Southern Shrimp and Grits

All generalizations are false, including this one. ~Mark Twain

This is another “Vintage ASP” post, coming out of the shadows of yesteryear. My favorite Southern Shrimp and Grits Recipe is being recycled because… it’s so darn good! Plus, it’s extremely easy to make.

I’ve been living in North Carolina for almost seven years now. I guess I had preconceptions about what it would be like living in the South. While planning for our move, my thoughts often ran to dark images of starchy, high-nosed women bearing over-sized hats, rundown appliances and a tractor sitting in an overgrown front yard, BBQ doused with vinegar, and (typing with lightly treading fingers)…remnants of bigotry. I thought at very best, it would be like “Steel Magnolias.”

Choosing to come with an open mind and positive attitude, I quickly discovered I was quite off base! Yes, this IS a pearl-wearing, sweet-tea-drinking, pork-loving kind of place. (Nothing against pearls or pork.) But, I quickly discovered there is an intangible charm about the South–a magical quality you don’t find in most places.

I’ll try to explain my findings; I realize I’m stereo-typing, please forgive.

People really are more hospitable in the South. They stop by your house to check on you, and offer many invites to theirs. They send thank you notes for thank you notes. And they always offer you cake–wherever you go!

In one word, Charleston. If you have never been to Charleston, South Carolina it is a MUST EXPERIENCE kind of place! The buildings and historical markers are almost incomparable in the US. Loaded with art galleries, street musicians and gourmet restaurants on every corner; it’s a city you hope to get lost in!

The language here not only encompasses the alluring draw we think of, but many smile-jerking slang terms as well. Conversations are sprinkled with amusing expressions that are completely new to me. I’ll list a few I’ve recently heard and just had to write down…

“Well, that just dills my pickle!”

“You know that boy is slicker than frog skin.”

“I’m sweatin’ like a fat girl writin’ a love letter!”

“That’s about as useful as a pogo stick in quicksand.”

“It’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a pool table!”

“You know, the sun don’t shine on the same dog’s tail all the time.”

“She’s tighter than the skin on a grape.”

People still smoke in the south! Maybe it’s not a high note, but a curious discovery, none-the-less. Asheville is considered something of a health utopia; yet it’s unbelievable how many people smoke here. I think it has something to do with the fact that there is at least one tobacco field on EVERY country road.

Southerners are very proud of their history, culture and architecture. They are aware–and in many cases–even apologetic about their shaded past, but they know their history well and tell richly colorful stories. They seem genuinely happy to share interesting facts about their town and local heroes. And they celebrate the unique art and music culture they have cultivated.

But most of all, I have discovered the wonders of Southern Cooking! It is serious business down here. There are culinary rules steeped in tradition that must be followed. Until our move, I was unaware that cornbread MUST be baked in a cast iron skillet–and in bacon grease. Any other way will only produce a cheap imitation.

Dishes like squash casserole, tomato pies, tomato jam, boiled peanuts, fried pickles, soft shell crabs, and fried green tomatoes were completely foreign to me. Now that I have been enlightened, I don’t know how I could ever live without soft shell crabs or fried green tomatoes! Also, I’m almost certain I had never eaten grits before living here. Sure, I had eaten POLENTA plenty of times…but grits, no. And did you know that their is a difference between Cajun and creole cooking? I had no idea! They come from completely different origins.

I am forever a student of my environment, and I plan to pay close attention in class.

These fantastic dishes are from Villeroy & Boch’s Farmhouse Line.

I came up with this recipe for Southern Shrimp and Grits shortly after our move. We enjoyed Shrimp and Grits at a local restaurant and knew this was one we’d have to make at home. It’s a cozy love-fest for seafood, bacon, corn and cheese with a bright pop from the lemon to balance the flavors. If you are exploring Southern cooking, this is the perfect place to start!


In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add grits, ¾ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper. Whisk well to avoid clumping. Reduce heat to lowest setting and cook until water is absorbed, 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter, cheese and 2-3 dashes of cayenne pepper. Cover until ready to serve.

Fry the bacon over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When crisp, remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.

About the bacon…I like to cut my bacon with kitchen sheers, it’s a little easier than using a knife. Also, remove it from the pan when it has JUST turned brick red, not brown. If you are listening carefully, you’ll here the sizzle change when it’s ready!

Add shrimp and another dash of cayenne pepper to the bacon grease and sauté until pink—about 3 minutes. Immediately add onions, garlic, parsley and lemon juice. Toss and remove from the heat. No need to salt the shrimp, since it’s going into bacon grease.

