Barbecue Shrimp with Cheese Grits

A classic Southern favorite, I’ve added some barbecue sauce to the recipe and these Barbecue Shrimp with Cheese Grits are outstanding.

Barbecue Shrimp with Cheese Grits Served in a White Bowl and Garnished with Parsley

This time of year always makes me think of North Carolina. My children were born there and in remembering I always recall that some of the most idyllic moments of my life were there, including their first Christmas. This recipe for Barbecue Shrimp with Cheese Grits is my homage to a place we truly loved.

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I moved to North Carolina from St Louis, MO when my then husband accepted a job offer and we lived there 10 years. The move from a large metropolitan city to one the size of Raleigh might have been difficult for many people but I loved it; I liked the coziness, the slower pace and I grew to love the Y’alls.

Raleigh is in the heart of the ACC conference and we moved there in what I soon learned was college basketball season with North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Duke and the University of North Carolina within shouting distance of each other.

But I was new and I had moved from a football and baseball city…so forgive me if I was confused. Everywhere the eye could see were signs to ‘Back the Pack’ and I won’t deny, I was flummoxed as to why this small southern city was so gungho for the Green Bay Packers. It’s true!

I soon learned the error of my ways and got on-board; although not getting on-board would have been next to impossible. North Carolina State is smack in the middle of Raleigh, a city school, not one with huge sprawling campuses like Duke and UNC, and the population of Raleigh was fervent about their Wolfpack, to say the least.

At that time you could not walk into a grocery store in the middle of a game and not have it being played over the loudspeakers…and not just grocery stores. Everywhere. Love’em or leave’em? Simply no way to leave so love’em I did!

Bobs-Red-Mill-Southern-Polenta-Corn-GritsAlso integral to my memories of North Carolina are grits. My first experience? We had just arrived in Raleigh after 2 difficult days of driving. One of our vehicles was supposed to have been shipped but I guess we had more ‘stuff’ than the movers expected so we both ended up driving.

I had the smaller car and my beloved Heather, our Irish Setter, was with me. And we had rain. And more rain. Rain the entire time we drove through the Smoky Mountains too. For someone who does not love to drive; who is stressed at the thought of just a couple of hours of driving into the gorgeous mountains of Colorado on a beautiful and clear day…well, that was torture.

We arrived in the morning; exhausted, aching and famished so went for breakfast soon after checking into our hotel.

I forget what I ordered but I will never forget this. On the plate with what I’m betting was an omelet and some hash browns was a scoop of something that looked like cream of wheat.

I signaled to the waitress thinking I had been given the wrong order and like it was yesterday I remember her saying, ‘No ma’am, thems just gree-itz.’ Like that helped. I checked the menu and only then noticed that gree-itz (grits) were served with every breakfast dish…and soon found that was no anomaly.

Grits are a staple in the south and you would be hard-pressed to find a food more American than grits. Historians trace them back to the first Virginia colonists, who dined on the cracked grains with American Indians. While I never got to the point of having them each morning, I did learn to enjoy them and still do to this day. Of course, adding some cheese and butter never hurt!

When a dish has such a long history and is passed down from generation to generation, it’s not surprising that it has become a holiday tradition. Many Southerners eat shrimp and grits at Christmas or New Year’s; maybe it’s just as simple as a desire to eat real comfort food and I can’t think of anything much more comforting than this dish.

It’s a step away from the norm with the barbecue sauce but I just love it so I’m OK with changing tradition just a bit with these Barbecue Shrimp with Cheese Grits. We’re lucky too that Bob’s Red Mill has a selection of their grits at the nearby Sprouts market; they might be from Oregon but their product is truly southern!

Bowl of Shrimp and Grits with Barbecue Sauce

Though I’m steadfast about making a big pot of black eye peas each January 1st, I’ve long ago accepted that the notion of it bringing me good luck is a hoax. I would prefer to associate luck with this other staple of southern New Year’s plates.

Though I’ve made other versions of shrimp and grits over the years, a recipe I discovered when living in North Carolina, this recipe from Food and Wine magazine in 2008 stands out, head and shoulders.

Rich, cheesy grits are topped with ‘shrimps’ (my homage to Forrest Gump) but not just any shrimps. Barbecue Shrimps with Cheese Grits!

This barbecue sauce is also divine. The two together are super divine. Just getting to eat it on New Years Day is luck enough for me. Join me?

