Every time I visit the South, I am reminded anew of how special and comforting Southern cuisine is. Cajun Shrimp and Grits are one of the best ways to enjoy it, no matter where you live.
The South, but it draws me in every time I visit.
Maybe it’s the charming accent? The more relaxed pace of life?
The abundance of high-quality fried chicken (try this Air Fryer Fried Chicken Breast for similar vibes), cheese straws, and Sweet Potato Pie?
And oh yes, it is Southern cuisine.
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 shortcuts to make them attainable for the average home cook.
My first project was this juicy, crisp Baked Fried Chicken; I have these tasty Shrimp Kabobs with Pineapple, which were inspired by a trip to Louisiana.
Now, I’m sharing my version of Cajun shrimp and grits.
The shrimp is boldly-spiced, and the grits are rich, comforting, and perfectly suited for pairing with gooey sharp cheddar and Parmesan.
With exceptional flavor and a lightened-up ingredients list, this is truly the BEST shrimp and grits recipe when you need an easy dinner.
5 Star Review
“This recipe was absolutely perfect. This was much lighter but tasted exactly right.”— Andrea —
How to Make Cajun Shrimp and Grits
Not only is this recipe exceptionally tasty and comforting, but it’s also lightning fast.
Front to back, these skinny cajun shrimp and grits are ready in less than 30 minutes.
- Shrimp. Protein-packed, quick-cooking, and delicious.
- Shrimp Seasoning. A cajun-inspired mix of paprika, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper, pepper, and salt. It’s smoky, a little spicy, and packed with bold flavors.
- Grits. Due to their mild, neutral flavor, grits are a blank canvas. In this recipe, they soak up the buttery, cheesy goodness and Cajun seasonings from the shrimp.
- Butter. Grits and butter were meant to be. The butter helps ensure the grits are rich, creamy, and flavorful. Traditional grits often call for half-and-half, but I found the grits to be plenty rich and creamy without it.
- Cheese. What goes well in shrimp and grits? Cheese does! Parmesan and sharp cheddar cheese pair perfectly with the Cajun seasonings and melt lusciously into the grits.
- Green Onions. For a touch of freshness and crunch.
- Cook the grits, then add butter, pepper, cheese, and green onions.
- Toss the shrimp with the seasonings and oil. Bake at 400 degrees F for 5 to 6 minutes. Serve the shrimp over the grits with additional cheese and green onions. ENJOY!
- To Store. Refrigerate shrimp and grits in separate airtight storage containers for up to 2 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze shrimp and grits in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Leftover shrimp makes an excellent addition to pasta. Use shrimp to spice up this Avocado Pasta, or incorporate it into my Cajun Shrimp Pasta. Leftover grits are scrumptious with bacon or sausage for breakfast.
What to Serve with Cajun Shrimp and Grits
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Saucepan. You’ll love this saucepan for everything from grits to sauces.
- Baking Sheet. Perfect for baking the shrimp.
- Cheese Grater. High-quality and incredibly easy to use.
Until next time, y’all.
Frequently Asked Questions
Definitely! If you want Cajun shrimp and grits with sausage, add cooked andouille sausage to the finished grits with the shrimp. (Fans of shrimp and andouille sausage, you’ll love my Cajun Shrimp Boil Foil Packets.)
New Orleans is known for shrimp and grits that’s full of flavor and that uses tomato. If you’d like to make this into a Cajun shrimp and grits tomato recipe, you can add halved cherry tomatoes with the green onions.
Bacon would be DELISH in this skinny shrimp and grits recipe. While this is a Cajun shrimp and grits recipe without bacon, you can add cooked and crumbled bacon to it just before serving (try my Air Fryer Bacon or Oven Baked Bacon).
Cajun Shrimp and Grits
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
- In a 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 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 the shrimp over the grits, sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese and green onions.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate shrimp and grits in separate airtight storage containers for up to 2 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
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More Tasty Shrimp Recipes
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!
Your talents must include mind reading, I have been looking for a Shrimp and Grits recipe. Can’t wait to try it
Ray, it is meant to be! Hope you love it :)
Oh yeah! This looks amazing Erin! I totally want shrimp this weekend thanks to this!
This is such a classic! I love all the cajun spice and how this meal is lightened up :)
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!
Yummy!! This looks amazing!!
Bonjour, Southern Belle! It’s great to have you back! Please tell me you made this in a full corset and A line skirt.
shrimp & grits are my fave!! love ’em.
Hahha I LOVE the inner southern belle :)
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!
I owe you a debt of gratitude for introducing me to this creamy southern wonder food! Tell your family hi :-)
Oh, hellooooo!! Thanks! You made me want to lick my screen!
Haha you are totally rocking your inner Southern Belle. Love this dish! It looks SO good!
I want that southern belle to come and help me make dinner!!!
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.
That looks awesome! The shrimp looks SO tasty and flavorful – yumm!! Pinned :)
Oh my lans, these grits look AMAZING. Pass me a big bowl, please and thank you!
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!
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.
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
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!
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!
I’ve been wanting to make these… but had no idea where to start :)
This looks delicious, and can’t wait to try. I did not see the nutritional values listed. Can you provide?
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!
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.
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!
Not sure what change makes this the skinny version? Please clarify for me.
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!
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!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
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!!!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Nicole! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
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!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Andrea! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
It would be so helpful if nutritional values including phosphorus were listed.
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!
Great recipe! My family loves shrimp and grits, but we are trying to eat lighter, so we needed to find another recipe. This was great! The grits were tasty and the shrimp was awesome – lots of flavor, fast and easy! I’ll make the shrimp again and toss it on a salad or in a corn tortilla.
Hi Zoe! So glad you enjoyed this dish! Thank you for this kind review!