Divide grits onto plates and top with the shrimp mixture and bacon.


Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Southern Shrimp and Grits


For the Grits:
1 cup stone-ground grits
3 Tb. butter
2 cups shredded fontina cheese
Cayenne pepper

For the Shrimp:
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ lb. bacon, chopped
½ lemon, juiced
2-3 Tb. chopped parsley
1 small bunch chopped green onions (3/4 cup)
1 large garlic clove, minced
Salt and Pepper


In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add grits, ¾ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper. Whisk well to avoid clumping. Reduce heat to lowest setting and cook until water is absorbed, 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter, cheese and 2-3 dashes of cayenne pepper. Cover until ready to serve.

Fry the bacon over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When crisp, remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.

Add shrimp and another dash of cayenne pepper to the bacon grease and sauté until pink—about 3 minutes. Immediately add onions, garlic, parsley and lemon juice. Toss and remove from the heat.

No need to salt the shrimp, since it's going into bacon grease.

Divide grits onto plates and top with the shrimp mixture and bacon.

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79 Responses to “Southern Shrimp and Grits”

  1. #
    Nelly Rodriguez — May 9, 2011 @ 6:16 am

    Southern Cooking is in my Top 3 favorite cooking of all times! This dish is so beautiful and I love the photographs. Reading this at 8am makes me now want to make grits for breakfast!


  2. #
    Belinda @zomppa — May 9, 2011 @ 6:20 am

    HMM! These shrimp and grits are perfect! Charleston is such a great food scene. And I love these sayings down here, too!


  3. #
    Maris (In Good Taste) — May 9, 2011 @ 6:28 am

    These shrimp look amazingingly delicious! The photos are awesome!


  4. #
    Apron Appeal — May 9, 2011 @ 6:34 am

    My favorite description of southern pride is when Margaret Mitchell explains in the intro/forward of Gone With the Wind that she was a young adult before she learned that the south had actually lost the war. (or something to that affect) Anyway, Shrimp I can stand behind..grits…I think I’m closed minded to that texture.


    • Teresa F — February 14th, 2015 @ 11:42 pm

      I have to tell ya. I don’t like grits either, like you it’s a texture thing. BUT, I absolutely love shrimp and grits. Give it a taste I honestly think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I know I was.


  5. #
    Dan — May 9, 2011 @ 7:00 am

    Looks very yummy. I never thought about shrimp and grits together, but I guess they are both Southern foods. That’d be nice to try some time.


  6. #
    5 Star Foodie — May 9, 2011 @ 8:09 am

    Your shrimp and grits looks amazing! So good with fontina cheese and bacon!


  7. #
    Vanderbilt Wife — May 9, 2011 @ 7:49 am

    YUM! I love me some shrimp and grits.

    My personal favorite Southernism is that something’s “so good it makes you wanna slap your mamma.”

    The first time I heard that I was pretty flabbergasted. I grew up in Richmond, VA, which I quickly learned is NOT THE SOUTH once I moved to Tennessee!


  8. #
    Feast on the Cheap — May 9, 2011 @ 8:53 am

    My mouth is literally watering…


  9. #
    Sarah — May 9, 2011 @ 9:28 am

    Your description fits my southern relatives to a T! People always think I’m crazy for writing thank-you notes. It’s just proper manners! I have yet to make grits, however. This recipe just might fit the ticket to get me started…


  10. #
    pachecopatty — May 9, 2011 @ 9:36 am

    My husband would love this Sommer, thanks for a fun delicious looking recipe with a lot of Southern character, loved reading your quotes, very funny;-)


  11. #
    Parsley Sage — May 9, 2011 @ 9:43 am

    Gorgeous dish! And very Southern :) I grew up in the south and I find myself missing the food the older I get. Thanks for sharing, maybe with this I can imitate that lovely southern style!


  12. #
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert — May 9, 2011 @ 10:22 am

    You are so funny! Welcome to The South. Growing up in Tennessee then moving to Colorado, I was teased A LOT! Got rid of that accent real fast. And having been raised in the south, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never had, nor have I made, Shrimp & Grits. Now that the truth is out I may have to give it a whirl. I must say that your photos are wonderful, the food looks tremendous … and you’re just about as handy as a pocket on a shirt!


  13. #
    Gerry Speirs — May 9, 2011 @ 10:23 am

    Glad I found your blog. It looks amazing and the pictures really do speak a thousand words,
    Thanks for sharing…


  14. #
    Tricia B — May 9, 2011 @ 10:42 am

    Sorry – just a couple more to share.

