This Cajun shrimp and grits recipe will wow everyone at the table! This recipe really is “world famous” and was blessed by Gordon Ramsey himself.
There’s a guest chef in our kitchen: it’s Tanorria Askew! Tanorria is a MasterChef finalist turned personal chef who’s sharing her famous recipe for shrimp and grits with us. And my, we cannot wait for you to taste these creamy grits, tender shrimp, and luscious veggie gravy!
Why this recipe world famous? Well, when Tanorria was competing on MasterChef, Gordon Ramsey himself proclaimed her shrimp and grits the best in the MasterChef kitchen. How’s that for impressive? Since Tanorria is our real-life friend and colleague, we asked if she’d share her secrets with us…and luckily, she agreed! And even better: we made you a video to show you how it’s done. Watch below!
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Video: How to make shrimp and grits
Making the BEST shrimp and grits
Tanorria taught us all the secrets to making the best shrimp and grits: creamy grits, veggie gravy, and shrimp. Now, her original recipe uses sausage, which is classic in a Cajun shrimp and grits recipe. Since this website is all vegetarian, vegan, and seafood recipes, we asked if she’d do a take on shrimp and grits without sausage. Of course, Tanorria obliged and created this incredible new take on her classic.
If you’d prefer shrimp and grits with sausage, head to Shrimp and Grits with Okra on her website! Otherwise: let’s get down to cooking! First: the grits.
How to make the best creamy grits
How to make the best creamy grits? First of all, let’s talk about what grits are. Grits are ground cornmeal that is boiled and made into a sort of porridge. The dish originated in the Southern US and is usually served with savory toppings, either for breakfast or dinner. Grits are very similar to polenta, which is essentially the Italian version of grits! There are very minor differences between grits and polenta, which we could go into but don’t want to get too technical.
The main takeaway: when you’re buying grits for this shrimp and grits recipe, you can use packages labeled medium grind cornmeal or grits.
The secrets to these creamy grits? It’s all about the butter and cream, baby! Here are the rough steps to perfectly creamy grits:
- First, you’ll boil a mixture of milk, seafood stock, and butter. Once it’s boiling, whisk in the cornmeal or grits and reduce the heat to low.
- Add the salt and allow the grits to simmer until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When done, stir in the cream and mix until creamy.
You’ll find that these grits will taste savory and cheesy, but there’s no cheese! The butter and cream carry it all the way. What I liked about these grits is that they have little lumps, which is my favorite. (I’m a lumpy cream of wheat kind of girl, over here!)
What’s the Cajun holy trinity? Making the gravy
Once you’ve got those grits simmering, you can move on to the veggie gravy. Here Tanorria uses a take on the Cajun holy trinity to make this gravy shine. What’s the Cajun holy trinity? It’s a mix of the three “holy” vegetables in Cajun cuisine: onions, bell peppers and celery. These are used as the base for many Cajun/Creole dishes like crawfish étouffée, gumbo, and jambalaya. For Tanorria’s version of the holy trinity, she’s dropped celery in favor of garlic. And I must say, we are 100% behind that decision.
For the veggie gravy in this shrimp and grits, you’ll dice the onion, dice the peppers, and mince the garlic. If you need it, click each of those links to see more instructions on how to quickly cut each vegetable. Then you’ll saute the veggies, adding Old Bay (yes!) and smoked paprika (double yes!). Add seafood stock and then simmer to let it thicken into a gravy.
And then the veggies are ready for…the shrimp!
How to cook the shrimp for shrimp and grits
The final step in this shrimp and grits recipe is the shrimp. The shrimp cook right on top of the vegetables in the skillet. Here’s what Tanorria does to make sure they cook evenly and don’t over cook:
- Place the shrimp on top of the vegetables in a clockwise circle — that way you’ll remember which was the first shrimp in the pan and which will cook the fastest.
- Watch for the shrimp to start to turn pink on the bottom side — this should take about 2 minutes.
- Flip the shrimp using tongs, and then remove from the heat right when all the translucence is gone. This will be another 1 to 2 to minutes.
Plate up your grits, add the shrimp, top with spoonfuls of gravy…and prepare to be amazed.
What type of shrimp to use?
For this recipe, here’s the type of shrimp we’d recommend using:
- Find large shrimp, tail on, that has already been deveined. (If your shrimp are not deveined, here’s How to Devein Shrimp.)
- Either fresh or frozen shrimp work here! (See How to thaw shrimp below.)
- Look for wild-caught fish if possible. If you live in the US, look for US caught if you can. 90% of the seafood we eat in the US is imported. Imported seafood runs the risk of being overfished, caught under unfair labor practices, or farmed in environmentally harmful ways.
How to thaw frozen shrimp
If you use frozen shrimp for this recipe, here’s how to thaw frozen shrimp:
- Place the frozen shrimp in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Or,
- On the day of serving, place the frozen shrimp into a large bowl with very cold water. Stir the bowl every 5 minutes to break up clumps of shrimp that freeze together. The shrimp should be defrosted in about 15 minutes.
And that’s it!
This is hands down the best recipe we’ve had for shrimp and grits. A huge thank you to Tanorria for sharing her recipe and showing us how it’s done! Make sure to follow Tanorria on Instagram and give her some social love.
This best shrimp and grits recipe is…
Pescatarian and gluten-free.