This easy Shrimp and Grits with Andouille Sausage is full of flavor! Cajun-seasoned shrimp pairs perfectly with spicy sausage and creamy, cheesy grits. Caramelized onions, bellpeppers, and blistered tomatoes are the perfect additions to complete this dish.
What Are Shrimp and Grits?
Shrimp and grits has humble beginnings from a specific region in South Carolina known as Low Country. Up until the 1980s, the dish was quick and simple and better known as "breakfast shrimp" or "shrimps and hominy". But a restaurant called Crook's Corner popularized the dish into the version we all know and love today. There, they made it with jumbo shrimp, cheesy grits, bacon, mushroom, and scallions. Now shrimp and grits is an iconic dish of the South!
Shrimp and grits also became a staple in in New Orleans. There, grits are commonly served with BBQ Gulf shrimp or grillades (seared beef or pork). The bold flavors of Cajun seasonings fit into this dish perfectly and is personally my favorite way to enjoy it.
Cozy In A Bowl
This version of Shrimp and Grits with Andouille Sausage has got it all! Grits are cooked down until they're tender and finished with milk and cheese for ultra creaminess. The shrimp is seasoned liberally with Cajun spices. And the natural juices from the veggies cook down to create a delicious pan sauce. Yum!
The combination of smoky and buttery shrimp, silky grits, and crunchy veggies is incredible. I also love the addition of the sausage because it helps stretch your shrimp! You've got your protein, carbs, and veggies all in one bowl. But you've also got comfort food that feels both rich and indulgent, but fresh and wholesome. You'll be licking the bowl, guaranteed!
The list of ingredients is a little on the longer side, but the combination of flavors and textures makes it well worth it!
- Water: You can use chicken or vegetables stock instead of or in combination with the water to cook the grits.
- Butter: A necessary component, in my opinion!
- Corn grits: White or yellow stone-ground grits will work (although white is more traditional). I do not recommend using instant grits.
- Milk: I prefer full-fat for extra creaminess.
- Sharp cheddar cheese: I highly recommend sharp or extra sharp for maximum flavor. But feel free to add in different kinds of cheeses if you'd like.
- Chicken Andouille sausage: Chicken or pork sausage will work. I prefer chicken for a slightly lighter dish.
- Onion, bellpepper, tomatoes, and garlic: Traditional veggies that create a great textural contrast to the grits.
- Jalapeno: Optional - use for a little kick of spice.
- Shrimp: Buy frozen shrimp to save money (it's the same as the "fresh" ones on display). To thaw, place the frozen shrimp in a bowl of cold water until defrosted. I recommend buying IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) for better texture. Size and shells on/off are up to you.
- Cajun seasoning: Purchase pre-made blends or make your own - see Recipe "Notes".
- Green onion and lemon: for garnish
How To Make Shrimp and Grits
- Cook the grits. Simmer the grits in butter and water (or stock), stirring frequently, until tender. Finish with milk and plenty of cheese.
- Sear the sausage. Chicken sausage is usually already cooked so just get a nice sear for some color.
- Cook the veggies. I love the combination of onion, bellpeppers, jalapeno, tomatoes, and garlic. Soften to remove the raw bite and let the natural juices create a delicious sauce.
- Cook the shrimp. If you don't have a big enough pan, set the veggies aside and then cook the shrimp. But if you do, cook it all in one pan to make it simple.
- Finish the dish. Add the sausage back in and finish with lemon juice to brighten the whole dish. Serve over the grits.
- Gradually add the grits in with one hand while whisking with the other hand. This creates a really smooth, velvety texture without any lumps. Continue whisking occasionally as they cook.
- Cook the grits over low and slow heat for the right texture. Simmering them gently gives the grits enough time to release its starch, resulting in a creamier texture.
If you've got leftover Shrimp and Grits with Andouille Sausage, store it in an air-tight container. They'll last in the fridge for 5 days.
To reheat, microwave until heated through. You may need to add a splash of water, milk, or broth if the grits are clumped together. Alternatively, you can also reheat the grits stove-top with a little extra liquid for easy whisking.
Can I Freeze Cooked Grits?
I recommend serving this dish fresh, but you can make the grits in advance if needed. Follow the recipe for the grits, then let it cool to room temperature. Line an air-tight container with plastic wrap, then pour the grits on top. Cover the grits with the plastic wrap, removing as much as air as possible and cover with the lid. The grits can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.