    Do you know what GRITS stands for? Girls Raised In The South!
    and I saw this on FB recently and it’s all so true!

    Tennessee ♥.. Where the tea is sweet & accents are sweeter, summer starts in April, front porches are wide & words are long, macaroni & cheese is a vegetable, pecan pie is a staple, y’all is a proper pronoun, chicken is fried, & biscuits come with gravy, everyone is darling & someone is always getting their heart blessed!!


    • Sommer — May 9th, 2011 @ 10:53 am

      …I’ve discovered “Bless your heart” can mean a lot of things in the South!


  15. #
    Jennifurla — May 9, 2011 @ 10:55 am

    What alovely post, I adore the way people treat me in the south. It was almost strange to me how nice they were! Love this recipe, gorgeous pictures.


  16. #
    carolinaheartstrings — May 9, 2011 @ 10:56 am

    This just looks fantastic. This is one of my favorite southern dishes. Wonderful pictures.


  17. #
    Angie's Recipes — May 9, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

    The shrimp looks mouthwatering! Excellent photos too.


  18. #
    Linda — May 9, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

    I’m sold and packing my bags to move to South Carolina!! Please post many more Southern dishes! I love learning about traditional food/customs. I was like you, never had grits in my life until about the first of this year when I realized they were gluten free. I’ve only eaten grits as breakfast food; preparing them as a bed for that yummy shrimp reminds me of polenta. I am definitely bookmarking this to try out!


  19. #
    Steve @ HPD — May 9, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

    Is this just a coincidence? Because today (May 9) is National Shrimp Day.


  20. #
    fooddreamer — May 9, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

    I love this post because you’ve obviously come to love and appreciate everything about where you live. And your southern-inspired cooking shows it!


  21. #
    Steve @ HPD — May 9, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

    Asheville’s in the south? :^)


  22. #
    Katie@Cozydelicious — May 9, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

    Haha, I am laughing so hard over those expressions! And your shrimp looks fantastic!


  23. #
    The Food Hound — May 9, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

    Girl, it’s Asheville… that’s like South Light, hahah!!! I LOVE the expressions– they must stay on your side of the mountains because we have a totally different set, but equally as colorful :) I, too, had preconceived notions of the South before we moved here, and some are true, some are not. I have yet to go to Charleston OR Savannah (shame on me!!) but they are both on my list! The BH LOVES shrimp and grits, so I will have to make this!


  24. #
    Mindy — May 9, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

    Sommer—-take a peek at my recent post—there’s something there for you!!!! Thanks for inspiration!


  25. #
    Dmarie — May 9, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

    great post…I’m glad you brought it back, ’cause I missed it the first time!


  26. #
    Cookin' Canuck — May 9, 2011 @ 5:36 pm

    I have only visited one place in the south, but would love to go to Charleston. Your shrimp and grits looks savory and addictive.


  27. #
    Lisa @ Tarte du Jour — May 9, 2011 @ 7:49 pm

    Mmmmm. these shrimp looked perfectly cooked…. what a marvelous recipe!


  28. #
    lindsey@lindselicious — May 9, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

    I’ve never had shrimp and grits but these photos totally make me want to try it ASAP! I feel like I am missing out on this deliciousness. Thanks for sharing!!


  29. #
    Maris (I nGood Taste) — May 10, 2011 @ 3:14 am

    Looks more delicious then anything I have seen in a restaurant!


  30. #
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen — May 10, 2011 @ 4:55 am

    Okay now I really want to hear someone use this one – “You know, the sun don’t shine on the same dog’s tail all the time.” How on earth does that work itself into conversation?


    • Sommer — May 10th, 2011 @ 8:59 am

      I think it’s along the lines of “Lightening doesn’t strike the same tree twice.” or even used as “Nobody gets their way all of the time.” Yeah, that one really brought a smile and a question mark!


  31. #
    elle marie — May 10, 2011 @ 5:00 am

    You are speaking my language… I love how you go through the process of your dishes, you are influencing me to try to do that as well… I’m inspired! I love, love grits and Cream of Wheat are my favorites.


  32. #
    Ilke — May 10, 2011 @ 5:19 am

    I need to save these phrases! God bless your heart, Sommer! Beautiful piece:)


  33. #
    Emily @Cleanliness — May 10, 2011 @ 9:19 am

    All I dream about is moving to the South. Your post is so honest, I love it!! :)

    This is a great dish, too!


  34. #
    Mindy — May 10, 2011 @ 8:59 am

    Oh—btw—-I’m seriously drooling over the shrimp and grits!!!


