These Cajun Shrimp and Grits Appetizers are delicious, slightly spicy hors d’oeuvres, and are perfect for cocktail hour, at parties, or as an appetizer with dinner!
A few weeks ago, I found out you could have raw oysters shipped overnight to you, no matter where you are in the continental U.S. That discovery led to a few things. First, we learned that you can, in fact, shuck an oyster with a flathead screwdriver (thank you YouTube!), and it also led to an impromptu raw bar at Casa de Sarah.
As enthusiastic as we were about the oysters, we also knew that we probably needed other food. One of my friends showed up with a huge pot of spicy shrimp and grits, and they were AMAZING.
As I ate the carb-licious shrimp, it occurred to me that shrimp and grits really should show up at more parties, because they’re perfect little hors d’oeuvres. This Cajun Shrimp and Grits Appetizer is a variation of the shrimp we had that night.
Making a Cajun Shrimp and Grits Appetizer
To make a Cajun Shrimp and Grits Appetizer, first you have to decide if you’re going to peel the shell off the shrimp.
Keep in mind that the shrimp will hang on the edge of a glass easier with the shells on, but that your guests will have very messy fingers after they peel the shells off the seasoned shrimp. Plan accordingly. Next, toss the shrimp in the spices, and set them aside to marinate.
While the shrimp marinate, start cooking your grits. I prefer stone ground grits, but you can use instant grits if that’s all you can find. Cook them with a little salt and butter, and then stir in some cheese and milk. (You can also use this Overnight Grits recipe to make your grits ahead of time!)
Meanwhile, sauté the shrimp in a little oil until they’re cooked through, and scoop them out of the pan. Add a little butter and lemon juice to the pan, stir it with a wooden spoon, and then pour that sauce into the grits.
Serve everything however you prefer– all mixed together in a bowl, or portioned out in glasses or small bowls. Serve your appetizers while they’re still warm, and have fun at the party!
A Note on Responsibly Sourced Shrimp: Imported shrimp (specifically, shrimp from Thailand) has been tied to forced slave labor, and has infiltrated huge amounts of the shrimp available inside the United States. To avoid buying shrimp tied to slave labor, look for shrimp that has NOT been imported, or that clearly labels its origin.
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Cajun Shrimp and Grits Appetizer
Serves about 8 people as an appetizer.
- 1 lb raw shrimp, thawed (tails on or off, medium or large shrimp) * See Recipe Notes
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cayenne powder
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 TB smoked paprika
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1 cup grits (stone ground preferred)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 TB butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- 4 oz sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 TB butter
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
Toss shrimp in salt, cayenne, red pepper, and paprika. Set aside.
If using instant grits, prepare according to package directions. For stone ground grits, bring 3 cups of water to a boil, and then slowly stir in grits, salt, and butter. Turn heat to low and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
When the grits are almost finished cooking, stir in the milk and cheese. Cover and keep warm.
Add olive oil to a heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering and the pan is hot, add the shrimp. Allow the shrimp to cook, untouched, for 1-2 minutes, or until one side is completely pink. Flip shrimp, continue cooking until the all the shrimp are pink.
Remove shrimp from the pan, and set aside. Add the remaining butter and lemon juice to the hot pan, and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits of shrimp stuck to the pan. Pour the pan sauce into the grits, and stir.
While everything is still hot, serve grits and shrimp in small bowls or glasses. If you've left the tails on the shrimp, serve the shrimp perched on the side of the bowl or glass. Otherwise, serve shrimp either on the side or in the grits.
Serving Tips: These cups look like 'finger food,' but are much easier to eat when utensils are provided. If you've left the shells on the shrimp, allow the shrimp to cool off slightly before serving, to make sure that no one burns their fingers. Remember to provide lots of napkins if your guests are removing the shrimp shells.
Food Safety Tips: Avoid leaving the shrimp out at room temperature for hours.
*Calorie Information was calculated per serving using My Fitness Pal.