a white bowl with shrimp over grits

Garlic Butter Shrimp With Pimento Cheese Grits

If there is a single dish Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding Lowcountry is best known for, it’s shrimp and grits.

a white bowl with shrimp over grits

All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC

What Are Grits?

So if you’re NOT from the south, chances are you have had few opportunities to order grits from a menu where you live let alone a meal of shrimp and grits. Grits are a dish of coarsely ground corn kernels boiled with water or milk, and true to what you already may know, they’re a southern United States staple.

Here in the south, grits prepared in some way or another will appear on menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even the fanciest of cocktail parties. Simply stated, the south doesn’t “do food” without grits being a part of the spread.

The most common way to prepare grits is to boil them in water with salt and butter until they’re creamy. To me, unless you were brought up noshing on simple grits daily, I am not sure you’d think they had any more flavor than I do. Insert Yankee opinion here, and add cheddar cheese. Not just any cheddar, sharp cheddar pimento cheese…

Sourcing stone ground grits may prove difficult depending on where you live. The below links for both yellow and white stone ground grits from right here in Charleston, South Carolina will take you directly to a purchase page. And yeah, we’ve got some mean honey, too. Click any image for pricing.

a white bowl with shrimp over grits

Do You Love Pimento Cheese? Find My Homemade Pimento Cheese Recipe Here!

close up cracker with Piquant White Cheddar Pimento Cheese
a wooden board with crackers, with Piquant White Cheddar Pimento Cheese
close up cracker with Piquant White Cheddar Pimento Cheese

If there is a single dish Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding Lowcountry is best known for, it’s shrimp and grits.

Now shrimp and grits recipes vary widely depending on where in the south you are, and how the chef preparing the dish interprets the ingredients he has available to him. His grandma generally has some influence here, too!

We could spend hours diving deep into the semantics of the South’s most ubiquitous dish; Cajun shrimp and grits, cheesy creamy shrimp and grits, shrimp and grits with gravy…the list goes on and on. So, what then is the best shrimp and grits recipe? The best recipe for this totem of southern cuisine is the recipe YOU and YOUR EATERS can all agree on.

I am sharing a garlic butter shrimp recipe herein. I flavor it yes with garlic, but also with a scant amount of honey. Not to make it sweet, rather to highlight the sharp cheddar in the pimento cheese grits. Yup, flavor profiles really do work that way…

This is actually a two-part method for a meal that can be made and on your table in 30 minutes. You’ll want to hang on to the pimento cheese grits for Brunches and quickie weekend breakfast sides. A bowl of pimento cheese grits and a broiled tomato and I am set until dinner time.

Do You Have What’s Needed To Make Garlic Butter Shrimp With Pimento Cheese Grits? Check The List!


raw peeled and deveined shrimp
unsalted butter
soy sauce
garlic cloves
honey
dry white wine
Kosher salt
black pepper
stone ground grits, yellow or white
milk
prepared pimiento cheese

optional add-ins
chopped red pepper
andouille sausage
crumbled bacon
green onions
chicken broth (in lieu of water)
bacon fat (in lieu of butter for sautéing the shrimp)
cream cheese (in lieu of pimento cheese)

How This Recipe Came About…

Never thought I’d say it, but I love me some grits. Yes, this Jersey girl is a convert. Keep your home fries and your melon cups and give me some Carolina belly-filling comfort food. Oh, and with cheese, please…

This recipe came about in an effort to make good on conquering recipes born in the south. For me, grits to date have been THE MOST DIFFICULT ingredient to cook. Why? The salt. Salting grits is 100% necessary to make them taste like anything. BUT, salting grits MUST be done at precisely the right time during the cooking process.

To this day, I know Beenya’s (Beenya is a Gullah term for “been here,” or somebody who is native to the Lowcountry of South Carolina), who will argue with one another that to correctly salt grits, the salt must be added at the beginning of the cook. Others will profess the salting only counts if added at the very end. Who do I believe?

I don’t have to believe either because I cheat and add cheese. Let’s face it folks, Yanks add cheese to everything if we’re not sure what the heck else to do with it, so as far as my grits go, I’m only concerned with adding some cheese.

a white bowl with shrimp over grits

How To Make Garlic Butter Shrimp?