To reheat, thaw the grits in the fridge overnight. Then transfer into a pot with a splash of water or broth and heat over medium, stirring frequently.
Make It Yours
- Use different types of cheese in your grits - just make sure they melt well. Gouda, Gruyère, Parm, or mozzarella would be delicious!
- Want more veggies? Add in sautéed kale, asparagus, fresh corn, or zucchini. Celery would also be great as it's part of the Cajun holy trinity, along with onion and bellpepper.
- Pretty much any protein would taste great in this dish. Try mahi mahi, chicken, bacon, tofu, or a fried egg on top.
I love adding veggies to shrimp and grits to make it a complete dish! Onion, bellpepper, jalapeno, tomatoes, and garlic are my favorite. But you can also use kale, asparagus, zucchini, or celery.
Grits are made from dried corn and coarsely ground, so they have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. When cooked, they tenderize and soften into a porridge-like texture. You can adjust the liquid and make them thicker or runnier based on your preferences.
Absolutely! Fishermen and shrimpers would fuel up with this dish in the morning before heading out for work. Back then they simply called it "breakfast shrimp". Grits are still a very popular Southern breakfast.
Both seasonings come from Louisiana. But Cajun food is most rustic with French and Southern influences. Creole is more international, with European, African, and Carribean influences. Popular Cajun food includes shrimp boil and jambalaya, while Creole dishes include gumbo and several tomato-rich dishes.
I recommend using stone-ground grits as they have more body. They can also be labeled as old-fashioned or traditional.
Looking For More?
We're major seafood lovers in my house! Here are some more shrimp and seafood dishes worth trying:
- Better Than Takeout Shrimp Fried Rice
- Seafood Salad
- Creamy Lemon Broccoli Pasta with Shrimp
- Vietnamese Turmeric Fish with Dill (Cha Ca La Vong)
- Shrimp Scampi Zucchini Boats
Shrimp and Grits with Andouille sausage
- 4 cups water
- 3 tablespoon butter divided
- 1 cup stone-ground grits
- ¾ cup milk
- 1¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese I recommend using extra sharp cheddar
- 3 links chicken Andouille sausage cut on a bias
- ¼ small onion chopped
- 1 bellpepper chopped
- 1 jalapeno de-seeded and chopped (optional)
- ½ cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ lb shrimp peeled & de-veined. Option to have tails on or off
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning see notes
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Green onion for garnish
- Cook the grits. Add water, 2 tablespoon butter, and 1 teaspoon salt to a large pot and bring to a boil. Slowly stream in the grits while continuously whisking. Let it return to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 18-25 minutes until tender. Frequently stir to prevent clumping and add more water if the grits get too thick.
- Pour in milk. Simmer until creamy, then turn off heat. Stir in cheese and season generously with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
- Sear the sausage. Melt remaining butter in a large wide pan. Sear sausage on both sides for about 2-3 minutes each, then set aside.
- Cook the veggies. Add onion and bellpepper to pan, sautéing for 3-4 minutes until soft. Then stir in jalapeno and tomatoes, cooking for 1-2 additional minutes.
- Add garlic and season veggies with salt and pepper. Toast for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Cook the shrimp. Pat shrimp dry and season with salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning. Push veggies to the edge of the skillet and add the shrimp. When the first side is opaque (1-2 minutes), flip and finish cooking for one more minute. Return the sausage to the pan to heat through and finish with lemon juice.
- Assemble. Serve grits in a bowl. Top with shrimp and sausage mixture, spooning leftover pan juices on top. Garnish with green onion and finish with a squeeze of lemon. Serve immediately.
- To make your own Cajun seasoning, combine ¾ tsp garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, 1¼ teaspoon paprika, ¼ tsp cayenne, ½ teaspoon oregano, ½ teaspoon thyme, and ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes.
- Storing Leftovers: Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat: Stovetop or microwave will work. You may need to add a splash of water, milk, or broth.
- To Freeze: Let grits cool to room temperature. Line an air-tight container with plastic wrap, then pour grits on top. Wrap the grits in the plastic wrap, removing as much as air as possible, and cover with the lid. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month. Let thaw overnight and follow reheating instructions above.
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