Classic Southern Dish of cheesy shrimp & grits with a twist! Quinoa and grits, along with plump shrimp, cheese, cream, and perfectly balanced seasonings, topped with chopped green onions, is simply the best shrimp & grits I've ever had!
Plus, it's so easy to make, it's great for any weeknight meal or fancy enough for a special occasion!
Shrimp & grits is a great southern shrimp recipe from the "low country" of the Carolinas, a magical place for wonderful seafood cuisine.
Inspired by a plate of cheesy shrimp and grits I was served many years ago, I have been testing different ingredients to achieve the same level of flavor and textures with easy to find ingredients. I finally got it!
While this recipe is definitely a fusion of flavors and not a traditional southern-style shrimp and grits, the flavors and textures are amazing!
It's a quick and easy grits recipe made in the Ninja Foodi or Instant pot that is creamy and delicious, and takes only about half-an-hour to go from fully frozen shrimp to finished perfection, ready to eat!
Frequently Asked Questions
With such a rich and creamy dish, shrimp and grits tends to call for something a little on the tart side as a good complement, such as a salad with a vinaigrette dressing. As an alternative, sautéed collards or mustard greens are a natural fit. Also, a green been salad with a vinegary dressing, maybe topped with diced tomatoes -- or just about any type of picked vegetable on the side would be a nice pairing.
Yes, absolutely! Allow the shrimp and grits to cool overnight in the refrigerator prior to freezing for the best results. Then, put them in a freezer container and they will last 3-6 months.
Steaming or slow cooking just to warm them through is a great way to warm them up. When steaming, make sure you have them in a covered container above the boiling liquid.
You can also reheat them in the microwave or even in skillet on the stove.
Just be careful not to overheat them or else the shrimp can become rubbery.
If your shrimp and grits are drier than you like, try adding a touch of cream. I have reheated leftovers using the low slow cook function on the Ninja Foodi and they were perfect.
Quick & Easy Shrimp Recipes
If you are a shrimp lover like me, here are a few of my favorite easy recipes!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Grits & Quinoa
Here is where the twist comes in! I add multi-colored quinoa to the grits. Quinoa delivers a wonderful, slightly chewy texture to the grits, which adds texture to the creamy grits and I think improves the classic dish ever so slightly. You can certainly use any color variety of quinoa and it will not change the flavor or texture, only the appearance.
I urge you to try this combination of grits and quinoa. It's absolutely delicious! You get a little more texture than you would with just grits alone. However, if you want all grits, you absolutely can. But increase the amount of chicken stock from 1-½ cuts to about 2 cups because the grits will absorb more liquid than the quinoa.
You can also use all quinoa and reduce the liquid to 1 cup.
My favorite type of grits are stone ground white, which I buy from Palmetto Farms. I can't find them in my local grocery stores yet, so I buy them online and keep them stored in the freezer. Here is the link to purchase on Amazon: Palmetto Farms Stone Ground Grits
Instant grits are different from stone ground grits and because they have a shorter cook time, using them in this recipe isn't recommended. If you only have instant grits, I would make the recipe using sear/sauté instead of pressure cooking to avoid overcooking the grits.
You can certainly use yellow grits instead of white, preferably yellow stone-ground grits, but the most important thing is looking at the cook time of the grits you have and adjusting the pressure cooking time as needed.
The cheese I use in this recipe is Dubliner, produced by Kerrygold, which I absolutely love for this particular recipe. It has a combination of flavors of a perfectly sharp white cheddar and an aged parmesan cheese. It's simply perfect in this recipe and so many others!
However, you can really use whatever type of cheese that you love in this recipe and that will work perfectly fine! My choice, if not using Dubliner cheese, would be a sharp white cheddar cheese and Parmesan.
The shrimp and grits that I was served at the restaurant and the inspiration for this recipe, used Tasso Ham, but I cannot find it near me. If you can find it, you can absolutely substitute the chorizo sausage for some delicious Tasso ham. I plan on making my own soon and if you are interested in making Tasso ham from a pork butt, here is the recipe I found: How to Make Tasso Ham
After trying many different substitutions for Tasso ham, Chorizo sausage was the winner. The flavors are simply amazing without being spicy.
