My easy Slow Cooker Grits and Shrimp features ultra-creamy cheese grits slow cooked in the crock pot, and topped with crispy bacon plus succulent shrimp sauteed with garlic, lemon, and green onions.
An Easy Southern-Style Shrimp and Grits Recipe
This recipe, you guys… it’s probably one of my all-time favorites! Ultra creamy stone ground grits are cooked in milk, and then dressed with plenty of real butter and cheddar cheese.
From there, the grits are smothered with fresh sauteed shrimp in a lemon-garlic sauce, with crispy bacon bits, green onions, and fresh parsley. Seriously, are you drooling, yet? 🤤
The key to my recipe is using stone-ground grits for maximum flavor and texture, and making sure my shrimp are the best quality possible. If you have access to fresh seafood, that’s even better! If not, try the frozen section, and thaw before using.
I find that medium shrimp are nice in this dish, but feel free to use smaller or larger ones, depending on what’s available.
What You’ll Need
This simple recipe is full of mouthwatering flavor! Let’s take a closer look at the flavorful ingredients. (Note: Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the complete recipe, with amounts and nutrition info included.)
- Grits: For a heartier texture, I like to use stone ground grits. They are typically ground more coarsely than other grits.
- Water: You’ll need about six cups of water, total.
- Milk: I like to use a mixture of water and milk to cook the grits, for an extra-creamy result. You can use just water, if you prefer. Grits cooked in water alone will still have a soft and creamy texture.
- Salt and Pepper: To taste.
- Butter: For the best flavor, I use real butter in my shrimp and grits. Unsalted is my go-to, but salted is also fine—just watch the salt in the rest of the recipe so it doesn’t turn out too salty.
- Cheddar Cheese: I use sharp cheddar, for a bold, cheesy taste. But you can use any good melting cheese that you like!
- Bacon: Dice up 6 slices of bacon.
- Shrimp: This recipe uses one pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined.
- Garlic: Using minced or pressed fresh garlic gives a bright, savory taste.
- Lemon Juice: Adding just a bit of fresh lemon juice cuts the richness of the bacon, butter, and cheese.
- Green Onions: If you like, you can use chives instead. Lovely color and a pop of flavor!
- Parsley: You’ll need parsley for cooking the shrimp, and a little extra for garnish.
What are grits made from?
If you’ve never had grits, you might be wondering just what they are. Basically, grits are ground dried corn, similar to cornmeal or polenta. Grits are usually made from dent corn, which is starchier and less sweet than the corn you might eat on the cob. That starch gives grits their creamy texture when cooked.
A bowl of grits is thick and creamy overall, with each individual piece still having an al dente texture, somewhat like steel cut oats or arborio rice.
What do grits taste like?
The taste of unseasoned grits is very plain, like plain popcorn with no salt. But if you add a bit of salt and butter (again, like popcorn), grits are amazing! Buttered, salted grits go really well with lots of flavors, from cheese to sausage to salsa. I especially love them with sauteed shrimp and bacon!
How to Make Slow Cooker Grits and Shrimp
While the shrimp cooks up quickly (literally, in minutes) on the stove, the grits need several hours in the crockpot—so make sure to plan ahead for that!
- Cook the Grits. Place the grits in a bowl, and pour 4 cups of water over them. Let them stand for a minute while you line a slow cooker (4 quarts or larger) with a slow cooker liner. (You don’t have to use a slow cooker liner, but it really helps with the mess afterwards.)
- Pour the rinsed grits through a mesh strainer and drain. Then transfer the grits to the slow cooker. Add 2 cups water, milk salt, pepper, and half the butter. Stir, and cook on LOW for about 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or until all of the liquid is absorbed.
- Cook the Bacon and Shrimp. When the grits are close to done, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat, until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the skillet, and then add the shrimp to the hot bacon grease. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink; add the garlic, lemon juice, green onions, and parsley. Cook for two more minutes.
- Finish the Dish. When the grits are tender and creamy, remove the cover and stir in the remaining butter and shredded cheese; stir until melted and combined. Spoon the cooked grits into a serving bowl, top with shrimp and bacon, and garnish with parsley.
Tips for Success
Are you hungry yet? I know I am! This down-home dish is absolutely mouthwatering. But before you start cooking, take a look at these handy tips!
- Make It Spicy: If you want a spicier, Cajun shrimp and grits, feel free to add Cajun seasoning to the shrimp, the grits, or both. Keep in mind that Cajun seasoning usually includes salt, so adjust as needed!
- Stovetop Grits: If you don’t want to make grits in the slow cooker, they cook up just as well (and a lot faster) on the stove! Just follow the directions on the package to make grits, and then add salt and pepper to taste, the butter, and the cheese when done.
- Make Pasta: For a fast and easy variation, make just the shrimp portion of this dish, and toss with freshly-cooked linguine or fettuccine.
Now it’s time to think about sides! Shrimp and grits is practically the perfect meal as-is, but I do like to add something with a little contrast to my menu. Here are some great side dish options from the blog:
- Something Tart: The rich taste and indulgent texture of shrimp and grits go well with a crisp, tart side dish. This Cilantro Vinaigrette Coleslaw is a great option!
- Something Mellow: Simple, old-fashioned Green Beans and Tomatoes are a healthy side dish with a light texture and gentle tang. Perfect!
- Something Roasted: We’ve got simmered grits, sauteed shrimp and bacon… what about a side of Crispy Air Fryer Roasted Broccoli? You’ll love its lightly caramelized edges and deep, earthy flavor.
How to Store and Reheat Shrimp and Grits
- Like polenta, cooked grits can be placed in an airtight food storage container and refrigerated for 3 to 4 days.
- Refrigerate the shrimp separately, along with their pan sauce, for up to 3 days.
- Reheat leftovers in a covered skillet on low heat, until just heated through. Do not overcook the shrimp or they’ll shrink and dry out.
Slow Cooker Grits and Shrimp
- 1 cup stone ground grits
- 6 cups water, divided
- 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
- 4 tablespoons butter, cubed, divided
- 2 cups sharp shredded cheddar cheese
- 6 slices bacon, diced
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
- Place the grits in a bowl and add 4 cups water; let stand for a minute.
- In the meantime, line a 3-quart slow cooker, or larger, with a slow cooker liner. Set aside.
- Pour the rinsed grits through a mesh strainer and drain. Then, transfer the grits to the slow cooker.
- To the insert of the slow cooker add in 2 cups water, milk, salt, pepper, and half of the cubed butter pieces. Stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 2.5 to 3 hours, or until the liquid is all absorbed. Stir the grits about 3 to 4 times during the cooking process.
- About 20 minutes before the grits are done, set a large skillet over medium heat.
- When the skillet is hot, add the bacon pieces and cook until crispy.
- Remove bacon from skillet; do not toss the bacon grease.
- To the bacon grease add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes, or until shrimp turn pink.
- Stir in the garlic, lemon juice, onions, and parsley; continue to cook for 2 more minutes.
- When the grits are done, remove the cover and stir in the remaining butter and shredded cheese; stir until melted and completely combined.Taste for salt and pepper; adjust accordingly.
- Spoon the cooked grits into a serving bowl.
- Top with shrimp and bacon.
- Garnish with parsley.
- WW POINTS: To REDUCE your points down to 10, use fat free shredded cheddar cheese and turkey bacon. If you eliminate the milk and use water instead, total points will be 8.