  35. #
    Anna — May 10, 2011 @ 9:43 am

    Sommer, Sommer, Sommer…. You are killing me here. It’s just 8:30 in the morning and I already crave shrimp. It looks absolutely amazing, the shrimp, the bacon, the green onions….yummmmm. And your pictures are great. Well done girl.


  36. #
    torviewtoronto — May 10, 2011 @ 9:52 am

    colorful presentation looks wonderful


  37. #
    Liz — May 10, 2011 @ 9:57 am

    Wow, how beautiful…and certainly delicious! Love those farm house dishes, too…coveting :)


  38. #
    Amy @ Gastronome Tart — May 10, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

    Oohhh… I LOVE shrimp and grits! Your photos are wonderful!


  39. # — May 10, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

    My gosh, your photos are amazing! And the food is crazy good!! The best food is in the South!


  40. #
    Kristen — May 10, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

    I am looking forward to moving to the South this summer…maybe mostly for the food! Shrimp and grits is on the top of my list of foods to try first.


  41. #
    briarrose — May 10, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

    I love the quotes. :) I’ve spent too much time in the South I think….I get the urge to pan fry waaaay too often…and a dish just isn’t finished unless it’s covered in some sort of gravy. I sprinkle my conversation with “ya’ll.” I’d like to blame my desire to feed everyone on the South, but that’s just in the blood.

    Fabulous pictures of this dish….it looks amazing.


  42. #
    Lea Ann — May 10, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

    Your version sounds absolutely wonderful. I made bbq shrimp and grits once from Food and Wine magazine article and I tell you, it was fabulous.


  43. #
    Emily @ Life On Food — May 10, 2011 @ 6:50 pm

    I love shrimp and grits. Whenever I travel to the south I order it in restaurants. I feel like southerns don’t order such things at restaurants.


  44. #
    oh amanda — May 10, 2011 @ 7:15 pm

    Shrimp & Grits (or shrimngrits, as I like to say) may be my most favorite meal ever. If it’s ever on a menu I can’t get past it. I MUST ORDER IT!

    Thank you for this post–and I love the southern perspective. I’ve lived in Atlanta my entire life so I get it! :)


  45. #
    kankana — May 10, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

    I have been to North Carolina but never to South Carolina. I really enjoyed how nicely you explained your love for the place and the cuisines. I love polenta and enjoy it a lot. Grits ..I never tried but with the combination of that shrimp and green onions, I would love to give a try !


  46. #
    Melissa — May 11, 2011 @ 5:42 am

    I love this post for so many reasons. I went to culinary school in Charleston and love it so much. A fabulous town with delicious food and nice people- I try to get back every year. You’re right, Southern culture is fascinating and fabulous. Savannah is lovely as well…it’s about as gothic as you can get in America there. I love wandering around. And this recipe…oh! Those bacon bits alone are making my mouth water (every good Southern hostess knows to serve a cured pork product…’cause they’re salty and salt makes people thirst…thirst makes people drink more…drinking loosens the party (and the lips) up). I’m going to have try this soon. Real soon.


  47. #
    Jo-Lynne {Musings of a Housewife} — May 11, 2011 @ 9:13 am

    I have been DYING to learn how to make this dish. I love the South and its stereotypes — the food most of all! :-) I’m copying this and adding it to my meal plan next week!


  48. #
    cakewhiz — May 11, 2011 @ 11:24 pm

    I am not a seafood fan but this looks delightful! Congrats on the top 9! :D


  49. #
    Mandy@Catertome — May 11, 2011 @ 11:53 pm

    I’ve made polenta before, but never grits…this looks absolutely amazing! But then again, with bacon, shrimp and cheese, you really can’t go wrong! I will definitely be trying this, thank you for sharing


  50. #
    Kelly — May 12, 2011 @ 12:05 am

    Looks so yummy!


  51. #
    purabi naha — May 12, 2011 @ 12:57 am

    The Shrimp and Grits recipe is really intersting and the photos look great too! Congrats on being featured on Foodbuzz.


  52. #
    Magic of Spice — May 12, 2011 @ 8:45 am

    So fantastic and a gorgeous dish…I grew up with food like this as my dad’s specialties were Creole and Cajin cuisine, love it!


  53. #
    Cheryl and Adam @ — May 12, 2011 @ 8:53 am

    Congrats on the Top 9! Beautiful photos, delicious southern classic dish. Yum!


  54. #
    brenda joan — May 12, 2011 @ 9:12 am

    I think this is a great recipe! If may just use a cheesy rice instead of grits, I think that will work.


