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Southern Shrimp and Grits with Roasted Peanuts

Southern Shrimp and Grits are down-home comfort food. Cheesy grits with colorful shrimp gravy and topped with honey roasted peanuts.

March 21, 2023

Southern Shrimp and Grits with honey-roasted peanuts in a serving dish

Easy Cheesy Shrimp and Grits

Give tribute to the colorful history of Shrimp and Grits and make it at your home. You don’t have to go to a  restaurant to enjoy this southern specialty. The mild taste of the corn grits is an excellent base for a rich seafood gravy. Southern Shrimp and Grits has many recipe variations and just like the recipe, the history is colorful and wide-ranging.

Shrimp & Grits History

The history of Southern Shrimp and Grits claims many places, recipe names, and stories. It is definitely famous for its taste and comfort, but it arrives with its current claim through humble beginnings. 

  • The corn and shellfish combination came to the New World from Mozambique during slave trading.
  • Corn grits are a widely used staple in the South due to the influences of Native American culture on the Southern diet.
  • Many plantation kitchens provided corn grit allowances to the slaves who combined it with seafood; The descendants continued the dish and often served it in the morning, calling it “breakfast shrimp.”
  • Laborers on the Southern states’ fishing docks are known to bring this staple meal on long fishing journeys.
  • The first known recipe publication was in the Louisiana Review column in 1891.
  • A Charleston SC cookbook, compiled in 1930, called it “shrimps and hominy.” The author credited his 78-year-old African American butler for the recipe.
  • Chapel Hill, NC’s restaurant, Cook’s Corner, claims to be the first chef-run restaurant to place it on the menu.
  • Famous in Chapel Hill, New Orleans, Savannah, and Charleston, shrimp and grits are now on many restaurant menus across the United States.

For more information about the history, check out this article in The Local Palatea Southern food culture magazine written by the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Erin Byers Murray. She is an award-winning writer and author of Grits: A Cultural and Culinary Journey Through the South.

Cheesy Shrimp and Grits – Holiday Meal or Weeknight Dinner

This Southern staple somehow made it to my Midwestern kitchen. I started making it as a side dish to ham for special occasions. For nearly a decade, my employer gave me a generous gift certificate to the Honey Baked Ham Store. I would get ham for Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday, and shrimp and grits became the family’s favorite side dish for both holiday meals. The fast recipe is also perfect for a weeknight meal or a special occasion. Try it for a Friday night Lenten meal or anytime you need comfort food. 

Yellow corn grits, aka polenta (left), and white corn grits (right).

White vs. Yellow Grits

According to Bob’s Red Mill, grits and polenta are the same. They consist of dried, milled corn with most of the germ removed and ground to produce a coarse grit. White corn grits are from white corn, and yellow corn grits (polenta) are from yellow corn.

Note: Do NOT use cornmeal or instant grits! Look for quick grits. 

Adding cheese to white grits for Southern Shrimp and Grits.
White Grits AKA Cornmeal Mush

I use white corn grits and white cheddar cheese for our Christmas dinner to show off the red and green colors in the gravy. White corn grits is more traditional to the southern recipe.

Cheesy yellow corn grits with green onion in a pan
Yellow Grits (Polenta)

I use yellow corn grits (polenta) for Easter because the color works great for Spring. It is also convenient since I always have polenta and yellow cheddar for other recipes.

Southern Shrimp and Grits ingredients on a cutting board
Simple ingredients makes this outstanding recipe!

Recipe Steps

Cooking white corn grits for Southern Shrimp and Grits.
1

Cook grits in medium suacepan.

Adding cheese to white grits for Southern Shrimp and Grits.
2

Fold in cheese, green onions, and butter.

Sauteing shrimp for Southern Shrimp and Grits in a skillet
3

Saute shrimp in large skillet and remove to plate.

Sauteing mushrooms for Southern Shrimp and Grits in a skillet
4

Saute mushrooms in skillet.

Adding seasoning to Southern Shrimp and Grits in a skillet.
5

Add roasted red peppers and seaoning.

Cooking Southern Shrimp and Grits in a skillet
6

Add shrimp back into skillet to heat through. Serve over grits.

Print
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Southern Shrimp and Grits with honey-roasted peanuts in a serving dish

Southern Shrimp and Grits with Roasted Peanuts


Description

Shrimp and grits are down-home Southern comfort food. Cheesy grits with colorful shrimp gravy and topped with honey-roasted peanuts. Easy recipe and good for the soul.


