Shrimp and White Cheddar Grits with Blackened Tomatoes

I have been making shrimp and grits this way forEVER. The bacon, tomatoes and green onion truly make it go over the top. I came up with a quick spice/lemon marinade for the shrimp and served this recipe up a few days ago. My husband ate it faster than I’ve ever seen him eat ANYTHING.

The shrimp I use in this recipe is peeled and deveined, tail on RAW frozen shrimp. I buy the larger/jumbo kind which means there are anywhere from 21-30 in a pound. Trader Joes are my personal favorite because they are CLEAN, and taste fresher than other brands.

I use stone ground grits which take about 25-30 minutes to cook. The measurement for the serving size I wanted (3 servings) on this particular bag may vary from yours. Read it carefully and cook your grits according to your package. The instant grits in a small cylinder container are just as good, but provide less texture. Use what you’re comfortable with.



You can also make this recipe go a little faster by making the grits in advance and heating them up in the microwave when your shrimp and toppings are ready. You could also use instant grits which only take about 5-10 minutes to cook as opposed to the stone ground ones I use below. You can serve this for brunch or for a party (small ramekins or shot glasses filled with the cheese grits, and a toothpick on top with a tomato, piece of bacon and a shrimp- the cutest.) You can make this HEALTHIER: Don’t do grits and do my Creamy Garlic Cauliflower Puree instead. This makes it dairy free and MUCH lower in fat. Its also a way I made this dish whole 30 (using whole 30 approved bacon like Pederson’s (sugar free, nitrate free) is the only other change you’d need to make.)

However, if you’ve never made TRUE shrimp and grits, I say do the cheese grits and go big or go home. This is southern comfort in a bowl.

Ingredients: Serves two- three portions, double up the grits and add more shrimp and bacon if you need to serve more people.

  • 16-18 shrimp frozen RAW Large or jumbo shrimp
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black pepper
  • 1 large Lemon, ( we will use the zest and the juice)
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Bacon, 3 pieces chopped small
  • Green onion sliced thin, a small handful (about 1/3 cup)
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved. (about 1 cup, use more or less if desired)
  • 1/2 cup Stone ground grits
  • 1/2 Cup Milk (I used Almond Milk, you can use Regular or Almond)
  • 2 cups Sharp White Cheddar, grated.


  1. First, count out the number of shrimp you’ll need from your bag. To thaw the shrimp, place it in a colander or strainer in the sink and run cool water over it for 2-3 minutes, shaking the colander to help defrost the shrimp. When they are thawed, place them in a large bowl. 

    2. Next, Make the quick marinade for the shrimp. In the bowl, add paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, salt, pepper, the olive oil and the zest of an entire lemon. We will use the lemon again later for its juice. Stir to combine and place the bowl of shrimp in the refrigerator. (My grits took 25-30 minutes and shrimp only take about 2-3 on each side in a hot pan- I kept them in the fridge until my grits were almost totally finished)



    3. Get your grits started on the stove as per the instructions of the product YOU purchased. After you have lowered the heat and placed the lid on your pot to let the grits cook set a timer for them. Again mine were 25 minutes.

4. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the chopped bacon and cook until crisp and the fat is rendered. Remove carefully and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Carefully discard MOST, but not all of the bacon grease, and return the pan to the stove.



5. After you have removed the bacon, to the same pan still on medium high heat add your shrimp. Make sure they are in a single layer- I use tongs to flip them and to put them in place. Shrimp are done when they start to curl and become opaque. DO NOT OVER COOK THEM. 2-3 minutes on each side at MOST. They will feel firm, and be a light light pink shade. Take them out and put them on a plate.




6. In the same pan (there should be a little bacon grease, and some spices left in the pan from the shrimp.) Slice your lemon in half and squeeze the entire thing directly into the pan, careful not to get seeds in. There should be enough liquid to bubble up so that you can scrape the spices off of the bottom on the pan. If you’re lemon isn’t juicy enough a splash of chicken broth or white wine works too. Throw in the tomatoes and the green onion and stir constantly for about one minute. Turn the heat off and place the onion and tomato mixture on the same plate as the shrimp.




7. Your grits should be done at this time. Remove them from the heat, stir and add in your milk or almond milk. add in your cheese, one handful at a time and stir or whisk to melt until it has all been used. Add pinch of salt and pepper if needed.



8. To assemble, take a large spoon and place grits into bowls. Divide them equally up among each bowl. Then, add the crumbled bacon into the center of each bowl. Place the shrimp around in a circle (you can take the tails off or leave them on), then top with tomatoes and onions.




When you stir it all together (which is the way we like to eat it) the spice from the shrimp gets into the grits, and the fresh tomatoes provide a light taste. Don’t skip the onion either, when its cooked quickly in a pan it becomes a subtler flavor.

Don’t be scared to try this one! If you are newer to shrimp and grits, I would highly recommend making the grits first so that you can focus on cooking the shrimp and have fun while you do it- it can get slightly overwhelming when several things are done at the same time.

Make this for dinner, for brunch, for a late breakfast-for guests, for yourself, for a girls night. Its EASY, looks elegant and is really delicious.


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