store fresh or thawed shrimp in a colander that is filled with ice and set over a bowl to provide for drainage.
- Shrimp should only be rinsed and dried just before cooking
- For the best flavor look for shrimp that is local or wild-caught for best flavor