Andouille sausage would be another great substitution.
You could also substitute bacon, although I wasn't fond of the texture after pressure cooking. My suggestion would be to cook the shrimp and grits with whole slices of thick cut bacon for flavor and remove them after cooking. Cook up some extra bacon and stir in the crisp bacon just before serving for the best flavor and texture using bacon as a substitute. If you do this, be sure to use the bacon drippings instead of olive or avocado oil, no sense in the bacon grease going to waste!
You can also skip the sausage, bacon, or Tasso ham, but you will want to increase your seasonings to taste.
I recommend using at least 20-count shrimp in this recipe, but not higher than 16-count or the shrimp won't cook correctly. Shrimp are sold by size and usually by the amount of shrimp per pound. So, 16-20 shrimp per pound is a great size for this recipe. If you have extra jumbo shrimp that are 10 shrimp per pound, they tend to be rubbery when cooked, no matter the recipe. Bigger isn't always better and shrimp is one example of this. Stick with Extra Large or Jumbo shrimp that stay they are 16 or 20 per pound.
You can even skip the shrimp if you like. While it won't be shrimp & grits, it will be a delicious bowl of cheesy grits, for sure!
Or replace the shrimp with chicken to make your own version of chicken and grits! Because the chicken will take longer to cook, I would brown the chicken cubes or thin slices first and then pressure cook with the quinoa and grits.
I used a sweet onion and red bell pepper in this recipe, but there are tons of substitutions and variations that would be wonderful in this shrimp & grits.
Feel free to use any kind of onion you have on hand or skip it. You can also skip the bell pepper if desired or use a combination of several colors of bell peppers, even green if you prefer.
If you want to include more vegetables in the recipe, adding in small broccoli florets when you add the shrimp would be lovely. Spinach stirred into the hot grits would be incredible and so beautiful. Cooked collard green is also a great addition and/ or some sweet corn kernels! I wish I would have thought of that when developing the recipe! I love all things corn!
Spice Blend & Chicken Stock
The spices I chose for this recipe compliment the Chorizo sausage and create a well-rounded dish.
The cayenne pepper does not result in a spicy shrimp & grits, so if you like spice, add more.
As always, feel free to adjust or change the seasonings to your liking. Your favorite Cajun seasoning would be fantastic in this recipe.
If you didn't want to use the chicken stock, it can be substituted for any type of liquid you want. Water, beer, vegetable stock, whatever you think you will like.
Can I Make Shrimp & Grits without a Pressure Cooker?
While I love using my Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker to make this recipe, you can absolutely make it other ways. Here are my suggestions for various cooking methods. Please note, these are only suggestions and not tested by me.
Slow Cooker Shrimp & Grits
To make this recipe in a slow cooker, I would first sauté the chorizo, spices, onions, and red peppers in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add them to the slow cooker along with the quinoa and grits (total of 1 cup combined). Use 3 cups of chicken stock or water and stir. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or until the grits and quinoa are the texture you like. Stir in the thawed shrimp and let them cook in the residual heat of the grits/quinoa. Add in the cheese and cream, stir to combine.
Stovetop Shrimp & Grits
To make Shrimp & Grits on the stove, I would first sauté the chorizo, spices, and onions for a few minutes in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 3-3½ cups of chicken stock or water and bring to a boil. Add in the stone-ground grits and red pepper strips and stir well, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10-15 minutes, then add the quinoa and continue cooking another 10 minutes or until the quinoa just sprouts and the grits are soft.
Stir in the thawed shrimp, cream, and cheese and continue to cook on low until the shrimp are cooked through.
How to Make Cheesy Shrimp & Grits with the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot
While the instructions are specific to the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker, which is what I used to make this recipe, there aren't any changes needed if you are using an Instant Pot or another type of electric pressure cooker.
If the shrimp are frozen, start by placing them in cold water to thaw. If it is going to be more than 30 minutes before you start making the recipe, put the bowl in the refrigerator.