First, you’ll need a batch of grits. Now, you can fix your grits any way you like, but if you’ve never prepared grits, consider the method I have shared in this post. With the addition of milk and butter and cheese, this corn side is rich, creamy, and super cheesy. There is just so MUCH to love, and I can nearly guarantee that you will.

In terms of shrimp, opt for fresh IF you are able to source fresh. I am a coastal state living in a coastal seaside town, so I have access to fresh seafood daily. I know many of you do not, which is why fresh frozen shrimp are fine to use. Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight. They should be raw, uncooked shrimp, peeled, and deveined with only the tails on.

I butterfly with an additional final cut going all the way through. Like a whale tail. Shrimp look jaunty when cut this way once they are cooked through. Also, they stand up IF you’re serving a dish where the visual counts. If you prefer to butterfly and stop there, good. If you want to go old school and leave ’em whole, that’s fine, too.

How much garlic you use is up to you. The one tip I can impart here is to use fresh garlic versus anything out of a jar. First, you’ll never hear me singing the praises of jarred garlic EVER. So with me, always assume fresh cloves that you’ll chop and/or mince.

I specify two cloves minced in this recipe, however I myself use four. Why? I’m looking for that caramelization that garlic undergoes as it heats and I LOVE IT. I cut the garlic butter with one teaspoon of honey. Again, flexibility is yours in this recipe, so go additional honey or omit altogether if you have strong preferences where honey is concerned.

a white bowl with shrimp over grits

Modifying The Norm To Make It Not Entirely Average…

I made this once for 150 guests to a piano drop-in at my friend Bubbies house. Just your average Saturday afternoon on Charleston’s Battery for nibbles and a good sing along. How did I make this dish not entirely average?

I added both bay and sea scallops to the lineup in addition to the shrimp. And rather than offering little plates, both the seafood mixture and cheesy grits were assembled in ceramic appetizer spoons and offered as heavy hors d’oeuvres. Genius.

If the grits were going to be changed up in any way from the pimento cheese, consider shredded smoked gouda or shredded truffled cheddar. Smoke and truffle are two earthy elements that scream fancy schmancy, so use them to your advantage when you can. In grits, you absolutely can.

Entertaining can still be easy even when it’s a tad fancy. Bone china, melamine, or plastic tasting spoons offer guests a heavy appetizer or dessert while maintaining portion control. Sold in packs, click images for pricing.

a white bowl with shrimp over grits

What To Serve With Garlic Butter Shrimp?

Well, pimento cheese grits of course. For this dish, less is best. I personally keep it simple with a summer peach caprese salad and sometimes also a fresh corn and tomato toss. If sticking to a Lowcountry theme, serve okra or pickled vegetables.

If you felt the need to serve a bread, consider a mixed bread basket on the table with smaller slices of zucchini, Pecan Streusel Banana Bread, Spinach Feta Cheese Bread, buttermilk, and corn breads. An herby citrus compound butter would compliment all three breads very nicely.

What To Drink With Garlic Butter Shrimp?

The lemony quality of a good Chablis or a steel-aged Chardonnay pairs well with shrimp. I also love a white sangria with this dish, one prepared particularly with pears or grapefruits.

If beer is the ever thirst-quencher for you, Abita beer is hard to beat. The pairing of Abita with most shrimp dishes is impressive to the palette.

Can Garlic Butter Shrimp Be Made In Advance?

Yes and no. To get as far ahead with this as you can, prep your shrimp and place them on ice. I do this the day before and simply bag my prepared cleaned shrimp and place over some ice in a deep bowl and pop into my refrigerator.

The remainder of ingredients may be prepped and measured out, too and held over by 1 day until ready to cook. Because this dish cooks in a matter of minutes, it is best to cook it hot and cook it only once.

How To Serve Garlic Butter Shrimp?

I appreciate individually prepared bowls for this one. Grits can be messy because they tend to clump, so the least amount of shoveling from bowl to bowl a person has to do is best.

Consider plating in your kitchen or butlers pantry and serving guests individually at the table versus family style from a single serving bowl. You also get greater portion control this way, ensuring EVERYBODY gets some of the beautiful shrimp.