  55. #
    Priscilla @ She'sCookin' — May 12, 2011 @ 10:06 am

    So true! Thanks for putting a smile on my face this morning :) When we visit my hometown (Eureka Springs, Ark) it was hard for my husband (a Yankee) to realize that folks want to help you and they don’t expect anything in return – although a slice of cake or pie will be accepted. Your shrimp and grits has awakened a craving – just might make it for dinner tonight! Congrats on the Top 9, Sommer!


  56. #
    Michelle — May 12, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

    Your shrimp & grits look amazing!! And I, too, LOVE Charleston. Next time you’re there, check out Hominy Grill. Their shrimp & grits are super delicious. Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to make this for my hubby! :)


  57. #
    Sook — May 12, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

    I love shrimp! I haven’t had shrimp in so long! I will save this recipe for later. Thank you!


  58. #
    Ruby — May 12, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

    Truly gorgeous dish (bookmarking it for next week’s menu planning) and funnily enough your list of southern expressions reminded me of my English granddad! He’d say things like ‘It’s colder than a witch’s t*ts’ – at least when my nan wasn’t within earshot! ;-)


  59. #
    Sabrina@loulousucre — May 14, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

    Beautiful!!! I am in Louisiana and probably eat shrimp and grits at least once a month. Your recipe looks great. I usually make mine with andouille instead of bacon, but can’t wait to try your version. I’m glad that you are loving the South. I think that those of us who have never been anywhere else take it for granted sometimes. Thanks for the reminder of how great it is to be southern!!


  60. #
    Chef Dennis — May 14, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

    wow, what a perfectly created dish! I love everything about it, and don’t get me started on grits!! They actually use instant grits up north…..yuk

    I do miss the south so much, we have great food up here, but it just can’t compare to southern cooking !



  61. #
    CLAIRE — May 17, 2011 @ 11:51 am

    holy cow this looks amazing! so happy you pulled this one out- love me some shrimp and grits!


  62. #
    Megan — May 18, 2011 @ 9:07 am

    Hello! What a fun post! I adore all the quotes… I have a new southern friend and all these sweet sayings are dear to my heart. I love that you are embracing southern cooking. The dish you created is amazing!


  63. #
    Adele Forbes — May 28, 2011 @ 11:21 am

    Have just dissected your blog and love every single inch of it and have shared alot of the recipes with all of my Facebook friends. I live in the mountains of NC near Linville.


    • emily willingham — May 4th, 2012 @ 6:39 am

      ah, Linville – God’s country


  64. #
    Fred — May 29, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

    My girlfriend just made this for diner … it was a real mouth pleasure…
    different tastes in comes on your tongue in the same time…
    absolutly amazing!!!

    ENJOY !!


    • JLu — February 11th, 2014 @ 8:33 am

      Thanks for an actual review of the food!


  65. #
    marla — August 7, 2011 @ 9:53 pm

    Southern cooking is wonderful & I agree Charleston is a remarkable city that I would like to visit again some time soon. Love the shrimp & grits and the slang.


  66. #
    megan @ whatmegansmaking — August 8, 2011 @ 3:47 am

    I haven’t experienced much southern cooking, but this looks really good!


  67. #
    Tickled Red — August 8, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

    One of my all time favorite recipes! Girl, I know it’s seven years too late but seeing as how we just recently discovered each other, Welcome to the south :) This post had me cracking up. As an Asheville born transplant to the NC coast, I can’t wait for you to come visit some time. We will most definitely whip up some shrimp and grits.


  68. #
    Feast on the Cheap — August 11, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

    Give me those grits! Having a southern week myself…we just posted some Southern Sausage & Cheese Biscuits from my great nana.

    This looks wonderful!


  69. #
    emily willingham — May 4, 2012 @ 6:25 am

    hi, a Sandlapper here (south Carolinian) – great post, but one little correction – its DRAWL, not draw, e.g., “I just love that Southern drawl you have, darlin’ “


  70. #
    emily willingham — May 4, 2012 @ 6:38 am

    oh, and if you want to try truly, authentic, stone-ground, south carolina grits, you can order them online here at Geechi Boys Mills:
    What is Geechi, you ask? Its a south carolina dialect that the Gullah people of the Charleston-area low country speak


  71. #
    Joanna — June 5, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

    Just made this for dinner tonight it was unbelievably good! Thank you for your awesome recipes I cannot wait to try more!


  72. #
    JW — March 7, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

    My girlfriend and I made this recipe last night and it was delicious!!!! We used corn grits instead and loved the mix of flavors! Next time we are going to add a fresh tomato wine sauce. Thank you for the recipe!!!



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