She’s back, my inner southern belle, and she made you the creamiest, cheesiest, bangin’est Skinny Cajun Shrimp and Grits. Put on your biggest hat, pour yourself a glass of sweet tea, and let’s settle in for a plate of pure southern bliss.

Skinny Cajun Shrimp and Grits. A healthy 15 minute meal!

I’m not sure what it is about the idea of being southern that appeals to me so. The charming accent? The more relaxed pace of life? The abundance of high quality fried chicken, cheese straws, and buttermilk pie?

While my hair would never survive the southern humidity, and I speak at far too great a volume to be invited for tea with polite company, southern cuisine inspires me. While I can’t pretend to be an expert at the real-deal, I enjoy taking classic southern dishes like shrimp and grits and adding my own healthy twists and preparation short cuts to make them both lighter and attainable for the average home cook. My first project was this juicy, crisp Baked Fried Chicken; I have these tasty Tabasco Coconut Shrimp Skewers, which were inspired by a trip to Louisiana; and I am continuing my slimmed-down southern food adventures with today’s 15-minute cajun shrimp and grits.

15 Minute Skinny Shrimp and Grits. I couldn't believe this was lightened up!

15 Minute Cajun Shrimp and Grits

The Story Behind This Creamy Shrimp and Grits Recipe

My first experience with grits was the kind of culinary trauma most commonly associated with meatloaf and lima beans: a terrible childhood encounter that leads one to banish a particular food for all eternity. I vaguely remember my mom slopping a grainy, gelatinous blob onto my plate, informing me that it was called “grits,” then commanding me to eat it. I’m not entirely sure how the story ended (grits smothered into my napkin perhaps?), but from that moment on, I swore that the vile, lumpy mass would never again pass my lips.

Fast forward to college, when I traveled to Mobile, Alabama, to spend spring break with a friend’s family. We went out for a brunch, and my legit southern belle of a friend insisted that I try the cheesy grits. Coolly ignoring my loud, toddler-like disagreement, she ordered me a bowl and sweetly demanded that I taste them. After much cajoling (and a bloody Mary), I nervously lifted my fork, scooped the tiniest possible bite, and…oh grits, I sincerely regret the years I wasted despising you. Do forgive me, and let’s spend the rest of our lives celebrating the joy that you are.

Real grits are absolutely nothing like the lumpy, grainy mass I experienced in childhood. They are rich, comforting, and perfectly suited for pairing with the sharp, gooey cheddar and plump, Cajun-spiced shrimp you’ll find in today’s recipe.

Oven Roasted Cajun Shrimp and Grits

The key to grit success is to pour them into the water slowly, whisk constantly, and never ever use instant grits. While true southern chefs will steer you away from quick-cooking grits as well (despite the similar name, quick-cooking are different than instant), I found the quick-cooking kind to be perfectly agreeable, and they are ready in 5 minutes instead of 50. (If you are grit curious, you can read more about the different types here.)

For big flavor and a touch of decadence, I tossed in sharp cheddar cheese, nutty Parmesan, green onions, and a pat of butter. Traditional grits often call for half and half and/or a full stick of butter, but I found the grits to be plenty rich and creamy without them.

Front to back, these skinny cajun shrimp and grits are ready in 15 minutes, leaving you plenty of extra time to enjoy that glass of sweet tea.

Cheesy Grits with Scallions and Cheddar. Perfect for Cajun shrimp and grits

What to Serve with Shrimp and Grits

  • Salad. Pair this dish with a simple, light salad like Anytime Arugula Salad.
  • Vegetables. Sautéed Cabbage would be tasty as a side for shrimp and grits.
  • Bread. Sop up the scrumptious flavor with a crusty loaf of bread from your local bakery.

More Delicious Shrimp Recipes

Skinny Cajun Shrimp and Grits. Ready in 15 minutes!

Until next time, y’all.

Skinny Cajun Shrimp and Grits. A healthy 15 minute meal!

Skinny Cajun Shrimp and Grits

5 from 4 votes
A lighter, healthier version of Cajun shrimp and grits that's ready in only 15 minutes. Enjoy of all of the classic flavor with none of the guilt!

Total: 15 mins

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

For the Grits:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking or regular grits not instant
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, about 2 ounces
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, about 1 ounce, plus additional for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions white and green parts, plus additional for serving

For the Shrimp:

  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, 25 count, peeled and deveined, with tails on

Instructions
 

  • In a KitchenAid® 3.0-Quart Saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt, then slowly add the grits in a thin stream, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the grits thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in the butter, black pepper, cheeses, and green onions.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the KitchenAid® Convection Digital Countertop Oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic, paprika, thyme, oregano, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Add the shrimp and toss gently to coat. Spread the shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast the shrimp for 5 to 6 minutes, until just pink and cooked through. Serve a top the grits, sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese and green onions.