Cut the onion into a large dice about ½". Cut the red pepper into strips about ½" thick.
Measure out your spices, grits, quinoa, chicken stock, cheese, cream, and chorizo sausage.
Grate the cheese. 4 ounces of the Dubliner cheese is about 1 cup when using a coarse grater.
While the shrimp are thawing, preheat the Ninja Foodi on the SEAR/SAUTÉ setting, turned to "HI." Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the inner pot.
When the oil is hot, add four ounces of chorizo sausage and break it up with a utensil that is safe for the nonstick surface of the Ninja Foodi. When the chorizo begins to sizzle, add the diced onion and sauté for about 3-5 minutes.
Next add in the seasoning blend of salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper. If you like spicy shrimp dishes, you can throw in some jalapeno or other type of pepper. If you don't like your food spicy at all, you can omit the cayenne and any other pepper. Next add the quinoa and grits. Stir until well combined. This ensures that you will have a taste of the chorizo in every bite!
With the sear/sauté still on high, deglaze the pot with chicken broth or stock and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to remove anything that may be stuck on. Add the red bell pepper strips and stir. If you prefer firmer strips of red pepper, then don't add them until after the PC time.
Add the grits and quinoa, and stir. Make sure the chorizo is well dispersed throughout so that the entire batch absorbs its flavoring.
Put the pressure lid on and switch the function to Pressure Cook, set to "HI," for three (3) minutes and hit start.
When the time is up allow the pot to naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes. Open the lid away from you. If your grits and quinoa mixture looks a little soupy, don't worry, it will thicken as it sits and the cheese also thickens it up.
Finishing the Shrimp & Grits
Give everything a good stir, making sure to get down to the very bottom of the pot. Add the thawed shrimp and push them under the quinoa and grits mixture so they will start to cook. Add the heavy cream and shredded cheese, stir well, making sure to keep the shrimp under the mixture as much as possible.
Put the pressure lid back on and keep the Ninja Foodi on Keep Warm. Let sit for 7-10 minutes which will cook the shrimp perfectly. You can also use the sear/sauté on low and stir frequently to cook the shrimp.
The shrimp are cooked when they turn pink and curl a bit.
Serve in a bowl topped with chopped green onion -- or even hot sauce or a light squirt of lemon juice, if you prefer.
Enjoy this perfect comfort food!
Cheesy Shrimp & Grits
- Instant Pot
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon fine grind sea salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
Shrimp & Grits
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 4 ounces chorizo sausage
- ½ cup stone-ground grits
- ½ cup multi colored quinoa
- 1½ cups chicken stock
- 1 cup onion ½" dice
- 1 red bell pepper cut into ½" strips
- 12 ounces large shrimp thawed and shells removed
- 4 ounces Dubliner cheese (About 1 cup shredded) or any cheese you like
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Prep all the ingredients. Dice the onion into ½" dice, cut the pepper into ½" strips, grate the cheese, thaw the shrimp in cold water if needed.
- Turn the Ninja Foodi on high sear/sauté and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the chorizo sausage and break up into small pieces. When the sausage begins to sizzle, add the onion and sauté for 3-5 minutes.
- Add the seasoning blend, quinoa, and grits. Stir well. With the sear/sauté still on high, deglaze the pot with chicken stock and scrape the bottom of the pot to ensure any stuck on bits have been removed. Turn the sear/sauté off.
- Add in the pepper strips and place the pressure lid on, turn the valve to seal. Select the pressure setting on high and set the time for 3 minutes. When the pressure cook time is up, allow the pot to natural release the pressure for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and stir.
- Add the thawed shrimp, cream, and cheese. Stir well and make sure the shrimp are under the grits/quinoa mixture so they cook. Put the pressure lid on and let sit for 7-10 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked.
- Serve and top with green onions if desired. Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
She published her first cookbook in the Fall of 2018 and is very interested in writing several more.
Louise is also the creator of an online Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooking Course with over 100 instructional step-by-step videos. People absolutely rave about the course and all the value they have received from it.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can. Get more Information about Louise & contact information
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