Ingredients

Units Scale

Grits

  • 3 1/2 cups of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white corn grits or 1 cup yellow corn grits (aka polenta); Quick 5-Minute NOT 1 Minute instant grits*
  • 6oz cheddar cheese, grated – white cheddar cheese if using white grits**
  • 4 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced; half used in grits and half used as a garnish
  • 1 Tablespoons butter, preferably salt-free
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Shrimp Sauce

  • 1 pound raw (uncooked) shrimp, medium size (approximately 40 ) peeled and deveined*** see note below on frozen uncooked shrimp
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil for cooking shrimp
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil for cooking mushrooms
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, quartered
  • 6 ounces roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 11oz vegetable juice (V-8 Juice); preferably low sodium or tomato juice
  • 4 Tablespoons honey-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped


Instructions

  1. Cook Grits. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add salt and slowly whisk in grits. Reduce heat to low and constantly whisk, ensuring the grits are smooth. Stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in cheese, and half the green onion, butter, and pepper. Cover and set aside. If grits get too thick, add hot water, 1 Tablespoon at a time.
  2. Cook Shrimp. If using frozen shrimp, follow the directions to thaw. Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and season with 1 teaspoon (half) of the Cajun seasoning. Place a medium skillet over high heat and add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Add half the shrimp to the pan and sear on one side for 2 – 3 minutes; flip and cook an additional 1 – 2 minutes. Set aside by placing it on a plate or serving dish. Repeat with remaining shrimp. Cook shrimp until the color is uniform white with some pink and red accents and no translucent gray remains.
  3. Add Vegetables. In the same skillet (do not clean), add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms to the hot pan and occasionally stir until browned, about 5 – 6 minutes. Add vegetable juice, red peppers, and the remaining Cajun seasoning (to taste) and cook for 1 – 2 minutes.
  4. Add Shrimp. Stir in remaining butter and shrimp, and heat ingredients for a minute.
  5. Plate. Scoop 1/4 grits into a pasta bowl and top with 1/4 the shrimp gravy.
  6. Garnish with green onion and peanuts.

Notes

This recipe is inspired by Home Chef, a wonderful meal kit delivery service.

*I do not recommend using instant grits that cook in 1 minute. Do not substitute cornmeal or cornflour for the grits.

** If using white grits, it’s nice to use a white cheddar

***Frozen raw (uncooked) shrimp is a great option if you cannot get fresh. Look for wild-caught American Shrimp. It will come from the coastal regions from which this recipe began – NC, SC, GA, FL, LA. Some packages will request thawing overnight and some will have quick thaw directions by placing shrimp in a colander and running cold water. If you cannot find an affordable price for wild-caught American shrimp, look for sustainable farm-raised.

Equipment needed: medium saucepan for grits; medium skillet for shrimp sauce.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: Fish & Seafood
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Southern American

Keywords: cheesy corn grits, polenta, easy weeknight dinner, Easter dinner side dish, holiday dinner side dish, lenten meal

Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes

Southern Inspired Meal

Make a Southern-inspired dinner. A Sunday dinner in the south generally consists of ham, greens, green beans, potatoes, rolls, and dessert – often banana pudding. I add shrimp grits to a southern feast. I love ham, especially leftovers cubed in soups, pasta, and salads

Let me know your thoughts on this post!

8 responses to “Southern Shrimp and Grits with Roasted Peanuts”

  1. I adore shrimp and grits, so I just had to try this recipe. It did not disappoint! Even though I forgot the final garnish — too eager to start chowing down. LOL. I also left the butter out (unintentionally), but I don’t think I missed anything. Definitely rivals the best restaurant versions I’ve had. Thanks for sharing, Karen!

    • I wish you could see the smile on my face as I read this review. Thank you thank you! It is such a great feeling to know you enjoyed making and eating shrimp & grits.

  2. I Love this recipe. I look for frozen shrimp sales and have
    it for special occasions and family weekday meals. I made this recipe for friends on a beach vacation with local fresh shrimp. Everyone thought it was the best meal of the week and we ate at many amazing restaurants. I was honored.

  3. Ok people Karen herself made this for our family tonight. All I can say is YUMMY!!! Give it a try it does not disappoint😋

  4. Need to try this recipe. I’m sure it will remind me of the delicious shrimp and grits that we had in FL.

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Karen The Supper Sanity Chef

Welcome to Supper Sanity

Hello, I’m Karen, a very passionate meal planner. As a mother of three, I have been planning family menus for years. When I was diagnosed with a digestive condition, I found it necessary to follow an eating regime that eliminated many ingredients. That made meal planning a health necessity. I’ve learned a lot and want to share my resources to simplify meal planning, shop efficiently and cook affordable homemade meals. If you wish to try new recipes, plan healthier meals, and enjoy a great dinner with your friends and family, Supper Sanity can help.

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