These shrimp and grits appetizers are made with cheesy grits and homemade Cajun seasoning. Serve these slightly spicy hors d’oeuvres at 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.
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-inspired shrimp and grits appetizer is a variation of the shrimp we had that night.
Looking for more seafood appetizers? Try these mini crab cakes, seafood stuffed mushrooms, jalapeño popper fish cakes, mini sardine fish cakes, mini shrimp tacos, crab fries, fish meatballs, and smoked fish sliders.
What Size Shrimp Should I Use?
I think these appetizers look a little bit more striking with large shrimp, but small shrimp will work perfectly.
Use whatever you prefer.
Learn More About Buying Shrimp: Read Types of Shrimp in the Grocery Store and Wild Caught Shrimp vs Farmed: How to Buy Sustainable Shrimp
Should I Peel the Shrimp?
It’s up to you!
It will be easier to hang the shrimp on the edges of a glasses if you leave the shells on, but your guests will have very messy fingers after they peel the shells off the seasoned shrimp.
Can I Use Instant Grits?
You can, but you’ll need to follow the cooking directions on your grits packaging instead of the directions in the recipe card.
If you have stone-ground grits but don’t want to be cooking as your guests arrive, try making these slow-cooker grits instead.
How To Make Cheesy Grits
Start by boiling water, salt, and butter in a saucepan.
Slowly pour in the grits, bring the water back to a boil, and lower the heat. Cover the grits and cook until they begin to thicken.
Next, add milk to the grits.
Keep cooking them, stirring often.
When they start to look thick, it’s time to stir in some cheese.
Lots and lots of cheese!
Take the grits off the heat and set them aside.
Cooking Spicy Shrimp
Toss the shrimp with spices and a little lemon juice, and then add the shrimp to a hot pan.
Cook until they’ve just turned opaque, a minute or two per side.
Finally, take the shrimp out of the pan, and add a little butter. Melt the butter, add lemon juice, and stir, stir, stir.
Serve the grits, shrimp and pan sauce however you prefer. I like to scoop the grits into cocktail glasses and set the shrimp on top, but you could also use small bowls.
Serve your appetizers while they’re still warm, and have fun at the party!
Shrimp and Grits Appetizers
- 1 cup grits (stone ground preferred)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ cup milk
- 4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 pound raw shrimp, thawed (tails on or off, medium or large shrimp) Shells removed + shrimp deveined. Tails on or off, as desired
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 lemons, juiced (divided)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Tip: These directions are for stone-ground grits only and will not work for Instant Grits. If using a different type of grits, follow the package cooking directions.Add water, butter, and salt to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Slowly stir the grits into the boiling water and return the water to a boil.Cover the pan and lower heat to low. Cook covered for 15 – 20 minutes or until the grits begin to thicken. Stir often, especially towards the end.
- Add the milk to the grits and cook uncovered, stirring often (almost constantly) for about 10 more minutes or until the grits are thickening.Control the boil: If your grits keep boiling up (and start to overflow), lower the heat. (I often switch back and forth between low and warm during this stage.)Thickness: The grits will continue to thicken as they rest off-heat, so it's okay if they're slightly thinner than you want.
- Add the cheese to the grits and stir to combine. Taste the grits and add pepper and/or more salt if desired.Cover the saucepan and set aside, off-heat.
- Toss shrimp in paprika, garlic, cayenne, salt, and the juice from one lemon. Set aside.Heat oil in a pan on medium-high heat.Add shrimp to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes per side, until shrimp are opaque.Remove shrimp from pan.
- Lower heat to medium and add the butter to the hot pan. When the butter melts, add the remaining lemon juice and stir the liquid with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat.Optionally, stir the pan sauce into the grits. Alternatively, you'll serve the sauce on top of the grits.
- While everything is still hot, serve grits, shrimp and the pan sauce 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.