This easy shrimp and grits recipe incorporates bacon, which gives the dish a nice smoky undertone — and there’s plenty of silky gravy for spooning over the grits.

Shrimp and grits is a beloved Southern dish that originated as a humble and inexpensive meal for fishermen and their families. While traditionally a breakfast item, it has evolved into a popular dinner dish that can be found in all manner of restaurants, from casual seafood shacks to trendy hot spots. While the presence of shrimp and grits is a constant, there are many variations of the dish. Some recipes incorporate sausage or bacon, while others use different types of cheese or vegetables. To quote Daniel Gritzer from Serious Eats: “Shrimp and grits is a dish with so many renditions, the only thing you can really count on is that it contains shrimp…and grits.”

This version of shrimp and grits, courtesy of Once Upon a Chef, incorporates crispy bacon, which adds a delicious smoky flavor, and a generous amount of sauce for drizzling over the creamy grits.

Servings: 4
Total Time: 50 Minutes



        • 4 slices bacon, cut into ½-in dice
        • 1½ lbs jumbo (21/25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined, thawed if frozen
        • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, such as Emeril’s
        • ½ teaspoon salt
        • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
        • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, light and dark green parts divided
        • 1 large stalk celery, finely diced
        • 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
        • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
        • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
        • 2 cups chicken broth
        • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
        • ½ teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco


        • 4 cups whole or 2% milk
        • ¾ teaspoon salt
        • 1 cup quick-cooking grits (or regular grits if you have the time)
        • ¾ cup (2 oz) shredded Cheddar cheese


    1. Start the shrimp: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 7 minutes. Add the shrimp to the skillet and sprinkle with the Cajun seasoning and salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are mostly pink but not quite cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp and bacon mixture to a bowl and set aside; place the skillet back on the heat (do not wash).
    2. Melt the butter in the skillet. Add the light green scallions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and mix until incorporated. Whisk in the chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside while you make the grits.
    3. To really take the dish up a notch, save the shrimp peels, simmer them in the chicken broth for 15 minutes, and then strain; this will infuse the broth with the taste of the sea and add depth and complexity to the sauce.For the grits: In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, bring the milk and salt to a boil. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the grits into the bubbling milk. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking often, until the grits become thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. (Stir continuously to prevent sputtering.) Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese. Taste and adjust the salt, if necessary. Remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm until ready to serve.
    4. Divide the grits among serving bowls. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over the grits and serve. Pass the hot sauce, if desired.
    5. Place the skillet with the vegetable/sauce mixture back on the stove and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Return the shrimp and bacon, along with any juices that collected in the bowl, to the skillet and mix well. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a small handful of the dark green scallions over the shrimp (you may not need all of them).