If You Like This Recipe…

…you might also like:

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Crispy Chicken with Herbed Carolina Gold Rice & Scratch Pan Gravy

a white bowl with shrimp over grits

Garlic Butter Shrimp With Pimento Cheese Grits

If there is a single dish Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding Lowcountry is best known for, it'd be shrimp and grits.
Print Recipe Pin Recipe Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: seafood, shellfish, shrimp, shrimp & grits, shrimp and grits, south carolina lowcountry cuisine, southern food, ultimate comfort food
Servings: 2 servings
Calories: 740kcal
Cost: $3.09 per serving

Want a bigger or smaller serving size? Hover over the serving size and move the bar until you get the number of servings you want. Easy.

Equipment

  • non-stick sauce pan
  • large non-stick skillet

Ingredients

Ingredients for Garlic Butter Shrimp With Pimento Cheese Grits

    for the creamy pimento cheese grits

    • 1/2 cup stone ground grits
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 cup water may substitute chicken broth for a richer taste
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/3 cup pimento cheese see my recipe for white cheddar pimento cheese here

    for the garlic butter shrimp

    • 6 to 8 large raw shrimp peeled, deveined, and butterflied and cut through
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
    • 2 cloves garlic minced, or more to taste
    • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
    • 1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
    • 1 teaspoon honey or more to taste

    Instructions

    The Method

      for the creamy pimento cheese grits

      • Combine the grits, milk, water, salt and pepper in a medium sized non-stick saucepan.
      • Bring the contents of the pot to a boil. Begin whisking when the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and continue whisking for 3 minutes.
      • Make sure the heat is on a very low setting and place a lid on the pot. Simmer stirring occasionally for 12 minutes.
      • Add the pimento cheese and and the butter and whisk to fully melt both and combine. Replace the lid and simmer for an additional 5 to 8 minutes.
      • Remove from the heat but keep lid in place. Keep warm while shrimp are prepared.

      for the garlic butter shrimp

      • Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup. Once the butter has cooled to room temperature, add soy sauce, honey, minced garlic, and wine. Whisk thoroughly to combine.
      • Halve the garlic butter mixture and set one half aside. Add the shrimp to a plastic zipper bag. Add the remaining half of the marinade over the shrimp, seal the bag, and squeeze the bag to coat all of the shrimp. Marinate for 15 minutes on the counter.
      • Melt the remaining butter in a large non stick skillet over medium high heat. Remove shrimp from the marinade and add to the pan. Discard the marinade. *NOTE: if you plan to add optional ingredients, add them at this stage assuming they are fully cooked and need only be heated through. See my list of optional add-ins at the top of this post.
      • Reduce the heat to medium. Sauté shrimp for 3 minutes on one side before flipping. Pour the reserved half of unused marinade over the shrimp. Sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Shrimp will be opaque and the garlic butter sauce will have slightly thickened. Remove from heat and taste for seasoning.
      • To plate this dish, whisk the pimento cheese grits until they're smooth and spoon grits into 2 bowls. Top with shrimp, and equal amounts of the pan sauce. Garnish with ground black pepper if you like and serve immediately.

      Notes

      Make Ahead:
      Peel, devein and butterfly shrimp up to 1 day in advance. Bag prepared shrimp and place bag in a large bowl over ice. Refrigerate until ready to use. Note that ice will still melt in the fridge, so use a big bowl with only 1/4 ice.
      Prep and measured out all other ingredients up to 1 day in advance.
      Pro Tips:
      Ensure melted butter is completely cooled before marinating the shrimp. Hot enough, the butter will begin to cook the raw shrimp while marinating.
      There are many varieties of grits to include stone ground, quick cooking, and instant. For the purposes of this recipe, I am specifying stone ground grits. There are links to stone ground grits in the post for purchasing.
       

      Nutrition

      Serving: 1serving | Calories: 740kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 54g | Saturated Fat: 31g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 184mg | Sodium: 1860mg | Potassium: 273mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 1866IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 333mg | Iron: 1mg

      Please note that the nutrition information provided above is approximate and meant as a guideline only.

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      Recipe Rating




      2 Comments

      1. Great recipe! I have made grits just couple of times but this was delicious.
        You had butter in the ingredients for the grits. But not when to add it.
        I added it last after the Cheese, I hope that was correct.
        Loved all the garlic in the sauce. Will make this again real soon.
        Thank you for sharing.5 stars

        1. B, I am so glad to hear you enjoyed the dish! You added the butter at EXACTLY the right stage, and thank you for pointing out to me that I need to make that clear, as I will amend the recipe card right now. Thanks for taking a minute from your day to give me feedback. I REALLY do appreciate that. x – Jenny