This Cajun New Orleans Shrimp and Grits recipe is made with creamy grits, bacon or sausage, and well-seasoned, spicy gravy. This is a classic Southern Louisiana dish perfect for breakfast, brunch, or even dinner.
If you love Southern-style grits or the Pappadeaux recipe, you are going to love this dish! This meal has become very popular on brunch menus throughout the years, but nothing beats the old school way of making it.
What Type of Grits to Use
There are several different types of grits: quick grits, instant grits, stone-ground grits, and hominy grits. Instant grits have been precooked and you can refer to the packaging instructions if you want to use those.
Quick grits are fine in texture instead of coarse. These will cook faster than stone ground grits, but not as fast as instant grits.
Stone-ground grits are what I prefer to use. They have a completely different texture than instant or quick. Stone-ground is made from whole dried corn kernels that have been coarsely ground the old-fashioned way: between the two stones of a grist mill. These are less processed and often have a rich corn flavor.
Stone-ground can be harder to find at an everyday grocery store. Most stores carry instant and quick. I got mine at Trader Joe’s and you can also pick up stone-ground grits from Amazon.
What Type of Shrimp to Use
There are several types of shrimp available: raw, pre-cooked, raw and frozen, deveined, tails on, tails off, etc.
There’s a difference in quality and taste when using pre-cooked shrimp. The shrimp is cooked and then frozen and you have to cook it/warm it up again. This usually overcooks the shrimp.
Deveined shrimp are simple to work with. The black vein that runs along the back of the shrimp is the digestive poop in the intestinal tract. You can buy shrimp with the vein and remove it using a sharp paring knife to make a slit along the back and lift out the vein with the tip of the knife.
Check out tips on How to Peel and Devein Shrimp here. As for sizing, I prefer large shrimp and 15-20 count packages.
How to Make Cajun New Orleans Shrimp and Grits
Detailed measurements and full instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Cook the grits in accordance with package instructions.
- Fry bacon on both sides until crisp.
- Season shrimp and cook. until translucent.
- Add chopped onions and garlic to a skillet along with broth, Cajun Seasoning, and lemon juice.
- Stir until the gravy sauce thickens.
- Serve the grits with shrimp, bacon, and gravy.
Grits Gravy and Sauce
The Cajun gravy is the stand-out element of this dish. You will make the gravy using broth (I like to use chicken broth), onions, garlic, bacon drippings, Cajun Seasoning, and fresh lemon juice.
How to Substitute Bacon
You can substitute bacon for andouille or Cajun sausage. Meat is used in the recipe for additional flavor. You can also simply omit it if you wish.
Runny Watery Grits
Runny grits are the result of too much liquid. The grits may have also been cooked at too high of a temperature. The type of grits you use will determine the amount of liquid you need and different brands may cook differently as well. Be sure to review the instructions on the package of grits you purchase. Take note of the liquid to grits ratio and make adjustments to this recipe if necessary.
If you find your grits are runny you can drain any excess water/broth to help with thickening. Grits will thicken as they cool.
You should never be in a rush when making grits unless you use this Instant Pot Grits method. No stirring and it’s full proof! If your grits are lumpy it’s because they weren’t whisked and stirred often enough.
Raw and frozen shrimp are translucent gray. When it’s cooked, it should be an opaque white with some pink and bright red accents. This is the best indicator of whether or not shrimp is fully cooked.
When shrimp cooks, the muscle contracts, so the shrimp shrinks and curls. I find that it’s perfectly cooked when it has a C shape. I remove the shrimp from heat immediately when it reaches this shape. Often, if it reaches an O shape, and completely curls in, it will taste overcooked.
If your shrimp is dry, rubbery, or mushy, you cooked it too long. Shrimp cooks fast, it’s another reason why it’s one of my favorites for quick meals. The key is to remove them from the heat right when the flesh is uniformly pink. Watch shrimp closely as it cooks, do not wander away, especially if you are cooking it in a pan and searing it on the stove.
Pair With These Recipes
More Cajun Recipes
More Shrimp Recipes
Air Fryer Bang Bang Shrimp
Lemon Pepper Shrimp
Bang Bang Shrimp Pasta
Grilled Shrimp Skewers
Cedar Plank Grilled Shrimp
Shrimp and Crab Quiche
Shrimp Egg Rolls
Healthy Pad Thai with Chicken and Shrimp
Cajun New Orleans Shrimp and Grits
- 2 ¼ cup chicken broth You can also substitute water. See notes.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup stone ground grits
- 1 cup milk Any milk will work. See notes.
- 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan reggiano cheese
Shrimp and Gravy
- 1 pound raw shrimp Peeled and deveined.
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 slices bacon or 3oz andouille sausage Diced into small pieces 1/4inch thick.
- 1/2 cup chopped white onions
- 3 garlic cloves Minced
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning Start with 1/2 teaspoon. Taste repeatedly and adjust to taste as needed.
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- In a large pot combine the broth, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil.
- Gradually stir in the grits. Lower the heat to Low and continue to stir the grits frequently for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Stirring is essential. If you don’t constantly stir the grits they will be lumpy.
- Once the liquid has been absorbed, remove the pot from heat and add the milk and shredded cheese. Stir until thick and creamy.
- Allow the grits to thicken for at least 10 minutes.
Shrimp and Gravy
- Heat a skillet on medium-high heat and fry the bacon (or sausage) on both sides until crisp. Remove the bacon (or sausage) and set aside.
- Reserve the bacon (or sausage) grease in the skillet to make the gravy. Use your judgment and drain any excess grease if you feel the need to.
- Add the shrimp to the pan with the bacon (or sausage) grease on medium heat. Season the shrimp with the Old Bay Seasoning. Cook both sides of the shrimp for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove the shrimp and set aside.
- Add the chopped onions and garlic to the skillet on medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent and fragrant.
- Add the broth to the skillet. Deglaze the pan by using a wooden spoon or spatula to scoop up any brown bits in the pan.
- Add in the Cajun seasoning and lemon juice. Stir. Crumble the bacon (or sausage) and sprinkle it into the skillet. See notes for how to thicken the gravy if you like it thick.
- Serve on plates or in bowls. Add the grits topped with shrimp. Drizzle gravy and bacon throughout.
- If you use Instant Grits or Quick Grits refer to your packaging for instructions on how to cook them.
- The bacon or sausage is used in the recipe for additional flavor. You can also simply omit it if you wish. You can also substitute turkey bacon or sausage.
- Cooking the grits in broth gives them a rich flavor. You can use water if you prefer.
- The thicker the milk you use, the creamier your grits will be. Keep this in mind if you plan to use low-fat skim milk or plant-based milk.
- Feel free to substitute any cheese you like.
- If you like a thick gravy you can combine 1 tablespoon of water along with 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour in a bowl. Mix well and add it to the gravy. Stir continuously until thick. Since the grits are already thick, the dish is often served with a thin sauce. If you like it thick, this will thicken it up.
- If your shrimp is dry, rubbery, or mushy, you cooked it too long. The key is to remove them from the heat right when the flesh is uniformly pink. Watch shrimp closely as it cooks, do not wander away, especially if you are cooking it in a pan and searing it on the stove.
- If you find your grits are runny you can drain any excess water/broth to help with thickening.
- If your grits are lumpy it’s because they weren’t whisked and stirred often enough.
- You can make full proof grits using an Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Cook for 10 minutes with 15 minutes of release of natural steam.