More Shrimp or Grits?

PIN IT! ‘Barbecue Shrimp with Cheese Grits’

Bowl of Shrimp and Grits with Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue Shrimp with Cheese Grits Served in a White Bowl and Garnished with Parsley

Barbecue Shrimp with Cheese Grits Served in a White Bowl and Garnished with Parsley

Barbeque Shrimp with Cheese Grits

Creative Culinary
Cheesy grits are topped with luscious barbecued shrimp. Low country at it's best!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 545 kcal


For the Shrimp and Barbecue Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 garlic cloves very finely chopped
  • 1 ¼ cups ketchup
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the Cheese Grits:

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 cup old-fashioned grits not instant
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Chopped Parsley for garnish


To Make the Shrimp and Barbecue Sauce:

  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the ketchup, bourbon, cider vinegar, molasses, honey, Tabasco, thyme and cayenne. Simmer over low heat, until thickened, about 40 minutes.
  • Transfer the barbecue sauce to a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour 1/3 cup of the sauce into a small bowl and reserve the rest.
  • Preheat a grill pan or large skillet and grease with the 1 Tbsp. of oil. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and brush both sides using the 1/3 cup of barbecue sauce. Cook the shrimp over moderate heat, turning once, until cooked through, about 4 minutes total.

To Make the Cheese Grits:

  • In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil.
  • Add the garlic and slowly stir in the grits. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring frequently, until the grits are tender, approximately 20 minutes.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cheese, butter and cream. Season with salt and pepper.

To Serve

  • Mound the cheese grits on a plate and top with shrimp and garnish with some parsley. Pass the barbecue sauce.


Make Ahead: The barbecue sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to a week.
I like the Polenta Corn Grits but you can also use the White Southern style.


Nutrition Facts
Barbeque Shrimp with Cheese Grits
Serving Size
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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    1. Well, with butter and cheese Lori, what is there not to love! Definitely give them a try; with the shrimp even better.

  1. This post made me smile the whole way through! Being a newbie of the south, and having fun saying ya’ll and fixin’, I can totally relate:-) I am on the other side of the state in Charlotte, but sports is still VERY important here:-) Shrimp and grits is one of our favorite dishes since moving here, and I love how many different varieties there are. I actually was born in Michigan, and oddly enough, grew up on grits. My mom loved them, and made them for our big weekend breakfast…..I LOVE grits!!!! Your recipe looks AWESOME:-) Hugs, Terra

    1. Hey Y’all! I miss North Carolina still…eating some foods like this takes me right back there and in such a good way! I’m fixin’ to have them again on Tuesday. 🙂

    1. It is so good Addie! I’m dealing with a horrible cold and wanted some today…so made the grits and topped with some chicken. Not quite the same but it was the grits that were soothing anyhow. Something, anything other than soup! 🙂

  2. Aww, love this post – what a nostalgic meal. I have tried & loved shrimp and grits out, but never made them at home. These look so delicious!

    1. Really pretty easy…and SO good. I just made the grits but mostly cause I’m feeling bleh after a week with a cold. Hoping to get a kid to bring me some ‘shrimps’ so I can have the whole ten yards on New Years. Try them, you’ll like them…promise.

  3. I just love grits! It took a while, though, I admit. There were some poor first tastes, but when I finally got a bowl of creamy perfection, I have been hooked. This would absolutely be wonderful to ring in the new year!

    1. No shrimp in the house but I just made a big batch of grits with cheese; recuperating from being sick all week and just craving some real comfort food…and these do the trick.

      I’ve had bad ones too Liren. The word ‘instant’ will do that. 🙂

    1. I used to have to really search for their products but I’m seeing them in more and more places. You know when the arrive in Costco…well, they’ve arrived!

    1. I know it’s now the ‘standard’ way but I just loved the combination John…can’t hardly wait to have them again on Tuesday!

    1. I should have had you with me for breakfast that one day huh? 🙂 I do love them; adding butter and cheese is nothing but all good!

    1. It is funny how different things can be regionally…but they are a great soothing side dish; hope you try them.

  4. Blackeye peas for good luck a hoax? Shut your mouth! Maybe you should combine some with a plate of these cheesy grits and shrimp for a little supercharged good luck. Works for me. Happy New Year Barb!!!

    1. Hehe…I figured that would incite SOMEONE! But you know the luck I’ve had the past couple of years…am I lying? 🙂

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