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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38 Comments

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  1. I love cajun food so much but I’ve never had grit before, which is weird because I grew up in the southern US. I totally want to try it now!

  2. Awesome  Erin, 
    Your talents must include mind reading, I have been looking for a Shrimp and Grits recipe. Can’t wait to try it  

  3. Oh yeah! This looks amazing Erin! I totally want shrimp this weekend thanks to this!
    Happy Friday!

  4. This is such a classic! I love all the cajun spice and how this meal is lightened up :)

  5. Ooh girl, yes! There’s nothing like a perfect bowl of shrimp and grits, and we’re picky down here :) This looks perfect! I’m personally not a fan of the tomato+tasso style, and what I usually make is so intensive and cream- and bacon-heavy, so this is excellent for summer. I’m right there with you about the *appeal* of being Southern.. I stayed down here for college because I was so fascinated with the idea of the culture! There are definitely a lot of amazing grandmamas who are just like you would think, and we definitely do still retain that culture. But then in practice there’s just a lot of nuttiness that comes with it, too, which I could do without. I’ll have to share my cooked banana pudding recipe with you! Straight from a like 85-year-old woman who literally marched Selma. So cool, and soooo damn good!

  6. Bonjour, Southern Belle! It’s great to have you back! Please tell me you made this in a full corset and A line skirt.

  7. Well, bless your heart, you made grits!   (Though honestly the only use I ever really had for grits was getting the butter from the plate to my mouth.  But yours look delicious.) Sending love from Mobile as we speak!

    1. I owe you a debt of gratitude for introducing me to this creamy southern wonder food! Tell your family hi :-)

  8. Oh, shrimp and grits – they are my not so secret crush!  Love this lighter recipe.  Have you tried the grits from Anson Mills?  THE BEST.

  9. That looks awesome! The shrimp looks SO tasty and flavorful – yumm!! Pinned :)

  10. Cajun flavours are my favourite! This definitely sounds like my kind of meal. It looks sooo beautiful! I’ve never tried grits before, but I really feel like I’m missing out, especially after seeing this delicious bowl! I have to make this!

  11. There’s something about Southern food that drives me wild. I was in my glory 2 years ago when we visited Charleston. This shrimp looks amazing! Tell your inner Southern Belle she’s welcome back any time. Pinned.

  12. I have been feeling the need to channel  my inner belle as well :) Charleston is our dream city and shrimp and grits are a MUST

  13. I never tried this grits before. It looks like rice but not exactly rice. Where to find this my dear? And just in case, i don’t have it at hand, can i use rice or something else as an alternative? Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Myrtice! Grits are available at nearly every grocery store in the aisle with the oatmeal. They are pretty unique (and inexpensive!) so they are worth seeking out. Hope you enjoy!

  14. This looks delicious, and can’t wait to try.  I did not see the nutritional values listed.  Can you provide?
    Thanks5 stars

    1. Hi Lisa! Nutritional information is something I started adding to recipes in January 2016. Unfortunately, it’s a time-consuming process, so I’m unable to go back to all my past recipes to add it. The good news is that you can calculate the calories for free at MyFitnessPal (there are other similar sites too). I hope that can be a helpful resource for you!

  15. hey! This Recipe looks good however I do not see where you stir in the Sharp Cheddar cheese and the Parm cheese. It only mentions the garnish Parm cheese.

    thanks

    1. Hi Donna! You’ll stir the cheeses in at the end of Step 1 with the butter. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

    1. Hi Sally! Many grits recipes call for a stick of butter and/or half-and-half, but this one only uses a pat of butter and cheeses. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

  16. So quick and easy. A lighter, but delicious spin on shrimp and grits. Used fresh gulf shrimp and instant grits. 15 minutes tops, and my family loved it!5 stars

  17. This recipe is the bomb!!! So easy and soooo tasty! We ended up having to use quick polenta instead of quick grits snd it worked out very well! I also sautéed up some chopped asparagus to throw on top. YUM!!!5 stars

  18. This recipe was absolutely perfect. When I was looking for a recipe for shrimp and grits, I couldn’t believe all the heavy cream and butter in almost every recipe online. This was much lighter but tasted exactly right. My husband and I both agreed that we couldn’t tell the difference between this and heavier versions we’ve had at restaurants. We added some chicken andouille sausage for fun and it was great. Thank you!5 stars

    1. Hi Denise! Nutritional information is something I started adding to recipes in January 2016. Unfortunately, it’s a time-consuming process, so I’m unable to go back to all my past recipes to add it. The good news is that you can calculate the calories for free at MyFitnessPal (there are other similar sites too). I hope that can be a helpful resource for you!