This Easy Shrimp and Grits Recipe is an authentic taste of a classic. The creamiest grits on the planet are drizzled with an easy buttery hot sauce studded with andouille sausage, and topped with juicy, spicy shrimp. Deceptively simple!
Easy Shrimp and Grits Recipe
Ahhh shrimp and grits. Easy to order at restaurants, hard to perfect at home. At least I thought it was.
Until now. Because much to my surprise, it’s easy!
So easy in fact, I find myself making it waaay more often than I should.
Here’s the deal. My version of shrimp and grits of course has the CREAMIEST, most delicious grits. Those perfect grits are then smothered in an easy buttery hot sauce studded with spicy andouille sausage, and then topped with sweet, (also buttery) shrimp.
Shrimp and grits has always been one of those meals I order every single time I see it on a menu. Both because I truly love it and find it hard to resist, and also because I’m constantly trying to find the very “best” version out there.
For a landlocked town, you’d be surprised how many restaurants are serving up pretty stellar versions of the dish, but my absolute favorite is from this restaurant that manages to make the creamiest, yet texture-heavy (quite the oxymoron, but so true) grits paired with the sweetest shrimp, all smothered in a zippy, spicy sauce.
It’s kind of heaven.
After ordering it dozens of times, I finally complied enough notes to try and replicate it at home.
My inaugural version was DELICIOUS, but the grits needed perfecting, and now after a quick re-evaluation, I think I’ve got it nailed down. Although I can’t promise I won’t keep tinkering with it to make it even better over the next few years.
Secrets to Easy Shrimp and Grits
So the recipe is easy. I promise. But to end up with a bowl of truly authentic shrimp and grits, you need to follow my instructions precisely. Here are some non-negotiables:
- Use quality grits. For me, this means Bob’s Red Mill corn grits. Instant grits, quick-cooking polenta and cornmeal will not suffice.
- Don’t be afraid of a little fat. Yes there’s a significant amount of butter and cream, no it won’t kill you. Trust.
- Use Frank’s hot sauce. This to me, has the PERFECT amount of spice to acid, and I love it. It’s also inexpensive, which I also love.
- Do not use cheap, teeny tiny shrimp. Splurge a little bit on 16-20 count large shrimp. My favorite shrimp are the Trader Joe’s red Argentinean shrimp – they taste like lobster, and are SOO delicious.
- Don’t substitute the andouille sausage for chicken sausage, or Italian sausage or…anything. Andouille sausage is the perfect compliment to the zippy hot sauce and shrimp, and it’s what makes this dish.
Perfect creamy southern-style grits
The important thing to remember, like any recipe, is the key to maximum flavor is all about layering ingredients. So for the grits I like to use part chicken stock, part water and part cream. For me, it’s the perfect combination of liquids that flavor the grits, but also help create that super creamy texture that I (and everyone else) adores about good shrimp and grits.
Aside from the chicken stock, another big flavor punch is from the addition of cheddar cheese, and not surprisingly so, extra-sharp cheddar is what I go for. If you have it, a little bit of aged parmesan cheese would also be great, but it’s not mandatory.
Like the grits, the sauce itself is pretty simple, but uses some key ingredients for maximum flavor – andouille sausage and garlic.
Obviously the sausage is something tangible you can find in the final product, but by sautéing the sausage in a little bit of olive oil before cooking the shrimp, it adds another layer of flavor you wouldn’t get by simply cooking the shrimp in olive oil alone.
Once the shrimp and sausage are cooked, a little bit of garlic is added in along with plenty of Frank’s hot sauce, lemon juice for an acidic kick (a must), and butter, because butter belongs in shrimp in grits, obviously.
For assembly, I like to spoon the grits into shallow bowls, arrange the shrimp on top, and then spoon the sausage and sauce on top. A generous sprinkling of green onion garnishes everything, and these bad boys are ready to be served. \
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp salt, divided
- 1 cup yellow corn grits (I use Bob's Red Mill)
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 1/4 lbs large 16-20 count shrimp, peeled and deveined (You'll want 5-6 large shrimp per person)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped andouille sausage
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup Frank's red hot sauce
- 1/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
- 1/4 cup sliced green onion, plus more for garnish
- stock pot
- Add water, chicken stock, cream and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Slowly add grits while whisking. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer while stirring occasionally until creamy and cooked, about 40-45 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon butter and cheese. Stir until cheese and butter are melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- When the grits are a few minutes away from being done. Generously season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Set aside for a minute.
- Heat a large non-stick skillet to a medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add sausage. Sauté sausage until golden brown on all sides, about 2-3 minutes. Keep oil in pan and remove sausage with a slotted spoon.
- Keep the heat on medium and add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan. Add shrimp. Cook until shrimp are bright pink and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Remove shrimp, set aside. Add garlic, sauté 1-2 minutes or until softtned. Add chicken stock, lemon juice and hot sauce to pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Once the sauce has reduced a bit, whisk remaining butter in one tablespoon at a time. Add green onion, reserved sausage, and shrimp. Toss and remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Spoon grits into four bowls. Evenly divide the shrimp between the bowls and spoon sauce and sausage on top. Garnish with more green onion.